Saturday, 27 August 2016

Writer's Portrait

These photos were taken on my Minolta X-300 with Fomapan 200 pushed to 800. (My standard choice for camera and film nowadays.) My friend has a great face for photographs and I've been asking her for ages to come over for a photoshoot and we finally got around to it last weekend. I shot them in our kitchen after it got dark using a ring light precariously balanced on a tripod and despite the makeshift nature of the shoot, I think they turned out pretty well.

First off, a working shot, tripod and light setup visible. I'm so hi-tech.

 My friend was very keen on having photographs taken with her cigarette visible. She had a certain look in mind and while I'm not sure I captured what she wanted, I'm very pleased with how they came out. 

There were some photographs that turned out to be generically pretty but they're more for her and less fine art. 

She's just written a children's book and we're desperate for her to use the image above as her author photo! 

 Thanks for reading guys. I know updates here are infrequent and mostly that's because I'm doing so many things at the moment. Despite recently becoming unemployed. I'm thinking about a slight change of direction for this blog to start to incorporate more of my interests into one central place but nothing is decided yet so this may come to nothing. I'll try to update accordingly! Have a nice weekend everyone.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Positive Pinhole Selfies

Last week I managed to get some time to trying out my Harman Direct Positive Paper in the new box pinhole. I had to change the size of the hole a bit because even in bright sunlight it was taking far too long to expose and I was wasting paper quite fast! (It's entirely not cheap so I really suggest cutting it down and doing test squares first.) Which I of course failed to do. The finished results are a bit blurry which is probably because the pinhole is too big now. Luckily I can change that quite easily with another little square of drinks can. For now though I'm just pleased to have some completed positive images. Such clever paper...

2 1/2 minute exposure

Please ignore the water marks... I'm far too impatient to wait for things to dry before photographing them.

4 minute exposure

Friday, 29 April 2016

Building A Pinhole Camera

I'm no stranger to pinhole cameras. I've produced a fair few matchboxes in my time and my first ever college photography project was to make a shoebox pinhole camera (coming up 12 years ago now though so no chance that the resulting images remain.)  Last week's attempt however was the first time I've sat down to create a box from scratch.
pinhole plan sketched quickly in Starbucks 

I very quickly put together the shell from an old cardboard box and the pinhole from a slice of coke can. I then made a frame for the paper to sit in which slotted in through a hole in the top. 

box minus frame- note the snazzy Agfa Vista 200 box lens cap slider

This was then made light tight by the addition of my Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band bandana. 

I'm calling the camera Rosalita... 

The finished photograph was in negative because that's how the paper prints but now that I've tested it I've bought some Harmen Photo Positive paper so am going to try giving that a go when I get the time.

negative image- 6 minute exposure in bright sunlight

inverted in Photoshop from a poorish quality phone photograph. 

I know it's a bit difficult to see from these photos but I'm pretty happy with the sharpness of the image. This means I've got my pinhole about the right size which I tend to struggle with when making the matchboxes. Let's see how they look when I'm printing in positive though. That will be the real test. 

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Portrait of an Artist

Shot on my Minolta X-300 with Fomapan 200 pushed to 800. I'm really enjoying taking this kind of photograph at the moment. There's something about a black background that always appeals to me. Shooting with pushed film allows a certain amount of grain which gives the photo some atmosphere. 


Jane Bown Samuel Beckett

Robert Mapplethorpe Self Portrait

Bill Brandt Self Portrait

Monday, 29 February 2016

Studio Style Portraits

These were part of a test roll I shot trialling Fomapan 800 as a studio portrait style film. They were taken in our darkroom and lit only by BadCatt's ring light. What do you think? Personally I rather like how they've come out. It's nice to take portraits of BadCatt that I think do justice to the things that are interesting about his face. Sometimes the photos I take of him come out way too soppy looking.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Flash Problems

Recently I decided to try out the Flash I got ages ago for my Minolta X-300. It is a Minolta Auto Electroflash 118-X Flash. I linked to the manual in my last post. In theory it should have worked fine. I set all the functions to what they should have been. Tried a couple of test rolls, one at 400 (pushed Ilford FP4) and one and one Fuji Neopan 100. Both rolls turned out awfully underexposed and I have no idea why. Especially for the second one I was really careful that everything was set right. I know they were set right. Is there a reason why the flash might not fire properly (it certainly fired) or might fire out of sync perhaps with the camera? I don't really want to try again and waste another roll of film if the same thing is going to happen.

I'll post a couple of scans below. The first is as the image came out of the scanner and the second is with heavy editing to try to salvage any part of the image.

Anyone who feels like they might know what I did wrong, please please do let me know.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Minolta X-300 Resources

Some of you might remember that last year I set myself the challenge of only use my Minolta X-300 for the whole year. It was a resolution that not only did I stick to but am still following. I just love this camera.

Being that I'm so enamoured with it, I thought it might be nice if I included a few links here to manuals and general information about the camera and other Minolta gear I own.

For those who are interested, my lens is a Minolta MD 50mm f1.7. It shoots with beautiful clarity and when shooting in colour it really captures things vividly and interestingly. It's also got a nice amount of bokeh when shooting with a large aperture. I really like Minolta lenses.

Some Minolta Lens Flickr groups-

I plan on adding to this post as and when I find new resources so please check back soon. I'll leave you with a photo I took the other weekend of one of my customers at the cafe I work in. This is Philip. Shot at 800 on Fomapan 200 on the Minolta X-300 with my MD 50mm f1.7 lens. 


Saturday, 6 February 2016

Building a Darkroom pt 3 (BLACKOUT!!!)

This post leads on from Parts 1 and 2 chronicling my attempts to make a super shoddy darkroom. After I'd finished building the workbench and getting out all of the kit it was time to find storage for all those chemicals and paper. Plus we had to buy some trays for the chemicals and a fuckton of gaffer tape to help with making the room light tight.

A quick trip into town saw us purchasing three kitty litter trays in grey and red, gaffer tape and my favourite bargain: a two drawer filing cabinet. That one proved a little difficult to manoeuvre and BadCatt and I ended up taking it back on a bus. Much to the amusement of the driver who obviously didn't get many twenty somethings with large metal filing cabinets using his service. 

When we got back I sorted the drawers and then made a start with light proofing. Covering the window was a highly technical build involving stapling blackout blind (left over from the previous tenants) to rectangles of cardboard. Then gaffer taping the rectangles over the windows securely. Then more tape just to be sure. I think I might love my gaffer tape. After that it was time to plug up all the cracks around the door. Again this was a technical manoeuvre but this time I whacked a load of wood around the door and then some blackout blind and then some cardboard. Ingenious right?!

These pictures demonstrate my extreme care and skill and also why we're probably not getting the deposit back from our landlord. 

In part 4 of the series I'll talk you through the things I need for creating images and have a go printing on photographic paper for the first time in over ten years. 

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Building A Darkroom pt 2 (The Kit)

This next stage of building a darkroom is a much more satisfying one. Now that I'd finished building the workspace I was free to start doing the fun bit. Namely setting up the Paterson Colour Darkroom. I soon realised that in order to make everything look the best it could I was going to have to drill some holes in the work surface and run cables down through them. Which meant I had to take the plugs apart to get them through. I did this for both the enlarger and the darkroom lamp.
This handy photo demonstrates where the wires need to go in case I forgot or something 

I checked as soon as they were rewired that nothing was going to explode when I turned the power on. Because I trust myself.

Excuse the blurry photo but look at how wonderfully vintage the lamp is

After I'd wrestled with the mains voltage I figured I'd do something a bit easier and put up a shelf to keep all the manuals and measuring beakers on. This was definitely the easiest thing I did for the whole project. I like putting up shelves. I'm good at it. I also like using the power drill. 

Then I had to arrange everything in a useable order and take stock of what I had and what I still needed... 

In part 3 I buy a shit load of stuff, tidy some more and make the darkroom dark. 

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Ilford XP2

Before shooting this roll of film I'd never used Ilford XP2. I'd almost actively avoided it. I think if you develop your own black and white film you either don't have a need for C-41 developed black and white films, or like me, you're a little snobby about the whole idea. I think I just assumed the results wouldn't be very good and that put me off.

At the beginning of December, before I'd unpacked all my chemicals in my new home I had an urge to go out and shoot a roll of black and white film. Without processing it myself I'd have to send it away somewhere at quite a high cost so I figured it was finally time to bite the bullet and shoot a roll of XP2 which is stocked in my local Boots relatively inexpensively. (On a side note, I'd never recommend getting film developed at Boots. The printing quality is awful and it's not cheap. I go to Snappy Snaps. They're much more flexible and if you're getting prints done then the matte paper gives a lovely finish.)

Anyway, off I went on what was a nice, warm, sunny December day shooting as always with my Minolta X-300. I took a short train journey and wandered around a nearby riverside town shooting the roll and generally bumbling. The film rates at ISO 400 which is on the slow end of the speeds that I like to use. I'm a high contrast high grain kinda girl. Generally I shoot at 800 and what isn't rated there I tend to push. I know that Snappy Snaps won't push film for me though so I shot it at the box rating and all relatively quickly. I put it in to develop as soon as I got back to town and scanned it that evening.

I think I'd expected it to be a bit washed out. Maybe quite muted in tone. I was very wrong.

River Colne from the train

I was pleasantly surprised with how dark the blacks were. I know it's ISO 400, I probably shouldn't have been. I'd imagine that quite a few photographers wouldn't like the lack of subtle gradient but I like a low grain high contrast. Not as much as high grain but certainly enough that I'd use the film again. 

Look at what it does to the water!!! Lovely. 

Overall i'm going to give this film a not too shoddy 6/10. 

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Building a Darkroom Pt 1 (making the workbench)

Some of you might remember that a year or so ago I managed to find this bargain in our local Emmaus and at the time I was living in a single room had no place to set up a darkroom. Well since then I've lived in three other places and finally in September I moved into a house where the only person I'm sharing with is BadCatt. We've been trying to get the spare bedroom useable (not an easy process when all the junk we couldn't immediately fit into the other rooms ended up there.) The last four months has been full of moving things, throwing stuff away and Freecycling mattresses. Eventually creating just enough space to be able to think about setting something up. Which is what I've spent this weekend doing.

 I've got a confession at this point which is that when I started this project I wasn't entirely sure what I was making. I came home stressed and tired and instead of sitting in a chair moping I thought I'd get out the power drill and do something productive. This became the workbench which slowly is becoming the darkroom. So, let's get started with showing you the process.

What You Need To Build MY Workbench
DISCLAIMER many better choices of wood are available 

  • All the old bed slats
  • A wardrobe door (which for some reason the previous tenants painted half black)
  • Odd chunks of wood
  • Power Drill (my only true love)
  • Saw
  • Fuckton of screws
  • Rawlplugs
To make the bloody thing didn't take me too long. It fell way into the category of 'trial and error' though. Given my very limited materials and hesitance to buy anything for this stage of the project I was really making do with what ever I have. 

I chunked three bed slats together for the front legs. Two in the back, one of which is sawn at the  bottom to sit over the skirting rail. I screwed them all together and the top to the legs. It felt a bit wobbly so I screwed a chunk of wood to the wall (hello rawlplugs) and the workbench to that wood. I'm pretty convinced there would be a better and more sturdy way to do all of this but it's what I had to use and here is the finished result... 
You'll notice I've popped the power drill on there to demonstrate how it stays standing.

Surprisingly it definitely looks like a workbench and as part two will show you, mostly functions like one too. Check back soon to see how the next stage goes... 

Saturday, 30 January 2016

This Burning Ground

Here I'm sharing a couple of self portraits I took as part of the promotional material for my band The Wingless Heron's second album This Burning Ground.

               This Burning Ground 2016

These were taken on Fomapan 200 pushed to 800 and developed for just under 14 minutes in Ilford DD-X diluted to 1:4. If you're interested in push processing then the Massive Dev Chart has a handy guide for timings with different types of developer. I think there is a bit of give in the timings for certain films and with this one the guide says 13 1/2 minutes and I wasn't exact with my time keeping but it still seems to have produced pretty good results.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Blackest Eyes

This photograph is one I've had sitting around on my computer for ages and hadn't really considered. Having come back to it recently though, I really like the absence of defined eyes and mouth. It makes the photograph much creepier than it would otherwise be. I like street shots which turn out unexpectedly.