Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

New toy. Faulty toy?

I posted briefly about the Zeiss Mess-Ikonta 524/2 camera I bought recently, and my concerns that the lens might not be correctly aligned. Well it looks like my fears were correct.

I processed the roll of HP5+ yesterday that I’d shot with the camera the previous day and all the photographs show noticeable soft focus on the left side of the frames. It’s perhaps not noticeable here, but it’s quite apparent if you look at them at a larger size. This isn’t nit-picky pixel-peeping type concerns either, unfortunately. While the slightly askew angle of the lens is very minimal (although enough for me to notice straight away) it’s enough to mean that the results are unsatisfactory. Being the owner of another Zeiss Mess-Ikonta (albeit a 6×6 model), I know thet these cameras are capable of very sharp results across the frame, so having one that fails in this regard isn’t any good to me.

Having looked online though, I’ve seen a number of pages detailing the fact that it’s best to wind the film on after opening the camera. Apparently this action can cause a vacuum that lifts the film away from the plane of focus, so it’s better to open the camera and then wind on the film as you can guarantee it will be taut that way. Whether this is a factor in my results or not (I wound on before opening the camera), I’m not sure, but I’ll probably try another roll using this method to see if it makes any difference. Otherwise, I’ll have to return it for a refund.

The shots below are from the initial roll I shot. The photo of the pylons gives the best indication of the problem as the grass at the bottom of the frame, and the legs of the pylon are equally distant from the camera, so should be of a uniform sharpness across the frame. The grass at the left side is clearly softly focused, as are the leftmost legs of the pylon.

Likewise, the mesh sides of the footbridge in the following shot. The right side mesh is sharply defined, the left side much less so.

Through

Footbridge

Beighton Station

Trip-trappin' away

Zeiss Mess-Ikonta 524/2 & Ilford HP5+. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 @ 9mins.

Taken on 13 May 2020

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Expired Film Day 2020 – Magpie Mine

The weekend just gone was Expired Film Day 2020 – actually three days, as shooting was allowed on the 13-15 March – four days for me as I didn’t shoot most of my roll until the 16th, possibly voiding my ability to be nominated for a prize. Oh well, I wasn’t expecting to win, and didn’t take part for that reason anyway. 🙂

I shortlisted three rolls as potential candidates this year:

  • Kodak Ektachrome 100 – expired 2008
  • Kodacolor Gold 200 – expired 1989
  • TriFCA35 – expired 1975

After a bit of research, I decided against using the TriFCA35 – it’s apparently a C22 process film, but it’s likely my local lab would have only processed it as B&W. The feedback by others on the film wasn’t particularly encouraging either, with some saying that, even when fresh, it wasn’t especially great, so I decided to not chance it – as cool as it would be to get images back from a 45 year old roll, I wanted to make sure I did get some images given the limited opportunities I had to take photographs during the timeframe, so decided on the Kodacolor Gold 200 instead.

Given its age, I decided that overexposing the Kodacolor by a stop for each decade of expiry would be a good plan, meaning that I’d be metering for 25asa. Not a problem if I used a tripod and shutter release though.

My original intention was to go out on the 13th and get some shots during a day’s leave I’d taken, but I had an appointment in the morning (when, as you might have guessed, the light was great). By the time I was able to go out, the sky was developing a layer of cloud cover that probably wouldn’t be condusive for good results from expired colour film (or even fresh colour film, for that matter). Nonetheless, I didn’t want to waste the opportunity, so went out anyway, rushing to try and catch the last of the light.

Rushing. That’s rarely a good idea with photography is it? And this case was no exception. I had planned to go to Lady Canning’s Plantation at the edge of the Peak District and take some woodland and rock formation photos but, given the thickening cloud, instead went to Ford, a small hamlet much closer to home. This was a wise decision as, upon setting up for my first shot, I discovered that I’d grabbed the wrong quick-release plate in my haste to leave the house, and the one I had was too big to fit the Arca-Swiss head on the tripod I’d brought. I managed to take a couple of shots anyway, with the too-large plate fitted precariously, but then decided that the day wouldn’t be improved by my camera falling onto the floor, so gave it up and went back home (in a somewhat less than positive mood).

The following day was a pre-planned trip to Wakefield, where I took plenty of photos, but none on the expired film – which would have been far too slow to be of any use in the place I visited. Then Sunday was a washout due to the weather. Monday, despite being outside the stated shooting days for Expired Film Day, was also a day I had taken as leave, and was blessed with good weather to boot, so I (carefully this time!) packed my stuff, and headed out into the Peak District to Magpie Mine. I’ve seen pictures of this location before, but this was my first visit, and it’s a very nice place to visit – especially on a nice day without too many other visitors to get in the way of your photographs.

The location is one of the best surviving examples of a 19th century lead mine in the UK, and features the remains of various chimneys, engine houses, winding gear, and mine shafts (all covered by grilles, so you can’t fall down – although phones, wallets, light meters and the like might be easy prey!). It’s apparently possible to stand on the grille atop the main shaft and see water over 500 feet below (the shaft is flooded a further 150 feet below the surface of the water).

Given the lovely light, there were all manner of compositions to be found and I shot all ten remaining frames on the roll of expired Kodacolor, as well as ten frames of Fomapan 400 that I had in my YashicaMat 124G. I even shot a few frames of 35mm using the Sureshot that Ihad in my coat pocket.

The following images are the ones I’ve chosen to submit to this year’s Expired Film Day, and are, I think, the most pleasing images from the roll – although there were a few close runners up too.

For a thirty-one year expired roll of consumer-grade colour film, I’m pretty happy with the results. There are obvious signs of degradation, and the colours are a bit off-whack, but it’s given me some pleasing images nonetheless I think.

Expired Film Day 2020 #1

Expired Film Day 2020 #2

Expired Film Day 2020 #3

Zeiss Mess-Ikonta 524/16 & Kodacolor Gold 200 (expired in Feb 1989).

Taken on 16 March 2020

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Abandoned hay

Taken shortly before the photo of the cow that I posted a few days ago, this is farmland near Whiston, South Yorkshire, UK.

I liked the muddy field entrance leading into the shot and the brow of the hill giving the impression that the land goes on for miles (Spoiler alert! It doesn’t – there’s a motorway not far beyond the ridge – sorry to spoil the illusion :)).

There are a lot of farms with haystacks and haybales still in the fields this year, slowly rotting away through the autumn and winter. I can only assume that they were caught in rain before the farmers had chance to wrap them or get them into dry barns. I’ve seen some that have actually grown a fresh green grassy hairstyle!

FILM - Left out too long

Zeiss Mess-Ikonta 524/16 & Ilford HP5+.

Taken on 23 December 2019

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Muddy cow

This was, I think, the last photograph I took before Christmas. It’s certianly the final shot from the roll of HP5 that I shot on the 23rd December. After making most of the pictures near Meadowhall and the nearby M1, I decided to drive home on a circuitous route to see if there was anything I could use the remaining few frames on. After taking a landscape shot of some haybales, I came across a farm I’ve never driven past before which had a wonderful (and very muddy) farmyard right beside the road, where a herd of cows were feeding and taking shelter. This photo is one of two I took.

The farm has a shop and I bought myself a very tasty black-pudding sausage roll for my lunch while I was there too.

FILM - Should've worn your wellies

Zeiss Mess-Ikonta 524/16 & Ilford HP5+.

Taken on 23 December 2019

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

The Sportsman Inn

Sheffield, as with many cities, towns and villages in the UK, has a significant number of closed pubs. Whereas pubs in residential areas and the city centre still survive (and thrive) – either due to footfall, location, or by adapting to changing tastes and becoming family orientated pub-restaurants – in places that were once centres of heavy industry, they haven’t fared so well.

The east-end of Sheffield was once carpeted with steel foundries, engineering firms, and manufacturing industry. While this is still the case to some extent, much of the heavy industry has gone and with it the huge numbers of workers keen to slake their thirst after their shifts came to an end.

The decline in this industry has also changed the residential makeup of the surrounding areas. Row upon row of terraced houses that used to house the workers and their families have now either been demolished, of are now inhabited by new generations less inclined to spend their leisure time in public houses. As a result of this, huge numbers of pubs in the area have been closed or re-purposed.

The picture today is of the Sportsman Inn, which is on Blackburn Road in Sheffield. The pub was acquired by Gilmours in 1906, so probably dates back earlier than that. The facade staes 1919, but that is apparently when the pub was rebuilt (perhaps after bomb damage during the first world war?). The pub probably closed sometime in the last five years as the WhatPub site last updated it’s page in 2016, when the pub appeared to be still trading.

FILM - The Sportsman Inn

Zeiss Mess-Ikonta 524/16 & Ilford HP5+.

Taken on 23 December 2019

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Across and up

This is a footbridge across the M1 motorway just north of junction 34. I’ve driven beneath the bridge on many occasions, but have never walked across it before I took this photo. It’s quite a long way down when you get to the upper end, with traffic hurtling beneath.

I’ve thought about taking photos in this area on more than one occasion as I’ve driven past, and so I finally took the opportunity to do so just before Christmas. It’s hardly the most beautiful of places, but there are lots of interesting photos to be had.

FILM - Ascent

Zeiss Mess-Ikonta 524/16 & Ilford HP5+.

Taken on 23 December 2019

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

A couple of pubs

A bit of a dip into the archive for today’s post. I present here a couple of photographs of pubs in Sheffield. They are from a series of images I made that were going to form the basis of a project I was working on. The project kinda fizzled out, but I have a roll or two of images that I shot for it that I’ve not really done much with (although at least a couple of others have appeared in the blog at various points).

The two photos were taken almost two years ago on a wander around Sheffield city centre on a Sunday, and I’ve chosen these two as they feature the same subject matter – public houses. Despite the seemingly never-ending set of pub closures that is befalling the UK, city centres seem to be less affected, and there are still a wide ranges of places still open and thriving. Although these photos were taken two years ago, both of these pubs are still in business as far as I know, and the areas in which they stand are undergoing a lot of renewal (from old, small industrial units, to new businesses, university facilities and residential conversions). If such a time comes when they are no longer trading, then I’m glad I have these documentary pictures.

FILM - Rutland Arms

FILM - Lord Nelson

Zeiss Mess-Ikonta 524/16 & Fomapan 100.

Taken on 12 November 2017

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Golden balloon

Back in August I visited Renishaw Hall, a local stately home. The main reason for my visit was to take some photographs in the Italianate gardens for a photo comp I’m involved with. My photo did pretty badly, as it turned out, so from that point of view the visit (and £8 entrance fee) was a bit of a waste of time, but I still enjoyed the day and it might be nice to visit again when the autumn colours are in better evidence.

Anyway, I took some other photos during the visit, including shooting half a roll of Ektar. For some reason, several of the Ektar shots are very contrasty with little shadow detail – looking almost like underexposed slide film – but some came out ok, including this one.

FILM - Golden chairs Golden balloon

Zeiss Mess-Ikonta 524/16 & Kodak Ektar.

Taken on 26 August 2019

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Crazy golf

In yesterday’s post I mentioned some of the attractions at Queen’s Park in Mablethorpe. One of those was the crazy golf course. It’s one of (I think) three courses in Mablethorpe. the other two being at the other end of the sea-front. All three courses have been there as long as I can remember – so since the 1970s at least – and most likely they were around for some time before too. All three have seen changes and updates.

The northernmost course was, for many years, an Arnold Palmer’s branded course.

There were a number of these Arnold Palmer courses at various seaside resorts around the country. These all had full branding in place with brightly painted red and white obstacles (most of the ones I visited had a windmill with spinning blades to putt your ball past) and professional-looking felt “greens” upon which the ball would roll smoothly and with precision. At the end of the course, the final hole gave a chance to win a free game if you got the ball in a central hole (which would ring a bell, alerting the staff to the fact). Missing this target would result in your ball being lost down an alternate, prize-less, chute and your game would be over. I still have a free game pass in my wallet that I won sometime during the 1990s. Alas, the course at Mablethorpe is under different ownership now (although it still looks pretty snazzy with it’s new pirate themed looks)

The other two courses had a more independent feel to them. The central course had obstacles that felt homemade, but inventive nonetheless, with a variety of brightly painted bridges, pipes, and chutes to get your ball through. The southernmost course always seemed the more basic of the three, less fantastical in nature and almost akin to a pub-game with pegs, chicanes, and barriers making up it’s obstacles (and there’s a part of me that remembers it having concrete “greens” too, upon which your ball might be prone to sudden disruption, although this might just be down to a faulty memory circuit).

Today’s picture is of this southernmost course as it is today, still in use (although not when I took my photo). Long may it live.

FILM - Crazy golf

Zeiss Mess-Ikonta 524/16 & Kodak Portra 400.

Taken on 13 September 2019