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Monday, April 28

Boddin Point Revisited


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Boddin Point is a small spit of land jutting out into the North Sea off Scotland's east coast. It's near enough my home that it's an obvious place to visit when I'm stuck for subject matter. I've written about it before here. It was once a bustling wee place with the castle-like building in the picture above an old line kiln that provided fertiliser for the local fields and beyond. 

The slate-roofed building in the same pic was where fish were processed. I'm not sure if there's much fishing goes on now and the boats you can see in the photographs on this page don't look very seaworthy.

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On this trip I was still trying out the Tri X/Spur Acurol-N combination that I've posted about here and here. Just to quickly recap, Tri X has to be rated at 250 ISO for normal contrast in Acurol-N. Rating it at 400 ISO as I've been doing gives the negatives a slight increase in contrast - very welcome for my dull-day shots.

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I didn't have a lot of time on this occasion and I was glad that I had my old Nikon F90X with me. Hand-held meters are great but TTL matrix metering that hardly ever goes wrong can be a Godsend sometimes. I was packing quite a few lenses: 35mm f2 AF-D Nikkor, 85mm f1.8 AF-D Nikkor, 24mm and 105mm non-Ai Nikkors that I "converted" by dremeling off part of the lens mount so they'd work on my D700 and Tokina 19-35mm zoom. As it happened, I was in a super-wide mood and used the Tokina more than I had intended.

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In fact, four of the five photos I've posted were shot on the zoom and mostly at the wide end. Tokina cheated a bit in calling it a 19mm because the exif information on the DSLR says it's a 20mm. It's actually not a bad lens with good central sharpness but soft at the edges unless stopped well down. I find the 20mm focal length to be addictive. The key to using a super wide is to fill the foreground and, fortunately, there were some good foregrounds around.

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The final pic was shot using the 85mm, a really nice lens that I should use more often. It's great for isolating subjects as in this pic. There's a ship on the horizon that features in several of the images. In the first two pics, it forms part of the composition. When I developed the negs I couldn't see the distant ship and couldn't work out why I'd left so much space to the right of the frame. Then I saw the scans and remembered.

But the point of this particular exercise was to see once again how Tri X/Acurol-N handles this kind of low contrast scene. And I have to say it does a sterling job! When I pulled the film from the final rinse there were 36 perfect exposures all with a nice, manageable contrast range. I think they'd print well on a grade three setting. I also have to say that the spot-on exposures were entirely down to the F90X and not me as there was minimal photographer intervention. I'd love to use the same combination in the Rolleiflex SL66E or one of my TLRs. I reckon it could be perfect for this kind of weather.

Sadly, I'm building up a pile of negs that have yet to be introduced to an enlarger. I've written about this before but my darkroom tends to be used as a store room the minute my back is turned. Before I know it, it's full of "stuff" that has to be moved before I can get printing and I find that off-putting. Note to self: must pile all the "stuff" up in the back garden, douse it in petrol and throw a match on it...

You might also like:

Abandoned Places: Boddin Point

5 comments :

Eric said...

I see what you mean about the ship on the horizon Bruce. It might be a small detail but it carries a lot of weight!! The first photograph is very moody. I have always liked Tri X for 35mm.

JohnFelix said...

I like the photographs as I do a lot of what you post, however I disagree with the ship on the horizon. it really does not do it for me. But tastes do differ.

Herman Sheephouse said...

Hi Bruce - that's a great combo - lends the photographs a wonderful brooding atmosphere. Very good photos young man . . top o' the class!

petros gkotsis said...

Really nice photos Bruce I do like both the composition and the look. How do you actually test film speed? You can find a lot of different approaches in the internet these days. I develop b&w films for quite some time now but I mainly scan them- my printing skills are quite limited. I have recently set up my own darkroom and I think I might have to go through the process of establishing film speeds again. Any suggestions?

Bruce Robbins said...

Thanks Petros. I don't over-think film speed. There are correct, technical procedures you can use but I prefer just to bracket exposures from two stops under to two stops over and develop the film. Find the negative or negatives with the shadow detail you want. That's your film speed. Then check the highlights on those negatives. If they're too dense, cut development by 10-20%, if not dense enough then increase development by a similar amount.

Go out with your new film speed and see how the results look. You might need to make a minor adjustment to exposure or development to get it spot on.

For the Tri X I've been developing in Spur Acurol-N I just went with Spur's recommended film speed for the developer and found it just about perfect.