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.