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Wednesday, March 5

Window on the World

Copyright Phil Rogers
UPDATE: Phil adds, "If anyone is interested the photos were all made with a 1934 50mm Leitz Elmar, except for the very first which was a 1960's 55mm Macro-Nikkor . . up to around 4 or 5 feet it's the sharpest lens I own."

Phil Rogers, who often leaves comments here as Herman Sheephouse, enjoys taking photos of windows and reflections on his Leica M2 fitted with either a 50mm f1.4 Canon lens or a 50mm Elmar of some vintage. I find them intriguing. At first glance, it can be difficult knowing what you're looking at but that's half of the attraction.

It pays to have a good look at the whole frame to pick up some visual clues if you want to get a sense of what's going on. Phil makes this type of photography look easy but, despite his protestations that it's not difficult, I find it really hard. Take a look at the first two pics immediately below: they're mine. The good ones further down the post and the one above are Phil's.

To be honest, I took these pics as a challenge to Phil to see if he could figure out where in Dundee they were taken. But they're so bad I doubt he'll have much of a clue! The camera used was my Hexar AF with Tri X rated at 800 ISO, a necessary push because of the gloomy weather.

If you're a regular reader, you'll maybe remember that, although I love the 35mm f2 Hexanon lens, I'm fed up with the Hexar's inaccurate viewing system. It's no worse than any other rangefinder type - I just prefer viewing a scene through an SLR's viewfinder. Once again, I struggled with composition in these pics.

However, it's not the Hexar's fault my pics are found wanting. It's purely down to my inability to "see" a photograph when I gaze through windows or look at reflections. I really feel lost trying to arrive at a coherent composition. and I just don't know where to point the camera for best effect. My photos ended up a visual mess with no sense of composition and no subject matter of any worth. Will I have another go? It's unlikely as I seldom find myself on city streets with a camera these days.

It didn't help my cause that the negs turned out underexposed and slightly under-developed. I had intended using Adox Atomal as it's supposed to be good at achieving full speed. When I went to find it, I realised that I'd had the stock solution made up for three months and the Adox website says it should keep for six weeks. Since I rarely push process, I'd nothing else up to the job other than some 25-year-old unopened ID11. Ilford says the chemicals used should keep "indefinitely" in their powdered state. ID11 it was then. Tri X, according to Kodak, can be exposed at 800 ISO and given normal development in D76 which is essentially the same as the Ilford developer. However, instead of the recommended 6m 45s I gave it 7m 30s. It still wasn't enough so I think the brew must have lost some of its potency.

And now onto Phil's window/reflection pics. He's got a lot of these and I've borrowed a selection from his blog. You can see some of them in this post. I reckon Phil should mount a wee exhibition somewhere as I'm sure people would love looking at the photographs once they start to figure out what they're seeing. What about it, Phil? And have you any idea where mine were taken? All of the following copyright of Phil Rogers.


Antonio Aparicio said...

I like these!

Here's one of mine:

Omar Özenir said...

I very much appreciate you giving Phil's work a plug, Bruce. His blog has been a favourite haunt of mine for over a year.

Herman Sheephouse said...

Gawd Bless Yes Missus, as they say around these parts. Very much appreciated Bruce, but dare I say, what's wrong with yours? They look just fine. Is it Baxter Park?
The key with photos like these is just eyeballing the scene and deciding which part you want to be in focus . . you're not getting too much DOF because of the inherent darkness of windows, so focus can be critical. Rangefinders work better too, because you can squeeze an extra couple of stops of speed out of them.
If anyone is interested the photos were all made with a 1934 50mm Leitz Elmar, except for the very first which was a 1960's 55mm Macro-Nikkor . . up to around 4 or 5 feet it's the sharpest lens I own.
Cheers and thanks again!

Bruce Robbins said...

Baxter Park indeed, Phil! Well done. You win a 30-year-old packet of Ilford Hyfin for that. :)

The Nikkor certainly seems to be a sharp lens although the Elmar is no slouch either - in the right hands.

Michael Stevens said...

Very nice pictures and thanks for doing the them justice by including large jpegs.

My only disappointment is in finding out that Herman Sheephouse is not a real person.