Friday, 26 October 2012


  As regular readers may have noticed by now i have changed my blog (again).  New logo, new layout and new pages.  I was unhappy with my previous logo and blog layout so i have had an overhaul and i'm really happy with how it looks now.  The main new feature is the pages section at the top of my blog.  This will link you to the about me, contact and (most importantly) the tutorial pages.  The about me page gives you a little background information about me which will hopefully compliment the articles i write.  The contact me page is pretty self explanatory; the tutorials page however is something different.  I have written quite a few tutorials since creating this blog and have every intention of carrying on doing so, so i thought it would be a good idea to collect these all together onto one page so people don't have to trawl through all my previous posts to find a how-to article.  I will keep this page updated as and when i write new how-to's.  That's about it for now - i'm still working on my scanner but rest assured as soon as it is working again ill be back updating (hopefully more often).  Bye for now.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Oh This Wretched Silence...

  Well there has been a lot going on lately, most notably i have been trying out lith developing. Unfortunately however my scanner has broken down.  I don’t know if its the scanner itself or just the power supply but whatever it is i feel somewhat crippled at the moment as i have now got a big pile of things i need to upload to flickr and this blog.  Hopefully ill get it sorted out soon and get back on track as im dying to upload these lith prints and ive got a pile of colour film to scan.  The curse of technology!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

PPPP (or, In a Preston Park Photographing with Paul)

  As many regular readers of this blog will know i live very close to one of Preston’s largest parks.  This park is brilliant as i can walk straight through it to work, cutting my daily commute by half.  Last Wednesday was a truly beautiful morning, the sun was low in the sky, the dew was still hanging on the cobwebs and the mist was rising from the river.  I promised myself that the next day we had weather like this i would be in the park with my camera

  Well Thursday was a horrible day, the clouds had rolled in and the rain was coming down at every conceivable angle.  Friday followed suit and all the rain was causing the river to rise a bit too high for my liking.  As i was coming to out of my slumber on Saturday morning though i noticed a strange warmth to the room accompanied by an orange glow from behind my curtains.  Sun? Surely not! YES!!  After seeking permission from my loving wife (sometimes she reads this blog – i must dish out the flattery) i leapt from bed, grabbed my bag, stocked up on film and hit the pavement running. 

  Just like the previous Wednesday the morning was clear and warm with rising mist and hanging dew.  I couldn’t wait to get into the park and start shooting, especially as i had a few new bits of gear to try out.  I had won a 150mm S lens for my Bronica SQ-A a few weeks earlier on EBay for an absolute steal and today would be a great time to try it out.  Also i had managed to grab hold of a Pentax Spotmeter V which i was dying to try out.  For those of you that don’t know a spotmeter basically lets you take a meter reading of a tiny part of your frame.  Do a few of these across your shot and you can see how best to judge your exposure.  Armed with my new and old kit i power-walked into the park and got shooting.  I called a friend who lives nearby (even though he is an evil digital shooter) and got him to meet me inside as sometimes it’s just nice to have a bit of company.

  We had a great time, there were plenty of nice shots to be taken, especially with the dew evaporating in the sun.  I tried to focus very carefully on my use of filters and on my metering.  I have always struggled with metering.  It should be very simple but for the longest time i have never been able to get exposures i am happy with using my incident/reflected meter.  My new spotmeter was a joy to use though.  Having done a fair bit of reading up on the zone system i was prepared on how to use my new meter to its full potential.  It was so easy to use and get accurate readings from.  For those of you unfamiliar with the zone system ill probably be writing a post on it at some point soon in the future.

  Anyway, on with the narrative.  We walked up the river taking some photos of the spiders webs hanging between the undergrowth and then headed over the footbridge to take some photos of the mist rising over a farmers field.  One handy thing about the spotmeter here was that i could see how much more exposed the sky would be compared to the foreground and then apply the appropriate grad filter.  A simple thing but a joy to do.  We then carried on up the river towards Waitrose where we stopped for supplies before heading back into the park to shoot the trees and leaves as the sun had risen higher in the sky.

  All in all we spent about 3 hours wandering the park, up and down the slopes and through the muddy puddles.  Then we headed home for food and a sit down.  We ended up spending the rest of the day playing risk, watching dvds, developing film and doing some printing.  Im pretty happy with how my prints came out.  The one of the triangle shaped web was a pain to make and i wasted so much paper but i got it how i wanted it in the end.

   Its really nice to look back over the roll you have shot, developed and printed and know that at every single step you were making something for yourself .  I really love the feeling that you have made something with your own hands that is unique to you, even if no one else gets to see the finished product.  Im thinking i may print some of these photos on bigger paper and maybe even try some subtle toning but thats another post for another time...

Friday, 5 October 2012

There's Life in the Old Girl Yet...

  There has been a lot of negativity (pun partially intended) around film lately.  Prophets of doom have been heralding the end saying film is on the decline and we all need to stock up before we can’t get it anymore.  But it seems to me there are some positives going on and I thought we would focus on them for a while to cheer us all up a little in these dark days.

  Firstly yes, Fuji have discontinued Velvia 50 in a few formats and now Kodak have just discontinued TMAX 3200 but to be honest I don’t shoot large format so the Velvia discontinuance doesn’t affect me (for now anyway) and I don’t like TMAX 3200 anyway.  Now I know some of you reading this may use these films and i'm not saying i’m glad they are gone or anything – just saying I don’t use them.  The TMAX cancellation I can understand – it wasn’t selling well so they cut it because it was becoming too costly, fair enough.  The Velvia is a little strange however because most of us will know that Velvia 50 is pretty much legendary – there is nothing like it out there.  Since Fuji announced the discontinuance there has been no end of petitions to stop it from occurring – let’s hope the people in charge at Fuji listen.  But let’s just think about why films get cancelled.  When it comes down to it photography companies are still companies.  They make a product and sell it, when it doesn’t sell well enough they stop making it.  Maybe we as consumers are partly to blame – with the rise of EBay it is so easy to just buy second-hand and out-dated films on the cheap; but if we aren’t buying new films from stores then the companies making films are going to suffer.  Just a thought to bear in mind.

  Anyway, I promised positivity didn’t I!  Well, first of all amid all the ambiguity of what’s going on with Kodak I recently saw a message on a forum from Ilford who simply said their films are selling strong, there is plenty of stock and they are going to keep making emulsions.  I must confess it was so refreshing to hear a company come out and simply state exactly what was happening.  I’m a huge fan of Ilford films and papers so to me this was great news.

  More positive news came to me this morning when I received an email from AG Photographic.  They are a UK – based company that (in my opinion) consistently offer very competitive prices on all their products and offer superb customer service.  The email I received stated that they have just opened an on-site lab offering a range of services including C41, E6 and black & white development and wet printing.  Now we hear of labs shutting all the time and large stores like Asda and Boots slowly stopping their film development so this news is most welcome.  It’s great to see that those of us who still shoot film are putting back into the industry and supporting stores like AG and companies like Ilford.  If we keep doing that I don’t see any reason why film production should cease for a long time.

  Also think about companies like Lomography.  Although not everyone’s favourite you have to agree that they are promoting film usage to a younger generation and getting them started.  Speaking personally my first camera was a Lomography Diana F+ camera and I still use it even now.  That camera got me into film in a big way and even though I use a medium format SLR most of the time now and do all my own darkroom work I will never forget that it was down to the Lomo movement that I first got into film.

  Another positive that shows there is still a dedicated user-base of analgoue materials are such internet forums as and  These are forums dedicated to film/paper/darkroom work and there are thousand of subscribers putting up hundreds of new posts every day.  Even photo sharing sites such as Flickr have film photography groups brimming over with enthusiastic contributors.  There is a strong analogue photography community and it is reassuring to know that there are so many who continue to support the industry by shooting film.

So even though there is some bad stuff going on in the industry these days try to remember the good – new labs are opening, companies like Ilford are still going strong and “new blood” is taking up film photography with every passing day. 

 I know i'll always shoot film.  For me digital processing will never top standing in a darkroom and watching your image appear on a print.