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A return to view cameras .. an unpopular opinion and .. a 120 field camera and .... GAS (Part 2)

Last week I wrote about the acquisition of a new camera and its impending journey to the Western Isles on a trip and the hours and hours of fun I was to have with it. The trip was due to last 2 weeks and a middle weekend of photography beckoned. However, the visit ended up being for only one week as myself and my friend and colleague were so efficient that the "weekend off" was spent travelling back after a successful week.

Classic photographers stance and the Horseman 970 in use on a South Uist beach. I decided to go all out with a test of the lens with this one with the sun directly in shot. By the time I finish this post the image will be processed ....I expect some flare!

(Photographer - Anonymous)

South Uist, and indeed all the Islands that make up the Western Isles, are stunning in the summer. I was lucky enough to be staying right at the tip of South Uist and about a 20 min walk from the beach at South Boisdale. On the day of arrival we took a walk down to the beach with my one roll film holder (* See note at the bottom) loaded with Fomapan 100.

It wasn't long before I was drawn to the arrangement of clouds sitting over the small Island of Orasay just off the coast and connected by a low-tide causeway. I used a 6 1/2 cm lens on the Horseman 970 and mounted it on the tripod "sideways" to achieve a vertical composition. I thought about initially having the bright sun out of shot but couldn't find a way to make it work and include all the things I thought were important ; the Island, the beach, the clouds the shadows and of course the l i g h t !

I wanted to use this "new camera" in a way that replicated, as close as possible, the use of the Horseman 45FA and had bought my spot meter rather than an old Weston that I normally use with MF cameras. I ran into my first issue after metering this first image as clearly I needed to apply a minus development for this one to try to get detail in the Island, which I wanted in shadow, and light in the clouds and sky. I would have to shoot the rest of the roll with a minus development in mind ! (** See note at the bottom)

After metering and coming up with F22 at 1/125 to preserve the Shadow detail .....just.. (incidentally, I think this is the most light I have ever measured while using a spot meter, it was everywhere!) ... I decided to handhold a red filter over the lens to deepen the blues.

My thinking went : F22 @ 1/125........+2 1/2 stops for the red filter.....F22 1/2 @ 1/15........but I know the shutter is a tad fast at 1/15 ......and the red filter will darken the blue shadowed Island @ 1/15......and a second shot at F22 @ 1/8 ......just in case..................and as the clouds are very high on the scale..... N-1 development ....... and a water stop bath to stop the highlights and raise the shadows if I can.........

The First Shot in anger with the 970 Camera

Of the 2 I made, the first was the better exposure and scanned really well. I did what I normally do with these negs, namely, scan "flat" to get the most info I can out of the negative. And then put it back together tonally afterwards. This was just about as good as I could have hoped for. There is a little flare in the top left near the sun but for a 50+ year old pancake lens I was shocked that there wasn't more. Result !

Horseman 970, Horseman 6.5cm Lens, Hoya red filter.

Fomapan 100 in Kodak HC110 for 9 1/2 minutes and a water stop bath.

Encounters with the residents

It goes without saying, that I am indeed an odd sight.

I mean of course, when using a view camera and hiding under a dark cloth !! In my day to day photographing in the Western Isles I can count on the fingers of 2 of my hands the number of times I have seen another tripod over the last 10 years, let alone a camera with bellows and requiring a dark cloth so nobody can be blamed for thinking I might be a bit........ strange.

There was some trouble securing a hire car for the trip this time and in the end I was fortunate that the proprietor of the local hire car company, loaned out her own vehicle for the duration .... and we "travelled the islands" in a big red L200 truck!

The chap that lives in the house just over there

> I couldn't resist recreating an image of one of my heroes and was fortunate one evening to have nice conditions and a "spare" photographer to make the shot!

(Photographer - Anonymous)

It was immediately after the making of this shot that I was approached by the "chap that lives in the house just over there". He questioned my intentions and what I was doing and wondered if I was surveying for something? A demonstration of the camera, a quick google to show the image I was attempting to recreate and a look inside my camera bag and before I knew it I was invited over for a dram or two !!

The Fisherman

< I took a spin in the truck back to the beach (not because I just wanted to go off-road in it honest!)...I think it was Tuesday night and now had Kodak Gold 200 loaded in the roll film holder (*** See note at the bottom). I had no other cameras with me other than the one inside my iPhone. This shot is the iPhone "test shot" as the gold has yet to be sent away. I don't normally load colour film as it is an expensive way to do black and white photography

It was immediately after making this shot that I was approached by one of the 2 fishermen that were ending their day while I sat and gazed for a while. I had parked in a little "cul-de-sac" and made a few shots and then sat and watched the activity in the bay, completely at peace with the world. The fishermen went their separate ways and one came my way in his pick-up. He parked nearby and climbed out and I swear he was 7 feet tall. After establishing that I wasn't filming for BBC Alba and that it was just a stills camera ....we had a chat about the fishing , the conditions, the weather ...and the price of oil. He went his way and after a while I went mine...but it was about now that I started to think .....I must look a bit odd .........maybe...?

The night I became a spy, a prowler and soaking wet through.

>I had noticed these grasses when we arrived on Sunday but was loathe to stop at that point. When I was out in the truck on Tuesday I made a few iPhone snaps of them and decided to come back the next day with another roll of Gold 200 loaded in my roll film holder (**** See note at the bottom)

It was immediately after I had set-up the camera by the side of the road looking towards the North West to keep the sun to the left of the frame but lighting the grasses in the foreground, that I heard the enquiring voice of the woman who lived in the house behind me which was part of a small cul-de-sac of houses. She asked me directly if I was spying and she was a little concerned I would say to start with. I explained what I was doing and that it was an old film camera and that I was staying nearby and after a while I think she was satisfied and went back into her house.

I had kindly been given a lift by my friend to the location (about a mile away from the cottage we were staying in) and she had left with promises no less, that if it started to rain she would come and pick me up. It did start to rain, gently at first and then with increasing intensity until it was throwing it down. I could see that I would have to wait about 15 minutes for the storm/deluge/torrential downpour to pass and at that point (having secured my gear from the rain) interspersed my staring into the North West, (watching the light slowly approach behind the tempest that had befallen me), with hopeful looks down the road for an approaching red L200....that never came.

I have thought about what I must have looked like to passers-by since that night. The odd stranger standing by the side of the road outside our private residences, staring into the distance in the pouring rain. Beside him, some kind of metal 3 legged apparatus with seemingly a wide brimmed hat placed atop it. And around his neck a red and black cape was draped (a good secondary use for a dark cloth made from finest Lancashire cotton). And all the time looking down the road almost as if to see if anybody was approaching from that direction (they weren't).

As the rain cleared a chap stopped in his van and asked me similar questions as to what on earth I was up to. I again showed the camera and he asked me what I had seen out there that was so interesting ...a bird perhaps ? I explained that the light on the grasses was my focal point and also showed him a couple of negatives I keep in my bag for interested people. I think he thought I was .....a strange one.

I made my shots shortly afterwards and packed up and started the long walk back to the house. I was cold and drenched from head to foot. As I walked it also became apparent that my boots were no longer waterproof and I literally squelched, as I limped along the road after a "slight" twisting of one of my ankles began to reassert itself not to mention the cramp in my leg and the pain in my back from shivering for so long. If ever I needed a lift it was now......but no.

I have subsequently learned from the owner of the property we had rented that I had caused quite a stir with the local populace. On that evening and the previous one, neighbours had been updating her as to my movements. The chap that stopped in the van for a pleasant chat had been called home by his wife as there was what she thought was a "prowler" outside in the road !

I was mortified to hear this, but also understand how it must have looked ! I apologise to all those people who I gave reason to be concerned but I really am completely harmless !

Note at the Bottom

* - I need to get a second roll film holder as I wished I had had Pan F loaded !

** - Ok so, I need a third holder with film destined for minus development in it !

***/**** - Maybe I need 4 then, one for colour ?

All images by the "anonymous photographer" are used with kind permission


I hope you have enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it ! I hope you have great light !!

I might order 1 of these !

Laugh at yourself before you laugh at anybody else !


138 views4 comments


Sep 16, 2022

Amazing images. So nostalgic for me. You have captured my memories perfectly. I hope these will be available to buy. Let me know! We communicated recently on Twitter @MatteC200

Sep 16, 2022
Replying to

Thank You ! If you contact me at I will be happy to arrange something for you. John


Aug 14, 2022

My mate the prowler … my life is complete 😎

Aug 17, 2022
Replying to

Ha ha i am glad to be of service !

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