medium format

Lincoln in Shanghai GP3

Lincoln Cathedral. Street view. Bronica SQ-A. Zenzanon 80mm f/2.8. Developed in Rodinal. Scanned on Epson V500.

The above photo was taken on a recent short visit to Lincoln.  I took it in the Bronica on Shanghai GP3 film.  This film had become my favourite of the slower (ISO 80-100) medium format b/w films.  Not only do I like how it looks, but it was incredibly cheap – the cheapest fresh medium format film on the market.  It was marketed direct from China on Ebay.  It priced with delivery for around £2.10 per film.  Then a month or two ago, it suddenly disappeared.  One vendor has recently started offering it again, but they are UK based, with a higher price (including delivery cost) – I don’t know yet, if the stock is fresh, or old.

If Shanghai GP3 really has gone, then it’ll be a hit to us tight fisted medium format b/w enthusiasts.  A great shame.

Fingers crossed that it reappears.


We Live Here

Behind the fountain. Olympus XA2. Kodak Tmax 400. Developed in LC29.

I’ve created a new Flickr album today, called We Live Here.  An awful lot of my photography these days seems to revolve around that theme.  I always want to capture the atmosphere, create a b/w film window into our corner of the planet.

I did try to think of a better title.  Maybe something like Car boot sales, small town, lurcher shows.  However, I lumped with something a bit more straightforward.  I guess that the idea has been in the back of my head for a while, but brought forward by Eric Kim’s blogpost.  I think that it is important to make the best out of where ever you live.  You don’t have to live in New York to shoot street (or whatever you want to call it).


Stand / Cross process of C41 Poundland Film in B/W Chemistry

Together in Death. Olympus XA2 (the 50p camera project). AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 (Poundland Film) C41. Developed in Rodinal.

I recently asked on a photography forum for a developing recipe to cross process C41 with b/w chemistry.  I was tickled, but a little chuffed, when someone answered by giving me a link to an old post about the subject …. from one of my own posts here on my blog!

I hadn’t cross processed Poundland film to b/w for a year or two, and when I did, I used Ilford ID11.  This time I wanted to use a rodinal / R09 developer, and I fancied stand processing.

For the Digital / N00b crowd.  What am I talking about?

  1. Cross Processing.  There are a number of different processes for film, and for printing.  The most common three are a) C41.  This is the process for developing colour negative film.  Some b/w films have also been produced that require C41.   b) E6.  This is the process for colour positive transparencies / slides.  c) True b/w negative.  The oldest process that is usually still done by hand rather than a photo lab.  Cross processing takes place when a photographer uses a process other than that intended by the film manufacturer.  Many Lomo photographers cross (both ways) C41 and E6 in order to get bizarre colours on prints/scans.  I am cross processing C41 Poundland film in b/w chemistry, because it is ultra cheapskate and tight fisted.
  2. Stand processing.  Hand processing film involves agitating or inverting a developing tank filled with a film, and diluted solutions of developer  at set intervals.  Typical dilutions for example for the rodinal developer are 1:19 or 1:25 of rodinal to water.  This moves the diluted developer through the film emulsions at a proven rate.  With Stand processing, you use much weaker dilutions of developer, and instead of regular inversions – leave the tank standing for a much longer time.  It saves on developer, allows you to have a meal or watch a movie, and is similar in some ways to slow cooking.  You can be several minutes out either way without disaster.

The stand process that I ended up using this time was that as suggested by the Massive Dev Chart for XP2 C41 in Rodinal / R09.

The recommendation was 1:100.  Yes, a pathetic 3 ml of Agfa Rodinal for a single 35mm film in my Paterson tank.  The recommended time at the optimum 20C was 120 minutes.  I put my used Poundland film in the tank.  Added the very diluted Rodinal, gave it several inversions, then sat it down with a few taps to dislodge air bubbles.

I then took Anita out to the local flea pit (cinema) where we watched the Pixel movie.  I returned maybe 130 minutes later.  Emptied out the developer, stopped, fixed, and rinsed.  Hung up the slippery brown thing to dry.

The above image is one scan.  I did enhance the levels a little on the scanned image, using Gimp software, but not that much.  I worked out that 3 ml of my Rodinal cost me about 8p (GBP £0.08).  The film a quid from Poundland.  Altogether, film, develop, fix, and scan cost me no more than £1.30.

Tight fisted?

One more thing.  This isn’t just about process and cost.  How does the image look?


Photography – my local, my style

The Time Traveller

The Empire Strikes Back

This follows on from my last post, in which I discuss Eric Kim’s excellent blog post: How to be Happy in All Circumstances in Photography.  Eric didn’t just discuss happiness in relationship to Gear constraints.  He also discusses happiness in photography, in relation to other constraints such as location and available time.

We don’t all live in a Mecca of Street Photography, such as New York.  I’ve been guilty of this one myself.  I live in the sticks, the provinces.  Crap end of the English Fens.  Not exactly urban decay.  And yet, what an idiot that makes me.  Who said that Street needs to be urban big-city?  When I open my eyes, I’m living on the edge of a small town that has clearly seen better, more lucrative times, when it was a port on the Wash.  In addition to the local decay, the town is full of local English characters, blending nicely next to crowds of recent immigrants from across the European Union.  I have tonnes of local material, who needs New York?  I can capture history, I can try to capture the feeling and atmosphere of small town provincial Eastern England.

The point is to enjoy doing this.  To make photography fun, hopefully sometimes creative or aesthetic, but also to have fun.  Some people might feel the need to buy the latest Canikon fullframe DSLR, complete with a suitcase of lenses, and of course, a whopping big Canikon emblazoned camera back pack.  But do they really have more fun than I do with my battered 50p Olympus XA2 pocket camera and home developed b/w film?

This is kind of leading me to that other sought after thing – personal style.  I feel that a lot of people miss out on this point. They are often subconsciously directed by the media, to produce the same sort of images as each other.  Shiny, sharp, beautiful colours.  Heavy post process software manipulation – you can see where many follow the same guides and tutorials from the same magazines and websites.  Maybe I’m being unfair to criticise this school of photography.  Perhaps because I am such an untidy, messy, archaic person in Life – this messiness and imperfection shows in my photography.  I simply can not be bothered with creating the perfect still photography.

So that is my style – as I am.  Messy, politically conscious, interested in people, and of course tight fisted.  All photographs on this post taken with the battered 50p Olympus XA2 pocket camera and bathroom developed b/w 35mm film.


Tight fisted happiness in all circumstances in photograpy

Bronica SQ-A. Zenzanon PS 80mm f/2.8. Shanghai GP3 film. Developed in Rodinal.

This post is in response, or perhaps, in agreement, with Eric Kims blog post:   How to Be Happy in All Circumstances in Photography.

All that I know, is that I keep reading the same sort of questions and answers online.  “Which is best?  The Canikon ZX or the Canikon XZ?”.  “I’m an intermediate photographer, which lens should I buy next?”.  “I am an intermediate / advanced photographer, how should I go full frame?”.  “My camera is three years old, should I upgrade?”.

What the feck?  Where do all of these people get programmed to think like this?  Unless you are taking photographs for a taxable living income, or at the very least, for a substantial amount of the cost of your living – you, like I, are an amateur.  Amateur is not a dirty word.  It means for the love of…  Unless you are a professional, then you are an amateur, and you take photographs for enjoyment.  There is nothing wrong with that.  If you wish, you can be really enthusiastic.  You can be incredibly creative.  You don’t need to take wedding photos for a living – just enjoy the experience.  Embrace your freedom to be eclectic.

I love Eric’s post.  It echoes my own over the past few years, that you can escape the rat race of the upgrade culture.  You do not need that latest fullframe DSLR.  You do not need that high end lens.  Unless your particular chosen school of photography is a technology driven one – such as Nature, Macro, or Sports photography – you do not need that latest model of full frame DSLR, nor that ultra expensive lens, tripod, or camera bag.

Just enjoy and create with what you have.  Seek enjoyment.  Seek creativity and expression.  Seek the unexpected.  Enjoy photography, don’t just consume because you have been programmed to do so.  Protest.

medium format

Vikings in C41 Colour

Godmanchester Viking Festival. Bronica SQ-A. Zenzanon PS 150mm f/4. Kodak Ektar 100. Scanned film on Epson V500.

I’ve been enjoying an explore of medium format colour recently.  Although I mainly shoot on home developed b/w film, I fancied trying something new.  I recently found a C41 photolab in Kings Lynn that could handle 120 medium format film at a fair price, and with good service ( Wolfys Photos ), so I ordered some rolls of Kodak Ektar 100.  We’ve had some cracking light recently, so ASA 100 was perfect.

The main event that I’ve used it for was the Godmanchester Viking Festival, last weekend.  The light was actually very bright – too bright for hoards of very hot and sweaty Viking reeanactors, but I did try my best.  The festival itself was great.  As were the very helpful historical reenactors.  I do hope that some of them find my photographs online.  The general public – even the DSLR crowd, were surprisingly thin on the ground, due perhaps partly to the heat of the day, and perhaps low key billing of the event.

Expect to see several here on this blog.

As above photograph.

Band and Concert Photography

I still screw up

Bronica SQ-A. Zenzanon PS 150mm f/4. Ilford FP4+ 120 film. Developed in LC29. Scanned on a V500. Repaired in Gimp.

I took this photograph at an open air event in Wisbech last weekend.  The past year, we’ve both been learning music and stringed instruments.  Never too old to learn.  I’m 52 years old, and Anita is … considerably younger.  I’m dedicated to learning the mandolin.  I’ve ordered a hand made mandolin from a local luthier.  I wont receive it for at least a year, so for now, I’m dedicated to practice with a much cheaper mandolin.  Meanwhile, for Anita, it has been guitars – acoustic, electric, and now an electric bass that I recently picked up used.  So when I saw this local rock band playing, I felt drawn to the bass guitarist.  And I think that he made a cool subject.

I still screw up refers to the fact that my photography is far from good, never mind perfect.  I still make silly mistakes.  On this medium format film of FP4+, I didn’t give it enough time to dry.  I was impatient.  I’ve got away with it before, but perhaps this time, I just didn’t leave it enough time hanging in the bathroom.  I cut it, stored the strips in a negative binder.  Next morning I scanned it.  Some of the strips “stuck” a bit in the binder, needed a little tug out.  When I scanned them, there was damage – vertical lines where I guess still sticky film scored in the negative binder.

I did some repair work to the digital scans using Gimp 2.8 software.  Its not perfect – you can still see some scoring on this scan.  However, I have learned a new lesson.  Wait!