Friday, May 20, 2016

Algonquin Park - Pog Lake

In 2015, for Labour Day, which just so happens that it corresponds with my anniversary with my beautiful wife +Donna Bitaxi, we took our family to Algonquin Park, which is absolutely stunning. The sights, the smell and the sounds of this place is incredible. The silence can be breathtaking, but the hiking, swimming and canoeing here is another life worth living.
When we were there I took a few photos with my lovely vintage Miranda Sensorex EE 35mm SLR that I got from friend and fellow photographer, +Alex Luyckx. He is also co-host and founder of the +Classic Camera Revival Podcast and blog. Loaded with Fujichrome Provia 100F I was shooting very carefully to try not to lose a single image to carelessness. Granted I did lose a few here and there, just because I was a bit too excited to shoot it.  Not 100% sure the camera was working quite up to snuff, but knowing that the light seals were solid (replaced them before taking it away with me) I figured Slide Film was the best choice.  However the film was left in my fridge after exposing since Labour Day (It's now May 20th, 2016) and it has just been processed.
They are like lost little treasures, like the rekindling of memories forgotten.
One of the biggest reasons not having instant gratification is good. Because when the memories are just golden moments in your life and you see them again for the first time in front of you, it is like reliving that moment all over again and getting the rush of emotions with them.
This is a trip we hope to repeat again.  There is no feeling like the feeling of being in the great outdoors.. Just you and nature. It just feels so good.
Pog Lake


There was great swimming there, as can be seen in the above image. My two boys, not seen here, were racing on ahead to get beside the lake. Although the light waa fading fast, we still wanting a moment or three out by the water. There was expected to be a bit of a meteor shower.  However, as fate would have it, the sky clouded over and we got a rain shower instead.  That put a damper on the evening, so we spent the rest of the time relaxing in our tent until sleep overtook us.

Until next time we get up there to take a few more shots of the splendor of Algonquin.

Keep those shutters firing!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Choosing Your First (FILM) Camera

Boy it has been a while. Between packing to move, getting the house ready, school, work and life in general, I've been really busy and haven't had a chance to post.  Heck, I've barely been able to shoot any film!  However I do manage to get out from time to time, or just pick up a camera and fire off a frame. If JUST to keep in touch with the film world.

Now, choosing our first camera can be a daunting and troubling thing to do.  Most people choosing their first film camera will be coming from a digital world. How do you pick up that first film camera? I mean... Digital is easy... just set to "A" and off you go, right?
Well, not really.. You can, but you lose the creative control that you should always strive to have when shooting. 

Now I'm not going to talk about being a complete novice to photography. In this idea of picking your first film camera I shall assume that you have at least some experience shooting with a digital camera and have some working knowledge of how exposure works.
You know, how ISO, Aperture and shutter speed play in with each other.  So lets go into the world of your first film camera....

What system do you currently own?  Nikon? Pentax? Sony/Minolta? Canon?  Or do you shoot Leica? It doesn't really matter, actually. One thing that can help you, though, is that if you are shooting any of the above SLRs (Leica is a Rangefinder, relax I know!) you can actually use the modern lenses on their older film bodies. BUT not all the lenses are made the same, nor will they all work.
Modern Nikon lenses most likely will not work on the film bodies, while the older film lenses should mount and work on the modern Nikon Digitals. I cannot truly speak for sure here, as I do not have a Nikon body I can test that theory out. HOWEVER I have used a more modern Sigma (Nikon AF D mount) lens on my Nikkormat and my Nikon F90. It worked flawlessly, so I know that some lenses are backward compatible.  Same goes with Sony, Pentax and Canon. HOWEVER... you cannot use mirrorless lenses on any film body... Period..  The Sony SLR lenses (provided it isn't a crop sensor lens) will mount just fine to a Minolta Autofocus camera and work.  Same goes with Pentax and Canon.  Any and all canon EF (Not EF-S or EF-M) will mount and work on a Canon EOS Film SLR.

All this can easily help play into your first Film Camera.

The next thing is to inspect your camera. One thing that you have to inspect on film cameras that you won't find on a digital are light seals. See, the film door has a foam or felt seal around the edge of the back. The prevents light from entering the back of the camera and exposing the film.
Also on older cameras the mirror bumper (a piece of foam) will also degrade over time and can dissolve onto the mirror itself.
This should also be checked and replaced if necessary.
Next are the shutter curtains themselves.  On newer model they are usually a vertical travel focal plane shutter, usually made of a high grade plastic/compositite. The light seals around those CAN possibly degrade and create a sticky mess on them. This should be checked and cleaned (GENTLY) if possible. If not, sent out for a CLA (CLEAN LUBE ADJUST) to clean that up.

Now onto Rangefinder cameras.  Rangefinders are another camera that has its own share of things to check for. So lets gets started..
Light seals are one of the first things to check. The film door, just like on SLRs, will have foam or felt seals that prevent light from entering and exposing the film. This is very important to check.  If they are degraded they will need replacing.
Next is the mirror in the rangefinder. Are you getting a bright and contrasty double image? Or is it faded?  If it is faded the beam splitter could be fading or the silver on the mirror could be fading. That will need replacing and fixing.
Check the alignments. The horizontal and vertical alignments of the rangefinder. This will tell you if the focus is properly culminated to the lens. If you find that the horizontal alignment is off it will entirely throw off your focus.  First is to go all the way to INFINITY and see if the image lines up in both your viewfinder/rangefinder and the mark on the lens. If you find that the item at INFINITY (at least 100 to 200 feet away) is not lining up (getting a double image) you need to adjust the rangefinder culmination to make sure you don't mess up the focus.
Next is the vertical. Not as critical as the horizontal as it won't cause you to miss your focus, but can if the alignment is too far off. Adjusting the alignments of the rangefinder can be as simple as turning a couple screws... Or as complicated as a disassembly of the entire top of the camera... or more..
The Argus C3 Brick is one of the simplest rangefinders to adjust, where as the Canon 7 is extremely complicated.

Okay, so everything so far has checked out pretty good. Light seals are in decent shape, or can be easily replaced.. Shutter curtains are good, mirror is clean... All in all the camera you chose, rangefinder or SLR, is in good working order... Or is it?
Does it require batteries? Oh crap, it does. CR2... 2CR5.. CR123... AAA... AA.. PX625... LR44.. So big deal.. Pop the batteries in and... What the heck is that green stuff all over the place!?
This is the one thing you have to watch out for with batteries.. Corrosion! Yes how lovely.. But do not despair.. All is not lost. In fact, corrosion is fairly simply to clean up.  Just some white vinegar and some Q-Tips.  Wait?! Vinegar? 
Yes, absolutely!  Vinegar is actually a fairly strong acid. In fact, you can get 3% vinegar, which is basically just Acetic acid.  Using a small amount applied to your cotton swab you can clean out pretty much all the corrosion, which is alkaline based. The Vinegar will cause it to foam and melt away.  Once that is done, you can take a small metal file to brush against the spring contacts to clean them up and add a bit of abrasion to clear off the metal to make a good contact against your battery.
However some battery housings might be more difficult to clean than others.

So everything is good now. Camera is 100% functional... Now what?

That is up to you... Does the camera feel good in your hand? Do you like it?
Ask the owner to let you hold it in your hand for a while... Or is it in a store? Ask if you can walk around with it in the store for a bit.. Maybe they have a lens you can try on it. See how it feels after 10 minutes pretending to snap a photo or three with it.
Still feel good?  Great!

So it looks like things are good.

Remember, picking your first film camera shouldn't be a chore. It should be an inexpensive first purchase. One that you can learn the ins and outs of film photography with.

Another thing that was mentioned to me by fellow photography +Bill Smith is that a consideration should be about the availability of batteries, or about the possibility of a camera repair technician to fix the camera should something ultimately go wrong.  Very good ideas and valuable knowledge to have.

Thanks Bill!

Until next time, keep those shutters firing!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

A Post In A While


Ah, so I haven't posted in ages. No I haven't been neglecting it I have just simply been stupidly busy with life lately. I have been shooting, but not as much as I would like to. I try to get out regularly to shoot, but quite frankly it is easier said than done lately. So I wanted to give an update on some stuff I have been doing.

Thankfully I have my trust Nokia Lumia 1020 mobile camera phone with me so I can get some shooting done when I have a moment or two, but I would love to have a go-to film camera more often than not. But sadly they are a bit restrictive and bulky for my job. Quite simply it would be too difficult for me to work with a film camera instead of my phone.

However a recent film shooters meetup and walk (summer 2015) took us to St. Lawrence Market and the surrounding area over to C'est What bar and grill. It is a absolutely lovely place to grab a bite and a pint.

Oh incidentally my wife and I have also gone completely Vegan. Don't know what that is? Look it up!

 www.vegan.com

I won't bore you with those details, I'll talk strictly about the shooting I did at St. Lawrence Market. It was great fun, but a little.... crazy..!
I shot some CBEMA (Svema) FN64 rated at 200 there (which came out stunning btw) and some wonderful Porta 800! That film is amazing. No, not in 35mm... 120!

I have been finding myself more drifting to 120 instead of 135 lately, just simply because I prefer the lower number of frames and larger sized frames. It makes such a difference having such massive film (at least to me).

Midday Meal - Zenza Bronica SQ-Ai - 80mm ƒ/2.8 - Portra800
My go-to camera is the Bronica SQ-Ai. It just instantly became my go-to camera for, well, basically anything I shoot!  I love the square and how the camera handles. It just feels right in my hands, but I'm a Bronica kind of guy!
Main Entrance - Zenza Bronica SQ-Ai - 80mm ƒ/2.8 - Portra 800
The market is beautiful inside and quite chaotic, but it makes for some interesting photo opportunities. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but it was the outdoor shots that I enjoyed most!
When we left the Market and wandered about Downtown Toronto I got to try out street photography with a medium format SLR!  Go figure!

The Odd Couple - Zenza Bronica SQ-Ai - 80mm ƒ/2.8 - Portra800
Not the easiest thing to do, shooting street photography with such a big camera, but I managed to, as these people didn't even have the slightest clue that I had even taken their photo, another plus for Waist Level Finders...
The Lady With The Lilac Parasol - Zenza Bronica SQ-Ai - 80mm ƒ/2.8 - Portra800
The shot above literally took more than 10 minutes to take.  I had it all lined up at one point, but then other people started to show up in the shot and I had to wait.  I didn't want random people pollution in the photo, so I waited and waited and waited...
Then this lady started walking toward me and the moment arrived... She was the sole person in the shot and actually stood out just enough to give this more than a landscape shot...

I tripped the shutter and perfect!  I knew I had nailed the perfect photo..

Across The Bar - Zenza Bronica SQ-Ai - 80mm ƒ/2.8 - Portra800

Yeah, we ended up at a bar/pub after.. We always do for 'after-walk' refreshments, which means beer.. It was fantastic!  We got fries and a beer, of course.  +Alex Luyckx, the organizer of the walk, let my wife wander around with a Hasselblad. Lucky gal!
Well Crafted - Zenza Bronica SQ-Ai - 80mm ƒ/2.8 - Protra800 
However my wife decided on a coke instead... but I couldn't have framed this photo any better..

So yes, I am still active, just haven't been updating my blog often enough.  I hope to rectify that soon and get some more Camera Reviews as well..

Until next time... Keep those shutters firing!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Roll Reversal - A Safe Alternative

Many people who know me know that I am all for experimentation with film.  One film I have done excessive amounts of experimentation with is Polypan F.  The one thing I have never done is REVERSAL of it.  I have done reversal with SCALA and Foma 100R (films made for reversal). And lets not forget the Kodak Cinecopy #5363 that I used.  


Soft Bokeh


The one problem with doing Reversals yourself is the harsh chemicals.  Potassium Permaganate is one thing (Found in fish medicine to treat Ich (pronounced Ick)).  The other chemical is Sulfuric Acid.  That is battery acid!  VERY bad chemical to have. It's ... well... acid!  Let's face it Acid is not person friendly, let alone safe and kid friendly!  Those with kids, not the easiest to have these kind of chemicals around.

The other option is to send to Dr5.com, which is a great way to get some absolutely stunning reversals!  However, what if you are not in a place where shipping a roll of film to DR5 is economical... What about doing it yourself without using harsh chemicals... Is there a way?

Apparently there is.  +Kelly-Shane Fuller, who is known for his E3 reversal in modern terms using HC-110 and C-41 to get E3 reversals with more stable colour dyes than the original E3 process...

Well.... lets look at his Chemically Safe B&W Reversal process..
For one, you use Hydrogen Peroxide (available the world over at drug stores) 3% which is as safe as it gets, considering you can pour it over an open wound to clean it out.  The other is Vinegar... Good old fashioned White Vinegar, which is a great thing... You can mix it to make a B&W bleach, or... pour it on your fries....

So he made a 260mL solution...  How?  Let's get into it;

250mL Hydrogen Peroxide 3%

10mL (2 tsp) White Vinegar
Heat to 150°F

So that's it...

Steps required;

Develop Film as normal using your favorite B&W developer...
BLEACH 6 Minutes
Fully Expose to light (take out of the container and off the reel)
Re-Develop to finality (you can reuse your Developer you poured out)
FIX

Wash
Photoflo
Dry

Then you get some beautiful slides!


B&W slide test 1
Kodachrome 64 (Expired) As B&W Slide
Yeah, that's right.  KODACHROME as a slide again! Sadly, no colour, but hey, a Kodachrome slide is something to behold!  Regardless of how it is...
B&W slide test 2


B&W slide test 3

Then there is Polypan F (care of your's truly)... It is absolutely stunning!  I couldn't believe the tonality he got out of itI sent him a few rolls of Polypan F down and he finally got around to trying it out... Man.... Not only did I get him hooked on Polypan (It's an easy thing to do) but he is stunned too over the amazing tonality and look of this film as a reversal.
I'm all for B&W reversal.. And the fact that you can now use a much much MUCH more kid friendly version of the bleach..

Thanks Kelly-Shane Fuller!  

Stay tuned as photos of the film on a light table and under room light to show they are "SLIDES" will be posted later..

Can't wait to try this process myself!!
So until next time... Let's keep those shutters firing!

All images were used with permission from the original author and are direct linked from his Flickr stream.
Images are protected under International Copyright Law.  Use without permission is strictly prohibited.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Classic Camera Revival

March 31, 2015The Classic Camera Revival

In 2014 Alex Luyckx asked me about starting up a podcast with John Meadows and my wife Dawn Bitaxi.  Well, after a bit of discussion we all agreed to start it up.  In January 2015 we recorded our first episodes.

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What an exhilarating experience!  We discussed our Workhorse cameras… I talked about my black beauty Canon T90… while Alex discussed the Nikon F4.  My wife Dawn discussed the Olympus OM2 S/P (which has sadly since died) and John discussed his beautiful Mamiya M645 Pro!

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Alex gets very animated holding the Nikon F4

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John's Mamiya 645
In episode 2 we went outside the box to Box Cameras…!  I talked all about my Agfa Shurshot Box Camera, Alex talked about a Kodak Brownie Box and Dawn discussed the Kodak Brownie Bullseye camera…

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And finally in Episode III we got into the Rangefinders… Those wonderful cameras that we all love to use for Street photography.  They are super quiet and unobtrusive. From the Leica to the Zeiss Contax…. I discussed my Kodak 35 RF, while Dawn discussed her beautiful (and incredibly sharp) Olympus 35SP.   Alex happily blabbed on and on about his Himatic 7 from Minolta, which is a real sleeping gem of a camera… John, however, stole the show with his stunningly beautiful Voigtlander Bessa!  Talk about a real star of a camera!  LTM mount, and TTL metering!
You can catch us every month at the end of the month on iTunes and from the Classic Camera Revival Blog (hosted by author of the Podcast Alex Luyckx). Stay tuned as we delve into APS and DIY… plus the Communist Cameras in May!
Also with all episodes we also discuss Darkroom printing and at-home developing! Look forward to hearing from you regarding the CLASSIC CAMERA REVIVAL! Until next time, keep those shutters firing!


*All above images were taken on a Canon A-1 w/50mm ƒ/1.4 lens on Fuji Superia 400 film

Monday, March 2, 2015

Continuing The Tradition...

Today was a little different for me.  I was on my way home and I drove passed a local camera and film supply chain, known as Henrys.  (www.henrys.com).
I'm always a weakling when it comes to film and camera stores.  Well I decided to pop in and see what they had, and sure enough there was some Ilford MGIV 16x20 paper.  I thought I grabbed the Fibre based, but instead I grabbed RC.  Ah well, that's okay, I'll be able to work with it that way no problem, especially since I have a couple of photos I am dying to turn into 16x20 prints!
Now to find some 16x20 trays... Yes I bought paper I cannot develop yet, shaddup!  It's a smart idea, because now I have no excuse but to find some!

maybe I'll pop into a hardware store and improvise somehow...
ABS tubing perhaps??

Anyway, onto the main part of this post.  Although I am not shooting quite as much film this year as others, I am making up for it by getting caught up on printing.  I do not believe for a moment that a photo should live as a negative or a scan, or even on a computer, but should be finalized as a print.  If you want to feel something for that photo you love, make a print...

Well, my eldest (almost 7) he saw the big pack of paper and thought it was neat... Since he's learning to read and wanted to know what it was I had him sound it all out.

"ILFORD PHOTOGRAPHIC PAPER"...

Took about 5 minutes of work and sounding it out syllable by syllable, but he felt very very proud of himself to be able to do it.

Sure enough they wanted to know what I do with this paper, so I told them.  BUT that wasn't enough.. Looking at the time I realized, yeah I have enough time before dinner... So I said, "alright, come with me, but it'll be really dark down there!"
Didn't phase them at all, especially the youngest who has no problem with the dark.  Eldest, well, he's a little scared of the dark.

Well they came down with their little flashlights to light the way, and waltzed over to my darkroom.  Sitting down on the milk-crates I gave them a dry walkthrough of how it works.
I showed them picking the negative and loading it into the holder, to how it looks projected down onto the paper.
They even looked through my grain focuser to see the image and how it is focused.

After a dry run with the lights off, they asked if they could see me make a print.
I took my youngest's flashlight (he doesn't quite understand) and let him pull the chain to turn off the light.
Flipping the switch on my Besseler 45MXT to turn on the safelight so they could see (and myself included) I filled the trays with the Developer (which is close to a year old, has been mixed with some Ilfosol-3 and D76, don't ask, and looks like really bad Guiness), Stop and Fix (fix at least is very fresh as I just mixed it less than 24 hours previous).
After that was done I told them to both stand up and see the image as I "stop down" the lens.  They thought that was neat, but thought it was even cooler to see the iris of the lens I was holding up (Schneider-Componen 80mm ƒ/5.6 for 645 and 6x6 negatives) to show them why the light was dimming as the iris closed.

After that was set (ƒ/8 on the lens) I set the timer on the enlarger (using my Bogens 69 Special for 35mm) to 30s.  I rarely do test strips, as I seem to be able to just look at the light and know the time required to make the print.. Don't ask, but so far I've never been wrong with RC paper (track record isn't quite as good with Fibre).
Under the safelight I showed them the 8x10 paper I was going to use (Ilford MGIV Satin RC) and how it has two sides.  The matte rough side, which is the back, and the smooth shiny side that is for printing.  They got to feel it and thought it was really cool!
Loading it into my Easel I turned off the safelight and said, okay now we do the print!

I flipped the switch on the timer and told my littlest to stand beside his big brother (who was still sitting) so he could see what was happening.
As the timer silently clicked down to 0 I told them that the next part will be like magic.
The room went black again....  I flipped on the safelight and pulled the paper out of the easel and told them to stand up and stand over beside the developing tray.

Here comes the magic....

I put the paper into the developer and started rocking the tray gently... back.... and forth..
10 seconds... back and forth...
20 seconds... back and forth...

Then the magic happened.... The image started to come to light and the kids expression... "wow!  I see it, daddy... I see it!"
30 seconds...

And for almost 2 minutes in the developer the image was finally done...

Into the stop for 10 seconds and finally the fix for 5 minutes...

The lights came on and the kids were amazed at the magic of the print..  After explaining to them how it all works and explaining to my eldest how two negatives create the positive image and why you get a negative when you shoot film (not that I really expect him to remember it) I dumped the chemicals back into their respective bottles and up to the bathroom to wash the print...

So I showed my kids the process that is more than a century and a half old, and still holds the magic for me today as it did the first time I ever saw a print appear in the developing tray....
Frozen WalkThis print will be a little special for me, as it is the first print I made with my two boys...

Made on Ilford MGIV RC Satin from a negative originally taken on Svema Blue Sensitive film shot on a Canon T90 with a Osawa 24mm ƒ/2.8 lens.  Film developed in Ilfosol-3 1+14 for 6 minutes...

Until next time, keep those shutters firing!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Svema BLUE

Recently +Michael Raso of the FPP sent me a tester care package... So, I got to testing the film!
During the winter months I find myself preferring to staying inside and printing and getting caught up with scanning my negatives.

Either way, as a FPP tester I get rolls of film regularly from them to test.
One of those rolls was known as Svema Blue Sensitive film.  I just call it BLUE for short.  It's a very slow (1.5EI) 35mm blue light sensitive film, which is essentially entirely blind to any other light but blue light.

I have a roll currently in my Olympus Trip-35 that is being exposed at EI4, but the one I am going to be talking about and showcasing on this post is the roll I put through my Canon T90 using a 24mm ƒ/2.8 Osawa MC lens.  The lens is really lovely, and quite sharp even basically wide open, however it does suffer from softness in the corners as expected for this type of lens.  However, it is rectilinear, so you don't get barrel distortion, which I think is one of the most important things for this lens!
A nice flat field, not curved!
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Slow Motion - Canon T90 - Osawa 24mm ƒ/2.8 MC
Earlier this month I was on a photowalk with Alex Luyckx, John Meadows and Ori Carmona (not to mention several other Film-Shooters), and that was the day I had loaded my Canon T90 with some of this UBER slow BLUE film.
Although the film is Blue-Light sensitive, oddly enough, it is yellow in colour.

I wanted to finish this roll, but the light (and my camera) definitely weren't cooperating.
The light was dim, and the weather was cold... My camera didn't seem to like the low-light and cold temps and gave me a EEE error. Strange..
Tried it again after resetting the EEE... same error..
So I put the camera away..

A few days later (just over a week actually) I took the camera out again in much much better light.  Bright blue skies and yet even more bitterly cold.  When I had -2°C and dull over-cast to -11°C and super bright sunlight (yeah you see where this is going?) I thought I'd have the same problem.
Nope, the camera loved the day instead.  Guess it didn't like the over-cast!  I know I didn't, but I still got some rather impressive images that day.
The photos from the Sunday (a week later).. well...
Lets just say I quickly fell absolutely in love with this film!  Darn Michael Raso sending me this film for testing, but I tell you... The other 2 rolls that I have to play with are going to get similar attention to detail, and will be used under identical light conditions.  HOWEVER one will be saved for the summer light and warmth.  Sorry, but I can only take so many -11°C or colder days!
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Boardwalk - Canon T90 - Osawa 24mm ƒ/2.8
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Clutching Branches - Canon T90 - Osawa 24mm ƒ/2.8
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Lakeside Bike Ride - Canon T90 - Osawa 24mm ƒ/2.8
I must admit that my favorite shot of the three posted (from Sunday) is the shot of the cyclist on the beach.  I saw him riding, I just timed it to the point where he was just about under the sun so that I can get the most out of the lens-flare and the reflection of the sun off the water...
Yes, this image will definitely be getting a print.  It's just too good not to print!

Now one of the hardest things to work with on these tester films is developing times.
Since there is essentially no listed times, you have to make up your own and go from there.
I really wanted these shots to work, and so I went with a good staple in my arsenal.  Ilfosol-3 1+14.. My (lately) go to developer!  Yes, I know HC-110 has been my staple developer, but Ilfosol-3 has slowly been taking over for my tester films...!
Well, there's one other thing.  It is not RED LIGHT sensitive.  I went into my darkroom, shut off the over-head and flipped on the safe-light.
However to be safe I loaded the film into the daylight tank in complete darkness.. No sense in possibly fogging it.. Never know!
Set my timer to 12:00 and got the developer all mixed up.
At the 50% mark I opened the tank under the Amber Kodak #13 Safelight and took a look..
Lets just say that at 6 minutes it didn't go back into the tank.  6 minutes was perfect!
I dumped the developer, poured some Ilfostop bath (I was in my darkroom and the Ilfostop was already mixed for prints) then fixed.
A perfect roll!

So until next time fellow shooters, keep those shutters firing!