3.4 The Quest for C-41

Note from the future:
The invention of photographic film, a light-sensitive emulsion on a flexible strip, along with the access to photo labs, allowed photography to become widespread and popular throughout the entire 20th century.  But there were distinct limitations associated with film that simply don’t exist in modern digital photography.  The limited number of exposures that could fit on a roll of film was one of them, requiring careful consideration of what scenes were worthy of each precious frame.  There was also a need to keep the film safely stored away from direct light and at the right temperature and humidity.  But the most severe limitation was that there was no “preview”; each exposure was taken on faith, because the film needed to be chemically developed and printed before the success (or failure) of a shot could be determined.

I was now a week into my travels and had experienced the luck of good weather and had succeeded in making a few exposures of the night sky from my small arsenal of cameras.  Some of them were astrophotos taken at the prime focus of a telescope, and others were time exposures of the landscape rotating under a starry night.  I was starting to complete entire rolls of film (although admittedly, some were quite short—only 12 exposures.  But even if the film had not been completely utilized, I was eager to find out if my settings and techniques were working.  I would happily wind off the rest of the roll to see if those first few exposures yielded successful images.  But that meant that I would need to find a place that could develop them.  

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