The Blog Post formerly known as... "Losing my Mojo...for a while...and a Western Isles visit."
I guess it is the blight of all photographers, the time where you can't see anything or find the inspiration to create anything. I have recently been through such a period and it becomes harder and harder to dig yourself out and start the process again.
I have had a hard time lately finding inspiration for photography and the whole process for me , more or less ground to a standstill for a while. It's unusual for me, as this is the time of year I love. The descending cold weather, the leaves falling and then gone and the reduction of green everywhere, (a colour I have never found that appealing for some reason). I have spent a summer rediscovering the love of film photography after a loan of a 5x4 pinhole camera which has sparked the project known as "Dave's Pinhole Camera World Tour 2021", which is now rolling over into 2022 and Dave hasn't even had his go yet ! I will be...
< Insert sound of needle being scraped across an LP * >
Ok, so I had plans many times to write my next blog and this is now the time. I have struggled for time over the last few months and this has led to the blog suffering first, but now feel that a few things have started to tick over again.
So, as a starter for 2022 and by way of an update, and also to jump-start the blog again, consider this a "newsletter" right now, but normal service will be resumed.
What's happening ?
After a visit to the Western Isles again in November where I decided not to take a 5x4 system with me and took the Sony mirrorless instead, I am even more convinced that using a large format system is the way to go for me. Although the Sony makes incredible technical quality images that can compare loosely (as in they are in a similar but not the same ballpark as my home scanned 5x4 negatives) the process misses something for me. Its not that I want to make things harder or more challenging (Zeiss Ikon 6 x 9 accepting) but that I think differently when faced with using the 5x4 system (of which I am now down to the Horseman 45FA only as my Intrepid Mk 2 is currently out on "loan"). It is for me a more meditative process, is undoubtedly slower (but I did manage a shot within 3 or 4 minutes last time I was out with the Horseman) and, for me, allows and indeed promotes a much more considered approach to both image selection and composition. I am also much more likely to stand there a while, chat with people (the amount of interest in a film camera, let alone a large format one is quite surprising), while waiting to see what the conditions and light might do and maybe expose another sheet of film.
From the "Veils of Arwen" series, made in the Western Isles with the Sony.
Click on the image to go to Latest Images for the
series of 6
I do take the making of images seriously and particularly when making the images that "speak for me" or represent my vision and this for me is achieved to a more satisfactory level when I use a large format camera. So I guess that's where I will go this year for what I would term "photography with intent" although the logistics of taking such kit to the Western Isles are still difficult to justify and weighing up the pros and cons will often mean it will be the Sony that comes with me.
I have a goal this year to produce 3 prints for my wall that will be big. I have a scan in Photoshop at the moment that will print to 40 x 32 inches at full scan resolution and I think this may be the first. I want to do these with film and for what I am looking for it needs to be sheet film I think. I know prints can be made to this size using smaller format film and of course digital images...but there is something about a high resolution, large print made with film that is different so that is what I am going to do.
If anyone is interested I may reveal in a blog post my scanning method utilising the glass from a £3 picture frame , 6 index cards (no more no less) and some black card masks and how I got to the best scans I have had from an EPSON V800. It is a bit "Heath Robinson" but allows me to place a flat negative in the right place to make the most of the Hi-res scanning lens. I also plan a blog post on my method of processing a scan / raw file to a print file. I use the same few tools that I started with when I first used Photoshop 3 (note: not CS3, this was maybe 1996 or thereabouts). My method is extremely straightforward using minimum tools but I guess this is where "the heart" comes in so sometimes it takes a while to get it right. No formulas, no pre-sets and no tricks (or at least those that are, are manually applied)
Under the Influence of Dave Whenham
Dave is a friend and fellow photographer and Twitter influencer. Last year he "forced me" to use a pinhole camera for the first time, then purchase one and send it to him, buy many 35mm cameras and 2 medium format cameras. All of this has led to a lot of fun and a lot of film being developed which has led to a lot of learning and experience I would not have had. I am not sure what to do with the 35mm stuff if I am honest as I can't really make great scans with it...but a long term goal is also being kicked off this year (details below) so it is all carefully stored and catalogued in readiness...
"Forced me" may be a bit strong here maybe encouraged and supported would be more accurate. He gave me GAS.
This year I have embarked on a 365 attempt (taking a photo every single day and posting to my Flickr account which is set up just for the purpose). On the date of publication Dave who was instrumental in my decision to "give it a go" has posted 1,547 consecutive images which is mighty impressive! I started on the 1st January this year and have...23 as of the 23rd January, so on target...but don't seem to be catching up at all !
This commitment has led to a different approach and also a realisation of the number of days per year where I would not have taken a single picture (maybe as many as a third of the days so far). It has made me look and see as I have to take an image today and always look for the best opportunity I can find. Many things I regularly walk past are now being "snapped" and I have made a few during this time that I have been really pleased with. So far all made with either the Sony or my mobile and largely a different kind of subject to my usual things.
My Flickr 365 attempt is at : https://www.flickr.com/photos/194711837@N03/albums
And Dave's is at : https://www.flickr.com/photos/fatherpie/
7x5 and a long term goal
The purchase of a beautiful Kodak specialist II, 7x5 inch "field camera" last year has been so far a little bit on the back burner. I have made only 6 negatives with it and 2 of the first 4 showed light leaks which I believe emanate from the gap where the dark slide is inserted. The first 2, (which were fine) were made whilst the dark cloth was left draped over them and the second 2 were open to the light from the time of insertion into the camera. My suspicion is the holders are all leaky but I am shooting another 4 sheets with great care to see if the holders are viable.
Either way I will be using the camera this year, as a double dry plate holder and 20 x ASA 2 dry plates are waiting to be used.
The Kodak in use only last week (lots of front tilt was employed).
Which leads to the final goal I suppose. My printer has finally given up I think and now cuts out halfway through just about every print wasting paper/ink and causing untold misery. I have a plan to use a local printer for the big prints I am going to do and now, any other ones that come along this year. My printer would only print up A3+ in any case. So generally speaking, after a bit of learning curve, I should be able to get prints made. However, a goal this year is to make contact prints from my 7x5 negatives and I have no idea where to start. I have no "dry side" darkroom kit but have all the "wet stuff" I should need. So, I guess expect some questions about best paper/developer to get started with and about...light sources and controlling them. I am clueless right now on this venture.
An enlarger...well that could be the next step maybe...hence the careful storage of all the smaller format negatives I made last year.
Town Hall Clock and Wolf Moon
As part of the 365 attempt, I nearly always carry my Sony if I leave the house. I was glad I did when I saw this.
Handheld at ISO 10,000 and F5.6 at 1/20 second.
Holga Week - 1st week in October, I will partake thanks to the generous legendary Balzac's Dad
Website - Well I have lots of tidying up to do and a load of images to add and comment on so a little bit at a time.
Blog - Restarted with this one so hopefully more to come
To come - First rolls through both the Holga and the MPP Microcord
Thanks for reading and hope it was not too long, once I start writing a blog post I find I have things to say.
Belated happy new year to everyone !
Butlins Building one Wednesday Afternoon. During the whole stay during August I saw many people go into this building, but saw none leave.
Zenit 11 and 58mm lens, HP5+, F11 at 1/60 and developed in Fomadon 1:50 for a while.
* For the younger readers an LP is short for Long Play record. A 12 inch LP ( an analogue storage device) could fit approximately 23 mins of music...per side... and was played by Disc Jockeys (DJs) on the wireless.
Have great light !