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Tuesday, February 12

A Slow Start to the Year

When readers start contacting me to see if I'm still above ground, it's time to write a wee update of what's going on with my photography. I'll bring you up to date in this post and it shouldn't take long as not a lot has been happening.

It seems to go like this most years. Starting in December, I tend to run out of something. Not sure what it is - inspiration, get-up-and-go, creativity, something to say? Whatever, it leaves me thinking there's not much point in getting the camera out and I stop looking for pics as a result. I've probably shot three rolls of film since November and nothing very interesting at that.

In the last few days though, I've noticed that I've started to take more of an interest in things - possibly a combination of having watched the Don McCullin programme on BBC4 last week and the extra brightness to the days courtesy of the sun getting it's finger out and climbing up the sky a little bit.

I finished a roll of HP5 Plus I'd had in the Nikon F90x for a few weeks at the weekend and developed it on Sunday night in Fotospeed's FD10, the first film I've bathed in that particular concoction. It's early days yet but it looks as if it's another excellent developer.

I've been meaning to try it for ages partly because it's very good value but also because I'd read some good things about it. The HP5 negs turned out very clean with nice tonality and grain that looks quite fine. There's a good level of sharpness as well so I'm very pleased at this stage. I've now got a roll of FP4 on the go that'll get the same treatment at the weekend.

I've posted a few scans from the HP5 roll here to give you an idea of what the combination is like. The highlights are well-controlled and there's adequate shadow detail. The pics are nothing to write home about, mainly just some shots I took when out for a walk up a hill about ten miles away. It was a lovely, cold day and a chance to get a bit of fresh air and much-needed exercise.

I almost forgot to say something about the pic at the top of the post. It was taken on the Mamiya Press in the Fife coastal town of Crail, a picturesque fishing village. Most photographs of Crail - including not a few I've taken myself - tend to concentrate on the pretty red-tiled houses around the harbour. I didn't fancy going over that old ground the last time I was there so sought out something a little bit quirky to see if I could break the mould. I quite like it although I doubt it will find its way into any tourist brochures.

Here's another recent Mamiya Press shot, a replica of one I'd taken earlier on 35mm. I like this scene at Clunie village and thought it might benefit from the extra detail from the 6x9 negative.

I've just about satiated any lingering equipment-buying impulses having used just about everything, at one time or another, that I've ever fancied. However, I couldn't resist a bargain I found on Gumtree recently - a 100mm f2.8 Sekor for the Mamiya. When I bought the camera it came with the 75mm and 100mm f3,5 lenses and very good they've proved to be.

The 100mm f2.8 is supposed to be superior to the slower lens and the one I got was about a quarter of what you'd normally have to pay for it. I'll try them out side-by-side and probably keep the better of the two. Can't see much point in having both sitting around. It might not be quite as straightforward as that, though, as the f2.8 is quite a bit bigger and heavier so it would have to be noticeably superior to win its place in the gadget bag.

The Mamiya is already a big, heavy beast and certainly doesn't need any extra weight being added to it without good reason.


Koen V said...

He’s baaaack :).
Well, FWIW, everything is a bit slow to the pace in winter I think and that’s ok. Less sun = less energy.
But, I think you should consider bundling your photographs for a photobook.

Herman Sheephouse said...

Well I knew you were alive all along! One thing though - maybe you are suffering (unconsciously) from SAD? It gets me all that lack of light up here - can thoroughly recommend Boots High Strength Vitamin D tablets - they've made a difference to me this year - more energy and less despair at the lack of light.

Anyway, I've seen them already but a nice, strong bunch of photos - you need to get out and on with your Carse stuff. I'd hang onto both 100's tbh - you never know what can happen.

Welcome back from 'the dead'!

Sidewayseye said...

Welcome back. Yes the McCullin prog got me stirring too. Such a gentleman.

Dave Jenkins said...

Wonderful! Now I can stop checking the obituaries.

DavidM said...

Welcome to the Online Darkroom.
Some decent snaps there.
His Excellency Sir Herman Ramhut might be right. We've had some very dark days. Perhaps they might be days for smoothing the antimacassars and filing the negs? You don't seem to do still-life, but that's indoor work.

Agree about Sir Donald. How remarkable that he meets two people with memories of specific prints. Were they just strolling along, minding their own businesses and came across the camera crew.
And while we're thinking about it, how intimidating to be told you're going out to photograph with Don McCullin. But what an opportunity.

And despite the extra weight, that Mamiya seems to be your friend,

Anonymous said...

I echo the comment about SAD - they make special lights to use for reading that have the correct spectrum. It's more than just a Vitamin D issue - it's a direct effect on the brain.
Nice to see the great pix too!

John Carter said...

Perfect timing, I was having a hip replacement while you were disappeared. So I'm good and you are too. I send three color rolls off to BlueMoon this week that go back so far I can't remember what is on them. After the operation, I'm still not strong enough to take my Press out. I guess I'll cancel my order for a f2.8.

Bruce Robbins said...

Hope you’re back to full strength soon, John. I’d stick to 35mm for a wee while if I were you. :)