B&W Reversal (DR5)

Something I’ve been meaning to try for years is having black and white film processed by DR5 as reversal film. Well, just in time for what may be there last run for some time or possibly even ever, I was able to get a roll of Kodak Tmax 100 posted across (with some help). The results did not disappoint and needless to say, I wish I had done this sooner. I’ve always been a huge fan of slide film and the colours you get in my earlier photography years (I still am) but I now shoot a lot more black and white stock as I both love the monochrome world and my bank account. So, to see black and white slides for the first time on the light table was absolutely magic! I’m not across the finer points of this development process but the softer (light) images were not as good as those with punchier and higher contrast lighting. I will no doubt be keeping an eye out if DR5 intend to do a development run un the future.

It’s been a minute!

Running a website sounds easy right. Create some content, shoot some images, write some posts… However, life has a habit of getting in the way of many pursuits, not least of all trivial or artistic ones. Truth is, I haven’t found the time to get behind the lens properly for the last 12-18 months. I distinctly remember making some new year’s resolutions last year to shoot more film and find time to explore. Not sure I checked in on that one very well. I’d like to be able to shoot at least one roll of film per month and have between 6-12 images a year that I’m happy/proud of. Let’s see what 2024 brings… It’s not all down though, 2023 has brought me some leafy sea dragon pictures. Nothing magazine or wall hanging worthy but a 9yr goal achieved none the less. I’ve also tried a bit of surf photography with my Nikonos V and was absolutely hooked. Maybe it’s the simplicity of floating in the surf with a small simple, bulletproof camera coupled with the anticipation of being wiped out by the next big wave. Whatever is, it made me feel connected, alive, happy and a long way from being a 9-5 desk supervisor and email hoarder. Hopefully I’ll find the time to do more of this and shoot some Velvia in the process. Actually, speaking of Velvia, and Ektachrome, what the $%&# is with film prices in 2023!!! $60 for a roll of Ektachrome, and Veliva is no where to be found. If there’s one thing I do know about the future, it’s that I’ll be shooting a lot more black & white. Which is sad… seeing those rich chrome colours on a light table is why I started all this.

Grey skies and red seas

My First Camera

Everyone remembers their first! This was mine. A little red and black plastic film camera with a fixed 38mm lens and a built-in flash. A PC-500 made by the Premier Camera company in Taiwan. I can’t remember exactly when I was given it, but I do remember using it for a few years before I dropped and broke it on a family trip to Uluru in 1996. Unfortunately it was thrown out at the time so the only evidence I had of it years later was a single photo of that trip that Dad took on his Nikon F3. It was quite hard to distinguish what the camera actually was from that image but a bit of research and scrolling through the internet paid off. Fortunately, I have been able to find a couple of them through OZ Camera. So now that I have a childhood memory back again, I’ll endeavor to put some pro film through them and see what happens…

Another year gone!

With 10 years of this little website and the analogue adventures that have followed it now behind me as the sun sets on 2021, what does the future hold? Well, each year I usually have the modest goals of selling a few more prints, doing more underwater photography, coming up with a better business plan and capturing at least 12 great images in the months ahead (I’ll typically settle for 6). But will 2022 be any different? I hope so, fortune favours the brave right? I’m certainly committed as ever to finding a leafy sea dragon (and a weedy one!) in the seagrass off the South Australian coast. I’ve been living in Adelaide now for 8 years and am all out of excuses. I’d also like to give Scuba diving ago. Surprisingly its one of the few adventurous pursuits that I haven’t had a crack at (mostly because I prefer the simplicity of snorkeling and free diving and am typically time poor). But most of all I’m just dead keen to get out in the great outdoors and experience more moments with or without my camera(s). Whether its hot, cold, sandy or stormy, there’s little that beats living in the moment and sucking in that fresh/salty/night air. If I can combine that with making some art then hey, I reckon I’ll be content. So here’s to 2022 and the adventures that follow…

Film or digital…?

Like vinyl vs MP3, valves vs transistors, AM vs FM, the great debate between film and digital still occupies photography threads, blogs and podcasts around the world. So, is one really better than the other? Does it even matter? Do we actually care anymore? Well, it all depends… It depends on your style and subject. It depends on the story you want to tell. It may also depend on your budget or the process that you enjoy most. For me, I’m a film guy so there is nothing that beats the process of analog photography. But it’s 2021, is film still a relevant medium? ABSOLUTELY!

Don’t get me wrong, digital is reliable, versatile, technically brilliant and gives you instant feedback. Whereas film can be difficult, frustrating and expensive. But when you get it right, there is little that compares. Whether it’s the classic grains of Tri-X or the velvety tones of Fuji Velvia (sadly I’m not old enough for Kodachrome), I’ve never been able to get the same look on digital. There’s an artistic quality present in those images that is in my opinion, still unsurpassed. But that’s what a good image should do right? It should make you feel something. It shouldn’t matter how it’s made or what it’s made from, just what it does for you. And film does it for me.

Most photographers will say that using film forces you to slow down. They’re right and that’s not a bad thing. When I started out in film proper (circa 2009), I experimented a little but was ultra conservative often only using 1-2 frames per shoot. A 35mm roll developed and scanned was expensive back then (and still is). Then I got into medium format (645) and things really slowed down! But my photography and what I was learning went up dramatically. I suddenly found myself wedded to my Pentax 645NII, its grid focusing screen and the ultra-wide manual focus 35mm f3.5 lens. A fantastic combination for any landscape or urban tog. It taught me a lot. These days I’ll often have both film and digital with me but for different reasons. I use my Nikon Df (or iPhone…) to capture moments, documents things, experiment and sometimes meter with. Film however, that’s special. If I’m exposing silver halide crystals then I’m usually making an image that I’ve pre-visualised or want to add to my gallery. It’s a distinctly different feeling and process.

I also just love the cameras more. They are highly tactile and often come with quirks because of mechanical limitations or materials of the time. They had character, or as Jeremy Clarkson would say, they got soul! But film can also be the great leveler. Take the single digit Nikon F series. Incredible cameras each and every one of them. But it doesn’t matter which one you’re crouching behind a wall with or crawling through the jungle. What mattered was the film running through it. For me, all this adds up to a more connected and involved process. Not just the act of processing of film but the entire process of making images on film, from loading the camera though to scanning or printing. Film may not make the most sense commercially. In fact, unless you’re doing high-end fine art or have a really niche photography genre that is earning you a living then it definitely doesn’t make a lot of sense at all. But if you’re out there to make some art and enjoy the process along the way then absolutely go and shoot some film (and maybe skip the soy skim lattes to afford for it). And if you’re still not convinced, have a look at the most iconic images in photographic history. Think about how they make you feel, then look at what they were captured with.

Pre-production Nikon F3 Plates

I’ve been lucky enough to do a small run (lets optimistically call it a pre-production test) of some Nikon F3 camera plates, aka the ‘Nikovit’. I designed it a few years ago and had a couple of prototypes made as a favour. Needless to say they have lived on my F3’s ever since but I have long wanted to make a few tweaks (1/4″ accessory thread) and see if they could be made in larger quantities – why should I be the only one to enjoy this? Making something locally is not always easy or the cheapest way of doing things (the big tripod companies didn’t want to pick this up). Fortunately there are loads of specialist machining and manufacturing businesses in Adelaide. While pottering on some other projects at Sane Makerspace, I came across Singh Engineering. A few conversations and 3D model versions later, four more CP-F3 plates were a reality! They have been anodised black to match by another local company and now come with felt circles in the spare battery compartments (without which spare batteries can short). Needless to say I’m quite pleased with the result. But, is it economical… Well with only four made I’m not making any money. Even at $195 AUD (includes free postage) I’m barely breaking even. However, it has proven what can be done locally at about the cheapest rates I can find. So, hopefully this sparks some interest as I would like to have more made in the future but would need to do a run of at least 10 to make it worth it. So, if you are interested please get in touch (email or Instagram). I have three left to sell so don’t wait around for your friends to buy them.

Photography Podcasts

I’ve never really taken to podcasts or talkback radio as I have always preferred to listen to music. That is, until now! As I found myself getting back into photography, I stumbled across the unused podcast app on my iPhone and started listening to Light Minded by Christian Fletcher & Carwyn. Being a Perth boy it was quite refreshing to hear Christian talking about the South West of WA as I have always been a big fan of his work and that part of the world. Their unscripted/unplanned format, impressive guest list and endless humour make it a really easy but engaging podcast to listen to. I have learnt a lot in only a few weeks. Its also been much needed after taking time off from the craft. The other podcast I have been avidly working my way through is the Atkins Labcast, my local pro-lab here in Adelaide. I love these guys and really can’t say enough good things about them. I could listen to Paul for hours talking about photography, boats, land rovers… And of course Kate just rolls in like a storm of wit, humour and blunt applaud to create a perfect balance. So, get streaming!

Benro PP1 and Quad Lock

When travelling somewhere to create a particular landscape image, it’s often nice to capture a few moments on the side. Usually just back of the film camera/viewfinder snaps with my iPhone. However, I’ve only got one large tripod for serious work and lugging two of them around brings its own challenges. I’d been looking for a small travel tripod for a while and eventually stumbled upon the Benro PP1 as a small and fairly inconspicuous pocket pod. I bit the bullet and grabbed one and I’m certainly glad I did! While it has little to do with my film work, I can now set this up on the side and grab a time-lapse or video. Or if I’m desperate and need a slow shutter speed for one of my smaller cameras it can do that without too much hassle either. Heck, it can also hold a flash or video light if you really need it to. There’s a lot of little travel pods out there on the market but I have to say, for price and build this one stands out for me. Coupled with the Quad Lock photo attachment, it’s a great little combination that now lives in the front of my camera bag!

That Wanaka Tree

Looking at the date of my last post it’s been far too long since I’ve been on here! So much for a busy life… I’ve not long come back from a quick trip to the South Island of New Zealand, a place I could easily disappear to for a few weeks every year. It is also the first bit of film photography that I’ve done in a while and some of my images show it. The last time I was in New Zealand (2005 and 2012) was before Instagram started making places famous so I’d never actually seen that Wanaka tree. I was keen to change that but also expected it to be packed. In fact most of the tourist spots were busier and far more developed than I had remembered them to be. It didn’t disappoint, even if some of the tourists did. It’s a beautiful tree and an incredibly peaceful setting by the lake. If you’re keen to get up before the sun, you’ll have the place mostly to yourself. The same goes for getting off the beaten track (or the paved roads), there are many spots to avoid the crowds and most are worth the effort. Weather hampered some of my photographic endeavours so I have no doubt I’ll be back. Fortunately I still love Ferg!

The Paper Gallery

After a long time thinking about it, I’ve finally added a new gallery to the website, ‘The Paper Gallery’. Helped along by my recent dabbling’s with making Cyanotypes, this is where I can put everything analogue that doesn’t quite fit into the standard film group. Everything from prints and Polaroids to Cyanotypes, Solargraphs and maybe even Tin Types if I get the chance!