For The Love of Film Photography

Posted: 10/20/2011

Barbara J. Dombach's earnest photographic journey began in 1986 when she completed 10 solo shows and participated in over 70 group shows, winning various awards and merits including a 1992 “Lancaster City Arts Grant” to complete a project using Kodak HIE Infrared film.

In 2003 she was a Juried Recipient of “Artist in Residency” at Acadia National Park.  Her work has been published on the cover of Sept./Oct 2000 issue of “Photo Techniques” Magazine; 1994 cover of CD for “Eye-wish Eye”,  “Diffusion Magazine – Unconventional Photography” Volume II & III (2010 & 2011), “Imprints” The Official Publication of Professional Women Photographers fall/winter 2010 and various local publications.

Barbara is also a member of various organizations that encourage the use of historic photographic processes and photographic education; SPE-Society for Photographic Education, F-295 Exploring 21st Century Photography,, Lancaster County Art Association, the Lancaster Independent Photographer Group and (of course) a FPP listener!

“Rolling the dice” – self-portrait (gelatin silver print)

Blog by Barbara J. Dombach

I am a self-taught photographic artist with an incurable allure for the use of historic photographic processes.  Lancaster County, Pennsylvania is my home where I faithfully maintain a large working darkroom.  It’s the hands on approach to photography that I am so passionate about.  Creating images this way leaves a humanistic mark from the artist, because each artist develops our own individualized technique, not delegated by a computer program, creating a unique work with each image.  A personalization to remain fostered by vision and truly orchestrated by the artist’s hand.

PINHOLE IMAGE HOLGA-120WPC - “Cow Game board” – (gelatin silver print)

Eight years ago I began my “Fair Play-Counterclockwise” project and have journeyed to small town fairs from Maryland to northern Maine experiencing and embracing the cultural differences associated with each area of the country.   Growing up on a farm and in a community surrounded by agricultural influence our local fairs were strictly agricultural fairs with no carnival sparkle.  A carnival was entirely a different entity outside of our agricultural realm, while other small communities 20 plus miles away blended the agricultural with carnival glitter and also succeeded in attracting large crowds to their annual event.

HOLGA 120N WITH FISHEYE ADAPTER - “Merry Go Around” – (gelatin silver print)

I should credit my fascination and curiosity with counterclockwise movement to my parents.  When a youngster they would take me to a local amusement park in Lancaster, Pennsylvania called, Rocky Springs, were I would ride the merry-go-round for hours and reach for brass rings.  Now, fifty years later, the park is no longer there yet my fascination for circling the earth beneath me from a carnival ride lives on in my heart.  Troubled with arthritis and pain from back surgeries I can no longer ride these wonders of physics that move in counterclockwise motion.  Vicariously I now enjoy seeing the trill expressed by others who are able to do so.

PINHOLE IMAGE HOLGA 120WPC - “Sky High” – (gelatin silver Lith Print)

I have had a camera in my hands and near me since I was 10.  Proudly I say I remember using Kodachrome 64 and I cried when it was no longer available. Toy cameras became a major part of my camera assortment 20 years ago when most were still called film cameras and not toys.  These are the toy camera’s I use;  Holga’s 120N, some of which have been modified for 35mm, Holga pinhole panoramic,  Mini Diana, modified Kodak 126 camera that I use 35mm cassettes in, several garage sale finds and a Vivitar won at Film Photography Podcast.   When I want to get a little serious my Minolta Maxxum a7 35mm SLR & Lensbaby come to my aide, sometimes my Hasselblad’s XPan, 501 and Toyo 4X5.


HOLGA 120N - “Sky Flyer” - (gelatin silver lith print)

My choice of black & white 35mm & 120 films include Kodak T-max 400 (processed in T-Max developer) Ilford HP5 400 and Ilford 3200 (processed in HC110 dilution B).  I would love to see the return of Kodak HIE Infrared.  I usually bulk load 35mm film to save a few dollars and control the length of the role more precisely, since the Kodak 126 and my Mini Diana like shorter rolls.  All film is processed in Jobo tanks in my darkroom.   If color film is used it is always Fuji 200, 400 and the professional film Fuji PRO 160S & 400H.  Color film is sent out for development.

WET PLATE COLLODION(made in darkroom from a 35mm slide) - “Carousel  8”

HOLGA 120N WITH FISHEYE ADAPTER - “Oh Sunny Day” - (gelatin silver sepia toned print)

In 2004 I was guest Instructor at Tyler School of Art and I have taught Basic & Advanced Photography & Darkroom Techniques at local colleges and schools in the southeastern part of Pennsylvania.  As head of the photographic education Department at Hirtech, Inc. (an amateur and professional Photographers store, rental darkroom and photographic educational facility in Lancaster, Pa.), I lectured and taught workshops there and in PA, NJ, MD & Delaware for 8 years.  Prior to this I was employed as a photojournalist for 9 years at a local newspaper.

PINHOLE IMAGE HOLGA 120WPC - “ Spinning Wheels” - (gelatin silver lith print)



FPP Newsletter

Enter your e-mail address and receive our newsletter directly to your inbox.