Archive for b&w

Nostalgia on a Roll of Rollei Retro 400S.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 15, 2015 by yammerman

Pic013 There are projects online where people take great pleasure in processing old film that has been left for years sitting in a camera or on a shelf. These are moments in time, waiting to be revealed to a world they could not have imagined.  Young girls that are now old maids, soldiers on tanks their fates as yet unknown, an analogue world pregnant with possibilities.

Then there are those so seduced by the new digital age that, though they shoot film, are actually too lazy to process it preferring the instant gratification provided by the shiny new pixel machines. Not me, of course; I would never allow 10 rolls of film to back up on the shelf for years, convinced that nothing in the viewfinder was of much interest, but merely created because the sound of a shutter clicking is rather pleasant and fondling a film camera is a delight……..well, OK, maybe.

So this is the first roll that’s been through the chemicals,  a three year old roll of Rollei Retro 400S shot while the country was awash with Olympic fever in 2012. I think you’d have to agree that these images capture the true flavour of the spirit that gripped the nation during that heady summer. It’s hard to believe such a remarkable record of nostalgia could remain unprocessed for so long.

The Massive Dev chart reckoned on 22min in Rodinal 1+50 @20degrees  but I always find those numbers too long for my setup and went with 17.5 mins.  They seem to scan a bit better when under developed like this. The only problem is the dust, which drives me nuts and which I get bored trying to clone out.

I give you eight off the roll not because they are any good but because I can. In a world with some staggeringly good photographers, I feel I could claim a niche in the ‘dullness’ movement. I just need to work up my artistic statement and then, look out, Turner Prize.

I feel duty bound to leave no film unprocessed upon my demise as I can only imagine the disappointed faces of the retronauts when they unfurl the rolls from the fix. Scanned and tweaked in Lightroom.

Garden Macro with a Wista 45 and Nikon 120mm

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 6, 2014 by yammerman



Enough time had passed since my last large format macro shots that I’d forgotten how testing it can be but, with the sun shining on the garden, the urge came upon me.  Internet wisdom suggests that 5×4 macro is a waste of time and only for the foolish, which makes me its target market.

When attempting large format photography, it’s like living in a camera flow chart; you need to know your gear and remember the steps.  Open the shutter at f5.6, compose the scene and focus, check the exposure, close the shutter, adjust aperture and time, set the lens to fire, put dark slide in, then open the slide and press shutter, and then close dark slide.   I’m bound to have forgotten something I usually do.  A whole heap of agro you might think, but it appeals to the purist in me and forces upon me a discipline that is quite unnatural.   The payoff is to view the scene so large on the ground glass, looking quite beautiful, it’s upside down of course  but almost everything looks stunningly clear and it gives me a thrill of pleasure every time.

Of course, you have a dark cloth over your head while composing and focusing so it gets darn hot with the sun shining.  Then there’s the wind shaking those darling buds whenever you point a camera at them.  I also found on this occasion that I needed a small torch to see the aperture numbers so, with the exposure meter, loupe, dark slide and torch, your hands are pretty full.  A manservant would be the ideal accessory, perhaps serving a small aperitif before each shot.  When I think of photographers in the 19th century out in the world, working like this with tougher conditions and more cumbersome equipment, my jaw drops in respect.

After an hour of huffing and puffing and the occasional curse, I had, what I hoped, were some interesting large negatives to process. This gave me the opportunity to use a new method of development, replacing the trays with a MOD54 plastic frame that allows six 5×4 negs to fit in a Patterson three reel tank.   This means I don’t have to stand in complete darkness for ten minutes with only the robotic female voice of an audio timer for company.   Operating the timer and manipulating the film into three trays while experiencing this sensory deprivation is an art in itself.   A weaker man than I might experience the return of his childhood fear of the dark, or be forced to confront hideous monsters of the Id, in the gurgling nothingness that is a light tight darkroom.

The learning curve on the new MOD54 wasn’t without mishap as I tried to load it to its full capacity of six negatives.   Having practiced in the light, it all seemed to be going so well in the changing bag until I took out the filled tank to find a sheet of film had fallen off in the bag and was now ruined.  I’ve learnt to shrug off these disasters now, as it seems to be the price for not practicing this art more regularly.

The massive Dev chart suggested 9 mins @20 degrees for HP5+ in Ilford HC, but experience has taught me that my set-up and method always needs less time, so I knocked it down to 7 mins.  The only other problem was my fix had gone off a tad so, although it appeared to be working, it was cloudy with white bits.  I pressed on regardless as the corner shop gave up stocking photographic chemicals a long time ago.

The negatives turned out OK (though with a fair amount of white specks possibly dust or fix debris) but some seemed to have been mis-loaded or had jumped out of their grooves during agitation plus, to my horror, the MOD54 seemed to have scratched them at the edges.   A quick Google confirmed that others had suffered the same fate and the suggestion was to load less sheets and to smooth any burrs on the plastic of the MOD54.  I followed this advice and processed four in the second batch and appeared to have no scratches. I think practice will make me better, so it’s a big thumbs up from me for this method of developing 5×4 film.

Smart people will spot that I messed up one of the sheets with a double exposure, which I put down to poor method and a lack of discipline.  I quite like the others, though some might say that 35mm or digital would produce better results a lot easier.  But, heck, where’s  the fun in that; plus when I die and go to photography heaven, I can look those Victorian antecedents in the eye and say at least I tried on occasion to do it their way.

A few tweaks in Lightroom 4 and then scanned with a Epson V700.







Double Exposure with a Nikon F3

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 10, 2014 by yammerman


Still in my on-going familiarisation process with the Nikon F3, so I thought it wise to have a look at the manual to ensure I was its master.  I was prompted by the fact that I couldn’t find the self-timer which I was convinced it must possess.  My assumption proved correct as the movement of a lever by the shutter dial does the trick.  I noticed that I could also achieve double exposures with the use of another small switch by the shutter button.   This aroused my curiosity with the possibilities.

This week I set about my annual ritual of oiling the garden furniture which means placing the chairs in two rows in the garden.  Rows of empty seats are familiar to me from my days in no-hoper bands, playing to an indifferent public; so  it occurred to me I could perhaps use these in conjunction with my new found understanding of the Nikon F3 to create some images.

To this end I set about what is recorded in the selection of snaps below.  It’s best not to indulge in too much analysis of what on earth I was thinking, though professional psychologists might enjoy holidays in five star luxury on the fees they might accrue from seeking an explanation.

It is said you should become familiar with just one type of film so, ignoring that advice, I’m on my third different film this week. This time it was Rollei Retro 100 in Rodinal at 20 degrees for 10 minutes.  That’s over 20% knocked off the recommended time but it seems to work for me just fine.  All shot with Nikon 60mm.


Tweaked in Lightroom 4 for no other reason than I can.


Light Found in a Bin with a Nikon F3 and 60mm Macro.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 7, 2014 by yammerman



I’m tidying the darkroom/studio in my attic  the night after I’ve seen ‘Looking for Light‘  the quite splendid documentary on the life and work of Observer photographer Jane Bown. I’m thinking about the huge 35mm prints up on the screen and the Olympus OM-1 sitting in a bag somewhere amongst the pile of old cameras I’ve acquired  over the last few years.  I’m feeling inspired by the images I’ve seen and the slight grain I could see in the prints leaves me itching for the smell of fixer and the gurgle of water.  But the rain hammers on the roof  and I must clear enough space so that my brain can function before I shoot anymore film.

I plod on and then as I throw redundant packaging and old guitar strings into the bin, I see the roll of film I’d processed on Sunday and grumpily thrown there when I’d discovered my own stupidity manifest as a light leak. I remember an image in the viewfinder of a  plant standing tall and a twisting piece of metal looking like a cobra about to strike. I surveyed the roll and discover that image and several others have escaped the full eviscerating effect of their accidental exposure to light. ‘There you are’  Jane Bown used to say after wandering around her subjects till she found the person she was seeking for her portrait and I mumbled  the same as an incantation to the gods of photography.  They are not perfect as the gatecrashing light seeps in one side of the images but I like them well enough that I’m glad I gave then a second chance before the oblivion of landfill. I found twelve images I could rescue and after scanning choose the four below as worthy of posting.

I love a happy ending though it’s back to the tidying for me now.


A Few Shots with a Nikon F3 and 60mm Macro

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 4, 2014 by yammerman


Further use of the Nikon F3  using the 60mm Macro, which has always been a favourite for both film and digital.  A stroll to the pier and then some macro in the garden. It was all going so well until I discovered the back of the camera opened as I rewound the second roll. Give light a second and it does it worst to those grains of silver. A  deep sigh then processed and found to be ruined so straight in the bin. Naturally the second had the award winning images on so that was a damn shame. Here is the best of the first roll.

Shot with  Ilford FP4 at 125 processed in Rodinal/Adonal 1 to 50 for 12 minutes at 21 degrees.

Training for a Marathon with a Nikon F3 and 18mm f2.8 Lens

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 2, 2014 by yammerman


I’m in training for a marathon; not the 26 mile torture that involves the human body searching for a wall to hit, but the photographic kind. The Cardiff Photo Marathon has been going since 2004 and I try to take part as often as I’m able. The rules require 12 photos in 12 hours on 12 topics supplied 4 at a time throughout the day. Sounds easy enough but it is in fact a grueling test of both your physical and creative stamina.

It was switched to digital a few years back which meant the loss of the delayed gratification that comes with using film.  There are no weeks of excitement now, waiting for the exhibition to see what on earth you captured on your precious roll of film. At the end of a long day, you now know if you have got photographic gold or a series of ‘What was I thinking?’ moments. I realised last time that deleting as I went along was a mistake, because by keeping all your ideas for each topic in chronological order you can then edit the set with a retrospective view on the whole day.  There is nothing wrong with that but it’s quite a different challenge than when you use film. The truth is, I imagine, that plenty of people were taking digital snaps to see how their film idea was going to work……I sure did once or twice.

This year I noticed they were allowing 50 people to use film and in a purist moment of madness, I volunteered for this option.  Since then, I’ve been slightly panicking about what kind of hair shirt I’ve just pulled on. Choosing a camera is exercising me; should I take the easy option of a modern AF or old school manual.  To this end I’ve been shooting with my trusty old Nikon F3HP to see if it can hold up to the challenge. This did not start well and it pains me to confess the first roll didn’t load correctly and, unspotted by me, was failing to wind.  Imagine my horror when I realised this after an hour of purposeful photographic art … oh, how I chuckled.

Chastened by this disaster, I considered abandoning old school in favour of a Nikon F80 but thought I’d probably learnt my lesson and persisted.  This time I made sure I loaded the film correctly in the F3 and selected a Nikon 18mm lens to wander around the Cardiff Barrage.  I’m really not used to shooting this wide and had no idea what to expect which I guess is half the fun.

The viewfinder on the F3 is huge and uncluttered like a HD TV stuck to your eyeball.  That is a great advantage compared to looking at a digital LCD on a sunny day. I did occasionally forget I’d moved the exposure compensation dial and using 18mm as your field of vision increases the danger of tripping over stuff, but not for nothing was this camera a classic.  It feels solid and comfortable while all the controls fall easily to hand.  It was a dull old day and frankly the Barrage has very little new to offer me, but I managed two rolls of HP5 with ease.  By the end, I was warming to the idea of rocking up at the Millennium Centre with this rather lovely machine.

I processed in Ilford HC at 20 degrees   1 to 31 dilution for 6 minutes.  It’s the first time that I’ve used this developer for a while and it always seems stronger than I expect, resulting in over-processed negatives –  not so great for scanning.  It all gets a bit grainy for my tastes, so I’ll probably increase the dilution next time.  A tweak in Lightroom 4, with some Antique preset, and I’m done.


Snowy Penarth with a Panasonic GF-1 and 14mm f2.5

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on January 18, 2013 by yammerman


As predicted it snowed in the wee small hours so I took my Panasonic GF-1 and  14mm lens out when I went to get bread. It was a wet slushy kind of snow and still falling lightly in the swirling wind. The roads were unusually quite and the cars using them picked their way carefully.

I choose the Panasonic GF-1  because I didn’t care about it getting wet as it’s been superseded by my love of Fuji – having an optical finder is a big plus in my book. On a snowy day though, when the LCD is easy to see, it’s a really great camera as no one really notices you’ve got it. This is as close as I get to street photography and while a bit lame they’re not bad for ten minutes work.

There was no sign of panic buying in the well stocked bakery but I felt a twinge of guilt as I bought two loaves. I resisted the temptation to say ‘Look I’m not in a panic, this is just normal weekend usage,  nothing to see here’.  I was reminded of my 2012 moment in this vein when with petrol shortages raging I needed fuel for the lawnmower. I was very self conscious as got out of the car with my 5L container amongst the queuing motorists. ‘Look at that bastard not needing to fill up his car but just stocking piling’.   Once more I resisted the temptation to begin a casual conversation about how ‘the break in the rain meant I could MOW MY LAWN..hoarding good Lord no’.  Not that you should draw from this that I’m in anyway paranoid; just sensitive to the needs of others.

Anyway, I strolled home taking a few more shots from the hip  while realising that my shoes appeared not to be waterproof in any meaningful sense. Oh and I  bought doughnuts, of course to share, who do you think I am Homer Simpson?

See my efforts below which are grayscaled and tweaked in Lightroom for your viewing.