Monday, 22 February 2016

A Winter's Tale

It's definitely Winter.  I can tell since the sun is just rising as I get up on a school morning.  I say the sun is rising, but that has to be taken with a pinch of salt in The Liberties.  Usually it means the general murkiness gets a little clearer.

However, the other morning, as is my norm, I found myself on the beach in Portstewart and it was looking a little dramatic, what with the morning sun pitched against some dark clouds and all.  So much so, in fact, that I pointed me camera at it (that would have been the rangefinder thingmy loaded with HP5+) and pressed the shutter release.

And on Saturday morning I escaped into the darkroom for about an hour...and this is the result, on Kentmere VC:

That is pretty close to how I remember the scene.  Of course it didn't just come out of the fixer looking as fabulous as that - no siree.

Here's the story - pictorally.

Apart from the big bit of dust on the negative (which looks like the moon), the first print (above left) was way too dark.  So I blower-brushed the dust off and adjusted the exposure and got my second print there on the right.  Still not great - I liked the sky OK, but the whole thing looked too dark for my liking.

My third effort (above left) was a crude attempt at dodging where the sand dunes are on the left in an attempt to bring out some detail there. Rubbish, really.  For my fourth effort I cut out a bigger bit of card and dodged a bit more.  Still rubbish - and my attempts to straighten the horizon were getting worse, not better.

At this point in time I was becoming disillusioned with my abilities in the darkroom if not life itself.  Patience, I told myself.  A different course of action was required.  I did two things.  First thing I did was draw some horizontal lines on the back of an old print which I put on the easel in an attempt to sort out the horizon.  You have to remember to take the old print out of the easel though otherwise you run the risk of putting the unexposed sheet of paper under the print with the lines drawn on it.  Not that I would ever do that, of course...  Secondly I decided to dodge the whole of the lower half of the print to lighten the foreground and provide some balance to the sky.

I think I got there, or close to where I wanted to go.  Here's the final version again:

When it dried I wondered if the foreground was now a little too light...and maybe the sky is too much.  But...I think I'm inclined to leave it alone.  There's a reasonable range of tones I think.

All in all a good way to waste a couple of hours on a wet Saturday morning in February.


  1. Looks like you got the most out of that negative after all, my friend! Looks great to my eyes, anyway. And that light...!
    A bit funny, since I just sat down at the computer to try write a few lines about the light seen from the cottage this morning.
    I also like the tutorial effect of this post. The posting of the prints leading up to the final result, and what your thoughts through the process were like.
    I think I need to go through it all, one more time... or two.
    Have a great day over there, and take good care :))

    1. Thanks Mr Karlsvig for your supportive comments. It's always hard to know when to stop with negs like this - there is no right and wrong.