Friday, 25 May 2018

Still here

Not gone away just yet.  Been getting a print ready for submission to the Northern Ireland Photographic Association's annual exhibition.  NIPA is the overarching organisation of all the photographic clubs in Northern Ireland and the club I joined last year, the Ballymoney Club, is part of it.  Each year NIPA takes an exhibition of selected images on the road up and down the country - I think they get an external judge, or judges, in to do the selection.  Anyway, last year I saw their exhibition when it came to Portstewart and I thought this year I'd try to get something in.  I was aiming for a couple of prints but in the end events overtook me and I've had to settle for this one - here's a phone shot of it, all mounted and everything:

Lifeguard Station, Portstewart Strand

It looks all lith and everything but it's not really.  It's a normal print on Ilford Warmtone although I did bleach it back in cupric sulphate and then dunk it into some fairly warm lith developer.  But it went a bit dark and horrible so I abandoned that and after another wash bleached it again and then toned it in some old sepia.  I was pretty happy with the end result - some dark bits and some light bits and some bits inbetween.

This was a 12"x16" print and truth be told it's the largest I've printed for a very long time.  Everything changes when you wind the enlarger up the column a good bit - times are longer of course and things behave differently to that little 10"x8" print that came out so easily by comparison.

So it's going off to the NIPA selector(s) and we'll see what gives.  Most of the prints in last year's exhibition seemed to be studio portraits.  There are a couple of 'big hitters' in one of the Belfast Clubs and they seem to have a bit of a monopoly on the whole NIPA thing.  Not my thing, really but there you go.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Down the Port

A couple of weeks ago we went 'down the Port' for a dander.  Portstewart, that is.  It was a bright afternoon/evening and although I had the 'Blad with me I wasn't confident.  But when you get both exposure and development half right there's a fair bit of detail captured in an HP5+ negative and that, my friends, gives one plenty of scope to play around in the darkroom.  This was the result after a few test prints, on Warmtone RC paper:

Portstewart Bay, HP5+, Ilford Warmtone RC paper

Friday, 11 May 2018

Walking the dogs

While Missy was at her Pilates class (eh?) the other evening I took the 'Blad out for some candid street photography.  Yeh, I know - not usually the first choice for street stuff but there you go.  My reasoning was as follows.  As I've said before, people in The North East Liberties of Coleraine - as you might guess - are not like those city folk in New York or Tokyo or even London and aren't that used to having cameras pointed at them.  And I'm not the speedy type who can dash around, take a shot and move on before people realise what's happened.  When I was thinking about this the other day, I was reminded of one of Roger Hicks' articles when he suggested a possible solution to the 'problem' of street photography.  There was a shot of him wearing a high-visibility vest standing next to a 4"x5" camera on a tripod, looking all important and official-like.  At the same time, he was taking what one might assume were proof-pictures with a handheld camera. Of course the view camera was purely a distraction...the handheld camera was the one he was actually working with.

Anyway, I carted the tripod with me and set the 'Blad up with a 50mm lens (equivalent to roughly 28mm in 35-mm land), composed and pre-focussed.  Then I locked up the mirror so as to minimise the shock-wave normally associated with taking a shot with the 'Blad - quiet it is not.  Even so, there was still (to my ears) a very audible 'click' when I released the shutter via a long cable release.  But I figured if I wasn't actually looking at the subject when they came into shot they might not be too concerned.  A couple of times I was on the mobile phone when I tripped the shutter.  

By Portrush Arcadia - an iconic building in this part of the world.  Back in the day it housed a 'speakeasy' which  was the venue for bands such as The Stranglers, Ian Dury and The Undertones.  Nowadays it's more of a community venue for Pilates Classes and the like.  HP5+ on Ilford Warmtone paper.
The downside of not always looking at the people walking into frame was that I missed a few shots but one or two were OK.  Next time I'm going to try framing more 'head-on' shots and see what happens.  

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

If you ever...

...feel like volunteering as a Lifeguard during the summer months, Portstewart Strand isn't the worst place to find yourself in:

HP5+, Warmtone RC paper in Multigrade, then bleached and sepia toned.

Friday, 4 May 2018

Barking up the wrong tree

OK so a corny title but hey, there's tree bark and then there's tree bark:

Favourite combo: HP5+, Hasselblad and Warmtone RC paper. Pretty sure I had a close-up filter on the 'Blad, hence the 'look'.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018


Marram grass, if you prefer, or I just call it dune grass.  I always like how it appears on a print and when it's toned it changes again.  This one was printed normally on Warmtone RC paper then bleached in cupric sulphate and redeveloped in very old, warm, lith:

Ilford HP5+, 'Blad and Warmtone RC - and the rest as above.

Perhaps a bit like John Blakemore and his tulips, I can easily see myself developing a bit of an obsession with dune grass.  It really is a lovely subject to photograph and print.