Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Hello 2021

My first blog post of the new year.

Looking further down the line I’m hoping for at least a partial return to normaility later in the year. As more of the population are vaccinated against Covid-19, so I hope that restrictions will be lifted and more freedom restored. Just the though of being able to hop in the car and drive somewhere without first having to check which tier it is in will be nice. Hell, just going to a restaurant even!

But at this immediate point in time that all still feels like some ways off. The restrictions remain, vaccinations have not really touched the majority of the population yet, and there’s likely to be an increase in cases and fatalities as we move into January. Brexit has happened, but the less said about that sorry state of affairs the better, I think . I’m also back at work next week and have a busy month ahead of me. This is a good thing, but despite a fortnight’s leave over Christmas, the strange circumstances in which we still reside mean that I don’t feel particularly rested.

Apart from some confectionery, the gifts I received for Christmas sit as yet untouched in a small pile on my office desk and, if previous years are anything to go by, it may be months before I actually find the time to enjoy them – mostly because ,when I do have some free time, I feel overwhelmed by all the things I’d like to do and then end up procrastinating about which to choose until I end up doing not much of anything! I feel I need another week of post-holiday leave or something to just do stuff.

As for photography, I still have pictures made in 2020 to develop and scan, but I’m not sure what will be the first thing I do photographically in 2021 as yet. I’m feeling a little uninspired if I’m honest. I’m sure the inspiration will return, and it’s not a winter thing – I know may photographers despair of the dull and, some might say, miserable conditions brought by a British winter, but I really don’t mind them. The conditions suit different types of photos is all. I will be making a second zine in the coming months though, so I need to put on my thinking cap to decide on the contents.

I don’t tend to make New Year’s resolutions as such, as they tend to fail more often than not, but this year I am going to attempt to not only lose some weight (something I know I can do), but also get fitter by doing C25K with one of my sons. Both should be positive activities I think (if not the easiest for me!).

Well, that’s a slightly gloomy post isn’t it? Please don’t let me bring anyone down. In order to lift things a little, I’ve decided that I will try to add a haiku to each day’s post this year. So here’s the first Please don’t judge my verse too harshly. ­čÖé

A new year is here
I hope it’s better than last
I’ll cross my fingers

And here’s another (slightly underexposed, but still quite nice) photo of the trees on the edge of Lady Canning’s Plantation. It is a photo blog after all.

Plantation's edge

Fujica GW690 & Fomapan 400. Ilfotec DD-X 1+9 12mins @ 20┬░.

Taken on 23 December 2020

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Underexposed in the woods

Given that I mentioned it in yesterday’s post, heres the second most underexposed shot from this roll. While it has definite faults (not least all the dust spots that I didn’t have the will to remove!), it still kinda works I think.

In the woods

Fujica GW690 & Shanghai GP3. Ilfotec DD-X 1+9 10mins @ 24┬░.

Taken on 23 December 2020

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

In Lady Canning’s Plantation

This is one of the underexposed frames of Shanghai GP3 that I mentioned a few days ago – the least underexposed of the three and it’s been recovered for the most part in post-processing. The other two shots were also made within the trees of the plantation, so I suspect it was caused by poor metering on my part. The next wrst exposed shot has also recovered enough that I might post it too, but it’s noticably more contrasty than this one. The worst of the bunch is mostly “soot and whitewash” unfortunately.

Somewhere in the plantation

Fujica GW690 & Shanghai GP3. Ilfotec DD-X 1+9 10mins @ 24┬░.

Taken on 23 December 2020

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Across from the misty path

One of the photos I posted yesterday showed a footpath between trees. This path is at the edge of the River Rother. Glancing to the right from that location presents the scene shown in today’s image. The dead trees on the far bank make striking shapes, but I’m not sure if there’s a way to get closer to them or not.

Those dead trees beyond

Fuji DL-270 Zoom Super & Kodak Colorplus. Grain2Pixel conversion.

Taken on 7 November 2020

35mm · Film photography · Photography

More woodland mist

These shots were take on the same day as the ones made with the Bronica which I posted about here. These were a bit of an afterthought really – I had the Fuji in my coat pocket and decided to make a few photos. I wasn’t really expecting much for a number of reasons: I had no idea of the provenance of the film; the camera had not been tested by myself; and because the lens is somewhat slow (starting at f/5.6 at the wide end I think), so I doubted I’d have much joy on a dimly lit morning with 200asa film. As it happened, they turned out very well. They maybe don’t stand up to close , pixel-peepy, scrutiny, but otherwise they are nice pictures. The colours from this roll, as I think I mentioned yesterday, are really nice.

Broken trunk
Beside the river

Fuji DL-270 Zoom Super & Kodak Colorplus. Grain2Pixel conversion.

Taken on 7 November 2020

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

In the misty wood

I’ve undoubtedly said this before on here somewhere, but I’ll say it again: Fog and mist are a gift to photography. The diffused light; the sense of calm; the way they hide and obscure distracting detail; and – most of all – the sheer atmosphere (quite literally) that they bring to bear is a wonderful thing to behold.

I do admit to saying this as someone for whom fog and mist are relatively uncommon – at least at the times I’m usually out of bed! I can fully understand the “grass is always greener” sentiment that this bears, and that for those who live in places with regular foggy conditions that this might all be a bit business-as-usual. But for me, well, I love these conditions.

Misty woods #1

So, when I saw the weather forecast showing this day as having fog, I was up early and out with my camera. I went somewhere I’ve been a number of times before – a walk that takes me across the River Rother, through a copse of trees (it’s probably a plantation as the tress – Poplars I think – are in somewhat orderly rows), and then either up to the Trans-Pennine Trail, or looping alongside the river, then down to Renishaw golf-course, and back around to the starting point.

Misty woods #2

I’ve photographed these trees on a number of occasions and know that the look their best in a veil of mist. It’s not a large area and on clear days it’s easy to find a distracting background element creeping into the frame. In fog, however, the trees feel like they go on forever.

Misty woods #3

Bronica ETRSi, Zenzanon 50mm f/2.8 MC & Ilford HP5+ (@1600). Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 13mins @ 20┬░.

Taken on 7 November 2020

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

An end to autumn’s colour

Ok, maybe not the most autumnal shades here – more a yellow green than fiery shades of red and orange – but it’s probably the last shot from this year’s clutch of seasonal images where the trees still bear foliage. Today, as I type this, most of the leaves have fallen, littering the pavements and roadsides where they’ll release that rich scent of autumn so evokative of this time of year. There are still some late straggling leaves on the limbs of silver birches – some still green in fact – but most trees have revealed the skeletal form of their branches now.

I still have autumnal images yet to come, but they are of the misty, damp, almost monochromatic feel of late autumn as it rolls over into winter.

On an autumn street

Yashica Mat 124G & Lomography Color Negative 100. Grain2Pixel conversion.

Taken on 10 October 2020

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Autumn gold

Three autumnal images, all taken almost a month ago now – once again, where does the time go?!

The first two are in an out-of-town industrial estate. I’d spotted them on the way to where we were going and then made my wife wait in the car while I photographed them on our return. I always carry a compact camera in my coat pocket at this time of year for opportunities such as this. I try to carry one in the warmer months too, but having the need to wear a coat gives better opportunity to carry a pocketable camera.

Autumn maples

The final photo in today’s post was made on a seperate outing, but was taken on another industrial estate not far from home – I can’t remember if I was out dropping a film off to be developed or visiting the postal sorting office, but it was one of the two.

I have a feeling that my Telemax might have developed a light leak on the lens assembly. It’s displaying minor, but noticeable signs of leakage at one corner of the frame, although easily fixed in Photoshop. It’s similar to, but not as severe as, the leak I had on the Samsung Fino compact I tried a while back. The Telemax is the only camera in my collection (other than my Instax Mini) that I have owned since new – a gift from my parents around 1990-ish. I might have to retire it if the leak persists (although I shan’t get rid of it – I have an attachment to it now).

Fire in the sky

Canon Sure Shot Telemax & Kodak Gold 200. Grain2Pixel conversion.

Taken on 10 October 2020

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Autumn in the Limb Valley

I took some leave last week in the hope that I would be able to get out an about capturing some autumn colour before the leaves fell, but this was hampered by the pincer movement of a Tier 3 Covid-19 restriction being placed on our county and my old friend, bad weather. The Tier 3 restrictions prevented me leaving the borders of South Yorkshire, but there are still many, many other places I can go make photos within the boundary. It was the dull, rainy weather that was the main anchor on my activities. While I subscribe to the saying: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing”, my cameras are sadly not weather sealed so, no matter how suitable my atire may be, the use of vulnerable camera gear forms an Achilles heel.

So, when there was a break in the weather on the Wednesday morning, I decided to make the most of it and set off for the Limb Valley, a wooded area to the south-east of the city that rises into the hills at Ringinglow at the edge of the Peak District. I’ve never walked the valley before and only realised it was ther because I saw some photographs a colleague of my wife had posted. Not having any better plans, it seemed a good place to visit.

Autum in the Limb Valley

I decided that I would use the opportunity to test the newly acquired Zenzanon 50mm f/2.8 MC lens that I’d bought to use with my Bronica ETRSi. I had been looking for a wider-angle lens on and off for a while to complement the 75mm f/2.8 that came with the camera. I missed out on one a few weeks ago when I was outbid at the last moment, so when I saw this one with a buy-it-now option for half the price of the one I missed out on I got in there fast.

Autumn arboreal

The lens was described as having had a lot of use, with some loss of paint on the barrel. It also said that there was some slight haze in the centre of the glass. I examined the photos that were shown on the auction and felt happy with the cosmetic condition – as long as it works properly, I don’t mind a few scrapes here and there. The haze wasn’t very apparent in the photos so I decided to take a chance and clicked the button to make the purchase.

Forest shades

Upos arrival, I can’t really find anything to complain about. The cosmetic wear is nothing serious, and I can’t see any sign of the haze at all, and it hasn’t (that I can see, at least) made its presence felt in the photos I’ve made so far.

Beech glow

I also decided to use the outing to try out some more expired film that I’ve recently picked up – a few rolls of Superia 100 in 120 format. It’s a consumer grade film, but there are precious few options for non-professional colour film for medium format now, so I decided I would take a chance on it. The scans from the negatives tended towards a green cast slightly, but I’ve beebn able to sort that out in Photoshop without any real issues and I’m generally happy with the results for the film.

Woodland bridge

On the whole I’m really happy with the results from this outing. So much so that I moved them up my pile of stuff to scan and publish (I normally do this in a pretty strict chronological order – blame mild OCD or something:)). It means that they get published pretty close to the period of autumn in which ther were produced.

Bronica ETRSi, Zenzanon 50mm f/2.8 MC & Fujifilm Superia 100 (expired 2008). Grain2Pixel conversion.

Taken on 28 October 2020

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Woodland road (and dealing with some spotty Fomapan 100)

A photograph of a woodland road today, taken on one of the rolls of Fomapan 100 that I’ve been having problems with. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts (such as this one) I’ve been having issues with white speckles of debris when using this film. I ruled out my development process and chemicals – both worked fine when developing other film stocks. I also tried omitting a chemical stop-bath, replacing it with water, and also adding a pre-wash of the film before developing. Nothing seemed to work and the speckles still stubbornly appeared when I developed each roll of Fomapan 100.

Then, a month or so back, I came across a post on the Photrio forum which seemed to detail someone having the same problem. It turned out that other people suffering the same difficulties all had film form the same production batch. One person in a linked post had contacted Foma themselves and been advised that the cause was a harder than usual anti-halation layer on that run of film and that a specific development process might help. I tried the process myself, but still ended up with the smae spots on the negatives, albeit possibly slightly less pronounced than before.

I decided to contact Foma myself and they replied with some similar instructions, although this time I noticed an additional stage that involved a wash of the developed film in an ethanol / water mixture before the final wetting agent stage. I’ve not tried this process as yet and, I suspect, probably won’t – mostly because ethanol seems quite hard to come by, at least at a price that isn’t prohibitively high. It would likely be cheaper to buy some fresh, unproblematic film, than attempt the ethanol rinse process.

I’m grateful for Foma’s response though, plus they sent me a few rolls of film as a goodwill gesture – two rolls of Fomapan 400, plus a roll of Retropan 320. I’ve never shot Retropan 320 before, so I’m quite looking forward to giving that one a go.

Should anyone else be suffering a similar issue when developing Fomapan 100, the instructions provided to me by Foma are as follows:

In case of your already exposed & processed negatives we recommend to you the following procedure to remove the residues of remaining anti-halo layer:

1) Prepare working solution in minimum with 40% of ethanol (optimally 70%).
2) Put carefully the films into spiral┬┤s developing tank or a spiral with the film into similar transparent container with enough ethanol solution, with emulsion layer inside of the cylinder tank/container.
3) Keep the negatives in this solution approximately 45 minutes and make moderate movement each 4-5 minutes.
4) Wash sheets of the negatives in running water from tap for 2-3 minutes.
5) Make standard drying including wetting agent (FOTONAL).

If you may decide to use also other films from the same emulsion number, we advise you to follow this procedure of processing:

1) Exposed films put inside of the spiral┬┤s developing tank.
2) Pour distilled water or water without minerals into this developing tank and keep the films in this solution for 20-30 minutes. Occasional inversion is convenient. This solution, ca. 600 ml, is possible to use in maximum for 2 rolls.
3) Immediately after pouring the water out you can fill the tank by developing working solution keeping standard conditions of developing, best using more alkaline developer, e.g. FOMADON R09.
4) After developing we recommend to stop process just by water bath, best running filtered water, in minimum for the time of 30 seconds in water┬┤s temperature 12-18┬░ C. Using acidic stop bath like FOMACITRO and others is not convenient in this case, because there are needed alkaline baths to help with dissolving the hardened anti-halo layer.
5) Standard fixing.
6) Wash the strips of the negatives in running water for 20-30 minutes (according to higher or lower temperature).
7) Use ethanol solution and other steps (1-5) as described in previous paragraph.

Forest road
There’s a set of power-lines tucked away in here if you look for them…

Bronica ETRSi, Zenzanon 75mm f/2.8 & Fomapan 100. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 8mins @ 20┬░

Taken on 23 August 2020