Thursday, 30 January 2020

A Tough Day in The Liberties

Tuesday was a tough day for us - we had to say goodbye to our lovely big gentle Border Collie, Roly, after almost 15 years. He had a major wobble about 3 months ago so we kinda knew the end was getting close but you still don’t expect it to happen now, today.  He timed it well, though, collapsing just when Missy was coming home from school so we were all there for him at the end.  He hadn’t a great quality of life this last while and even his desire for a few pats & a bit of attention seemed to be leaving him. Most times he could be found sleeping down in our bedroom, away from where the action was.

He’ll be missed.

Here's a phone snap of my favourite shots of Missy with him - from a fair few years ago.  It hangs - along with several other prints of family and friends - in the smallest room of the house. Taken with a Yashica 35 GTN rangefinder down on Portstewart.  Missy must have been in the water - and of course that means Roly was too.  The Hound looks very regal in this shot - and looks much older than he was, but I think that's just due to his wet coat.  If you look closely, you'll spot Missy's hand on his chest, which is the reason I'm so fond of this shot - the two of them snuggled up to each other.

Missy and Roly, Portstewart.

Monday, 27 January 2020

Man of Mystery

I’m still recovering from my trip to the Sheep Man on Saturday - it’s hard work watching someone working hard ;)  And by ‘eck the young dentist-cum-sheep-shearer was working hard, I can tell you.

So for now it’s Yer Man Ray again, from our Studio Night last week. Slightly overprinted - I think there’s a tiny bit of detail on the right side of his face in the negative. Still, his wife likes it, all is good.

Man of Mystery, Delta 3200 film on Warmtone fibre paper

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Stand developing Ilford Delta 3200

The Club had a Studio night this week.  Not really my thing but variety is the spice of life, innit.  We just had a few Club Members sit for us as it was really an opportunity to learn about lighting, rather than a 'turn up and shoot' night.  I took the 'Blad with the 150mm lens and had Delta 3200 loaded.  I've not been terribly happy with the results from this film yet so I wanted to try a different approach to developing it.

Here's the print that came out of the darkroom not very long ago:

Ray, on Ilford Warmtone fibre paper (8"x10")

I remember reading a while back on Andrew Sanderson's blog about stand developing Delta 3200 film so I chased up the article and tried it.  His suggestion was to use DD-X diluted 1+9 (so a bit weaker than normal), agitate for a full minute and then leave it to stand for 45 minutes.  So that's what I did.  I was metering at the full 3200 iso, by the way - Mr Sanderson reckons he got good results this way rating it at anything from 800 to 3200 on the same film, by the way.  Interesting.

First off let's say how impressed I am with the grain, or lack of it, at 3200.  It's way nicer than HP5+ pushed even a couple of stops.  And the negs turned out great - very easy to print.  This one printed at grade 3, or thereabouts.  I'll definitely be using this method again for Delta 3200. Thank you Mr Sanderson!

Monday, 20 January 2020

Stormy Weather

What a great song that was, eh? But of course on this place I'm talking about something else...real stormy weather - at Ballintoy the other day:

Big Sea at Ballintoy, January 2020.  Ilford Delta 3200 film @ 1000iso, printed on Ilford Warmtone Fibre paper

I like it when there's a swirling seagull in a shot like this - it adds a bit of context or authenticity or something.  Anyway, the sea was pretty big that day and this shot gives you an idea of the appeal of Ballintoy...all those rocks and stacks concentrated in this one little bay makes it pretty unique.  I could have stood and watched the waves all day - they were mesmerising.  You always need to be careful not to stand too close to the water, of course - it's very easy to get caught out by a big one.  Every seventh (or is it ninth) wave is supposed to be bigger than the others, so we were told back in the day. As it happened I did break my cardinal rule and got too close, by the Secret Beach. Got my boots wet as a big ‘un came in. I was very annoyed with myself - not that my feet got wet,  but that I put myself in such a dangerous position. It doesn’t take much to knock me off my feet on a good day so I was a little closer to being in trouble than I would like. What I should have done - and will in future - is stand back and observe for a good long while first. I hope I’ve learnt a lesson from it.

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Portstewart Bay on Ilford Delta 3200

A couple of days ago I went out late afternoon in order to finish a film I had lying about in the 'Blad - Ilford Delta 3200.  The sun was going down so I headed to Portstewart and set the camera up on the tripod with the 250mm Tele-Tessar on it.  It was, it has to be said, absolutely freezing - a substantial wind chill.  That day I was certainly suffering for my art :)

The camera was pointing directly at the sun - OK to do since it was masked by light cloud for most of the time but even so it was a high contrast scene.  I had used a bit of the film already, exposed at 1000iso for some strange reason but that set the speed for the rest of the film.  I spot-metered the sun and opened up two stops so that the highlights wouldn't be blown.  The shadows I just had to take what I could get but in the end letting them mostly fall to black created an atmospheric shot.

Ilford suggest 7mins for 800iso and 8 for 1600iso in DD-X diluted 1:4.  In the end I decided on 8.5 minutes - roughly equating to a speed of 2000iso.  I was happy with the result, since good detail was retained in the highlights:

Winter Sun, Portstewart Bay, January 2020.  Ilford Delta 3200@800iso on Warmtone fibre paper

With such a well-lit scene a fast film like Delta 3200 wasn't the right film to use - I was down at f22 most of the time.  HP5+ would be have been a better choice.  But I feel a bit more confident now using Delta 3200.  I'm going back to the Sheep Man shortly to document the start of the shearing so I'll use Delta 3200 for that, since we'll be indoors and using available light - last time HP5 was just a bit slow, I found.

Monday, 13 January 2020

Tea you couldn't drink

Back to lines and geometry and what have you.  This time in Portrush, a good place to go when the light is strong.  This is up near the station and is a general plaza type area where you can sit and eat your sandwiches and have your flask of tea when the weather is decent.  The Irish are great tea drinkers, y'see.  Or were.  Strange how you almost never see anyone with a flask of tea any more - back in the day everyone had them.  Nowadays people seem to prefer plastic bottles of water or fizzy pop.

Portrush Plaza, old Tri-X on Adox MCP312 paper.

When I was younger, a trip to Belfast (about 50 miles East of us) was a Big Thing.  A good big flask of tea was definitely required and usually a few rounds of sandwiches too.  Sometimes you would even stop en route to have something to eat&drink - on the way up and back.  Nowadays with better roads and faster cars it's only about an hour's journey - stopping halfway is not something my wife or I would even consider.  But my mother still wouldn't entertain going to Belfast without packing a flask and would insist on having a cuppa in the car on arrival.  Well, she's not going to pay £1.95 for tea you couldn't drink from one of those cafes, now, is she?

Thursday, 9 January 2020

Sheep Man Again

Almost like a paper negative but just a poorly exposed, poorly focussed regular silver gelatin print on very old Tmax 100 Kodak film:

Adox MCP 312 paper
I like it.

Monday, 6 January 2020

That GoT place again

Yes I was out at Ballintoy on Saturday, or the Iron Islands if you are GoT fan (I'm not, btw, but I am aware that it does command a substantial following).  Ballintoy is now a very popular place to visit - as evidenced by the fact that even on a very cold day in January the place was busy.  As I left around 3pm the car park was full.  There were more photographers and tripods than I've ever seen before.  It would nearly put you off going.  Well, I don't go near it any day of the week in the summertime any more but it's looking like weekends even in winter are going to be a no-go as well.

Anyway, the sea was incredible - very big waves coming in and breaking over the many rocks and stacks that are there.  I could have stood and watched it all day - it was beautiful, even if it was rather bracing.

I was using a new film for me - Ilford's Delta 3200 Pro, which I was rating at 1000.  According to Ilford's datasheet you can rate it anywhere between 400 and 25000.  They recommend DD-X as the developer for finest grain and maximum sharpness and I can say that on 120 film it really is very fine grain indeed, which is amazing for such a fast film.   But...I haven't done any real testing with it yet and so unfortunately my negs came out a bit flat after 7mins 30s in DD-X 1:4  Next time I'll maybe sacrifice a film for some testing or at least over-expose a bit and see where that leaves me.

Anyway, here's a print for y'all, showing them big waves and everything.  Benbane Head/Giant's Causeway in the distance, in case you were wondering.  From nearly the same location as this shot a while ago.

Ballintoy on Delta3200 on Ilford Warmtone fibre paper

As my friend and I were walking back up from the Secret Beach, we were met by a load of GoT fans - complete with complimentary fur-lined capes and plastic swords.  Obviously one of those organised GoT tours.  We smiled at them and they smiled back - most of them seemed pretty excited by the whole Ballintoy/Iron Islands adventure and had cameras and GoPros in hand.  Fair play to them, I say - it's always good to see people out and about in the fresh air enjoying themselves.  Even if sometimes I wish they weren't there at the same time as me...

Thursday, 2 January 2020


Downtown Bergamo (Citta Bassa), albeit several centuries newer than the Old Town, still has something to offer.  It's quite tranquil by comparison, but still a very pleasant place to wander around for an hour or two or even a day or two.  It was late afternoon when we were there and there was still a warmth in the sun.  While the ladies hit the shops (which turned out a bit expensive for us with the falling £ these days) I wandered aimlessly around with the rangefinder loaded with my usual HP5+.  This was with the 90mm f/2.8 Tele-Elmarit-M - a lovely little lens, quite compact and takes 39mm filters so it matches the 21mm Voigtlander and the 35mm Summarit I have.

Bergamo shutters, on lith/Foma.

The lith/Foma combination over-exaggerates the warmth, but not by much.  I wasn't totally convinced about the shadow along the bottom, clearly from the building opposite.  But perhaps it gives the shot some grounding, if you see what I mean...