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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!


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.