Archive for darkroom

Lost and Found

Posted in black & white, film, lost and found, photography, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on November 6, 2017 by yammerman

 

 

6x7027As readers of my last blog will know, I misplaced a film during the windswept expedition to West Wales and, as a lover of a happy ending, I am pleased to report its return.

Gather round….

I went walking yesterday and took the Mamiya 7II out but didn’t take a single shot. When I left, I took a new box of spare film as I have a fear that aliens will descend from the sky suddenly or Lord Lucan will appear strolling on the promenade and I will be stuck without enough film.

On my return, as  I took the spare film from my pocket, I had one of those problem solving revelations that used to strike me quite often as a computer engineer.  I’d be trying to fix something for hours (I’d confess to days but that would make me sound completely hopeless) when suddenly inspiration would strike and the opaque would become transparent.

In this case, the moment I noticed the spare film box was open I knew what some idiot had done and that I would find the lost film inside. This is something I ordinarily never do but in extremis, like a war zone or a little wind and rain on a welsh hill, the centre cannot hold.

As I pulled the film from the box, I still couldn’t quite believe it; had I not brought the full weight of my man looking skills to bear on the search?  Had I not looked several times; would my wife not present this to a jury of my peers as evidence that I cannot find a damn thing?

A man without my moral courage might have just overlooked the whole thing, but when I processed the film in Illford HC  1/31 @20 degree for 6.5 mins I had four images I liked well enough to share.

In Rain and Sun with a Mamiya 7II

Posted in black & white, film, penarth, photography, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 3, 2017 by yammerman

1

I made a visit to West Wales where the stereotype that it would rain the whole time was confirmed by plumes of spray on the motor-way and low cloud pressing down on the hills.  I patiently followed a cement mixer along the winding country roads for many a mile, hypnotised by its slowly turning drum as the rain continued to fall.  I’d come to visit a friend in Cardigan and mount a photo expedition with my Mamiya 7II.  We dined on Shepherd’s Pie and red wine that night; a sound preparation it turns out for the next day and a wet and windy Pentre Ifan.

The following morning, the BBC Weather app normally so unreliable proved accurate as their picture of a cloud with two drops of rain could be confirmed by a drawing back of the curtain.  But a couple of eternal optimists like our good selves were not to be discouraged by the predictions of a supercomputer and so we found ourselves leaning into the wind and rain, my Mamiya 7II wrapped in a plastic bag.

One thing I can confirm is that the ancients did not erect these stones for the purpose of shelter although, when combined with a decently placed umbrella, you can change a 120 film with reasonable speed.  Unfortunately it does appear that you lose the film you take out at this point and it has not as yet turned up.  An enquiry into who was at fault in this matter is yet to be convened.

I normally don’t wander about in the rain with a camera so that may explain why some pretty basic stuff becomes something of a challenge.  Taking the lens cap off and focusing, it turns out, are somewhat essential to photography even when you are trying to keep the damn camera dry.

The ancient gods smiled upon us for our efforts and the cloud base did lift enough that we could see the coast from our lofty position.  We then visited the beach north of the river at Parrog, where the remnant of Storm Brian had left seaweed in great quantities giving the appearance that it was making an attempt to become a land based creature.  It didn’t appear to be raining but the air was full of water, pleasantly warm while clouds hung upon the higher ground.  I imagine in summer it would prove to be rather idyllic. We breakfasted late or lunched early in the Vic North Cafe an establishment of some pedigree and highly recommended.

Then next day as I drove home the autumn sun shone, mist hung in the valleys and the mirth of the photographic gods could be heard echoing through the hills.

I still had 5 shots left in the camera and so, on my return to Penarth on a completely different kind of autumn day, I finished the roll.  I’d processed the two rolls of HP5+ in Ilford HC 1/31 @20 degrees for 6 mins before remembering there must be a third roll I’ve misplaced.  Gratification delayed for an eternity I fear and possibly the greatest images taken but never processed, I like to think.

In a radical move I tweaked them in Lightroom using a colour preset.

 

 

A Walk with a Mamiya 7 MkII

Posted in black & white, film, penarth, photography, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2017 by yammerman

Walk005

The last days of summer are upon us and in a break from the everyday 35mm I took out my Mamiya 7 MkII with its 80mm lens. Only ten frames of 6×7 on a roll of 120 generate a feeling you need to make every frame count but on a sleepy afternoon in Penarth, it’s not so easy. I’ve done this walk hundreds of times so I don’t expect to find anything new but a different camera always has other ideas. Few things in life are as lovely as a large black and white negative fresh out of the wash, shiny and wet offering up its delayed satisfaction.  You know I might even print some in the darkroom.

This is the whole roll of Ilford FP4 processed in Ilford HC for 6:30mins @  22 degrees and then tweaked in Adobe Lightroom.

West Sussex on a Roll of HP5+.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 16, 2016 by yammerman

 

neg012

I’m slowly working through the rolls of exposed film sitting in the darkroom. It’s not quite the 2500 rolls that Gary Winogrand left but given a fair wind with my health and a continued need to click a shutter, a small mountain might yet be in my grasp.

I’m currently processing one at a time just to get a feel for how the chemistry is working.  Using Ilford HC instead of Rodinal gives slightly better grain with Ilford HP5+ to my eye though that is using the Epson V700 rather than darkroom printing. I will fire up the enlarger at some point if only to see the difference.

I used a more concentrated Ilford HC this time at 1+31 instead of 1+47 which at 20degrees only takes 6:30. The HC has turned a tinge of brown in the bottle but still seems to have some potency. A lot less dust this time but I kept the windows closed (I’m a bit of a genius on the quiet) which is somewhat easier with autumn coming on. I changed back to the Ilford wetting agent and scanned the film as soon as it was dry. Still the odd blob but not the blizzard I had been getting.

This roll is shot on the south coast around Emsworth and Chidam. Nothing exciting tweaked in Lightroom with a bit of noise reduction and an Antique preset. Likely  shot with Leica M3 and 50mm Summicron.

Returning to Analogue with a Leica M3

Posted in photography, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on October 9, 2016 by yammerman

neg021

It’s a long time since the smell of photo chemicals has been upon me but I finally got back in the game after an autumn sort out. I’ve started on a dozen rolls of Ilford HP5+ I’d shot but not processed, just to get my hand back in. These were shot with a Leica M3 and an old 50mm Summicron  ISO400 with a yellow filter.

It may take a few rolls to get in the swing but it’s good to hear the sound of water gurgling. Some of these photos are processed in Adox Adonal and some in Ilford HC, both attesting to their ability to still work after a long period of sitting on the shelf.  I’m not a big fan of the grain but that might be accentuated by the Epson V700 scanner and my ham-fisted processing.

I’ve had problems with dust so I’m trying to find a regime that reduces that to a bearable level.  Dust was the thing that got me using a digital camera most of the time.  I find myself dreaming of a drying cabinet when a shaft of sunlight reveals the dust floating in the air as a wet length of film drys.

Nothing exciting here all tweaked in Lightroom then an Antique preset.

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

5x4003-2

 

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.