Like everything else, photographic film has become expensive. And when you compare different types of film stocks, the cost of color films have significantly increased against black and white films. Of course, the usual reasons given for the general increase if the prices of film ranges from the global inflation crisis, to the effects of the pandemic on supply chains, as well as the effects of the current geopolitical climate. For color films, you can additionally blame the sharper increase in cost to limited variety of film stocks in production—thanks to a slew of recent discontinuations by manufacturers.
If you follow my work you'll realize I almost exclusively shoot in color. At some point I experimented briefly with black and white, and I honestly loved it, but as a creature of habit I quickly went back to color. With the recent increases in costs, color film has been quite hard to come by. They are almost out of stock everywhere. So, after I shot through my stash of color films (of just a few, mostly expired rolls) I had to resort to black and white.
Why I shoot color
My hesitation towards shooting black and white had always revolved around the development process. Although most people argue that black and white is easier to develop than color, I find the opposite to be true. With color, I just buy a single kit that comes with specific instructions that I have to follow, and I'm done. With black and white, on the other hand, I have to source the chemicals individually since you typically can't find them in kits, and once I have chemicals you have to consult dev charts for each film you process for the processing temperatures and times.
For most creatives, the black and white process is ideal. Having the opportunity to vary different parameters, like processing times and temperatures, provides a lot of control on how your images turn out. But in my case, I just want to get the images out. Once they are out, I'll see what I can do about them on the computer after scanning.
Making the switch to Black and White
After a couple hours of research (mainly watching Youtube and reading a few blogs) I decided on the following workflow:
For the developer I went with Kodak's D-76 developer. I made this choice mainly because it appears to be an industry standard, a reference point from which all other developers describe their properties. It also seemed well documented, and there were lots of forum posts to consult if something ever went wrong. I got mine in powder form so it would be easier to ship.
My fixer was also from Kodak. It was the Kodak Rapid fixer, which also came in powder form. I still stuck with Kodak for my stop bath, going with their indicator stop bath and I topped off my chemistry set with Kodak's Photo-Flo wetting agent.
I must admit that my hesitation toward black and white was probably grounded in my innate fear of change. I say this because, after the first few rolls, the whole process seemed very simple. I have since shot through a bunch of rolls through different cameras, and the results have been fantastic. I am now happy to say that I am no longer an exclusive color film shooter, and I'm looking forward to many wonderful adventures with my stash of black and white films.