Archive for darkroom

A Walk with a Mamiya 7 MkII

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

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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

 

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.