January was a bit of a barren month in the Robbins household as far as taking photographs goes. The weather, for seemingly weeks on end, has been wet, cold and windy. It's all I can do to force myself across the doorstep, never mind venture further afield with a camera.
Having said often enough that I like dull weather for photography, there's a limit even for me. The ideal of being buffeted out in the countryside, trying to stop the camera from shaking violently and getting covered in rain is not appealing. Here's what I'm seeing out the window right now (best viewed large):
How the blossom is hanging on to the cherry tree in the garden is a mystery to me. It doesn't help, as when writing the previous post about the Sunny f16 topic, to have guys from California and Australia leaving comments about how the rule always works for them because it's always sunny where they stay! It must be great living in a climate like that but, barring a lottery win, that's not going to happen. I've just finished watching the Dexter series on Netflix and I couldn't get over the apparent brightness of the light in Miami - it's blinding. I can only imagine how uplifting that sort of environment must be - assuming you don't end up on a serial killer's table, of course.
But back to this post. The photograph above is from a pre-Christmas visit (for the reason mentioned above) to my favourite stairwell. This shot is looking straight up at the skylight window in the roof. It's this overhead light that gives this particular stairwell its appealing mixture of light and shade. But unless you're some sort of contortionist, it's almost impossible pointing a camera straight up for a subject like this.
If I used my Speed Graphic or 35mm SLR for this photograph, I'd be lying on my back to see the focusing screen. If I used my Rollei SL66E with it's 45 degree prism, I'd be on my knees. So what to use? Well, I thought I'd give a Rollei TLR a whirl. With its waist-level finder and with the camera on an extended tripod, all that's required to see the view is a slight stoop - and I can just about manage one of those.
I've got a few TLRs but the only one loaded with film was the 1954 Automat which had Tmax 100 in it. I'd rated the film at 50 ISO with a view to developing it in Spur's Acurol-N. So that's what I took with me on this visit. There's quite a difference in light values between the shadowed stair walls and the light flooding in through the window so something had to give.
The result is above. I love the curving highlight along the handrail on the right and the little bit of bicycle handlebar just visible beneath the window. The Rollei's Tessar lens has imparted some Leica-glow (flare) which I think looks good. I also like the asymmetry. I find that many stairwell shots that are almost perfectly symmetrical can be a trifle boring.
I'm beginning to build up a nice, wee collection of these tenement stairwell shots. One of the best things about this type of photography is that it can be done irrespective of the weather - hail, rain or shine!
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