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.
With the sun out and the roads passable, I ventured up onto the top of the Mendip Hills with the Thornton Pickard and some film cartridges loaded with Photopaper as paper-negatives. I also loaded the VW Campervan with the darkroom chemicals, trays and red-light so I could process on site to check exposure. This proved vital as the first set of images – though at maximum aperture of F8 were still underexposed with the shutter operating at 1/30s and the paper’s ISO equivalent of 6.
So I went to the other end of the F scale – 64. this gave an exposure time of 4s – long enough to cover minor discrepancies in my manual timing. These shots were much better exposed, though the paper negatives – having been loaded in the not-so-light-tight van were a bit fogged in places.
I am pleased with the results – here are scans of the contact prints made from the paper negatives. Some images show a curved shadow at the bottom – a problem with the bellows sagging caused this. I lifted the lens mount and this reduced the problem. Really I need to fit new bellows – but as the rest of the camera is a bit worn it wouldn’t make economic sense compared to buying another in better condition.
On the frosty Mendip Hills this morning, I used the vintage Thornton Pickard camera to take some silhouette images of trees. Building on yesterday’s success with metering I managed 6 good exposures, despite the camera’s challenges including:
Lens aperture adjustment seizing in the cold
Shutter cord getting trapped during exposure.
Images below are scans of the original paper negatives and photoshop’s rendition of the positive of the scans. Tomorrow I will do some contact prints.