Single shot – Ashdown Forest/Fomapan 100/SQ-A

I’ve been feeling like I’ve neglected this blog in 2019, so when I read Jim Grey’s helpful post full of tips to help you write more often, I thought I’d give one of them a go: the single shot post.

Ashdown Forest / Fomapan 100 / Bronica SQ-A

This shot was from my first roll through the Bronica SQ-A, soon after I bought it. Collected from a guy I met at Liverpool Street Station, the SQ-A came with one 80mm lens, a waist-level finder, a grip (which I didn’t start using for a while but now would not be without), some bellows for close-up work and some odd plastic filters. For the princely sum of £200, I had my first medium format kit.

I struggled with the back-to-front viewfinder at first (who am I kidding, I still do), swinging around like a drunkard until I found the right framing. The lack of a light meter meant I used an app on my phone, which was a bit unwieldy. And don’t get me started on the number of times I tried to take a shot with the darkslide still in! However, it was all worth it, looking down at that huge, bright waist-level finder and seeing an image composing there.

My trip to the Ashdown Forest was with my good friend Tom, who I’ve collaborated with a few times before. He was very patient as I stopped to fiddle about with the SQ-A to get a handful of shots, even posing for me a couple of times next to signs and the like. I always enjoy photo walks with other photographers – they don’t mind when you spend 10 minutes walking around the same piece of wood or fern, trying to get just the right shot.

The image I’ve picked was an attempt at minimalism, with the dark trees against a grey cloudy sky. I’m not sure how successful it is, but I developed it at home and I remember feeling very proud of the roll of huge negatives that came out of the tank. I still have the SQ-A, now with an additional 50mm lens, and a dedicated light meter instead of a phone. It’s such a solidly-built and simple camera, I don’t think I’ll be replacing it any time soon.

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