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Wednesday, July 9

Steeped in History: Part Two



Here we are back at the 17th century stable I wrote about almost a month ago here. These are some photographs from the second roll of Silvermax I shot developed again in Spur HRX. In between, I also processed a roll of 120 Pan F Plus that I shot in the Rollei SL66E but cocked that one up I'm afraid.

I should have replaced the fixer a while back as I knew it was on its last legs but I didn't and, as a result, I got some little "dots" over large areas of the negatives. I've had this once before under exactly the same circumstances and you'd think I'd have learned a lesson but obviously not. Just as well it's a scene I can revisit any time and not some night shots of the Sacre Couer or something. That would have been painful!

The pic at the top of the post was a bit tricky. It was so dark in that wood-lined room that I could hardly see my hand in front of my face when I walked in. A minute later my eyes had become accustomed to the dark enough to be able to see roughly what was in front of me. When I saw the boards over the window I knew I had to take a pic. I bracketed over four frames because I wasn't sure of the metering or the reciprocity failure at such a long exposure - can't remember what it was now - but even the most generously-exposed frame is still a little under-exposed.

Looking at the four frames just now, I realised that the one I scanned wasn't the best exposed but the next best. The one here is probably a couple of stops under but there's enough detail to make it worthwhile. I'll probably print the better of the two, though. I love the way the light has squeaked through the wooden boards covering the window and reflected off the wall. It reminds me of some sci-fi films where the aliens are outside shining a probing beam in to check for inhabitants. Spooky!

I had the Contax 137MA on a tripod with the 28mm Distagon fitted and was using the self timer to trip the shutter. The camera was on auto and the plan was to make an exposure then a plus one stop and a plus two. Just to be on the safe side, I also exposed a frame at 1s at f2.8, the maximum manual timed exposure on the 137MA. I would have given it more but I didn't have a cable release with me. Probably 2-4s at f2.8 would have been about right.


This table with an empty wine bottle was just as I found it. Again, it was a really dark scene that looked quite low in contrast but the lengthy exposure has picked up a bit of punch. It wasn't quite as dark as the first shot thankfully. This time it was the 100mm f3.5 macro Yashica using the same approach as before - set it on auto and bracket one and two stops over.


This one comes courtesy of the 50mm f1.4 Planar. This is one of the reasons that I prefer SLRs to rangefinders. The temptation was to focus on the door lock and use f1.4 for shallow depth of field. When I did that, though, there was too much out-of-focus effect. I used the depth of field preview function and tried a couple of f-stops before arriving at the one I wanted which was f4. With a rangefinder, I wouldn't have been able to see any of that and would probably have had to take a few at different apertures to make sure I'd got the right one.


These stairs lead to the upstairs quarters in the stable block but I didn't have the courage to venture up there. It's far too easy in old buildings to come crashing throughout the floor and with no-one with me I could have been left prostrate on the ground floor for some time.

We're back to the Distagon here although I used the 100mm macro to take a meter reading of the roof area in the dark square near the top middle of the frame. I wanted to make sure I had some detail there and there's plenty on the negative. In a print, I think I'd dodge that area to bring a little more of it out.

That's the stable block, then. A wonderful piece of history almost on my doorstep that I was fortunate to find. I think I'll go back and do some more photography there with the SL66E. The 40mm Distagon I have is a great lens that has very little distortion and would work a treat in some of the confined spaces. Here's an SL66 shot similar to a Contax one I posted in Part One.

Rolleiflex SL66, 40mm Distagon, Ilford Pan F developed in Spur HRX

The mottled appearance from the exhausted fixer isn't really noticeable here because of the texture that's everywhere. This version is a lighter and airier image than the dark, gloomy one from Part One. I've mixed up some fresh fixer so if I do go back with the SL66E then at least I'll have something to show for it!

3 comments :

Michael Stevens said...

Have you thought about refixing the spoiled negatives in some fresh fixer Bruce?

I've never experienced the effects you have but it may be worth a try.

Very nice pictures too, it looks like a location full of photographs.

Bruce Robbins said...

Good idea, Michael. Why didn't I think of that! It's definitely worth a go.

Paul Glover said...

Seconding the refix suggestion. I've made that mistake a couple of times, in both cases the result was a weird yellowing effect visible most clearly under normal indoor lighting. My last one didn't seem to clear after fixing but appears to have gone away after washing and drying.