The digital that I shoot usually ends up staying in my camera for about 3 to 4 months. My camera becomes like a little mobile storage thing on which I can look at the last few months of photos, over and over again while riding the train. Then I import through lightroom to my disk and edit what looks good, then send it all over my computer to ridiculously and uselessly filed folders. Its a nightmare.
For slide, usually it takes about 2 months for 5 – 10 rolls of slide to pile up at which point I take most or all of it to the shop during my lunch break. I tell them I want it mounted and I want them to write the name of the film and how many stops its pushed or pulled, on the outside of the envelope so I know what it is without having to forget and then having to open up a mount and then plugging in the code to find out what it is cuz I never remember the codes. They tell me it will take about 3 days or so, depending on whether I have pushed or pulled. But that doesn’t stop from going in the next day to see if its ready (which its not) and the next day and the next, and so on…until on a lunch break, I run down to the shop cuz I know its ready, pick it up, sit there on their light box, put it all out in front of me, then go through it all with a loupe really quickly cuz I only have 30 more minutes for lunch. Then pick them all back in a funny way that orders them the way I like them, the right way up and then back into those annoying little containers, I make sure they go back into the correctly labeled envelopes marked with the details. Stuff them in my bag, run past the 1/2 price box, see if anything is worth getting, then to kaiten sushi and skarf down 5 or 6 plates of sushi. Get back to work. Then on the way home, on the train, look again at as many slides as I can on the excruciatingly packed 6:00 train, in this contorted way that allows me to hold one to the light, keeping a dozen in the other hand with the stupid container and the lid in my pocket. Then I get home and sleeve it (note: 39 slides with an M6), and look at again on my lightbox. (Note: do not use 50mm summilux as loupe or you risk falling asleep one night while looking at film only to find your lens jumping out of bed with you the morning…It wouldn’t be a problem if a summilux was like a cat and always landed on all fours…but I digress…) Next, I use my planner to pinpoint the exact date(s) it was taken on and label it accordingly, then label what film it is, where it was developed, (in what chemicals and at what times and temps if I developed myself) whether it was pushed or pulled, whether there was any music playing at the time of/if self development) the main events on the film , then in a crude rating system of stars circles and comments, mark with grease pin notable photos in the lot. I find the next chronological hard case with room, add the photos to the top of the pages and add the events and dates to the table of contents that I have made for each hard case. There are about 10 cases. Then and only then can I think about scanning or printing.
For black and white film, it piles up much more quickly than slide, as many any 10 to 20 rolls a month. Sometimes less, sometimes more, sometimes a lot more. Its start to get scary. I try to remember some quote I read somewhere that instinct is an imperative part of photography, despite instinct more of less having a negative meaning based on the fact that it is the ‘supposed’ notion of having perception of something before it actually happens. And the guy who said this about intuition. also said that he took a ridiculous amount of photos in his your youth for a lack of it. So I guess I should use my instincts more. Anyway, I start to have Winogrand nightmares of vinyl bags packed with film filling up closets and desks, and even though I can think of a million more interesting and productive things to do than dealing with the mess of getting it all out and doing it and putting it all back to develop it, and even coming as close to taking it in as putting it in my bag and just saying fuck it, then finally come to my senses and fill up the sink with hot water. I get the chemicals from their special toy box outside the window, plug the sink with a graduated cylinder (as long as I don’t have to make any new chemicals) Then I start pulling the film out of the containers, cut the corners, and start organizing by development times, ie. 9 minutes for Tri-X 400 pushed to 800 in D76 or 1.5 hours stand developing neopan 400 at speed in 1:150 Rodinal or maybe 13 minutes in diafine for Neopan 1600 combined with the roll of Delta 100 that I accidentally shot at 800, Anyway, try to find everybody a buddy to develop with, then I ask Yasuko if I can turn out the light for 2 min, put the toilet seat down, and the tank in the sink with the lid, and roll the film on the reels and into the tank…lights back on, chemical warm enough, start developing. maybe a prewash, maybe not, I babysit it if I am agitating, and not if its stand, then stop it , fix it, wash the hell out of it, the suds it the bubble fuck bath up with driwel, then pull it out, check it out genkan light, hang it with wooden clothespins, one on top and one on bottom. put the reels on a towel on the ground, stick a blowdryer unfront of them for 5 minutes, annoying my neighbors, until dry, meanwhile pulling out and cutting corners on the next rolls, and repeat. (Beatles playing, refill wine). I take great joy in this, always forgetting why I was bitching about doing it in the first place.
Wear out…clean up…take a shower…go to sleep…wake up…pull it down, cut it into 6′s, sleeve it, label, ‘rank’ it, file as above. Then spend hours everynights for the next few weeks scanning it, while writing ridiculously long nonsensical nothingnessisms. Then import it into photoshop or lightroom depending. Maybe up to flickr, and/or decide which of it is destined for the darkroom, which is another post entirely….