Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Another Photographer In The Family

 It's the summer holidays and, like a lot of grandparents, my wife and I are helping out by having our grandsons stay with us for a few days each week. This week our grandson Ethan wanted to go for a walk with me and learn how to take photos. The easy way would have been to hand him my DSLR set to full auto and tell him to get on with it, but we don't do things the easy way in my family. If we were going out with a camera or two, it was going to be a film camera.

I had a think about it as I knew he hadn't used one before, it had to be an easy option, but with just enough manual to make him work for his photos. My Pentax MV was the perfect choice and I fitted it with my Hoya HMC 28mm f/2.8 which has served me well in the past. With that choice made I began teaching him how to use the camera.

The Pentax MV is an easy camera to get on with, it is an aperture priority camera that automatically sets the shutter speed based upon the aperture the user chooses. All Ethan had to worry about was focus and aperture. The camera has a traffic light system in the viewfinder which he picked up on straight away. Green means it's ok, yellow means you have to play with the aperture ring. The Hoya 28mm has 6 f stops from f/2.8 to f/16 making it even easier for him. I loaded a roll of Ilford HP5 into the MV and we set off for a wander in the local countryside.

We had a chat about film photography and how it works and he seemed quite curious about it. He soon figured out how to focus and choose the right aperture back at the house and began to put it into practice when we reached the power lines across the wheat field. He chose a simple composition for his first ever film photo and began looking for other things to photograph.

This is where his curiosity took over and he began experimenting with dutch angles. I asked him why he was turning his camera to shoot diagonal photos and he said he thought it looked cool. Who am I to say no to that? As we walked we spoke about keeping our eyes open to the world around us and he was soon looking through gaps in hedges and at the odd bit of street furniture that stood beside the gravel roads. His eyes lit up when he saw the corn field!

He really got into his first try at film photography and by the time we had crossed the corn field and hopped over the stile to the pasture beyond it, he only had a couple of shots left. I still had half a roll in my Minolta X-700. Good thing I had my Fuji Instax Mini with me to keep us occupied as I finished my roll. We had a really good walk and it seemed like no time had passed when we arrived home a couple of hours later. I needed a rest and we both needed a drink before we developed our film later that afternoon.

I talked him through the process as I set everything up and mixed the developer, HC-110 dilution H 1+63 from concentrate, my go to developer. I loaded the film onto the reels and then began the developing process. He understands that film developing chemicals are to be handled with care and he graciously let me do most of it up to the rinse stage. I let him do that bit to keep him engaged in the process and his little brother enthusistically helped to count the inversions. Then we took the film to the bathrom to dry. His roll was nicely exposed and I have to say he did really well for a first crack at film photography. I didn't tell him any rules or things to do or not to, he took to it naturally.

I scanned the film later that evening with my trusty ion Slides2PC 35mm scanner and liked what I saw before I removed any dust spots or scratches with Affinity Photo. Here are a few of Ethan's photos from his very first film and I'm happy to host them and more in an album on my Flickr account you can visit using the link below. All film photos used in this blog are copyright Ethan Power 2022 all rights reserved and used with his permission. I hope you enjoy them.

Ethan's First Roll Of Film

Friday, 5 August 2022

In The Zone - My first e-book

 When I won my Goodman Zone Z1 in the giveaway hosted by Dora Goodman and PetaPixel.com I thought a lot about what I hoped to achieve with it. My first goal was to take a half decent photo with it and my film of choice was Fomapan. It's cheap, readily available and I don't mind making a pigs ear of it at £5 a roll. I set about learning how to use this unique camera with regular walks in the countryside near my home and it was a very steep learning curve.

I soon began to get some half decent photos, despite that bloody dark slide being my nemesis, and I began to give more thought to what my main goal was with this camera. Long time readers will know I have written about this camera often enough over the last few months, I have waxed very lyrical on here about it as I had fallen in love with this quirky 3D printed box from Budapest. The last time I fell so utterly in love I married her. That realisation gave me some impetus to make a big effort to master the camera and that bloody dark slide once and for all.

The learning curve is getting less steep with each roll of film I put through it and I decided to go through my photos to pick my favourites just to see how far I had come. As it happens I had enough photos to put a small photo book together to document my first few months of owning and using my Goodman Zone Z1 on a regular basis. I began to formulate a plan and I had to learn how to use Affinity Publisher, the software that I used to create my book.

That was a lesson all by itself and I was woefully out of my depth.

It took me a while to figure it out, but with time and some help from my wife Jo and my friend Dave Whenham, I put my book together. It took a lot of drafts, several changes of layout and some sage advice from Jo and Dave before I had something that looked right. I didn't want it to be half arsed, this is the difference between a book and bog paper. I may want to get this printed in the not too distant future. If it looks crap you wouldn't think twice about it come the next bog roll famine.

I have learned so much through the course of this project. It's easy to think that writing a book is easy. Writing is the easy bit, you can trust me on that one. I had never done anything like this before and it has made my brain hurt in ways I was worried about at times as the project progressed.
After many drafts, a lot of paper, printer ink and frayed nerves later I had something I was happy to publish and put out into the wild.

Why an e-book? you may ask, well I'll tell thee. I have published it as an e-book as I wanted this to be as much my own work as possible. The camera was an unexpected gift and it inspired me to get out of my 35mm comfort zone and learn something new. It has fried my brain, gave me a nemesis that I still have to conquer once and for all and gave me as much joy as I could hope for in the space of a few short months.

I had to learn to compose my photos, focus the lens, work out the exposure times, develop the film, scan it to my computer and make it look presentable. Basically I had to learn how to be a photographer all over again and I am so grateful to the Photography Gods for giving me this opportunity.

So here it is, In The Zone, my very first e-book available to buy as a digital download right now on my Ko-Fi shop using the link below. There are also links to PetaPixel and Dora Goodman Cameras, give them some love.
I put everything I have into this project both physically and mentally, the price is £3 of her majesty's finest sterling and I really hope you enjoy it. I have a feeling it wont be my last.

In The Zone e-book 
Dora Goodman Cameras

Wednesday, 3 August 2022

Ilford Delta 100 - Olympus OM-1

This week I finally got to shoot a roll of Ilford Delta 100 I was given last May by my old chum Keith Sharples. The sunny days we have been enjoying in July had me getting stuck into infrared and I needed a decent film to get me back on track for B&W. I have never used Ilford Delta 100 so this was the perfect opportunity for me to continue my learning and see if my skills were up to shooting a film that has a very narow exposure latitude. I'm told It's an easy film to get wrong, but get your metering right and it shines.

I loaded it into my OM-1, took the battery out and relied upon my Vivitar 45 light meter to guide me. I had gone out to shoot a roll of HP5 in my Goodman Zone and as I was going to be using my Vivitar 45 light meter, it made it an easy choice to use it for my OM-1 as well. I headed off towards the local farms to see how this years crops were coming along.

It's been a warm year thus far and I soon discovered the wheat had already been harvested. This year's wheat harvest was the earliest I have known since moving to my current home 20 years ago. Given the dry weather we enjoyed throughout June and July It shouldn't really surprise me. I had watched the wheat slowly ripen and turn golden brown as I have studied the power lines that cross one of the wheat fields this year. I grabbed a couple of shots with my Goodman Zone for a future project and carried on my way.

It was arriving at the next field that I saw the other crop for the year has been thriving. This year the farmer decided to grow Corn and I enjoyed shooting a few frames of Delta 100 to explore this crop. The broad leaves and strong stems gave a lot of texture to my shots and especially the wispy tendrils on the female plants that will eventually become corn cobs.

I was soon on my way and heading towards the stile to the next field where the horses were out, waiting patiently for some humans to come along and say hello. I spent a few minutes getting a couple of pictures before climbing over the stile and greeting them. They are a friendly bunch of animals and ever hopeful of a bit of food from passing walkers.

If you come across any livestock whist enjoying the countryside, be it horses, cows or sheep etc, please don't feed them. Follow the country code and just say hello as you pass by. Dont hold your hand out to a horse as it can have your fingers off very easily. Their humans spend a lot of money on buying the right food for them and not everything we enjoy is suitable for a horse.

My last stop was a large patch of thistles that are very popular with insects who were out in force feeding on the nectar from the flowers. I took a few pictures of Small White Butterflies that were out in numbers and soon finished my film. After a pleasant couple of hours out and about I headed home to develop it.

I was brave this week. I have fallen for HC-110 dilution H, 1+63 from concentrate and decided to develop my Delta 100 in it. I looked for some info and there wasn't a single thing about using this dilution for Delta 100. Nearest I got was dilution G, 1+119 from concentrate for 24 minutes and made an educated guess of 11 minutes at 20 celcius. I was delighted to see some very nice frames as I hung the roll to dry in my bathroom. I scanned the film with my trusty Ion Slides2PC 35mm scanner and removed dust spots and scratches with Affinity Photo.

I enjoyed shooting Ilford Delta 100 and I can see why Ilford position it as a professional grade film. You really need to meter properly, but although the exposure latitude is narrow you can still bring shots back from the brink of obscurity. If you wish to help me continue my journey please consider buying me a roll of film by using the Ko-Fi buttons on this page. All donations are gratefully received. Here are a few of my photos from this weeks roll of Ilford Delta 100 and you can see them and more on my Flickr album via the link below. I hope you enjoy them.

Ilford Delta 100 - Olympus OM-1

Wednesday, 27 July 2022

Frugal Film Project 2022 - July

 I started this months Frugal Film Project roll of Ilford HP5 with the intention of using my Pentax SP500 as my everyday carry. I would try to take it out with me and grab a few shots here and there as the month progressed. That idea went out of the window pretty early on as I got totally engrossed in other things. By now you will know that I start things with the best intention of getting it done, but squirrels are attention grabbers. I only managed getting out with my Pentax SP500 for a couple of days, but I did take some photos this month.

I began my roll of Ilford HP5 for July with a trip to our local hospital, the Royal Albert and Edward Infirmary here in Wigan with my wife. Health issues have been getting attended to after being parked for a couple of years because of the pandemic and I accompanied her to an appointment. I knew she would be there for a while and covid restrictions are still in place which meant I couldn't go any further than the reception area. My camera gave me something to do whilst she was there.

When we arrived at the hospital my first composition was waiting for us in the car park, a beautiful late 1950's VW T2 microbus, the split windshield model with two bench seats in the back. I had to grab a couple of photos. This VW is a much loved example of the now highly collectable early T2 from the 1950's. It wasn't a restored example either. It looked like it is used regularly and well cared for. It also had a disabled persons "Blue Badge" on the windshield which made me very happy.

I always like to see an old vehicle being loved and driven, but especially by someone with mobility issues. Here in the UK a Blue Badge is issued if the applicant has difficulty walking or has to use a wheelchair. The owner of this Vee Dub can't walk very far, if at all, but they can drive there in style and I heartily approve. I also took a few photos around the hospital grounds then popped into town for a bit of shopping before returning to collect my wife. The Hospital is a mix of the original late 19th century hospital and the more recent architecture that was built at the turn of the 21st century. We have always been given excellent care there over the years.

I didn't go for many walks this month as we had a heatwave here in the UK that topped out at 40.8 degrees celcius or 105 degrees fahrenheit, a record temperature for the UK. We love to moan about the weather here, it's either too hot, too cold, too much snow or it's raining various family pets. We are damn good at it too. The media drives the hysteria at times as they love to sensationalise every aspect of life here. All I wanted to do was drink cold snacks and relax as this spike in the temperature never lasts more than a few days. It's also terrible for just about every form of photography with the exception of infrared. So I did that.

It's the last Tuesday in July and I finally got out with my Pentax to finish the roll and just had a relaxing wander along the local farm roads. I tried to shoot things I hadn't looked at in a while and a familiar composition that I just cant pass by without taking a photo. I really like that tree. I also tried to capture a honey bee doing its daily foraging. I wasn't too successful at that, but hey, I tried. Photographing insects with a manual focus lens is challenging enough, but a pre-set aperture lens ups the difficulty a notch.

I think I am really getting the hang of this Meyer-Optik 30mm f/3.5 Lydith. Yes, it's a fiddly thing to use, but once you get the muscle memory in place it becomes easier over time. I will master it eventually, but for now I will take being able to use it competently as a win. I am enjoying it more with each walk and that is all the vindication I need for buying it in the first place.

If you enjoy my work, please consider a donation to help me continue my journey via the Ko-Fi buttons on the page, all donations are gratefuly received. Here are a few photos from my July roll of Ilford HP5 for the Frugal Film Project 2022. As always I have put them and more in an album on Flickr you can visit using the link below. I hope you enjoy them.

Frugal Film Project 2022

Wednesday, 20 July 2022

Infrared Film Photography with Adox HR-50

Photographers are always looking for something, be it compositions or new artistic pathways we all need a new challenge from time to time and I am no different. I have been looking for a new challenge to keep the old grey matter ticking along on the long road to recovery and I found it on a video on you tube from one of my favourite landscape photographers, Thomas Heaton.

Thomas published a video where he spoke about having one of his digital cameras converted to capture Infrared photos, there's a link to Thomas' video below. This intrigued me enough to think about having a go at Infrared myself, but I don't have the cash to have my DSLR's converted and to be honest I quite like them the way they are. However, I can certainly afford to try it with film.

I posted a question to the #believeinfilm community on Twitter asking for advice about infrared film photography. It wasn't long before the good folks there gave me a ton of very helpful advice on which films to try and what filter to use along with examples of their work, which is stunning! There are some very talented photographers in the #believeinfilm community willing to share knowledge and encourage folks like myself who want to try something new. You set me on the right path and have my eternal gratitude.

I took a little time to sift through the advice to see what my options were. I was advised to use a good quality IR720nm filter. Light is composed of various wavelengths from ultra violet at short wave lengths, through visible light and onwards to infrared which is 700 nano meters and longer wavelengths. The IR720 filter would block all visible light below this wavelength whilst allowing light above it to pass through and get captured on my film.

My choice of film was dictated by its sensitivity to infrared and, after a lot of reading on the films that were suggested to me, I chose Adox HR-50 35mm B&W film. The data sheet supplied by Adox gave a spectral sensitivity number of 780nm in the infrared range which allowed a fair bit of infrared
light to make its way to the film once my IR720nm filter completed it's "Doorman" duties. (I now have an image of my IR filter dressed as a doorman saying to UV light; "not today, you're not on the list!") I ordered a filter from the bay of evil and four rolls of Adox HR-50 from Analogue Wonderland and waited for the day I could give it a try.

This gave me a little time to choose a camera to use for the initial attempt. I decided I wanted to go full auto to remove my ham fistedness from the equation and chose my Minolta X-700 with MD 50mm f/1.7. I set it to P (program) mode and locked the lens aperture at f22 so the camera would be the one deciding what aperture and shutter speed to use. I also chose a cable release and fitted my L bracket to make transition between landscape and portrait viewpoints easier on my tripod with its arca swiss type clamp.

When my orders arrived I loaded a roll of HR-50 into my Minolta X-700 in my darkbag, this is important with HR-50 as it does suffer from what is known as "light piping". Loading it into your camera in a darkbag or in very subdued lighting stops this from happening. Once done I packed my camera and IR filter in my bag and set off to the location I had chosen for my first attempt at infrared film photography.

The appointed day was bright and sunny with some high cirrus clouds to give my compositions a little more interest. I have been studying the trees at the old mine workings a lot this year and felt infrared would give me a different view of them. I also chose to shoot one frame with the IR filter and one without the filter to give me a chance of having some useable images should something go awry. This would either be an inspired choice or a terrible mistake, but I wouldn't know which one until I developed the film. Don't you just love the antici....... pation!

It didn't take me long to use my roll of Adox HR-50 as there are lots of trees to choose from, tall ones, small ones, in clumps and lonesome ones. I tried to position my camera for the best light and the best of the cirrus clouds for the background. I'm told the time of day doesn't really matter as only the longer wavelengths of light are getting through, so I made the most of it and was soon heading home with a full roll of film to develop.

I developed my film in Kodak HC-110 dilution H (1+63 from concentrate) for 9 minutes at 20 celcius and soon had it hanging to dry in my bathroom. I scanned it using my trusty Ion Slides2PC 35mm scanner and removed dust spots and scratches with Affinity Photo. All I can say is WOW! I learned 2 things with this exercise.

1: Infrared Film Photography is freakin' cool!
2: The Minolta X-700 can see in the freakin' dark!

I am blown away by the photos I was able to produce with my Minolta X-700. In truth the camera did the hard work, the metering is just incredible. There will be a part 2 to this exercise as I have to try to reproduce the results, but this time I will be making my brain hurt and using my Minolta X-700 manually. I have to bring my skills up to par with my camera.

Here are a few images from my roll of Adox HR-50 shot with my Minolta X-700 and Kood IR720nm filter. If you enjoy my blog and want to help me continue my photography journey, please consider making a donation via the Ko-Fi buttons on this page. Every donation is gratefully received. As always I have put these photos and more in an album on Flickr you can visit using the link below. I hope you enjoy them.

Thomas Heaton's Infrared Video
My Infrared Film Photos Flickr Album

Wednesday, 13 July 2022

Agent Shadow 400 - FED 2

 In 2021 I was given a sample roll of Agent Shadow 400, a new film brand from Stephen Dowling at Kosmo Foto. The aim was to raise awareness of his Kickstarter campaign to raise the necessary cash to make this film a reality. I had already backed the Kickstarter when I got the sample roll and I was happy to write an article about it on the Casual Photophile website. Thanks to the excellent film photography community, the Kickstarter was a success and the film went into production.

I had chosen the briefcase box with five rolls of Agent Shadow 400 and a graphic novel titled "The 36 Frames" and my kickstarter reward arrived not long after Stephen announced they were being posted out. I'm very happy with the quality of the presentation box, graphic novel and the packaging of the film itself, a lot of care has gone into them and it shows, but what about the film? Well, I managed to get through a backlog of things to do and was finally able to load a roll of Agent Shadow 400 into my FED 2 with Jupiter 8 50mm f/2 lens and decided to meter at 400 iso so I could compare with my previous experience of the sample roll.

I spent a week picking out a few shots here and there as I went about my daily business or headed out for a wander around my local area. I also took it with me on a trip to visit my daughter and grandchildren and captured some shots on my journey. I was using it as my "daily driver" and metered using the Light Meter Free app on my android smart phone. 

My FED 2 was as solid and dependable as ever. I had been rotating through my collection this year and hadn't used it for a while, but it didn't take me long to get reacquainted with it. I realised I had missed the industrial clunkiness of this Ukrainian built rangefinder camera. As I have mentioned in earlier blogs, I had wanted one for a while to scratch my Soviet rangefinder itch and it has not dissappointed me.

When it came to developing my roll of Agent Shadow I wanted to try something different from my sample roll that I shot last year. I chose to develop my film in Kodak HC-110 dilution H 1+63 from concentrate. I haven't seen any mention of developing Agent Shadow in HC-110 dilution H on the Massive Dev Chart nor on the list that Stephen very kindly provided on the Kosmo Foto website (there's a link below).

I have grown quite fond of dilution H for my B&W films and after some research and a bit of math I came up with 12 minutes at 20 celcius. This seemed a reasonable figure so I set to it and soon had it developed and hanging to dry in my bathroom. I scanned the film into my computer with my trusty Ion Slides2PC 35 mm scanner and removed dust spots and scratches with Affinity Photo.

My sample roll of Agent Shadow 400 came out rather nice when developed in HC-110 dilution B and when compared to dilution H for this first production roll I could see a difference in the grain straight away. The longer time in a more dilute solution tamed the shadows of a bright sunny day and gave me plenty of detail to work with in Affinity Photo, but did leave me with more grain which to be fair
isn't bad. It fits in with the "Film Noir" theme Stephen uses in the packaging and promotional material.

My experiment with dilution H was a success and I have shown it is a viable solution for the home developer. Next time I will try dilution E 1+47, which has been commented upon by several folks I follow on social media to be a sweet spot for this film, but that's a story for another day. Or maybe I can go for a night shoot and push it to 3200. All I need is a dark, stormy night an an owl hooting. If you want to try Agent Shadow it is on sale now on the Kosmo Foto website (link below)

Here's a few of my photos from this production roll of Agent Shadow 400. If you enjoy my blog, please consider making a donation using the Ko-Fi buttons on this page and as always I have posted these photos and more in an album on Flickr you can visit via the link below. I hope you enjoy them.

Buy Agent Shadow 400
Agent Shadow Development Chart
Agent Shadow Flickr Album

Wednesday, 6 July 2022

Frugal Film Project 2022 - June

June marks the half way point of the Frugal Film Project 2022 and I have yet again been a little late shooting my roll of Ilford HP5 in my Pentax SP500 with Meyer-Optik Gorlitz 30mm f/3.5 Lydith. This hasn't been a deliberate ploy on my part, I've just been distracted by Squirrels.

There's a rather nice looking Squirrel that is shaped like a Goodman Zone Z1 and, well, it's been taking all my attention (the last time my attention was so utterly distracted I married her). I managed to get out for a walk on the last day of June that dawned bright and sunny, so I packed my Pentax loaded with Ilfords finest half pint in my bag and toddled off into town.

My walk began in Mesnes Park, the jewel in Wigan's crown and I will never tire of a walk around the park taking photos. I have learned a heck of a lot about photography there from composition to sunny 16 and all avenues between. It is my favourite classroom and long may it continue to be so. There was a few groups of primary school children there with their teachers so I kept my camera away from them, which is not easy in a big open space. A little discretion goes a long way sometimes.

My walk then took me to The Galleries which is looking more empty and dishevelled with each passing day. Large wooden hoardings have been erected to stop people walking through the once open walkways around the site and the indoor sections are also boarded up. It's a very sad sight as this is now the second time many of the people of Wigan have seen this area get run down for redevelopment in their lifetime. There are still two stallholders in the outdoor market clinging on until the bitter end, but it wont be long until they are moved indoors and the outdoor market gets closed off for ever.

I spent the rest of my walk getting some photos of the town centre, capturing its Mock Tudor architechture mixed with more ornate buildings from prosperous times for the town when Iron, Coal and Cotton drove the local economy. We do have one Brutalist concrete edifice that used to be Wigan Council offices, but it's now empty and boarded up for whatever comes next for it. I finished my roll off at Wigan Parish Church and headed home in time for lunch. I developed my film the next day in HC-110 dilution B and hung it to dry before scanning it into my PC with my Ion Slides2PC 35mm scanner and tidying them up with Affinity Photo.

Here's a few of my photo's for the June Frugal Film Project roll of Ilford HP5. It may have been a sunny day, but the big cumulus clouds had me exposing for the highlights without thinking about it. I would have got better results with an orange filter, but oh look, Squirrel! If you enjoy my photos please consider a donation to the Ko-Fi fund using the buttons on this page, every donation is greatly appreciated. I have placed these photos and more in my Frugal Film Project 2022 album on Flickr that you can visit using the link below. I hope you enjoy them.

Frugal Film Project 2022

Another Photographer In The Family

 It's the summer holidays and, like a lot of grandparents, my wife and I are helping out by having our grandsons stay with us for a few ...