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Tuesday, October 21

Open House

UPDATE: See bottom of the post.

Having a trawl through some old negatives at the weekend, I came across a rare sheet of colour print film negatives. I haven't used colour film for a few years. This one was Fuji 200 according to the rebate. It was run through a Pentax MZ5n I used to have, a great wee camera by the way.

The reason I was able to name the camera is because it had a panoramic facility that basically just masked the film and I'd used it on a few shots. With the Pentax, it's possible to switch between the pano format and full format at the flick of a switch.

Although just masking off the 35mm frame to give a long, horizontal format might seem a waste of film in practise it was actually very good. Obviously, it's possible to have the same format with any full frame 35mm camera but the pano mask made it easy to compose as the viewfinder was similarly masked. Here's one of the pano shots that was on the roll, given the same treatment as the house pic above:

These are scans that I imported into Adobe Lightroom and "split-toned". The highlights were given a light sepia and the shadows a cold tone. It would be possible to do the same in the darkroom by lightly bleaching the print so that the highlights disappear and then redeveloping in the sepia toner. Thereafter, a gold toner would put a cool tone into the darker tones.

The reason I dug these negs out was to show another side of life that's now denied the photographer: the tenement flat interiors that used to be fairly regularly left on show when the gable end of a building was demolished. I'm sure a lot of UK photographers in their 40s, 50s and older will remember scenes such as the one in the first pic on this page.

They're very much of the past now as there are few tenement buildings still around to receive this sort of treatment. This particular building was the last I'd seen and it was in Arbroath about six years ago. This exposed end didn't last long - it was neatly finished off and now looks like the end of any tenement building.

What's great about them is the decor - the patterned wallpaper, the fireplaces and cupboards. Unfortunately, at the time when flats were being developed like this - either in the process of being knocked down or sometimes to have a new building spliced onto them - I was too undiscriminating to realise what I was looking at otherwise I'd have a whole binder full of negatives of scenes just like this.

UPDATE: In response to Michael's comment (see below), here's the colour version of the house shot. It's more or less as scanned with black and white points set, contrast boosted a bit and sharpened a little.


Doug H said...

Beautiful images. They both deserve an actual print.

Herman Sheephouse said...

Yeah - prints would be good Bruce. The olde 35mm full frame/pano compact (I am assuming that is what the Pentax was) was a sorely under-rated camera in all its 'consumer' disguises.
If you want to explore further, send me an email - I've got a good one and I owe you for the Olympus!

David M said...

This morning, I came across this:

The image at the top of the page reminded me of your shot of the missing home. This isn't a 'missing' picture, so the narrative is different, but the geometry seems very similar – the abstract qualities, if you like.
If you play the video, you'll hear him make a good point about a photograph stilling time, not only for the subject, but for the viewer, too. It seems a point worth making, in the context of both images. It's the lingering over details that grabs us and keeps us, not a single wow moment. All the better for that.
Some people may like those raggy edges. I can't believe that any of them read your blog.
If you haven't discovered Mr Jensen, I suggest he's worth a visit now and then.

Michael Stevens said...

It goes against the grain to say it, but I wouldn't mind seeing that tenement picture in colour.

Bruce Robbins said...

I'll pause while you wash your mouth out. :)