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Tuesday, April 15

Part Two: Tri X/Acurol-N - The dull day film search goes on!

The pics here are some others from the roll of Tri X I shot in dull and misty conditions and developed in Spur Acurol-N to see if the combination would impart some sparkle to low contrast scenes. It can be dangerous extrapolating from just one roll of film but I have to say that I like this look.

The photographs in this post were of particularly dull scenes - even for me - but it's still been possible to get something with a bit of punch. The four pics here were all shot in about ten minutes after I'd left Cath in the car a short distance away.

It was quite a chilly day and the car was parked half on a grass verge on a narrowish road and I didn't want to leave her in that position for too long in case a big lorry had to pay a visit to one of the local farms. So the pics were taken, chameleon-like, with one eye on the viewfinder and another peering back up the road, all the while listening for rumbling tyres.

The set up here was the same as in Part One - an Olympus OM2n with a couple of Zuiko primes. The shot of the bath in the drystone dyke was done on the 24mm f2.8 and the others with the 50mm f2 macro. The Tri X was rated at 400 ISO, a speed at which it gets a half-zone contrast boost in Acurol-N.

The thing that attracted me to this scene was the bulk of the farm buildings in the mist and drizzle. It made a nice, atmospheric backdrop so it was just a case of finding something to stick in the foreground. I messed around with a few combinations but I like the one at the top of the page the most. I think the picture of the road just above also works because of the way the white paint stands out amidst the murkiness. It's the only real highlight in the scene.

When I was scanning the pic above of the old bath used as a trough by the local beasties, I realised I missed a trick by not rearranging the bottles. I should have pulled them, neck first, to the nearest right hand corner so that they filled the area of water at the front. Never mind, I'm sure there will be other misty, drizzly days around Carnoustie. :)

My first image of the gate had the farm buildings centred directly over the top of it. At the shooting distance, the gate and the buildings were the same width on the film. But it looked a bit static so I took another with the two forms just displaced.

I was tempted to go in closer and get the gate bigger in the foreground but I've learned from experience that it's easy to lose a sense of context when I do that. We've all been told over the years to "fill the frame" but it's not always the best policy. Sometimes space around the subject gives a better sense of place.

So, I reckon that I'll be using a lot more Tri X in Acurol-N in future and would love to see how it looks in medium format. Although I don't mind a bit of grain I don't like too much and, until I print these 35mm negatives, I won't know for sure if the grain is too big for my taste. With medium format, that worry would disappear.

One final thing that struck me on this outing is the great sense of freedom shooting a 400 ISO film handheld gives me. Yes, it's good to use a tripod whenever you can but sometimes it can actually get in the way of photography.

Take the bathtub photo. I was semi-straddling the dyke to get this one and the moss-covered stones were pretty slippery. The front edge of the tub was only a couple of feet away and it would have taken me a while to get the tripod set up for this shot. There's no way I'd have managed to get it and the other shots in ten minutes wrestling with my old Slik three-legged monster!


Jan Moren said...

Just my impression from the small online shots, but perhaps the bathtub image would actually benefit from darker highlight and a lit less contrast. Play up the grayness, and the disappearing-into-the-mist aspect as it were.

Herman Sheephouse said...

I like the second one of the road Bruce - it has a pleasing motion if you know what I mean. There's also a very nice granularity to them which suits the mood . . again well done!
And yes, it is liberating using a fast film handheld . . sometimes it's the only way to go.