The old agility dog

Bronica SQ-A camera. Zenzanon PS 150mm f/4 lens. Ilford FP4 Plus 120 film. Developed in Firstcall R09.

I took this photograph on a dog walk yesterday (yes, I can just about hold the Bronica with my hand surgery).  She is an old dog.  She recently lost her best border collie pack mate, and apparently is pining for him.  Together, they were champions in the agility rings of England.  Both the dogs, and their master grew too old to any longer compete.  Still, they still have each other, and a terrier mate.  They get to run with his disability carriage every day.

Black and White – simple III (and final)

More comparisons between my black & white images originally captured on b/w negative film, and those captured on a digital sensor.


Bronica SQ-A camera. Zenzanon PS 80mm f/2.8 lens. Ilford HP5 Plus medium format film. Home developed in R09.


Sony DSLR A200. Sony DT 50mm f/1.8 SAM lens. UFRAW b&w conversion.


Pentax ME Super camera. SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7 lens. Ilford HP5 Plus film. Developed in ID11.


Pentax K110D DSLR. SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7 lens. PP software Adobe Photoshop CS3.


Bronica SQ-A camera. Zenzanon PS 150mm f/4 lens and S-18 extension tube. Ilford HP5 Plus 120 film. Developed in FirstCall R09.


Pentax K110D DSLR. SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7 lens. PP software Adobe Photoshop CS3.


Again, I feel that the images tell their own story.  I have enjoyed creating digital monochrome images in the past.  My favourite method that I developed, was to shoot in RAW, then convert to b/w using the Channel Mixer tool in the UFRaw program. – generating grayscale .jpeg files.  Some of the above images were earlier, when I still used Adobe (I since moved to Open Source software).  However, digitally scanned, home developed b/w negative film photography still gives me the ascetic finish that I prefer.  The pop factor – a combination of dynamic range, tones, grains, and to be honest, quite often, the better lens available for the technology at an affordable price.

Personally my short term plans are to restrict my digital photography to colour.  I do not get along with C-41 processing, and I can’t afford to spend on photo lab processing.  Therefore, I’ll use my digital cameras for colour.  I’ll continue otherwise to use film-hybrid technology to produce the finished monochrome images that I’m pleased with.  I enjoy simple b/w film processing and scanning.  I regard my b/w film images more as my true photographic ‘work’, whatever that is.

I hope that anyone else curious about hybrid photography, or comparing b/w images from both film and digital sensors come across these three posts.

Black and White – simple II


Pentax ME Super camera. SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7 lens. Ilford HP5 Plus 35mm film. Developed in ID11.


Sony DSLR A200. Sony 50mm f/1.8 SAM lens. Open source pp: UFRaw b/w conversion in channels, fine pp in Gimp 2.8.


Bronica SQ-A camera. Zenzanon PS 150mm f/4 lens. S-18 extension tube. Ilford HP5 Plus 120 film. Home developed in ID11.


Sony DSLR A200. Sony 35mm f/1.8 SAM lens. Open source pp: UFRaw b/w conversion in channels. Fine pp in Gimp 2.8.


I’m comparing the results of my black & white / monochrome photography, captured initially on; a) true b/w negative film, and b) an APS-C digital sensor.  In either case, the final images are actually digital representations of captured light.  The film exposures have been chemically processed (home developing)  but then digitally scanned to produce the above images.

Both have had some post process adjustments in software, with final editing conducted in the open source Gimp program.  Therefore this is NOT a film V digital discussion.  I’m weighing the merits between digital  b/w images caught on b/w film, and b/w images caught on a digital sensor.  I want to judge for myself according to results, not by technology.  Although I enjoy the workflow of film hybrid technology, I want to know if it has any advantages.  I’ve selected the above images from my Darker Shades of Grey album on Flickr – a collection of my own favourite monochrome images, taken by digital and film, over the past few years.


As I look at the above images, I feel as though I’ve answered the question before even starting a discussion.  The film images have a clear advantage in the range of tones.  They handle under exposure better – with more detail in shadows, while at the same time, they handle over exposure better without blown out highlights.  In other words, b/w film appears to have a superior dynamic range.  It forgives poor exposure rather well compared with digital.  It explains to me, how I get away with relatively simple light metering – or no metering, and manual exposure.

The disadvantage of b/w film is cost (including process chemicals), although this is probably offset by the much lower cost of equipment.  Another disadvantage is dust.  I dry developed films in my bathroom.  Although I do try to minimise dust – in a small busy house, it’s impossible.  To an extent, hybrid film images can be cleaned post digital process using software clone and heal tools.  However, it can be tedious and imperfect.  I also carefully puffer blow films clean before scanning.

Of course, do I always need to remove dust?  There is presently a school in film photography of embracing dust, hair, and even scratches, for ascetic reasons – a stamp of authenticity, and a nostalgia for pre-digital perfection.  Post process software, used on digital images usually includes filters to add simulated dust, and scratches to images, even those that started out life on a clean digital sensor!  Therefore, I have the option on some images of purposely leaving dust and hair, for ascetic purposes.  It is an option.

In conclusion, I don’t feel that I need to worry yet about abandoning my film-hybrid technologies.  I can produce final images that are perhaps richer in tones , and have something else – a different exposure value, to that of entry level DSLRs.  They look different.  It is still worthwhile in 2014, to pursue this technology.

Black and White – simple

Our lurcher. Pentax ME Super. SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7. Ilford HP5 Plus 35mm film. Developed in ID11.

I’ve not posted on this subject before.  Strange really, considering the majority of my photography over the past year has been monochrome, or black and white, grey scale, grey tones, b&w, b/w, call it what you like.  I quite like the term argent at least with reference to er… black n’ white …. captured initially on a film coated with an emulsion of silver salts.  Argent.

Bugger, I’ll continue this into a future post or two.  For now, a photograph of me that Anita took yesterday.  Using a box camera.  In argent of course.

Kodak Brownie Flash III box camera. Foma Fomapan creative 200 film. Developed in Firstcall R09. Scanned film on Epson V500.

A broken finger and other changes

The dog that broke my finger. Sony A200 DSLR. Jessops Flashgun mounted on camera to bounce off ceiling. Sony 50mm f/1.8 SAM lens.

It’s all change at Tight Fisted Studios.  First of all, I made the decision to learn about portrait photography with artificial light and a digital camera – I excavated my poor old neglected Sony A200 DSLR from a dark cupboard, and decided to revamp it a bit .  Then on the 35mm film side,I received another Pentax ME Super body – a gift from a friend.  Finally, I had to perform a rugby tackle on our lurcher doggy, in order to prevent him from behaving very badly with a staffy.  When I got back up, I found that I had a broken finger – on my shutter hand (right hand).

First of all, the studio bit.  I joke about Tight Fisted Studios but seriously, artificial lighting has always been a mystery to me, and I fancy a new learning curve.  It’ll also be a reason to start using that digital camera again.  The long term plan is to master speed lighting with the ease of digital, then extend that knowledge to medium format film photography.  I’ve always considered digital to be a good learning tool.

So, I did a bit of tight-fisted shopping on the Internet.  First, I bought two Jessops 360AFD flashguns for Sony.  I know, I know, they are a poor substitute for a Sony flashgun – but come on, the price is ridiculously low.  For a brand new Jessops Flashgun, that has TLL, Manual, Zoom, swivel / tilt head, a guide number of 36m/ISO100, diffuser element, and operates wireless in slave mode – £39.97 each.  I think that Jessops has reduced them from their original price considerably.  So, I bought two of them.

Got to have somewhere to mount them, right?  I’ve bought a cheap Chinese umbrella stand kit.  Two stands, with umbrella / hot shoe fittings.  One shoot-through white umbrella, and one reflective silver umbrella.  How much for this kit?  A ridiculously cheap £37.95.  with free postage.  I already had a round reflector.  I could do with a background backdrops later.

Only one problem…. I then discovered that Sony have their own hot-shoes.  I’ve now got to wait for a pair of cheap Chinese hot shoe adapters to arrive. Then the dog broke my finger…

Sweeping away bad attitude

Sweeping away the seasons. Sony A200 DSLR. Sony 35mm f/1.8 SAM lens. Open source software.

Woooah!  Colour on Tight Fisted Photography!  What’s going on?  I’ll tell you what is going on.  Sort of an epiphany moment – an insight that I was gathering in my last post – the Four Commandments of Creativity.  I’ve developed (pun) a love for home processed b/w film photography.  It was sort of planned – my drive for finding personal style.  Nothing is changing there.  However, I was getting sucked into some daft gear based elitist nonsense – you know it, the old film v digital bollocks.   The New Tight Fisted Photographer will use whatever gear that he has to hand – whatever it takes to create the image.  Just as important to me as an amateur – whatever gear and method gives me pleasure and satisfaction.  Film gives me most satisfaction – and the results that I like, but digital is sometimes so convenient.

I had a perfectly good DSLR rolling around in a dark dusty drawer, forgotten, because I forsake digital entirely.  This week, I took it out, cleaned it, sorted out my lenses, and ordered some new goodies.  It’s like having a new camera all over again.  I never used it to full potential.  I am of the opinion that an entry level DSLR can be either an overweight, clumsy auto toy for hipsters and tourists, or it can alternatively be a great learning tool for photography.  I would like to improve my photography, and in particular, I’d like to learn more about using artificial light and with portraits.  Ideally in time with medium format film.  But for now, convenience points to this sadly neglected digital camera as a way in.

I always say – it is the Learning Curve that keeps me interested in Photography as a hobby.  I’m going to be less reluctant to use a digital camera.


My Four Commandments for more Creativity

The Creature in the fields. The 50p Camera Project. Olympus XA2 35mm film compact camera. Agfa Gevaert / FirstCall 400S b/w film Developed in FirstCall R09. Scanned film on an Epson V500.

  1. Do not use excessive post process software edits.  To be honest, I got this one a four or five years ago.  I often see beginner (more beginner than me) photography raped by Lightroom, Photoshop, Elements and their ilk.  I know that dark rooms had their post process tricks, but it has become too simple with digital software.  Too easy and convenient.  Sit in front of a computer and hack up your images with software filters, colour splash, effects, borders, fake Lomo, fake HDR, fake Polaroid, fake retro, plasticised skin, big boobs, sparkling teeth, etc.  My photography rule is to as far as practical,  make an image in a camera, then just mild edits and enhancements.  Not butchery.
  2. Gear obsession.  In digital, this equates to reading the latest reviews on sensor performance, following the news on the newest latest model releases, upgrading every few years, splashing out on software and camera bags.  In film this equates to camera collecting, and obsessively photographing not much but that collection.  Either way it is an obsession about photography equipment and specs.  It distracts from actually creating photography.  I’m a bit guilty of this.  I’m working on it.  I take quite a few photographs!  I upload frequently to Flickr.  I’ve hammered my Paterson tank over the past few years.  I’m keeping Ilford in business.  I do make an awful lot of images, particularly when my main medium this last few years has been film.  Although I like my results from the home developed b/w film, I want to be able to create decent images with any gear – from a out of date disposable film camera, to a digital SLR – when I want to.
  3. Break rules.  Something I’ve become more aware of just recently. So many photography enthusiasts out there are now making the same images.  They are all obeying the rules.  Clean digital attractive, perfectly exposed, perfectly composed, highly detailed, clinical photography.  That is fine for anyone else, but I want my photography to be mine.  Not the recipe from a photography magazine.  I’m working on this, have been for some time.
  4. Other people.  If other’s want to embrace HDR, or buy the latest Nikon with a flippy LCD screen – that is fine by me.  They are simply following their own way.  I’m going my way.