Brown Paper Parcels in the Post

I have guilty pleaseures.  One is to receive fairly unremarkable brown paper parcels in the post.  These contain my new film, freshly despatched.  After a few days of restrained enthusiasm I pick up the parcel and hurry to a room on my own to have a look at it.  Bulk buying such items from the internet produces savings compared to the shops.

It’s a bit like pornography and I’ve ordered several different types.

Firstly, there’s the workhorse, bread and butter stuff – Ilford HP5+ 400 speed.  Good in all conditions and with a nice grain to it.

Then there’s a bit of Kodak, Porta 800 speed.  It’s colour and it’s faster than I’m used to but I’m not sure if I’m going to enjoy the results.  However it just looked too tempting on the webpage and a click later it was on its way to me.

Then I went all exotic and kinky and bought Infra Red film.  This is really difficult, I don’t know what I’m doing.  I remove it carefully from it’s packaging and only dare open the plastic tub in subdued conditions.  I’ll need filters and the right sort of lighting and then I’ll need to clearly mark the film for development as IR when I send it off.

To finish off, I ordered some cheap foreign stuff.  It’s Czech, Formapan.  It’s packaging suggests the Seventies.  It could be exciting or rubbish.  Probably it’s a mucky laugh.

This should keep me going for the rest of the summer.

Strangely enough, I don’t mind the wait.  It takes about a week for me to get the negatives and accompanying CD.  It’s fun to wait for the post every day and see if the pictures have arrived.  I could save money and develop the negs myself.  Most of the stuff is black and white and that’s the easiest to develop.  I did this once and the results weren’t too bad.  The biggest problem was when I opened the film canister.  It’s made out of metal and you have to open it with a sharp object. That’s not too difficult but, to protect the film you have to do it in the dark.  I cut my thumb quite badly.  It bled, a lot.  It seems that some of it got on the negs.  So I get someone else to handle the developing until blood stained photography becomes fashionable (it will one day, every other type and variant has had a moment in the sun over the last hundred years, there’s probably a site on the internet that deals with it).

The arrival of the negs is the second kind of brown paper parcel in the post which I treat like porn.  I recently sent six films to be processed so that’s about 216 pictures I’m going to sit down with any day soon.  That’s going to need a big cup of coffee and the PC without anybody bothering me.

Negatives, blood, waiting for the postman.  You don’t get this kind of fun with a digital camera!

7 thoughts on “Brown Paper Parcels in the Post

  1. LOL…you delightful obsessive! And, it brings back memories. My greatest bugbear was trying to feed the film onto the roll-thing that one puts into the developing tank, in the dark. Despite my great visualisation capabilities, it was always a trial as I used to have fumble-fingers. Hope we’ll get to see some of those 216 pix you’ve just received.


  2. I live in a small flat, so there’s no chance that I’ll develop anything there… I’ll stick top digital, or I’ll have to pay someone to develop the negatives for me. I guess the old Nikon will continue to stay stored in the old shoe box..


  3. Blood soaked negs. $50 says you can make it in vogue! You might have to carefully select your subjects though. And don’t be afraid to have the blood go from one side of the neg to the other. As a word of advice, you might want to switch away from your own blood once you hit it big. 🙂


  4. Great post. I did city and guilds years back and spent many a long night processing my own negs and then trying to get reasonable prints done. If I had a bigger place I’d definitely get a darkroom. Look forward to seeing how the infra-red turns out. I have never tried it.


  5. I stopped developing my own film when it became clear I couldn’t prevent streaks on the negs. I was hopeless at it, despite enjoying it.

    I’m looking forward to trying out a couple of rolls of XP2, which I’ve never used before. If it doesn’t work too well, I’ll be heading back to HP5+. There’s no other workhorse like it.


  6. Very amusing post and interesting as well! I never considered that developing film might be dangerous as well, but apparently it is … 😉 I definitely want to try developing the film myself. I’m a bit clumsy with knives so I guess I have to be careful 😉

    I just ordered film on the internet myself. Ilford HP5+ 400 and Tri-x 400. Black and white film in the shop is just way too expensive.



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