The Enfojer has been bouncing around the internet for a wee while now and apparently it’s been pulling faces into the dwellings of the Cave Trolls and knocking over their cups of soya lattes.
If you haven’t heard of it it’s a darkroom enlarger for a smart phone. That’s right, you can now make darkroom prints from your smart phone.
The enlarger is quite small, can be folded away neatly and comes with a few extras like trays and an LED safelight with caddies for about 3 different smart phone models.
So I manned up and put this smart phone printing idea to the test using a Durst AC707 enlarger.
I set the brightness to max on my iPhone, inverted the screen and set the sleep timer to never, took out the negative holder in the enlarger and popped in my smart phone.
I was actually quite impressed by how bright the iPhone screen was as it projected quite nicely onto the board.
I had a few sheets of old Ilford paper that I’d inherited with one of my enlargers which I knew was fogged. I picked an exposure time out of my head that seemed right judging the phones brightness with the lens wide open (ƒ4 on a Schneider Kreuznach 80mm Componon-S lens; what a mouthful) and just went for it.
The fact that it worked at all was pretty funny in itself and made me think, wow, I could print anything I wanted!
I went on to run another test print based around that timing which I can’t remember but this one wasn’t so great, the paper just wasn’t right for such a dark image.
It was a photo made with my GF1 of a mid flight pigeon, a favourite subject of mine; here’s the JPEG I used to print:
I decided to break out some Kentmere papers to try again this time with a portrait I’d made with my 5×4 Graphic View camera on Direct Positive paper.
As you can see I simply printed it directly from Flickr, original image below:
Like before I just guessed the timing based on the previous prints and liked it enough to keep going. This next print made me realise the limitations of printing from a screen and that’s moire.
Here’s a test print considerably larger than the previous test prints …
Looking closer you can see the pattern of the retina display creeping in.
First thoughts were I’m not sure I like that but the more I thought about it the more I felt it could be interesting when used in the right context or project.
The original jpeg image was made on a bottom of the range Nokia Windows phone and I’m not sure of its specs so perhaps it could be a mix of low-quality jpeg and the screen but it’s unlikely.
Here’s another example of a mega-crop to see this new ‘grain’.
So after a wee bit of mucking about with the iPhone I decided to run through a few negatives the ‘proper’ way. Starting with something from my FED 3.
At the time I didn’t have a pair of scissors in the room so I just had to rip the paper; I quite like the ripped edge look.
At this time in the evening I was fading fast so I was just guessing exposures and going on gut with the lens at ƒ8 using grade 4 or 4 and a half.
Here’s a print of people protesting against an SDL protest across the street.
I ended the night with a contact print of the second test shot made in the homemade Tropicana camera.
So I’ve tried the enlarger as a faux Enfojer and it works, has an interesting look, and when enlarging beyond a certain size you get an interesting moire/grainy look. I’ll definitely do more once I have a more permanent darkroom space.
… but non …
I had a minor war over the Enfojer because I dared to be positive (not actually daring tbh), my argument was/still is that if it makes pictures and that’s a good thing.
If I could afford to contribute I would but I’m in the process of moving house with the possibility of having to rent for a while.
I was semi-shocked to find most of the ‘negative responses’ were from the film photography communities, a common thread was ‘this isn’t the best way to get people interested in film!‘ Does it need to?
Actual comments made to me verbatim:
“If you want to print in darkroom, buy old film cam & experience it for real. Or buy a polaroid cam instead of instagram.”
“I think it’s a mediocre gimmick. Why half ass it?”
“you think this is really the simplest answer to get people to enjoy darkroom work?”
“it’s exactly the same idea like that impossible thing. Which is of the same calibre of ‘dumbness’ if you ask me”
“buy a medium format folder zeiss Ikonta style for 90$ and an enlarger of ebay. Do it good or don’t try at all.“
That last tweet sounded, to me, like pure snobbery and when I said so with “I don’t see any room for snobbery in picture making, lets just bloody make pictures any way we can!” I got inundated with tweets most of which were against me even though several hadn’t even seen the context of the tweet.
I know there’s a lot of anal people out there who must have things exactly so and that’s great for them but not everyone is, why not just be happy with what you have?
I’m interested in experimenting so playing with an iPhone and an enlarger makes a lot of sense to me I think it’s good.
fin 4 realz