It has been a very busy April/May – preparing 75 pieces for North Somerset Artsweek #nsaw2019 – but so worth it!
We have had a great response from visitors to the Clevedon Theatre Shop venue, in terms of numbers, purchases and (more importantly) conversations. Just today and tomorrow to go then time for a rest.
The artists, Eric, Laura and myself.
My work on show – B&W photos taken with the antique camera and large prints taken with the new Fujis. Also one of the wood-sculptures – Starling murmuration (sold).
A successful first lino-cut in a short taster-workshop.
Captured a few images today with the 1900s Hora half-plate camera on X-ray film – scanned and inverted. Just learning what iso this film is – about 50. And learning what speed the Thompson Pickard shutter is actually operating at – 1/125s
It has been a busy few weeks preparing for North Somerset ArtsWeek in May. I am exhibiting at The Theatre Shop, Clevedon BS21 6HX.
#NSAW19 @NSomersetArts northsomersetarts.org
More of this later…..
Meanwhile I wanted to spend some time enjoying the drama that is the North Devon Coastline. No better place than Hartland Quay – and so it proved.
A two night stay at The Hartland Quay Hotel (recommended) gave me the time to view the cliffs and sea in a variety of light and weather conditions.
A mix of paper negatives and x-ray film was used. The X-ray film exposure times have been tricky to work out – I am still experimenting. Anything from 1/125s (using the Thompson Pickard shutter) and 2 seconds have yielded images, but the longer times do seem over-exposed on processing. I have some more work to do on the images and will post later.
Taking the opportunity to stay a few days at Skipton this week, I packed the VW Camper with my “new” 1900s Hora bellows camera and basic dark-room gear and headed into the countryside – enjoying the challenges of photographing in the snow.
With such bright – but high contrast scenes it was always going to be a challenge to get any kind of image on the paper negative. Even with the paper at ISO 6, F45 still only have me a 2 to 4 second shutter speed. So I used the Thornton Pickard shutter with the “time” setting and held it open with an air bulb for a count of up to 4 seconds.
Photographing waterfalls was a similarly challenging exercise – again a high contrast subject. This time the light level was lower allowing for a longer, and hence proportionally more accurate timing of the, exposure.
Here was a good place to compare the two lens types I now have. A wide angle 5inch ? F6.4-22 Apem Asymmetrical and a standard 8 inch F8-45 Beck Symmetrical.
I am very happy with the images from both of these lenses though the wide angle image was over-exposed – only working with a 2 second exposure at f22. I had pre-flashed the paper negatives before setting out on this trip and am happy to report a much improved dynamic range as a result.
I think the images are really atmospheric – they draw you in to explore, to see and discern detail. The hyper-reality, hyper-clarity of many modern digital images leaves no mystery – you see the image and quickly forget it. But an image that you have to work with a bit lingers more in the memory and invites you to fill in the hidden/un-revealed detail. You finish the story of the image – so you have an investment in the image – start to form a relationship with the image- the subject – the photographer.
Another useful tip from an online forum – to reduce the contrast of a photo paper negative, the advice is to “pre-flash” it with a short exposure to an enlarger light. I don’t have an enlarger so have rigged a small desk light with a couple of sheets of tracing paper over the shade and then added a filter holder and for the flashing added a number 9 Ilford magenta filter. Pre-Flashing the paper for 0.5 to 1.0 s seems to have given an improvement in tonality for the images. To test the process, I deliberately chose a high contrast picture – dark soil and white, sun-lit, crocus flower.
First – without flashing
With 5×7 sheet film being expensive, at over £1 a sheet, I have been looking for alternatives. I love the look paper negatives give to some images and so will continue to use paper as “film” for some subjects – particularly those that don’t move …
In searching discussion forums on alternative photographic processes, I came across questions and advice about using x-ray film. Working out at around 10p a sheet this looked almost too good to be true – but it works … and it looks great!
The film is described as being “sensitive to green light” so I wondered if, like photopaper it would render reds as black, but that is not the case. There is quite a good tonal range as the print below shows.