Friday, 22 September 2017

Kelp House, Rathlin Island

A place at which I have stood a number of times and even printed it out on lith more than once, but this was the state of play earlier this summer:

From the 'Blad, HP5+, Foma paper and Easylith developer

I had to clamber over the rocks to take this snap and Missy, who was exploring round the other side of the Kelp House when I pressed the shutter release, had a panic attack when she saw where I was.  I was ordered to 'Stay Put' while she came to my rescue - I was actually quite happy to accept help, as if I had taken a tumble the 'Blad might have got damaged :)

Wednesday, 20 September 2017


The house in The Netherlands we were staying at recently.  Not a typical Dutch House, apparently - more your Scandinavian/Finnish House.  Lots of wood inside and out - very nice it was too.  Sauna upstairs and all. Anyway, I snapped the outside of it up on the M6, printed said negative on Foma paper and dunked it in some lith developer.  Came out rather well, I thought - some darkish bits, some lightish bits and some bits in-between:

A Finnish-style house, in The Netherlands, 2017

Monday, 18 September 2017

Dutch barn

When I printed out a 35mm neg from our recent visit to Orvelte Museum Village in The Netherlands, it turned out like this:

The side of a barn, via 35mm rangefinder camera&35mm lens
So I dried the fibre paper thing off and pressed it for a couple of days in the garage using my bespoke pressing apparatus - a couple of bits of melamine-covered chipboard on top of which I place a very old and heavy Sony CD player once belonging to my Uncle and a similiarly heavy socket set from the days when I used to mess about under cars - long gone I can tell you.  Anyway, it seems to work OK for after a couple of days the prints are fairly flat.

After all that, I decided to immerse the print in some H2O and then bleach it and finally sepia tone it.  After another round of drying and flattening it came out looking like this:

Not quite sure it was worth the effort, to be honest...

Friday, 15 September 2017

Westerbork Transit Camp

A rather grim, but important reminder of the bloody history in Europe not so long ago is Westerbork Transit Camp, in Drenthe, Netherlands.  We went there.  There's an interesting and very informative museum with many stories and artefacts of the camp's inhabitants.  Unfortunately most of the written history is in Dutch and I was surprised how little I could understand - my school German, with some top-ups over the years isn't too bad but Dutch seems to have different roots so I was floundering a bit.

Originally, the camp at Westerbork had been erected by the Dutch as a refugee camp for the many thousands of Jews streaming across the border with Germany in the 1930s.  Interestingly, in 1938 The Netherlands closed their border with Germany due to the increase in refugees after Kristallnacht.  In 1939 Westerbork was built to house the refugees (although the Committee for Jewish Refugees had been required to underwrite the camp's expenses).  Anyway, when Germany invaded, the function of the camp changed to become a transportation centre to Auchwitz-Birkenau (over 60,000), Sobibor (over 34,000) and Bergen-Belsen.  Only a handful survived.  Anne Frank and her family were among the families transported in one of the very last trains to leave the camp.

It wasn't a place that I really felt like taking many photographs but I did like this piece of sculpture which I snapped up as I passed.  Printed out on Slavich paper, lith developer and some sepia tone.  It's a bit over-done, but perhaps that's appropriate given the subject:

Wednesday, 13 September 2017


Somewhere north and a bit west of Amsterdam lies the province of Drenthe, in The Netherlands. It looks like this:

Well, Ok, I'll qualify that statement.  Part of it looks like this when printed out on Slavich Unibrom paper and sloshed about in lith developer.

Monday, 11 September 2017


The Marina in Coleraine isn't very big - OK, it's very small, truth be told, but it's good for a walk about with a photo-apparat.  It's the sort of place you have to take your time and look at things and I like that.  Not that this is the best capture in the world ever, mind you but it sort of came out OK when printed on the very last sheet of my beautiful Foma 131 paper and developed in nearly the last drop of my Easylith developer:

Square format...simply the best.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Memento Mori

Inside St Thomas' Church on Rathlin Island is an unusual piece of stonework on one of the walls - Memento Mori, remember you have to die.  A reflection on the transient nature of earthly things and pursuits.  An example, apparently, of a transi or cadaver tomb that depicts the decayed corpse of the deceased.  Whatever your take on it, and its message, it is an unusual piece of work (at least for this part of the world) and one that I like to photograph when I find myself on the island.

All mounted and everything.  Memento Mori, September 2017.  Handheld on the 'Blad, 50mm lens.

With all the stone work I just had to develop the print in lith.  I took a chance and re-used some I'd made up a while back and while it was a little slow to get going on the Foma paper it developed quite nicely in the end.  For those interested in such things I over-exposed (in the darkroom) by 3 stops, which seemed to give a decent amount of contrast.  As we all know (from Tim Rudman's book on lith printing) in the land of lith, contrast is increased by cutting exposure and developing for longer.  Since there is (or should be) infectious development going on it isn't always easy to gauge the right time to lift the print from the developer, particularly since you're working under the safelight.

I have a safelight wired into the enlarger timer so that it comes on once the print has been exposed. A second safelight sits near the wet bench - this one I keep off until I can see the image getting close to being ready, which can be anything from 3-10 minutes, for me at any rate.  When I think it's nearly cooked I'll switch this second safelight on and lift the print out of the developer and hold it close enough to see what the blacks are like.  If need be, the print gets re-immersed in the developer for another bit and then I'll take another look.  When I think enough is enough I'll dump it into the stop bath and then fix it.

It helps, I find, if I've already developed a print which has some nice blacks in it and is now sitting in the water tray.  That way I've something I can compare the current print to try to get the right snatch point.