Photography deals exquisitely with appearances, but nothing is what it appears to be. —Duane Michals
Using a 35mm film was different and something I didn’t experience until I was in college. It was the summer of 1981, if I remember correctly, and we were going to a family reunion of sorts, back to Arkansas and the little farming community where Poppa grew up. A friend loaned me his 35mm, loaded a roll of color 36-exposure color film, and showed me quickly how to focus the lens. I put the camera in the trunk of the car, largely afraid to use it for fear of causing damage. When I did try to take a few pictures with it, I was frustrated by the fact that a subtle movement could throw the entire picture out of focus. I didn’t even use the full 36 frames. I was sure, at that point, that photography at any advanced level wasn’t for me.
So much of photography seems to center around the big, highly-produced, carefully manipulated, high-processed images that appear in fashion magazines that we tend to lose sight of the subtle, more nuanced images where careful attention is given to the detail. Finer points of an image are easily lost as we mismanage light or fail to pay attention to precise settings on the camera. Sure, maybe no one notices, and perhaps no one cares, but when I look back at archived images, which is where we find most of our #POTD subjects, detail, or the lack of it, is the first thing my eyes catch. Subtle touches can make a tremendous amount of difference.
Okay, so there are times T-Max can be fussy, especially in development. There is dramatic difference between the 100 speed and 400 speed versions of the film. 100 speed prefers longer exposure times, which may be great for portraits and still life, but is totally inappropriate for almost any kind of motion at all. The shorter the exposure time, the more the film struggles. Variances in any portion of the development environment affect the contrast and tone of the final image. Even subtle changes in temperature can have strong results. Similarly, one has to be careful with the conversion to digital. I used these settings for black and white adjustment: reds-37, yellows-70, greens-33, cyans-64, blues-28, magentas-68.
Whether there is, or can be, a good digital equivalent of T-Max 100 is open for debate. With digital images, grain, or more correctly, noise is introduced by the camera sensor and is not something easily removed in processing. T-Max 100 has such a fine grain that any noise in the image discounts the accuracy of the conversion. One needs to be extremely careful with any contrast adjustment as well. Still, when one is starting with a good image, this is a good method to use and the subtle handling of detail makes a world of difference.