A couple of weeks ago I went to visit a lovely friend of mine, Tom, at his place in Norwich. We’re frequent photo buddies, and have been going out together to point glass at things for years. The blistering cold and imminent snow didn’t put us off, and we took a muddy trek to Whitlingham Marshes, 10 minutes from his house.
Pinhole cameras are something I’ve seen lots of photographers use, often to fantastic effect. Making great use of motion blurs, people moving, and the exaggerated wide angle that often accompanies the simplest of cameras. Surprisingly, I’ve never tried my hand at it, but I’ve been seeing so many interesting images created using pinhole cameras (for example, Moni’s Blatherskite blog – some great images produced while wheeling a camera around on a trolley in a library) that I thought I had to give it a go.
August 5th is #DianaDay (no, not Queen Of Are Harts Princess Diana) on Twitter, and to celebrate, believeinfilm.com are giving away a Pinhole Diana!
To enter, follow this link: http://www.believeinfilm.com/win-film-pinhole-camera and tweet it out to your friends. You can have a maximum of 5 entries, so get going!
It’s perhaps inevitable that at some point in a film photographer’s life, he or she will mess up a roll. I’ve been having ongoing problems with developing at home, and today was no exception. Yesterday was Grillstock, a festival of food and music here in Bristol, and I took my new 24mm Superwide lens out, loaded with a fresh roll of HP5+. I shot a whole roll in one day, taking loads of photos of the event in the sunshine, as well as lots of shots of my friends and I at night, drinking and chatting and having a lovely old time.
This morning (despite my colossal hangover), I attempted to transfer the roll onto a reel, in a changing bag. Same as I have done, many times previously. However the film just wouldn’t go onto the reel – it kept sticking and tearing and buckling. As I kept trying, getting more annoyed, making the inside of the bag sweatier (nice), the film kept buckling and creasing. After about 30 minutes of annoyance, I eventually had to cut the roll to eventually get it onto the roll. I resigned myself to the fact that this roll was probably ruined – the heat and moisture in the bag had made section of it stick to itself, which is not a good thing for delicate emulsion. I processed it anyway (stand developed in Rodinal 1:100 for an hour), fixed and hung it up to dry. Checking the date on my fixer, I groaned again – it was WAY out of date, and cloudy. This roll was doomed.
One small thing to take from this disappointing morning, was that I seem to have alleviated some of the problems of bromide drag, I’d experienced previously. I did this by pre-washing the film, and keeping the tank in a water bath while it sat for an hour. There is still some evidence of drag, but only on the portions of film where it was also very creased – this probably didn’t help.
So, what did I learn? I need to find out why my reels are sticking and tearing my film. I need to buy more fixer (in a smaller quantity, perhaps). I also need to perfect the pre-wash and water bath technique, to hopefully eradicate bromide drag altogether.
The few salvageable photos are below – I like the energy and fun times captured, but I can’t help but feel disheartened with the results, technically. I’ve been enjoying colour photography a lot more, recently, and this episode has only helped push me towards colour, as I don’t develop it myself!
If anyone has any rips for my reel problem, I’d love to hear them in the comments!
After the almost-documentary photography of Burning Nest, I wanted to try something a bit creative, and without much expectation of an end result. I bought a job lot of cheap Cokin filters from eBay a while ago, including some shaped bokeh filters, and a multi-image glass filter, that splits the image into 5 parts. While visiting a friend in Norwich, we got some fairy lights out of his loft, and shot a roll of images in the dark using the filters. Then, I rewound the film (being careful to leave the leader out) and re-shot the roll in the nearby woods, Mousehold Heath.
Burning Nest is a yearly celebration of art, music, and alternative culture, held in the UK. It’s a free-spirited celebration, its more-famous sibling being Burning Man, held in Black Rock, Nevada. The Cornwall celebration this year was significantly smaller, hosting around 500 people in the glorious grounds of a stately home (I wonder if they knew what they were letting themselves in for).
I’ve used a trusty Nikon Coolscan IV for years, since I bought it for a song from someone who didn’t really know what it was (sometimes in life, you get lucky). It’s a fantastic scanner – quick, produces scans of decent size, and because it focuses on the film itself, capable of producing sharp results. However, it’s only designed for 35mm film – as I’m shooting more and more 120 film recently, I thought it was (sadly) time to replace it.
I last used a proper darkroom in college, for a brief course that set off my film photography obsession with a vengeance. I’ve been looking for darkrooms to use ever since, and thought it was a good idea to have refresher course before I start stinking of fixer and ruining sheets of Ilford Multigrade again.
I’ve always been drawn to super wide-angle lenses. I don’t know why – a combination of the distortion (reminds me of 90’s skate videos) and being able to get REALLY CLOSE to things and still get a whole background in, maybe. A kind person over on the Talk Photography forums kindly lent me theirs – a 17mm Tamron lens, which I quickly picked up an adaptor for.