Monday, 31 August 2015


Now locals will know what I'm talking about here - or rather where I'm talking about.  Binevenagh, or Binn Foibhne [bin evena] in Irish, meaning Foibhne's Peak, is a big lump of rock about 10 miles North West of us here in the North East Liberties of Coleraine.  Fortunately there's a road up to it and a handy viewing point at Gortmore, where one can gaze out over Magilligan Strand, Lough Foyle and over to Inishowen, which of course belongs to the Free State (to use the vernacular).

There's a ferry across Lough Foyle nowadays which is a good thing, 'cos otherwise it's a long old drive around through Derry/Londonderry to get to where you want to go.  During the war (Ed: oh here we go...) my grandmother and many others like her used to take their lives in their hands and go on a wee boat across to Inishowen in order to buy food that was rationed over here in The North.  Yes, My Granny was a Smuggler - good title for a book, that, isn't it?  Of course she wouldn't have been a granny in those days but still, it must have been a bit dangerous all the same.

But I digress.

The point of this post is to tell you about the other evening, when I was minded to take the Big Camera (aka The Sinar) out for some Proper Photography.  Yes, we're talking large format here...none of your namby-pamby 135 or even 120 roll film here, no siree.

Now in spite of the Sinar being an F1 model - the 'F' apparently standing for 'Field' - believe me it is anything but portable and so it doesn't get out in any sort of field much.  But when it does come with me for a little trip, I find it rather liberating, in spite of its size and not inconsiderable weight.  Everything suddenly becomes very deliberate - more so than with roll film. Large format photography really forces me to slow down and think about what I'm doing - and usually that's a Good Thing.  If things are going well I might push the boat out and take 2, or even 4 shots in one session - usually just in the one location, since it requires a fair bit of work to set up (and take apart again).   But when it all comes together the results can be, well, interesting.

View from Gortmore, summer evening light
This particular day, a couple of weeks ago, the weather had been really bad since morning, but sometimes in this part of the world you get an hour or two just as the sun is going down when interesting things happen - and I wasn't disappointed.  The sun made a very brief appearance just before it sank behind Inishowen and for a few minutes the light was, I have to say, spectacular.   This looks a tad over-exposed to me, but the sun was very low in the sky and exceptionally bright and so this is reasonably close to how I remember it.

You will, of course, remember my post the other day where I was bigging up Unicolor processing gear and again it comes in handy for 4x5 development.  The trick here is to acquire a Unicolor 8x10 paper drum - the one that has ribs along the sides, which allow the chemicals to get to both sides of the film.  This drum will take 4 4x5 negs (with the help of a clothes-peg to keep each pair of negs separated - this guy explains it).  I've been experimenting with the volume of chemical required - Unicolor's instructions for a 10x8 print drum are 2oz, or 57ml.  This seems ridiculously low, but I've read somewhere (here in fact) that most of the developer is for wetting the film quickly and evenly and that only a little is required to actually do the work.  For now though I'm erring on the side of extreme caution - mostly as it takes a lot of effort to acquire 4 negs using the Sinar and I don't like the thought of messing things up at the developing stage.

1 comment:

  1. On my list: Try some large format photography some day. I know it's a minefield, at least if (or when...) I get hooked. I don't want to think to much about the consequences to tell you the truth. Would be fun to try anyway.