medium format

My Girl from the Fens

My Girl from the Fens. Bronica SQ-A, PS 150mm f/4, Ilford HP5+ film, developed in Ilford LC29. Scanned on Epson V500.

Taken a few months ago, with the wheat still green.  Emneth church tower in the background.  It was on a film in a spare film back for a while.  I had no idea of where I had used it.  I prefer LC29 to develop any ISO 400 films at the moment.  The field made a pretty cool back drop to Anita’s new electro bass guitar.

Olympus XA-2 - 50p camera project II

The Town Crier

50p Camera Project

Pearl Capewell, Peterborough Town Crier. On the steps of the town hall. Return of the 50p camera project. Olympus XA2 50p camera project Ilford HP5+ b/w film ID11 V500 scanned.

First film exposed in my old Olympus XA2 for a while, giving rebirth to the 50P Camera Project.  Ok, I’m still trying to get exposure correct.  Subject was the Town Crier for Peterborough.  Came across her, with XA2 in coat pocket.  Chatted to her and took a few random snaps.  She has been the town crier in Peterborough many years.  She did retire from the post in 2007, but was asked to come out of retirement to fill a vacancy.

As above image.


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!

Cameras and equipment, Monochrome

Street Candid V Street Portrait?

Candid of molly dancers waiting to perform at the 2015 Whittlesea Straw Bear Festival. Bronica SQ-A camera. Zenzanon PS 150mm f/4 lens. Ilford HP5 Plus medium format film. ID11 t 1:1.

Personally… I only describe candids as Street Photography.  Where the subject is aware, and in consent of my taking their photograph, that I regard as a Street Portrait.  It’s semantics I know.  Doesn’t really matter.  However, I almost always prefer the former.  I like to see the subject un-posed, natural – or if suddenly aware right at the point of exposure – maybe a little surprised or suspicious.  Not that I’m going to going the school of shoving a camera and flashgun into the faces of strangers.

Street Portrait of Mr Crow. Molly dancer with the Witchmen at the Whittlesea Straw Bear Festival 2015. Gear as in top image.

What are your views?

Monochrome, Portrait, Zenza Bronica SQ-A

Portrait of a Cambridge Busker

Bronica SQ-A camera. Zenzanon PS 150mm f/4 lens. Ilford HP5 Plus medium format film. Home developed in R09. Scanned film Epson Perfection V500.

Feeling a bit disillusioned with the infrared film, following some grainy negatives, so I took a day out with the good old Bronny for some street photography in Cambridge yesterday, and wasted a few rolls of Ilford HP5.

Dogs and animals, Zenza Bronica SQ-A

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.

Dogs and animals, Zenza Bronica SQ-A

The Dog

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


The Borzoi. As above Bronica gear and HP5+.


The Springer Spaniel. Bronica SQ-A. Zenzanon PS 150mm f/4. S-18 extension tube. Ilford FP4 Plus medium format film. Developed in R09.

At a couple of recent village dog shows, where I have taken the opportunity to use my Bronica in portrait mode – fitted with the S-18 extension tube behind the Zenzanon PS 150mm f/4 lens.

Zenza Bronica SQ-A

More on Medium Format Photography


Phone a Potato. Promoting a nearby potato restaurant and bar in the street in Gdansk, Poland. Thanks for posing guys. Bronica SQ-A camera. Zenzanon PS 80mm f/2.8 lens. Ilford HP5 Plus medium format film. Home developed in ID11.

So maybe size does count?  I don’t know, but there’s something about a roll of 120 film.  Like a good cigar maybe?  This format of photographic film is 113 years old, but still going.  There must be a reason?  When I go through old family photographs, I can pick out those old photographs that are 6 cm long on one side, and I know it was shot on a roll, rather like those Ilford’s that I’m using now.  Just like that 120 hanging to dry in the bathroom now.  The spindles may have changed from wooden, to cork, to metal, and now to plastic – but it’s still a paper backed 120.

My favourite flavour?  I’m a sucker for Ilford, but can’t make my mind up between HP5 Plus and Delta Pro 400.  Any visitors to my Flickr photostream may have noticed, not only have I gone almost entirely off Digital, I’ve also gone off C41 Colour.  Why?  Two reasons.  1) I’m too clumsy to successfully develop C41 at 38C with so little tolerance.  Sometimes it works well, other times I ruin a film.  It’s so much safer and cheaper for me to stick with true B/W.  If I do use C41 film in future (certainly I will on 35mm, as I have so many of those Poundland films in fridge and freezer), then I’ll just pop it into a professional photo-lab to process.

2) Second reason is that I want to specialise and work on my own style.  I can develop B/W film easily and fairly reliably – and inexpensively!  I like monochrome.  Film monochrome is so real.  I use to be a fan of digital b/w, but now when I look through all of those photostreams where the photographer has simply flicked from digi colour to digi b/w using Photoshop or Lightroom, it doesn’t work for me anymore.  Some people do shoot well in Digi B/W, but usually those that specialise in it.  Not those that dabble – like I use to.

So no more dabbling.  I need my own style, and I’ve chosen B/W Film.  Primarily maybe medium format – but also with a bit of pocket 35mm.  Expect lots more film based monochrome from me in future.  I’m addicted to silver.

Portrait, Street and Protest, Travel Photography, Zenza Bronica SQ-A

That Candid Expression of Surprise

One Potato, Two Potato…. I like this one, as I caught that much-prized-by-candid-photographers “shocked moment”. This was taken in Gdansk Poland, and the guys here were promoting the nearby Pyrabar restaurant. Bronica SQ-A camera. Zenzanon PS 80mm f/2.8 lens. Ilford HP5 Plus medium format film. Home developed in ID11.

I think I just about caught it here.  These guys were promoting their restaurant (a potato restaurant), by the name of Pyra bar, in Gdansk, and doing all sorts of stuff with potatoes in order to do so.  I moved up with the hefty Bronica in hand, and just managed to set it up for an exposure, when she raised her head and saw me – shutter hit.  I’m happy with this street portrait.

If only it worked so well more often.  Great people, they posed for another shot shortly after – I’ll post that at a later date.  Still several rolls of Ilford in the fridge to process.

Band and Concert Photography, Zenza Bronica SQ-A

Soulweaver, Elme Hall, and the Post 9/11 World

Soulweaver at Elme Hall. Goodge and M on lead guitar and bass, yesterday at Elme Hall, near Wisbech. Bronica SQ-A camera. Zenzanon PS 80mm f/2.8 lens. Ilford HP5 Plus medium format film. Home developed in ID11

A temporary break from the Poland travel photography (I still have several 120 rolls of Ilford in the fridge to develop and process).  Yesterday, we found something to do, despite the dreary English weather.  A nearby hotel by the name of Elme Hall, hosts this rather unusual but excellent local rock and blues club, that usually commences at 4 pm on a Sunday afternoon.  Who says that nothing ever happens in the Fens?  It’s an unusual time of the day to watch local guitarists do their strut, and stranger still, they have a break during which sandwiches and …. roast potatoes (?) are served.  The bar is of course open throughout the event, and it can be a rather pleasant way to spend an otherwise dreary Sunday afternoon and early evening.  Rock n roll, ale, and roast potatoes.

This week was the turn of a three piece heavy rock band from Cambridgeshire, by the name of Soulweaver.  Lots of their own material, clearly lots of experience and skill, and yeah, some very good covers – even successfully braving a bit of Hendrix.  They got away with it very well.  I took the Bronica loaded with Ilford HP5.  Band lights were surprisingly strong on the faces either side.  I set aperture to f2.8, and tried shutter speeds of 60 and 125 (too much jumping around for 60).  Developing was straight with ID11.

There is actually a nice edge to these local bands, in that, unlike professional groups and venues, you are usually free to take and use any sort of camera that you wish.  I had to smile when I recently visited the Parlament venue in Gdansk, Poland, to see the established Polish heavy rock band TSA.  I asked the door if photography was permitted only to be politely declined.  I left my camera at home.  But as soon as the band appeared, up came the Iphones and smart phones.

Band Photographers start young.  As above photo.

This of course is the curse of using DSLRs and any serious looking camera that doormen and security personnel regard as “professional”.  I had it a few years ago on the London Tube.  I was warned not to take photographs for terrorist reasons.  Yet, later in the day I witness smiling tourists flashing away on smart phones.  Now, if I was a terrorist, wouldn’t I conceal a small digicam, even a spy cam, rather than be caught on CCTV sporting a big fat “professional” camera?  Logic rarely prevails in this post 9/11 World.  But I’ve digressed.