Behind The Film - Jonathan Osborn Posted On 13th October 2022 To Magazine & Behind the Film
For our 12th Behind The Film interview, we speak to Jonathan Osborn who is one of our scientists here at ILFORD.
Who are you? What’s your job title HARMAN technology and how long have you worked here?
My name is Jonathan Osborn and I am a Scientist at Harman. I am currently in my 25th year working at ILFORD. (Where did that time go!)
Tell us a little about your day to day role.
Predominantly I have worked on the photographic paper side as the lead scientist on the development of the fantastic new MG Deluxe paper. Recently, I have branched more into the photographic film side working on raw material changes, problem-solving, improving the manufacturability of our products. Day to day I can be designing experiments for our laboratory technicians, testing and analysing results, attending manufacturing trials on the big coating machine or the pilot coating machine. I spend less time in the lab these days however I like nothing better than getting back into the lab under safelight when I can, doing the experimental stuff preparing and coating trials on our pilot coating machine.
Share a favourite photo that you shot on ILFORD / Kentmere film and tell us why it’s your favourite.
Have you always shot film, or did you get infected with the bug when you started working here?
I really have only seriously shot film for a couple of years after getting a camera off eBay coinciding with the starting of a film club at work and it is a revelation to find the growing amount of people into film in general and on social media sharing photos, stories, and techniques. I remember my Grandad used to talk about the dark room in his bathroom and him getting frustrated with how his photos turned out, I would have loved to swap notes and frustrations with him now.
What subjects do you like to photograph and how would you describe your photographic style?
We have a camera club at work that has a theme each month for example one month was ‘movement’ so involved a lot of slow shutter and tripod shots, I used a Newton’s Cradle as my muse. Upon showing my partner she said the photo was blurred! I live in Stoke-on-Trent so there is a mixture of the new and old and I can’t resist an old decaying building particularly pubs and ‘ghost signs’ on buildings revealing a little glimpse into the history of the building. In additions, I also like shooting landscapes and our dogs Max and Pretzel are very photogenic. I don’t think I have a specific photographic style yet.
What mistakes have you made shooting film that you are not too embarrassed to share?
Trying to rewind the film on my Practica MTL5 without pressing the rewind button eventually snapping the film in frustration.
How many different film stocks have you shot? (Not just ours.)
Only black & white ILFORD/Kentmere and Kodak Ultrachrome.
Do you develop yourself or take advantage of the staff discount at Harmanlab?
I love developing myself. It is still like magic to me to see a load of small negative pictures on the spiral when washing the film. I often use the Harman lab when I become overwhelmed with negatives that I want to see the results on. The Harman lab people are very skilled, and they do a fast turnaround.
Have you ever printed your negatives in the darkroom?
Harman have a company darkroom that we can use in our own time that I take advantage of honing the printing techniques and seeing if I can get the absolute best print out of a negative verging on obsessive! We have multiple enlargers so when joined with colleagues we can debate what filter, exposure time etc to give the print but it is very subjective. I have found there is no right answer just people’s own personal taste.
What film camera(s) do you own, and which is your favourite?
I have a Practica MTL5, I read a quote online that said “at the end of the world there will only be cockroaches and the MTL5 left!” and I certainly bash it around. There are better cameras but the MTL5 has taught me more in a few months than my Canon digital SLR did in years. I also own an Olympus XA2 point and shoot for more candid photos.
Which is your favourites film in our range? Tel us why and share a shot taken with it.
I quite like XP2 Super, it is 400 ISO but less grain than a typical 400 ISO film.
About The Author
I am Jonathan and am coming up to 50 years on this planet. I have worked in various departments at ILFORD over my 25 years and have seen the company go through some very hard times, but I have never seen it as strong or run with the passion that it is now, and it is exciting to see the huge growth in black and white film and paper especially in younger generations. I swap photography notes with my Girlfriend’s daughter, Elle who has a passion for photographing decay like rust, peeling paint which she recreates in her designs www.elleforemandesigns.com
I live in Staffordshire with my girlfriend and our 2 dogs, Max, and Pretzel. Most of the time we can be found white water kayaking (or swimming as I call it) in Wales or Sea Kayaking off the coast off Anglesey but peculiarly this is a subject I find really challenging to photograph.
The day I take the perfect photo I will give up!