For those who love film, here is a story of incredible ineptitude that produced (I think) a great result.
This photograph was shot in a dimly lit room with the halogen light source coming from the right hand side. I was using a very old medium format rangefinder camera, so focusing was nearly impossible due to the bad lighting. Add in a further complication of a faulty shutter in the camera, which meant the light meter reading was useless. If the mechanical and logistical problems weren’t making things difficult enough. The film stock had an expiry date from six years ago, the film developers expiry date was six months ago, and my lackadaisical attitude to water temperatures during baths and washing was recipe for total failure. One would expect the film to be at least heavily fogged and more than likely blank. Well, it is very fogged but there was something to work with, something that has a charm and humour impossible to replicate with a digital camera. Why, because we would see the problem in real time and immediately compensate.
This picture would have been deleted
Makes me wonder how we managed back in the day..
Fuji GS645S Professional, 60mm, f4, Ortho Classic Pan 400asa 120 B&W film, Adox Adonal Developer (with an extra 2 minute developing time, because I thought, with all that had gone on previously, it couldn’t hurt)
Having been busy with other things today we are left with another picture from a long time ago, from back in the days when film was plentiful and the only option available.
It was a Saturday afternoon and I was wandering around the business district of Perth in Western Australia and I remember being drawn into this carpark by the subtle graduations of light in this vast empty space. Then I saw this tree and it was such a great metaphor for the way we treat nature that it demanded to be photographed and I couldn’t resist.
This photograph is nearly twenty years old, but as relevant today as it was yesterday, proof that in a world of fast moving change, things aren’t changing that much.
The film is Tri-x and the camera my beloved Bronica SQA with what looks like the 50mm wide-angle lens.
It seems that all I do now is slink back to the past, and while that’s not essentially true, there is an element of truth in it.
Yesterday’s post was about a happy accident in the computer where as today it’s about one in camera. Scanning old negs (which I’ve been doing all day) has the benefit of letting one relive times gone by. Scanning is a slow process and therefore there is time for reflection. This picture was shot using a very old German made Beier bellows lens camera from circa 19 – who knows. It’s an odd camera that allows you to choose either a 6×4.5 or a 6×6 negative size, which is sort of funky and forward thinking when you think about it. A minor problem can be that it’s possible to shoot as many frames as you like without winding on the film as the lens and the camera back operate separately and this is what happened here.
The initial picture was shot down around 43rd street in New York, but I have no recollection of who the man in the second shot was, but the composite works.
While the picture was shot using the 6×4.5 option, my scanner has a problem with the odd shape of the exposures from this camera and always wants to crop in weird ways, and modern technology being what it is, it always thinks it knows better.
I think one of the best pictures to come from this painting with light period is this self-portrait, which at the time I pompously titled Self Portrait of an Artist at Home. At this early period in my career I was happily unaware of the trails and tribulations awaiting me, possibly even thinking myself at the peak of my powers, the future of the art world held in abeyance until my arrival.
But life is a cruelly hard teacher of realities, not that I have any regrets, but the naivety of those days forces a wry smile today.
But, it could be just as easily argued that I have yet to do a better self-portrait than the one those days of arrogance produced.
Bronica, 80mm, Kodak Tri-X asa 400. (I think this exposure went on for about 2 minutes)
Anybody who has followed this blog for even a short time will know that I tend to do things in blocks, and at the moment we are in a time capsule that is leading back to the beginning of photography, so naturally topics like what’s better digital or analogue, and the various adherents to small format, medium and large formats, or whatever rocks your boat raise their heads and demand to be heard. I’ve said it before, I don’t really care which format you use, it’s the final picture that matters. However, it does need to be said that there is a difference, when it comes to the print. A very good B&W print is a thing of wondrous beauty that I’ve yet to see emulated by an ink-based printer, despite the best efforts of Epson. But time waits for no person and who knows what technological masterpiece is waiting just over the horizon.
It doesn’t matter, I’m still in nostalgia film mode. This photo was taken during my early uni days with a Hasselblad I had signed out for the day. It was an early introduction to medium format and love at first shot. At the time I could not afford a Hasselblad body+ lenses+ light meter, so I went for the less pretty but almost indestructible Bronica SQA and it’s stayed with me ever since.