This guide is my attempt to provide relevant information and updates for Analog.Cafe readers in light of the global pandemic.
Below, you will find an overview of the latest — as of May 21, 2021 — scientific research on pathogen safety, financial aid resources for artists, help with quarantine boredom, as well as updates from film manufacturers and small businesses.
✪ Note: If you have a correction or would like to contribute to this guide, please contact me.
This section summarizes the latest research on COVID-19 disease. It’s a dry read; I think that it can be a helpful and important summary of relevant information and may help you keep yourself and your loved ones safe.
Background: I work as a senior web developer at WebMD. I build applications for healthcare professionals and have access to some digital tools they use in everyday practice. I’ve learned how to understand and interpret scientific research at the University of Toronto as a BSc undergraduate student. I am making my best attempt to back each claim I make here with a direct link to the relevant paper.
The COVID-19 disease, caused by the SARS‐CoV‐2 virus, is believed to infect people through cough droplets and fine aerosol particles that escape our mouths in certain circumstances. Those particles may persist in the air for some time and precipitate or get slathered on inanimate objects, like film and cameras. You may learn about the dynamics of droplets from this video.
The virus is also known to replicate efficiently in cats and some other domestic animals. The linked article describes lab-controlled settings for infection, not real-world scenarios.
Many persons end up carrying and spreading the virus without showing any symptoms. The pathogen is highly contagious, much more than seasonal flu, and it is also ten times more likely to kill a person than seasonal flu. Aside from contact, the likelihood of infection depends on the total number of viruses allowed to enter our bodies, i.e., infectious dose, which is speculated to be in hundreds.
Isolation is a reasonably straightforward strategy. Stay away from the virus, and it won’t get you. Aside from keeping distance, face masks play a key role in the prevention of the infection as they isolate the movement of small liquid particles that come out of our mouths when we breathe and speak that may contain the virus. All credible health authorities implore you to wear one whenever you are in proximity of others.
Hygiene and cameras have been discussed on PetaPixel, particularly the use of alcohol wipes on gear and lenses. However, there could be issues disinfecting equipment with leather trim; alcohol is also capable of deteriorating some plastic components. In practice, it’s a lot easier to just keep the hands clean.
✪ Note: Do not attempt to bathe your camera in alcohol; that may render it useless. Do not use bleach; it can react with your camera’s components. Avoid brushing hand sanitizer on your gear; it can make everything sticky.
In addition to following health officials’ recommendations, I suggest keeping your pockets empty if you choose to venture outside. Headphones and mobile devices are often in contact with our face and hands, which yield an increased chance of transmission should you accidentally touch a surface with the virus on it. Film cameras are no exception: we touch them with hands and bring them up to the eye to focus and frame; it may be best to leave them at home.
Time and type of material determine the chances of a virus remaining on the surface. This could be an important factor when you’re considering your safety while unpacking your parcels. According to the recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the virus may remain in high levels of contamination for 10 hours on copper, 30 hours on cardboard, 70 hours on steel, and 80 hours on plastic. The experiments have limitations as they do not represent all types of products and alloys, but it’s worth knowing that the bug does not live forever. Another review paper assesses that “human coronaviruses can remain infectious on inanimate surfaces at room temperature for up to 9 days” — this is the authors’ assessment of top-value estimates for multiple surfaces, strains, and coronaviruses.
✪ Note: the above set of recommendations regarding touch/fomite spread of the virus uses laboratory-based research that does not necessarily match real-world scenarios. Despite its findings, there has not yet been found sufficient proof that the virus spreads in that fashion. Understand that the virus may still be transmissible via surfaces, as there’s no evidence to the contrary either.
The gelatine content in photographic film can not facilitate the growth of the virus. Its surface may retain the contamination for up to 9 days, as mentioned above. However, unlike bacterium, all viral agents require specific live host cells to replicate and can not rely on feed protein alone.
Washing your hands after unpacking items you may have bought online and keeping your cardboard box in recycling, untouched for nine days, should be enough to neutralize the pathogen — if there’s any.
I think it’s important to understand that our comprehension of the SARS‐CoV‐2 virus is still very young. The scientific knowledge that we have is not enough to guarantee safety for anyone, though it’s the best guide for keeping healthy at this time. Should you like to learn more from elsewhere, I recommend you check the references and ensure that the information is derived from a reputable scientific publication, authored by people with a Ph.D. in a related field of study. Your ability to discern reasonable evidence from speculation and misinterpretation is paramount — see the latest research on the quality of information online.
Financial aid for creative professionals and amateurs.
DearWorld.org is having an open call for portraits with an “ink on skin” message, taken at home. The organizers will select 100 works that will receive $200 micro-grants.
Format opened The Photographer Fund with $25,000 up for distribution to those who are affected.
In the US: “Artist Relief will distribute $5,000 grants to artists facing dire financial emergencies due to COVID-19.”
In Canada: “[T]he federal government and the Canada Council for the Arts announced new relief measures that could help the not-for-profit culture sector” — canadianart. Heritage Canada will distribute $500-million in funding to support “artists, creators, and the rising stars of our sporting associations.” Canadian Broadcasting Corporation “launches Art Uncontained and $1 million artist fund with Canada Council.”
Mental health during and post-pandemic.
UC Berkeley has published an extensive guide on how to deal with mental health challenges and combat creative burnout as the result of the pandemic. It includes a wealth of links, advice, and research references.
Quarantine with a film camera: creative ideas for the home-bound.
Analog.Cafe’s “Monochrome at Home” call for submissions went out with an expectation of being acted on out of quarantine and 100% of proceeds being donated to charity. While this particular zine issue is closed for submissions, your stories and articles are always welcome for publication on the website.
Emulsive published a list of sixty-five photographic projects to do at home.
Video hangouts with Studio C-41 could be a great way to stay connected to the community while learning something new. To participate, you will need to request access via Studio C-41 Facebook group.
Live YouTube streams with Analogue Wonderland are held every Tuesday at 8 PM UK time on their channel.
Over 1,000 online photography courses became available free, according to TechRadar.
MoMA is now offering free art courses online.
Film manufacturers and businesses during COVID-19.
Fujifilm is a diverse corporation, only a small part of which produces film. One of its subsidiaries, Fujifilm Toyama Chemical, is testing a drug, Avigan, as a possible treatment for the disease. While there’s some optimism around its prospects, the results, whether it’s Avigan or any other drug, are not yet conclusive — despite the linked article’s title. Digital Photography Review has recently published an interview where its General Manager of Optical Device and Electronic Imaging Products Division shares some optimism for the camera industry. In 2021 the company had discontinued a number of emulsions due to the lack of raw materias, which was due to global supply issues caused by the pandemic.
Naturally, when things progressed over the past month, we went through all our options. While people certainly have more important things on their plates than trying new film stock and it is not the ideal time for a launch, we decided that we’re taking the risk anyway. We genuinely believe it is important to keep fostering our creative community around the world, now more than ever! Photography brings us together.
— Birgit Buchart, Lomography USA.
Film Ferrania has updated its shop and resumed sales of their black & white P30 film stock on May 28th.
Macodirect reports potential delays in international shipping.
Freestyle Photographic Supplies and B&H Photo now only accept online orders.
Adorama offers online shipping and “contactless” curbside pickup.
Henry’s, “[o]ne of Canada’s oldest camera retailers,” is in financial trouble, apparently made conspicuous by the epidemic.
With most storefronts are now closed, Ilford Photo has created a list of businesses, by country, which offer their products online. This is a long and frequently updated list you can use to find a shop or a lab near you.