Have you ever wondered how to include sprocket holes in your 35mm photographs?
There are a few ways to take photographs on 35mm film with the photograph taken all the way to the edge of the film, so that you can include the sproket holes and any writing along the edge of the film. Lomography have a couple of cameras that allow for this, which if probably the easiest way to go about it, however if you are after a higher-quality photograph and willing to put in a bit of work, then read on.
What you will need
- A roll of black and white 35mm film I could self-develop
- A medium format camera which doesn't have a red 'shot counter' window on the back, and instead one which has a separate counter and stops the film from winding on at the appropriate distance. I used a Mamiya C330.
- Note – if you only have a camera with a red 'shot counter' window, you can still follow this method, it will just be a bit more guess work for the exact distance to roll on the film between shots, and you will need to light-proof the red window, because without the usual 120 backing paper, you will need to stop light coming in onto your film.
- Note – cameras like Rolleiflex TLRs which automatically sense the start of the film when being loaded are not recommended to be used for this process.
- 3D printed holders which allow 35mm film to fit into a 120 camera (see below)
- A dark bag
- A film development tank and 35mm spool
- Film developer and fix
The 3D printed holders slot into each end of the 35mm film roll, so that the film will sit in the centre of the 120 frame. Plans for these are readily available on 3D printing websites, and there are some businesses who sell them pre-made online.
The roll of film is loaded in the same place that the 120 roll would be loaded. At the other end, the film can be rolled onto a 120 spool, or if you have an extra set of holders (I don't), you can use an empty or reusable 35mm cartridge and set it up so that the fill will roll onto that. This would make the very last step of unloading the film much easier.
Once the film is loaded, close up the back, and wind on the film until it stops, or if you don't have a camera which automatically knows how far to wind on, you will need to make a guess as to how far feels right.
Because the film is loaded vertically in the camera, the final photographs will be long and thin. In the viewfinder the composition will be a vertical strip through the middle. I found it took me a bit to get used to how to compose for a photograph of these proportions, I usually photograph in landscape, so it was good to get me thinking differently about my compositions.
Images should be exposed as you normally would for the film speed and film type used. I shot this roll using Kentmere 400, and the sunny-16 rule to decide on my exposure settings for each photograph.
Once the roll is complete, you won't be able to wind on the film any further. You will need a dark-bag for the next step, unless you have used a second empty 35mm cartridge to have the film wound onto.
I placed the camera and my film development tank into a dark bag together with a pair of scissors. I opened the back of the camera, and had to cut the film from the used film canister before I could proceed. I then removed the 120 spool with the exposed film on it, and loaded the film into the development tank.
Using Kentmere 400 and HC-110 developer, I discovered there was no set time on the Massive Dev chart ... just a cursory between 5-6 minutes at Dilution B. I did a bit of hunting online to see what others have done, and decided on 5 minutes.
Other than a couple of shots that I didn't quite get the exposure correct for in the difficult changing lighting conditions of the day, I was very pleased with the outcome.
I'm looking forward to trying this out again in another TLR camera I own.
If you try out the above technique, please get in touch with me via Instagram @haeliophoto and let me know. I would love to hear from you.
About Madeline Bowser
I've been photographing with film for what seems like forever ... well since the late 90's. I shoot both film and digital, but film is where my heart is and I get the most ongoing enjoyment from and what I enjoy sharing and teaching to others. I also travel the world hunting down old cameras and unique locations to photograph in, and exhibit and sell my travel photographs.
When out shooting film, I often get asked the questions 'can you still buy film?', 'I thought film stopped being made 10 years ago' and 'why would you want to shoot film when you can shoot digital'.
My answers are, 'yes', 'no, it didn't', and 'I also shoot digital, both have their place in my mind'.
© 2020 haeliophoto.com
All images remain the property of Madeline Bowser and may not be used without permission.