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Wednesday, July 18

Back Again

 It's been a while since I last posted and, sad to say, the weather is just the same! I think we had a week of sunshine back in May and that's been about it. Can't complain though as it's the same all over the UK. There's been no change, either, to my darkroom situation: it's still being used as a storeroom and it will be a wee while before I'm able to sort it out. Consequently, the pics here are more film scans but they'll at least give you some idea of what I've been up to.

Photographically-speaking, it's been quite quiet for me for the last few months. I just haven't been able to get myself motivated and there was a spell of some weeks when I didn't pick up a camera at all. The funk has lifted a little now and I'm back outside with the SL66E and a couple of Rollei TLRs. These photographs were made with TMax 100 developed in Rodinal at 1:50.

The opening pic was a smash and grab affair. I was driving in a downpour when I saw the scene above. The SL66E was sitting on the front seat of the car with the 250mm Sonnar attached. There was a car behind me but it was some way off so I parked in the middle of the road, grabbed the camera, threw open the driver's door and took a quick shot whilst leaning the Sonnar on the door frame. The exposure was around 1/60th at f6.3. I managed to get back in the driver's seat and moving before the car behind caught up.

It was a similar tale with the shot above, except I didn't even get out of the car for this one! It was chucking it down when I passed this bus stop in the country. I've photographed it a couple of times in the past but this was the first time with the SL66E. By this time it was very grey and gloomy even though it was only midday. The parking space was a slip road and I shot from the driver's seat through the open passenger's window. I'd have loved to have got out, set up the tripod and taken my time but the rain was too heavy. The passenger seat and the bellows lenshood on the 250mm Sonnar both got a good soaking. The exposure was the same as the first pic.

This is another favourite haunt of mine - the breakwater at Arbroath harbour. I must have taken it a few weeks ago when the weather wasn't quite as miserable. Still got my feet wet, though, as the water climbed slowly up the rock I was standing on. These slow water shots are pretty easy to pull off as long as you're shooting at a time of day when exposures are naturally long or you have a strong enough neutral density filter to cut the light to something suitable. This exposure was around 20 seconds. This time I used the 150mm Sonnar probably stopped down to around f16 or f22.

The 250mm has been seeing a lot of work lately! I seem to be alternating just now between that and the 40mm Distagon. I love the perspective of the long tele lens, it's shallow depth of field and the look it imparts to a photograph. Although it only equates to just over a 150mm lens in 35mm terms, it seems longer than that on the SL66E. I don't like using it handheld unless forced to do so as in the earlier photographs. The shot above was taken during a break in the rain when I had time to get the tripod out, attach the bellows lens hood, lock the mirror up and use a cable release. That's my preferred way of working and I've promised to hold myself to this standard whenever possible and no shooting out of car windows! The maximum aperture is only f5.6 but you still have to be very careful when focusing the Sonnar because there's so little depth of field. The pic above was taken at f6.3 as I wanted to throw the background trees a little out of focus to concentrate attention on the puddle.

I was attracted to the scene in the final photograph by the weird juxtaposition of elements. It was taken at a small coastal hamlet - couldn't really call it a village - called Usan not too far from where I live. I suppose it must have been a thriving little fishing community a hundred years ago but it's quite an odd, sleepy place now. I had a wander about for 30 minutes accompanied by two friendly, local dogs, one of which, a black Lab, had the endearing habit of sticking it's head up the back of my coat. Without wishing to get into too much detail, it would nestle its muzzle just under my buttocks and push me along. That probably was a bit too much detail, wasn't it? OK, it was a bit weird but I couldn't stop laughing. The Lab's mate soon lost interest in me so it was just "nuzzler" who followed me back to the car on his own. The scene in the photograph was right next to where I'd parked. Nuzzler, I'm guessing it was he, had made a huge deposit, really quite an effort, at some earlier point in time just where I wanted to place a leg of my tripod so I had to compromise somewhat on the composition!

The tower, now quite dilapidated, was once used to signal to boats out at sea. How a Reliant Robin ended up in the foreground is anybody's guess unless Del Trotter has branched out into the lobster industry. I needed the 40mm lens to squeeze everything in and I'm pleased to say it was another tripod, mirror up, cable release shot. That was my brief trip to this spot over but not the end of Nuzzler's antics. As I opened the boot to put the camera gear away, he decided he fancied going with me and jumped into the back of the car. I got the sense he was maybe just a bit lonely. When I last saw him in the rear view mirror, he was standing forlorn in the middle of the dusty road, big sad eyes imploring me to come back for just one last nuzzle.


Anonymous said...

great post, welcome back!
can't wait to see those on PAPER :)


Thanks! I'll try to post more regularly from now on but I'm making no promises. :-)

Jon H said...

Really nice to have you back. I have a darkroom that I have not been into for a while as I find it all quite exhausting, but had better soon before the dev goes out of date. Look forward to hearing more from you


Thanks, Jon. Blogging can seem quite a lonely exercise sometimes and I seldom get much in the way of feedback through comments so it's nice to know that some people appreciate me!

Al Denholm said...

I appreciate your work here too Bruce,anyone who keeps the flag flying for film and encouraging others to try it out is a good thing,I've often tried to get my friends to try film,but most seem happy enough with their digital cameras,my wife uses our digital camera the most,I gave it a try for a while but it doesn't float my boat at all really,but as you know yourself,once the black n white film gets a hold of you that's it :)

Al Denholm said...

Wss just looking at the pic from Arbroath harbour,very nice.I'm due to go through there to visit a cousin sometime and don't know the area very well,are there any other places through that way that are worth a look at for taking some pics,Bruce?



I have to be honest and say there's not much here worth photographing during a brief visit. A lot of my photographs depend not so much on the subject but on the weather creating some atmosphere. That's fine if you live here but not so good for someone on a trip.

If you like landscape then there are the Angus hills just to the north. Again, though, i've never seen many photographs driving through them. You need to get out of the car and walk for a couple of hours. If I had to recommend one location it would be Dunnottar Casle near Stonehaven. There are a few old fishing villages as you drive up the coast from Arbroath to Stonehaven that worth a look. I also like Lunan Bay near Montrose and Boddin Point between Arbroath and Montrose.

If you go to my old website:
and do a search for these areas you should be able to see some samples of what's photographable. Hope that helps.

Al Denholm said...

Thanks for taking time to share these locations Bruce,I tend to take photos of whatever catches my eye really,no real preferences,I'll definitely be checking those places out that you mentioned,thanks again to you