medium format

Death calls you by your name

Death’s shadow. Bronica SQ-A. PS 150mm f/4. Foma Fomapan Action 400. Kodak D76 at 1:1. Scanned V500.

Skulls, sometimes with crossbones, are a frequent feature on head stones in the local Fenland grave yards of parish churches.  Frequently 18th Century, they remind us that we are all living a mortal life.  Death comes to all, rich and poor – then, according to their Christian beliefs, all would be judged by the conduct of their mortal life.

I was just going to photograph the head stone in Upwell church yard.  Anita suggested the shadow of her hand.  If photography is to be creative, and not just a visual record, then it is this sort of action that divides creativity from mere photographic capture.

I was using up the last of my Fomapan Action 400 film.  The graininess works well on this.


Foma Fomapan film

Zenza Bronica SQ-A camera. Zenzanon PS 150mm f/4 lens. Foma Fomapan 100 medium format film developed in ID11.

1. Foma Fomapan 100 Classic

Bronica SQ-A. Zenzanon PS 150mm f/4. S-18 extension tube. Foma Fomapan Creative film. Developed in ID11.

2. Foma Fomapan 200 Creative.

Bronica SQ-A camera. Zenzanon PS 150mm f/4 lens. Foma Fomapan Action 400 film. Home developed in ID11 at 1:3.

3.  Foma Fomapan 400 Action.

All of the above examples taken with same camera and lens, and all developed in ID11.  Three examples of three of the Foma medium format 120 films made in the Czech Republic.

Cameras and equipment

The Animistic Atheist

Anita and the lurcher. Portrait using the Agfa Isolette I, Agnar 85mm f/4.5 lens, Foma Fomapan Creative 200 film. Developed in ID11

I’m the crustiest old atheist imaginable.  I know that it annoys Anita sometimes, but I lack faith not only in the existence of any gods, goddesses, or godlings, but pretty much in any supernature or hocus pocus.  Mr Rational, the skeptic, that demands testable evidence.  Not that I think that is boring – the World, it’s Life, and the Universe, as scientific investigation is revealing them, is far more magical than any creation myth.  Still, you get the picture.

Yet, I have to confess to some pretty innate animistic tendencies.  Lots of us have them – we become fond of an inanimate object.  It might be our car, our home, our musical instrument – we invest it with personal feelings.  We might even refer to this object as “her” (or him maybe).  When we handle them, we do so with a care and reverence.  When we change the oil, we might wonder if the car is happier.  We sad atheistic animists.

I confess.  I see old cameras this way, especially when they have been long abandoned, and have ended up at the car boot sale, in a box with old cutlery and scary looking broken dolls (now, they have a Manitou).  You wonder how it feels for them to be cleaned, and carefully loaded with a new film.  To have it’s shutter open onto the 21st Century, a second chance to live.  Sixty year old cameras are not supposed to rise from the grave, are they?

I even imagine their life, if they could talk.  I developed a found film from one, and found photos of steam railway that dated to around 1961.  The camera was last used in 1961.  A different world.  Did they expose rolls of Kodak to happy family scenes from Butlins during the 1960s?

A few weeks ago, Anita, pleased with the results of the Kershaw Penguin, encouraged me to use another of my old folders that needed testing for light leak.  This time, it was a lovely condition Agfa Isolette I folding camera from around 1954.  I actually have two of these, and have previously used the other one – but it started to leak light.  Bellows age.  I still had a roll of Foma Fomapan Creative 200, from a batch that produced some poor quality images with dark blotches.  Perfect for a light test.

So the above and below images were born last week, of that Isolette and Fomapan 200.  The camera said hello to the 21st Century.  No light leaks.  The film did have some blemishes, but I’m pleased enough with the results.

As a post script, the Isolette had a post code and house number on it’s rear.  I took a look on Google Street View at a row of semi detached houses in the North of England.  I thought about that camera and it’s history.  If only it had a memory.

The Limes Farmhouse. Isolette I. As above.

Cameras and equipment, Film

Pick up a Penguin

Our Kershaw Penguin Eight-20, picked up from the car booty. This image captured on a Sony A200 DSLR and Sony DT 50mm SAM lens.

I’ve succumbed to buying a few car boot sale cameras of recent – much to the displeasure of Anita, who points out quite correctly that I already have too many.  I bought a tasty looking Carl Zeiss Werra 1 for a fiver, but on initial testing, it looks as though it may have a shutter fault.  You can lose money on old film cameras.

I also bought the above Kershaw Penguin Eight-20 folding camera.  It came in a nice leather case, complete with manual.  I paid ten quid for it.  It is quite good condition, but I’d expect the bellows to leak.  Anita wanted to try it out, so a few days later, she loaded it with a roll of Foma Fomapan Creative 200 film.  Folders are cool.

Elm church. Penguin Kershaw 8-20 folding rollfilm camera. Circa 1951 manufacture. Foma Fomapan Classic 200 film. Developed in ID11. Film scanned in V500.

We developed the film in the evening with ID11, and left it to dry.  Results?  Well, what about that – no light leaks.  Nice job.


Have Film, need more subject

Taken with Sony A200 DSLR, and Sony DT AF 35mm f/1.8 SAM lens. Edited in UFRaw / Gimp 2.8.

New restock of Ilford film arrived today, so the fridge is looking good, although had to move the lemon meringue out of the way.  When I get some beer, I’ll have to move the milk out next.  Also got plenty of Poundland 36x 35mm films in the freezer.  What a stinky hoarder.

As you can see, my bias is for b/w negatives.  I bought the HP5 35mm films to use primarily in my old 50p Olympus XA2 pocket camera.  See what it can do with rugged Hp5 Plus.  I don’t know why some people give HP5 a hard time.  It’s a great action or street film, hard to misuse. Looks great – maybe a bit rough for those that love smoother-than-a-baby’s-bottom pan 50 sort of films for landscapes or stills, but suits my sort of photography.

For the Bronica on the street, or in UK weather, I’ve treated myself to some posh Ilford Delta Pro 400.  Not really tight-fisted, but I do try to find a good deal for a pack of ten online.

The Shanghai GP3 is my latest film love – but don’t need more yet.  I think that I’m replacing Foma 100 and 200 with it in the future, so I do plan on restocking when I need it.   Not only even cheaper than Fomapan – I also really like it.

So, let’s see what we can do.

Oh, I’ve ordered some of those 3D printed plastic mounts, that enable you to fit a 35mm film direct into a medium format camera.  Should be a bit of fun!


Bringing it together

Press it. Tourist in Cambridge, England, takes a photograph. Bronica SQ-A camera. Zenzanon PS 150mm f/4 lens. Foma Fomapan Action 400 film. Home developed in ID11 at 1:3. Scanned film Epson Perfection V500.

Another of the recent photographs that I recently took in Cambridge, England – capturing on the Czech medium format film Foma Fomapan Action 400.  Developed in a dilution of 3:1 water to ID11 stock for 22 minute.  I’m quite pleased with the composition of this one.  The tourist just stood out – she froze so still to capture an image of Cambridge on her digital camera, and I knew that the way that she dressed would stand out so well in all of these blocks and lines.

Sometimes it works.  Sometimes not.

Zenza Bronica SQ-A


Passing the Time. Students pass the old college buildings in Cambridge, England. Bronica SQ-A camera. Zenzanon PS 150mm f/4 lens. Foma Fomapan Action 400 film. Home developed in ID11 at 1:3. Scanned film Epson Perfection V500.

I took the above photograph in Cambridge yesterday.  I like to think that it was inspired by the Geometry in Henri Cartier Bresson’s photography – although I’d be insulting him by making any comparisons with my meagre snapshots.  Still, lesson learned Henri – think Geometry a little more.  HCB did it almost automatically – he would say that his brain, eye, and camera worked as one.  However, he did study art for some years, with a tutor that insisted on geometric correctness in his paintings.

I quite like this photo.  The heads of the students match up as with the above windows in the old college building.  The girl walks as if towards the cyclist – in motion blur.  Technically, I’m quite pleased as it was exposed onto the Czech budget 120 film – Foma Fomapan Action 400.  Light was really poor that day, and my shutter speed was probably selected at 250 – hence the blur of the cyclist in motion.  Developed in Ilford ID11 watered down to 3:1 – I’m such a cheapskate.

Monochrome, Rants and discussions


Disrespect. Walking over laid down grave headstones in Wisbech. Pentax SP500 Spotmatic. Super Takumar 55mm f/2 lens. Rollei Retro 400S b/w film. Developed in R09.

I’ve not posted much recently, because besides recuperating from my injury, and trying to learn to play a musical instrument (for the first time in my life), I’ve been reading.

Recent reads include a few on photography:  The Street Photographers Manual, by David Gibson; The Minds Eye, by Henri Cartier Bresson; and presently, Henri Cartier Bresson, by Clement Cheroux.

What can I say?  I’m in awe of some of these works.  Inspired?  Sure.  Cartier Bresson photography, it doesn’t get much better.  A range finder, 35mm film, no colour, no set ups, no flash or artificial light – not even a reflector, no darkroom post process edits.  Yet brilliance in un-posed b/w 35mm film photography.

Other news on the photography front?  I’m presently trying out some Foma Fomapan Action 400 film in 120 roll.  It’s cheap, but reports by others suggest that it isn’t the best, and suffers from stains that appear to originate in the backing paper.  I did recently have this problem myself, while using the slower Fomapan Creative 200 in an Isolette.  I developed it in R09, so with this 400 stuff, I’m trying to develop it in dilutions of ID11.  The first trial is presently drying.

On the subject of cheap medium format film, I’ve ordered some even cheaper and perhaps nasty b/w film from China to try out.  It’s called Shanghai GP3, and even with delivery works out at a mere two quid per roll.  Apparently it is rated at ASA 100, but can be a little slower.  I’m also told that I’ll need to keep a roll of sticky tape with me, as there isn’t any at the exposed end!  But two quid per roll!

I’m also using a different fixer chemical – FirstCall / Agfa AG Plus Fix.  I made up a litre last night, but I’m sure that’ll be fine.

I recently found my first car boot sale Olympus XA with an A11 flash unit at a booty – the range finder, as opposed to the much more common XA2.  I’m suspicious that it’s not a worker though, and haven’t yet had the interest to fit it with a battery.

Now I’d better get back to making awful noise with that mandolin.


Monochrome, Street and Protest, Zenza Bronica SQ-A


Cambridge. Bronica SQ-A. Zenzanon PS 150mm f/4. Foma Fomapan Creative 200 film. Developed in R09

While I was busy travelling back and forth to Cambridge, to buy then return that dodgy DSLR, I at least had a chance to have a few stalk around walks with the Bronica, on the streets of Cambridge.  Mission was to try and to capture the atmosphere of Cambridge – colleges, students, tourists, and … class.

It’s not so easy to stalk street photography with a huge and very slow Bronica by your side – but it is fun.  There is definitely an element of looking down that is less confrontational than holding up an eye level camera.  No light meter used other than eye and brain – I apologise for the poor exposures.  Still, did Vivian Maier always have a light meter with her?  Film media at hand were some rolls of cheap Foma Fomapan Creative 200 in 120 medium format.  To be developed mainly in FirstCall R09.  Foma Creative is described as a traditional, no frills B/W film, and is manufactured in the Czech Republic.  Although I do try to support Ilford, and their materials are a higher quality, I do actually like Foma, and I like to have some in the fridge.

So, here you are …. Cambridge.


Film Dark Room, Lubitel 166B, Sony DSLR A200 and Sony DT 50mm F/1.8mm SAM prime lens

Learning to Develop Part II

120 Negatives – Big Negatives! Drying. Taken with Sony DSLR A200 and Sony DT 50mm F/1.8 lens. Starring Nita.

I once read an old pre-digital treatise, that half of the reward of amateur photography lay in the darkroom.  I can see that now.  Maybe that should read that half of the enjoyment of modern b&w film photography still lays in the development.  It’s hard to explain in the digital age.  Not everyone would get it.  Nita’s nine year old tells me that she likes the cameras that show you the image instantly.  Instant gratification without much effort.  That’s the only failing of digital photography.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to give up the DSLRs.  It’s as I’ve said before, the salt n’ shake phenomena (potato crisps that you have to add salt to and shake yourself).  The more effort that you put into creating an image, the more rewarding it is.  That’s my attraction to film, but it doesn’t or shouldn’t degrade good digital photography.

So far, I’ve developed five 120 films.  I’ve had the pleasure of seeing five wet babes … sorry, developed negatives, swaying from pegs in our bathroom.  One tip for followers in my steps – keep a real ink and paper notebook, and keep recording and perfecting your method.  One of the reason’s I’ve not blogged, is that I’ve been using pen and paper to record my crappy efforts.

So far I’ve only used Ilford ID-11 as a developer.  I’ve developed two types of film – Ilford HP5 Plus 400, and also Foma Fomapan Classic 100.  I’m mean.  I dilute my developer stock to 1:3 stock/water.  This increases developing time.  For the Ilford HP5, 20 minutes at 20C; for the Fomapan 100, 13 minutes at 20C.  That can be a lot of  agitation, with 10 seconds within each minute.  Stopper for up to 100 seconds including agitation.  Fixer for between three and five minutes including agitation.I’ve also started to conserve my tight fisted credentials by re-using both Stop and Fix dilutions.  I’m aiming for between four and five uses per concentrate.

Tasks to complete from my developer diary?  1) develop 35mm b&w.  2) try microphen developer. 3) learn more about pushing and pulling.

Learning is so much fun.  Here is a photo that I took and developed:

Wisbech Moon Market. Lubitel 166B TLR camera. Ilford HP5 400 120 film. Developed in ID-11