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Monday, October 31

A grey day

These days, I can't find the motivation to take my camera out when the sun's shining. It's a bit perverse, I know, but sunny landscapes don't seem to move me much. It's like listening to music. The stuff on the radio tends to be happy-clappy and quite forgettable. I prefer songs written in minor keys and with a melancholy air. I also like film noir. Maybe it's my sad Celtic soul...

My favourite weather for landscapes just now is overcast with an atmospheric haze. If the sky is white it makes a great backdrop for interesting foreground objects because it doesn't compete for interest. A touch of mist helps the feeling of depth through a recession of tones.

Above is a grey day close-up of a gate that caught my eye. I liked the way the messy wire contrasted with the wrought-iron scroll-work up top. A little bit more mist would have been perfect. I shot wide open on my Rolleiflex 2.8F and the film was Tri-X. The bokeh is quite nice although the telegraph poll in the background is still a distraction. There was no way I could photograph the gate head on like this without including it. Of course, I could just Photoshop it out but that would simply be stooping to the level of digital photographers.*

This was a straightforward shot technically-speaking with no particular challenges to overcome. The only worry was getting the gate in focus as the wind was blowing me about a bit and depth of field at f2.8 on the 6x6 format is wafer thin when the subject distance is this close. I focused on the sliding locks near the bottom. The very top of the gate is slightly soft so narrow is the DoF.

That's about as close as the Rolleiflex 2.8F focuses. I've got a 1950s Rolleiflex MXV for which I bought a close-up attachment a few weeks ago and that would have got quite a bit closer. However, I'm not sure how reliable it's likely to be as it was the subject of a slightly botched DIY job (yes, it suffered at my hands). I managed to get the sticky slow speeds running well-enough after applying some lighter fuel but there's a screw loose somewhere that I'm scared will work it's way into the middle of something quite vital to the camera's operation.  I'll be running a test film through it over the next few weeks and hope it doesn't need a service as my photography budget is thinner than the Rollei's depth of field right now.

*Humour alert!


Kelly Sereda said...

Hi Bruce,

It's an interesting point you make about receding tones and how the quest for such shots can benefit from overcast skies and mist. I'd never really looked at it that way before. My own bokeh explorations are so tied to light spilling over foliage that I'd easily have overlooked the joys available in the situations in which you thrive. I'm enjoying your results, perhaps its time to expand my horizons (I've stumbled on a pun there I think.)


We have very different approaches but each has its merits. I love the way you use sunlight on your out-of-focus backgrounds. You somehow manage to squeeze the nicest images from lenses that many people would say have
very poor bokeh characteristics. Your use of swirly bokeh in particular is great. Makes me want to get the 85mm Helios!

In case other readers are wondering what we're talking about you can check out Kelly's bokeh studies at:

Al Denholm said...

Nice shots again,,and also a great display of how underrated taking shots in bad weather can be..

For me the Bokeh on my Konica S hexar lens is the nicest looking of all the film cameras I own.