The Peak District on Ilford Pan 100

Last month we took a trip with some friends to a tiny camping barn in the Peak District, for a 30th birthday celebration. Lots of laughs were had, new friends made, and I struggled to work through a roll of film. Not for any particular reason, I just couldn’t find anything that looked as good through the viewfinder as I expected.

So I was pleasantly surprised when I finally developed the roll of Ilford Pan 100 yesterday, (in Rodinal, 1+25, 9 minutes). The Pan 100 was a gift from the Emulsive Secret Santa last year, and I’d not used it before. It gives a wide range of tones, some fantastic sharpness and deep, lovely blacks. I’ll definitely be buying another couple of rolls!

Rescanning old negatives, and the curse of dust

I recently (grudgingly) sold my Nikon Coolscan IV 35mm scanner, to be able to buy a flatbed that could accommodate both 35mm and 120 negatives. I’m still not massively sold on the flimsy film holders, as opposed to the easy-peasy “feed it in the hole and wait for the clanging to stop” method of the Coolscan. However, I can’t fault the quality of the scans, even if the method of obtaining them is a bit of a pain.

These shots were taken in the spring, locally to me – a test of my new 50mm Bronica SQ-A lens, and mostly metered on my phone or by eye (still not perfect, but not bad!).

I scanned and processed these all at night, in the dark… which meant I didn’t spot the MASSIVE amounts of dust on the negatives. At some point I’ll go through and clone it all out, but for now, it’s nice to have them properly scanned.

 

Bristol Bike Night

My day job is with a motorcycle dealership, here in Bristol. I covered the last Bike Night of 2017, on a digital camera for a change! We were losing the light towards the end of the night, and I had some fun trying to get the white balance right, but otherwise I’m pretty happy with how these turned out.

Somewhere in a field…

Festival photography is tricky. Too much gear, and you risk not enjoying the event you’ve come to see, due to lugging three bodies and ten lenses around JUST IN CASE. Rely on phone photography, and your battery will be drained before 5pm, leaving you unable to locate your friends in the seething hoardes. Which is why I absolutely love the Olympus XA4 for taking to festivals – small enough to go in a super-stylish bumbag, and sharp enough to take great photos, whatever the conditions.

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Freelensing is bestlensing

Freelensing! What’s that, I hear you scream? It’s the technique of removing the camera lens from the body, and shooting by tilting it to find the in-focus spot. There are expensive Lensbaby lenses that will enable you to do this, but I prefer the DIY method. Using a film camera, I don’t have to worry about dust on my sensor either. Inspired and guided by Lina Forrester’s fantastic blog, I decided to use up the rest of a roll of Agfa Vista 200 on this experiment.

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A tale of a ruined film

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!

Double exposures & creative filters

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 2017

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).

Nest 2017-7

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A new scanner, and some wedding photos

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.

Continue reading A new scanner, and some wedding photos