Stenoflex, well it’s a little box of joy that lets you experience the whole traditional photographic process from start to finish. From loading you camera, taking the shot to developing your film. It’s perfect for first timers, people using it as a teaching tool or anyone that doesn’t have access to a dark room.
Contents of the box:
1 x Instructions
1 x Red gel
1 x sachet of Developer
1 x sachet of Fixer
10 x square pieces of photographic paper
The box itself = 1 x pinhole camera
What is it?
Essentially it’s a pinhole camera and the added bonus is that the chemicals are provided so you can develop the pictures yourself in your own home or wherever you choose to use it.
How does it work?
Firstly you have to find a room and block out the light. I stuck 2 blankets across the window and this worked fine. A red gel is provided so you can put it over your phone. This will be your light source whilst developing the images. You need 3 bowls: 1 for the developer, 1 for water in and 1 for the Fixer.
Once this is set up you are ready to load up the pinhole camera. In your newly created darkroom you take the paper out of it’s light tight bag and insert it into one side of the box. Closing the box you are ready to go out and take a shot. When you want to take the image, you pull the little hand out, which is positioned on the side of the box. A tiny little hole is revealed and this exposes the photographic paper to light, creating your image.
It’s important to get your timings right as too little time will mean you’ll end up with a few marks on the paper, but nothing distinctive, like the image below:
Too much time and the whole picture will become black when you develop it. They suggest times in the instructions, which is good to get a rough idea, but it’s good to test it out and find your own times.
When you’ve taken your shot you need to head back to the darkroom, and remember to go slow, although it’s exciting, there’s no need to go tripping up the stairs, like I did.
Once you’re in, you need to take the photo paper out of the camera and submerge in the Developer. If you watch the paper, like magic an image will appear. This is my favourite part of the process. Before it gets too dark, put in the water and then finally in the Fixer, this stops it over-developing.
You’ll then be left with a negative image. To make it positive you can scan it into the computer and then inverted it and you’ve passed the finishing line!
Why it’s good
In this fast paced day and age of digital technology it’s nice to go back to old-school photography where it takes time to get one shot. I had forgotten how magical this process is. It makes you think about it, something that can be lost with the quick click of a digital camera and you get to physically hold the print in your hands. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t but this is a good thing as it makes you learn why it went wrong and how you can make the next shot better.
If you’re interested in photography and haven’t tried developing your own pictures before then Stenoflex is defo for you and what happens when you run out? Fear not, Freds also sell a box of re-fill papers and chemicals to keep you going. I’d recommend Stenoflex as it made me remember the beauty of slowing down and appreciating the joy of every image appearing and the process that it takes in getting there.
Some examples of images taken with the Stenoflex:
We also sell this beauty of a Panda Head at Freds.
If you would like to take a look at Stenoflex on our website, click here.