Course Materials

Bob Viens' Introduction to Black & White Photography 

From 4/11/08

Depth of Field (DOF) is the distance in front of and beyond the subject that appears to be in focus. The photo of the printed page above was shot with very shallow depth of field. A wide aperture such as f/2.8 was used, as opposed to a small aperture that would have caused much more of the words to be in focus.

Here's Something to Work On...  OK, up until now, we've been using mostly 1/60th of a second for our shutter speed. It's now time to try something different. Let's photograph the same subject using different apertures (f/stops). Use the widest one like f/2.8 for one photo and f/16 or f/22 for the next. First set the aperture, then choose the shutter-speed that gets the meter needle into the middle for correct exposure. In order for this test to work, you'll have to start out with a scene that has plenty of light, otherwise your shutter-speed on the f/16 shot will be way too slow. Unless you have access to a tripod or can rest the camera on a table, you should probably go no slower than 1/30th. Remember, correct exposure is a combination of aperture and shutter-speed.

The wider the aperture, the faster the shutter. and the smaller the aperture the slower the shutter. It's all about how much light is hitting the film, and for how long. You select which of those two will give you the effect you're hoping to achieve, and then adjust the other to get the correct exposure.

You won't see any difference when your looking through the viewfinder, but when you go to make your print, the difference will be quite noticeable. It's important to shoot a scene with things in it at different distances, like shooting across a chess set, or shooting down a row of cars. Use your imagination. It's a great excercise. Have fun!

Henri Cartier-Bresson...

Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908 – 2004) was a French photographer considered to be the Father of modern photojournalism, an early adopter of 35 mm format, and the master of candid photography. He helped develop the "street photography" style that has influenced generations of photographers that followed. Here's a link to some of his images.


From 3/25/08

Here's a good example of photographing a subject in different ways.

OK, we're starting to produce some work. Take a look at the student galleries. They should all be updated now. If I'm missing any of your work, let me know. I took the liberty of adjusting some of the prints for best online presentation and to give you an idea of that the properly printed image would look like. In the future we'll be working together to master this as we're printing.

Let's work on thinking about our subject. What is it, what do you want to say about your subject by taking this photograph, how can you arrange your subject in the frame to enhance what you're trying to say about your subject. You're in control.

From 3/19/08

Here's a good video about the work of some great photographers

Hey, try this: Photograph a person, or a pet, or an object in several different ways: up close, far away, from different angles, in different settings, in different lighting, using different cropping, etc. This is a good exercise to encourage you to visualize your subjects in different ways.Check out this website for some ideas: The Ones We

Hi All,
OK, we've got our first class behind us! Now it's time to get down to the work of making great photographs. Let's concentrate on...

  • Holding your camera correctly
  • Focus and meter accurately
  • Gently squeeze the shutter

Have fun shooting. Remember, you only have 36 pictures; pace yourself!

Because we have so many students who'll be away for school vacation, we're not holding class #2 on February 27th, but rather next week. I'll add another class on to the end of our schedule. Don't worry, we still get 10 classes!

Here's the first in many videos that will give you an opportunity to view some great photographs, and will hopefully broaden your appreciation and understanding of what is possible with your own personal pursuit of photographic excellence...

Please keep in mind that you can always email, call, or blog me from the website anytime. Have fun making photographs! ~B

“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever... it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.” -Aaron Siskind

Know Your Camera - Here are some of the basic features found on most 35mm film cameras to help you get started taking great pictures.

Aperture - The aperture is the opening through which light enters the camera. It changes in size to admit more or less light, similar to the iris of the human eye. The numbers on the aperture control are called F-stops: F4, F8, F11, F16, etc.

Shutter - The shutter works together with the aperture. The shutter controls the length of time that light is allowed to enter the camera through the aperture to reach the film. It is measured by fractions of a second such as 1/60, 1/125, 1/500, 1/1000, etc. Most 35mm cameras feature auto-exposure or have built-in light meters that indicate the best setting.

ISO Ratings - All 35mm cameras can use any 35mm film, including color negative and slide films, and black and white films. The ISO rating refers to the film's sensitivity. Films with lower numbers such as ISO100 are called "slow films" and need more light than faster-rated films. Well-suited for sunny days, slow films produce photos with less grain. Films with a high ISO number, or "fast films" such as ISO 200 or 400, are better suited for cloudy or overcast days, or for stopping action.

Controlling Exposure - Exposure is all about using different combinations of shutter and aperture settings to change or control the level of brightness on a finished picture. The aperture and shutter work together to achieve a proper exposure. The aperture controls the amount of light getting into the camera by opening and closing the lens diaphragm. The shutter controls the amount of time that the light reaches the film.

Different combinations of aperture and shutter settings can result in the same exposure because each approximately halves or doubles the amount of light reaching the film. Any of the following combinations would result in approximately the same exposure:

Choosing both the right aperture and shutter speed is essential to taking a good photo. For instance, with an aperture of F11, the shutter speed on a bright sunny day is typically 1/125 second. On a cloudy day and using the same aperture, a shutter speed at 1/60 second is needed to expose the film for a longer period of time

Class Schedule: I've posted the full schedule for our 10-week course. The official time for each class is 6:00pm to 8:00pm. Because of the excitement of discovering the joy of photography, it's not uncommon for students to want to stay as long as possible. Parents should plan on picking up their students between 8pm and 9pm, ususlly closer to 9. If you need to have your student ready to go at a specific time, please let me know.

Labs: There will be open labs Tuesday from 5:30pm to 8pm with Seth and Saturday mornings from 11am to 2pm with Megan.

It very important that we all make the labs a priority.

I'm looking forward to seeing what develops!


How to Develop A Roll of Black-and-White Film

Loading the Film

Step 1: Lay out your tools in front of you: roll of film, can opener, scissors, film reel, tank and tank cover. Memorize their positions. You're ready.

Turn off the lights!!!

Step 2: In total darkness, remove the film from the cassette. To do this, pry off the end of the film cassette using a can opener. Discard the end. Remove the spool of film from the opened film cassette. Trim the film "leader" from the beginning of the roll. The leader is the tapered part of the fresh roll of film that you used to load your camera. Pull the film away from the spool and let it hang free while you gently trim with scissors the end of the film just beyond the tape that connects it to the spool. You can also peel off the tape that connects it, but you should do this very slowly to prevent the tape from fluorescing and fogging your film. It's very important to be as gentle as possible so as to avoid crimping the film. A "crimp" will leave a permanent half moon shape on the negative that will also wind up on your print.

Step 3: Load the film onto the reel. Position the film reel in one hand so that the opening is facing the roll of film in your other hand. Simply slide one of the flat ends of the film into the slot on the outer edge of the reel. You'll need to pull it over the bearings to get it ready to "walk" the film onto the reel. Once it's over the bearings, walk the film with a back and forth action with both hands until it is loaded. Do this a few times with a practice roll in daylight so you can get the feel for it.

Step 4: Place the loaded reel in the film tank, put on the cover, and lock it. Make sure the container is properly sealed and secure. The film is now in a light-tight container. You can turn on the light only after you're certain the tank is properly closed and light-tight.

Developing the Film

Now you're ready to develop, or "process", your film. Lay out the chemicals in front of you:  film developer,  stop bath,  and fixer. The additional two chemicals can be prepared after the film is out of the fixer. Once the fixer step is completed, the film is light-safe.

Step 5: Make sure the temperature of the chemicals ,especially the developer, is between 68 and 75 degrees. The temperature you choose will correspond to a time on the development chart. All of the chemicals need to be at the same temperature. Follow the development chart carefully.

Pour the developer into the open part of the sealed film tank. Do not remove the cover of tank itself! To keep fresh chemical on the film surface, agitation is essential throughout the process. To agitate, briefly turn the tank upside down three times - every 30 seconds. Be careful to hold the top of the tank to prevent it from falling off and exposing your film. When it is upright again, tap it twice against your work surface to remove any air bubbles that might form on the film during agitation. Air bubbles will leave clear, under-developed, areas on your negatives. Continue this step until the time recommended on the development chart has been completed. Pour the developer down the drain - Do Not Open the Tank!

What is Developer? The developer chemically converts the silver salts in the film that have been exposed to light to metallic silver. The silver salts are what actually record the image.

Step 6: Pour Stop Bath into the tank and agitate continuously for 30 seconds.

What is Stop Bath? This is a dilute acid – usually acetic acid (very pure white vinegar) that stops the action of the film developer and prevents the film from being over developed.

After 30 seconds of continuous agitation, pour the stop bath into the stop bath container. It is reused until it's expired.

Step 7: Now it is time to fix the image so you can view it in normal light.

What is Fixer? Fixer, also known as "hypo" dissolves the undeveloped silver salts from the film, leaving only the metallic silver that was produced by the development step.

Fixing takes 5 minutes, agitate the same as the developer step. At the end of the fixing time, you could actually inspect the negatives although you'll probably want to wait until everything is finished.

Drain the fixer into the fixer container. It gets reused until it becomes saturated with silver salts, This should be confirmed each time with a few drops of hypo-check solution.

Step 8: Since you no longer have to worry about exposing the film to light, remove the tank cover completely and let the film sit in running water, at the same temperature used for the previous three steps, for five minutes. You can pull out a bit of film to inspect it and make sure your images are there.

Step 9: Now you need to remove all traces of the fixer to avoid the appearance of white stains on the negatives. Pour in a tankful of fixer remover and agitate for two minutes.

What is Fixer Remover? Also known as Hypo Clearing Agent, this chemical, along with proper washing, helps to remove the fixer from the film. Remaining fixer will ruin you negatives over time.

Drain the fixer remover into the fixer remover container. It also gets reused until expired.

Step 10: One final wash, for five minutes.

Step 11: Agitate in Photo-Flo solution for 30 seconds.

What is Photo Flo Solution? This step prevents water spots from forming on the film. Water spots will be visible on your prints.

Step 12: Remove the film from the tank. Don't touch the surface of the negatives! Use film clips or clothes pins to hang the film to dry in a dust-free area.

Step 13: In about an hour, the film will be dry. Don't try to handle your film until you are certain that the film is dry and free of any traces of water. Use scissors to cut the film into strips to fit the negative pages, either 5 or 6 frames long. Be careful to cut the film in the space between the images.

You are now ready to print!