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Friday, September 19

View from my bathroom

Before retiring last thing at night I sometimes open the bathroom window and drink in the night air, enjoying the peace and quiet. A few nights ago, there was a nice mist hanging over the scene and I decided to finish off a roll of Silvermax in my OM2 by sitting the camera on some towels on the window ledge and making a couple of exposures.

The exposure for this one must have been around a minute or so - I just put the camera on auto, added a bit of exposure compensation and fired away using the self timer. The thing that attracted me to the shot was the street lights on the leaves just to the right of the house on the left hand side of the frame. They had an ethereal look about them.

When it came to scanning the neg, however, my scanner was acting up so I had to use a 28-105 macro zoom on the D700 to "digitise" it. The sepia tint was added to the highlights in Adobe Lightroom. It's not the sharpest photograph I've ever taken but, all things considered, it's not too bad.

Wednesday, September 17

A few more coastal shots

As promised, here are some more photographs off the two rolls of Silvermax I shot last week at the shore along the coast from my home. If you look at the first four of these and the ones in the previous post on the subject you can see a sort of progression as I got ever closer to the tide marker in the distance.

Monday, September 15

Along the coast

A couple of years ago the Angus coastline was a regular stopping off point for me particularly as I was doing a fair bit of long exposure photography with exposures running into the tens of seconds and longer. But much as I've grown weary lately of the inland scenes, I also tired of the North Sea.

Sunday, September 14

Complete darkroom and two Nikon F5s for sale in Ottawa

I've had an email from a Canadian lady asking for advice about finding a buyer for her late husband's darkroom equipment. She seems to have just about everything you'd need to get up and running including an enlarger, developing tanks, a print dryer, timers and trays. There are also two Nikon F5s for sale, too. Everything comes with the original boxes and it's all available in Ottawa.

I haven't discussed prices at all or the type of enlarger, etc. As we all know, an enlarger sometimes isn't the easiest thing in the world to post and it would be ideal if someone local was able to pick everything up.

So if you're in the Ottawa area and fancy setting up your own darkroom this might be the perfect opportunity. If you're interested then please email me and I'll pass on the relevant contact details.

Thursday, September 11

Making a ground glass

By David M.

Regular commenter and correspondent, the mysterious David M., has sent me a piece he's written on the subject of making a ground glass for those people, like me, who struggle to see much on their existing one in dim light or have a broken one to contend with.

There aren't any pics to go along with the text but it's all self-explanatory thanks to David's way with words. It was my travails with the Speed Graphic in poor light that prompted David's intervention. I might yet have a go at making a new ground glass to see if it's any better than the Speed Graphic's original.

For those of you to whom the idea also appeals, here's how it's done. Take it away, David.

Wednesday, September 10

More thoughts on the doldrums

When I wrote Monday's post about being in the photographic doldrums, I didn't expect such a thoughtful response from readers. It would seem to be a clear sign that, far from being alone, there are lots of photographers out there with similar problems.

Monday, September 8

Ploughing over old ground

What to do when I've photographed everything interesting within an easy drive of my Carnoustie home? Photograph it again. I'm going through one of those stages just now where everything seems a little stale, everything is old and familiar and nothing seems to get the photographic juices flowing.

Friday, September 5

Film and Analogue Photography on Google+

For a while now I've been posting - "sharing" - the stuff I write here on the Google+ Film and Analogue Photography group (it's actually called a "community" over there). It's a good way of reaching out to more people and, I hope, it also helps a little to keep the group buoyant.

There is some interesting stuff, photographs and conversations to be found on the group so I thought I should mention it here in case readers are struggling to spend a full ten hours surfing film photography on the net. All aspects of analogue photography are covered from cameras, to film and on to DIY and different formats.

Be warned, though, that these communities can be a right time sink. When I start reading the time just flies by and I end up getting nothing done. Or, at least, that's my excuse.

Here's the link.

Wednesday, September 3

Colour - what's that again?

I mentioned recently that I'd been back to Newtyle Quarry with the Speed Graphic, exposing the huge quantity of three sheets of film. One of the problems I have with the big camera, which I've documented here, is difficulty seeing an awful lot on the ground glass when shooting in low light conditions, particularly indoors. I've found it useful to sit my iPhone long side down on the top of the camera and take a quick pic of the scene from the Speed Graphic's point of view.

The iPhone is a slightly wider format than 5x4 but I know how much to mentally chop off the sides of the screen image and if I do that then I have a fair approximation of what I'll be getting on the negative. It's also a good way to check if I've got the camera level or not. I used the iPhone technique with the Speed Graphic and I have to say I quite like the results from the camera phone.

Leave aside for the moment the slight lack of sharpness and the ample digital noise and look at the colours. Are they nice or what? You'll have noticed that I don't do much colour since giving up digital but, after seeing these pics, I'm sorely tempted to get a roll or two just for this subject. The colour doesn't come from the phone's sensor or software but from years of decay and dust, fading paint and a lovely soft light.

It pains me to say it but the black and white duplicates I made of a couple of these pics using Silvermax in the OM2 look a bit dull by comparison. Hopefully the detail and texture in the large format negs will give the scenes some sparkle. But, then again, think what the results from 5x4 colour negs such as Kodak Ektar 100 might be like.

I used to use colour film years ago but gave it up because it was too hard. My photography is all about atmosphere, light and shade and I couldn't get the feel I was after unless the light was spot on - and it seldom was. Although there's a lot that can be done in the darkroom to get a black and white negative to look the way you'd like in the print, I didn't do any colour printing and so lost that control.

Today, if I wanted to shoot colour I'd use a digital camera but for a one-off subject such as this where the light and colours are just perfect it might not do much harm to pop a roll of Kodak or Fuji colour print in the OM2.

Monday, September 1

Vivian Maier: Feeling the Love

Well, I didn't think my tentative proposal that Vivian had been "fast-tracked to the pantheon of great photographers because of her romantic back-story" would be so comprehensively shot down by almost all my readers (thanks Antonio!) who left comments. That's the last time I take you lot on! Seriously, though, I'm a life-long contrarian used to holding minority views so I can live with the opprobrium. Stick your head above the parapet, etc.

I loved the passion and enthusiasm for Vivian that shone through in many of the comments. I'm sure she'd be overwhelmed to know the high regard in which many - myself included - hold her. What a damned shame that she couldn't have lived to see how big a photographic celebrity she's become but it's not the first time that's happened to an artist and it won't be the last.

Having said that, it's entirely possible, being such a shy, introverted and attention-avoiding person, that she would have struggled to handle fame. Her personality no doubt played a major part in the way she approached photography and the success she enjoyed in her image-making. A more gregarious person might have found other interests aside from photography or been side-tracked (in the best possible way) by a family.

So thanks to everyone who took the time to add a comment to my post. I read every one, thought about them and appreciated many of the points you made. I still stick to my same opinion of Vivian's photography - that it's excellent but not quite up there with the best - but now I know that it's a view that largely seems to be my own. A contrarian to the last...