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Wednesday, September 3

Colour - what's that again?




I mentioned recently that I'd been back to Newtyle Quarry with the Speed Graphic, exposing the huge quantity of three sheets of film. One of the problems I have with the big camera, which I've documented here, is difficulty seeing an awful lot on the ground glass when shooting in low light conditions, particularly indoors. I've found it useful to sit my iPhone long side down on the top of the camera and take a quick pic of the scene from the Speed Graphic's point of view.

The iPhone is a slightly wider format than 5x4 but I know how much to mentally chop off the sides of the screen image and if I do that then I have a fair approximation of what I'll be getting on the negative. It's also a good way to check if I've got the camera level or not. I used the iPhone technique with the Speed Graphic and I have to say I quite like the results from the camera phone.

Leave aside for the moment the slight lack of sharpness and the ample digital noise and look at the colours. Are they nice or what? You'll have noticed that I don't do much colour since giving up digital but, after seeing these pics, I'm sorely tempted to get a roll or two just for this subject. The colour doesn't come from the phone's sensor or software but from years of decay and dust, fading paint and a lovely soft light.


It pains me to say it but the black and white duplicates I made of a couple of these pics using Silvermax in the OM2 look a bit dull by comparison. Hopefully the detail and texture in the large format negs will give the scenes some sparkle. But, then again, think what the results from 5x4 colour negs such as Kodak Ektar 100 might be like.


I used to use colour film years ago but gave it up because it was too hard. My photography is all about atmosphere, light and shade and I couldn't get the feel I was after unless the light was spot on - and it seldom was. Although there's a lot that can be done in the darkroom to get a black and white negative to look the way you'd like in the print, I didn't do any colour printing and so lost that control.

Today, if I wanted to shoot colour I'd use a digital camera but for a one-off subject such as this where the light and colours are just perfect it might not do much harm to pop a roll of Kodak or Fuji colour print in the OM2.

4 comments :

Dr. Elliot Puritz said...

Lovely images. After years of only using black and white film ( and now the Monochrome...please no threats! ) I too have become a bit interested in color again. There are some scenes that are simply much better in color...and others that lend themselves to black and white. I suspect that color photography has likely almost completely become digital.

MMagin said...

They are gorgeous.

Ksenija Spanec said...

Very nice color photographs

John Carter said...

I just linked (????what is linked) from the Google site you suggested. Miracle, it worked. I use digital a lot for volunteer work (color), but I've never been satisfied. When I do slides or C-41, even with my low skill level, I always end up with something I like better than my digital shots. I know this is a study of one subject (me), but I still think color film will have a place for a while in serious color photography.