Last weekend I was fortunate enough to spend my Sunday hanging out with some genuinely amazing people learning how to use large format (4×5) cameras and talking all things film. The Analogue Laboratory is an artist run community darkroom facility within the heart of the Adelaide CBD. Created and managed by Alex and Aurelia, their passion (and knowledge) for all things analogue is contagious. They run a number of different courses throughout the year depending on what your needs are (large format, darkroom basics, cyanotypes etc). So, why go and play with a large format camera? Well, why not! I’d played with the idea of getting one some time ago but settled for my GW690III for film economy and use in aerials. However being a bit mad on film I really wanted to experiment with one as it’s a significant departure from using roll film (135 or 120). So, doing a course was a no brainer as I don’t study photography or have a friend with a 4×5 camera. The large format course runs all day but has a gentlemanly start time of 10am. Covering a bunch of history and theory behind large format, Alex and Aurelia do a great job of imparting their wisdom before you get to practice loading film. Then a couple street and a couple of studio shots later I had 4 images ready to develop. Queue some tasty lunch! Following a stint in the darkroom developing and eagerly awaiting the results we also tried some New 55 instant 4×5 film (colour and monochrome) with mixed opinions. All in all, I ended up with six pleasing images but more importantly the memory of a very happy day! If you’re interested I can highly recommend the experience.
What’s in my bag you ask? Well thanks to Bellamy Hunt (aka Japan Camera Hunter) you can find out what I like to roll around the streets with right here!
If, after trawling through the ramblings and images I have on this website you still want to know why I shoot film in 2017, head over to Emulsive to find out! It’s a great resource of all things film photography.
Kodak has seen a resurgence in it’s analogue print film (and to an extent it’s motion picture stock) in recent years. However, I didn’t think they would ever re-start Ektachrome (or any E6 stock). Thus, it was wonderful to hear the news from the first day of CES 2017 that Kodak have decided to bring back Ektachrome. Ektachrome E100VS was a favourite of mine until it was discontinued in 2012. I was always disappointed for not shooting more of it. It’s early days and Kodak quote Q4 of 2017 for initial availability. I can’t wait!
I was recently picked for an interview by a great new analogue photography blog called Casual Photophile. Head over to the ‘Featured Photophile’ section and check it out!
With a new Epson V800 scanner beside me, I’m now able to show you my first attempt at Solargraphy (imaging the sun’s path). A few months ago I designed and 3D printed a pinhole camera to fit some Ilford Photo Paper (3.5×5.5in). Having made a couple of unsuccessful trial images (the images were okay but didn’t capture the sun..) I pointed the camera West for a few days to make the image you see here. The process is quite unique in that the paper is not exposed/developed like a traditional print. A negative image is burnt into the paper over time (anything from a day to 6 months). Once retrieved it is then fixed (optional) and scanned to produce a positive result. The really unique aspect of this process is that it also captures the percentage of sunlight seen in a location over a given time. I hope to make a few more images during 2017.
As the title suggests, I’ve made a start on preserving my Dad’s entire film collection. Daunting to most, it’s an absolute must if you wish to retain those family memories. Unfortunately, most peoples film experience was cheap 35mm Kodak Gold and 1hr processing at the local chemist. This means silly 4 frame strips of film and adhesive tape between rolls which, if not removed, can leave a sticky residue. About 80 rolls of film later and some wonderful archiving products from a local Adelaide company Albox, I’ve managed to sleeve everything over the course of 3 or 4 evenings. Far from finished, this has at least saved the negatives which were stored together and allowed me to get a feel for the extent of the project. It’s also re-affirmed the importance of doing this and lack of care taken by old hourly processing labs (finding a good pro lab is a must! I’m lucky to have Atkins Pro Lab around the corner). For the keen eyed, you may notice some single perf film and a 6×6 slide above as well as the 35mm. So whats’ next? Well there’s a box of 6×6 Ektarchrome slides to sort and sleeve and then its time to buy a scanner. This is where the time consuming part really starts! It will take a long time to digitise all of this but, when it done, the smile on my parents (and brothers) faces will be worth every penny.
I often travel with 2-3 cameras and as many lenses. Not a lot by professional standards but it is enough to occasionally get in the way of creativity. This is amplified when using different formats and mediums. For example, I will carry my Nikon Df (digital) plus a Nikon 35mm body (F3/4/5) and if I want some large negatives the Fuji GW690III will also be packed. This means juggling each camera, sometimes for a specific image or simply to record an image on each medium. This is hardly practical when the light is brief, the weather is changing and only one tripod is available. I find the problem is further complicated when using different film speeds between 135/120. The solution is simple, just take one camera. But that’s not always going to work for me. However, there are ways to make things easier. Shooting the same film or same ISO/ASA really helps. Fujifilm Velvia 100 and Acros 100 in a couple of Nikon F3’s with lenses to share would give you everything you need. The GW690III is for special images, leave it in the bag unless you need it. Don’t just take a picture on every format available.
I was recently given this book as a present after eyeing it off for some time. Self published by Robert Shanebrook, a former Kodak employee of 35 plus years, this is a must have resource for those deeply passionate about the analogue way of life. It’s relatively technical and contains many unseen images of the Kodak production facility but leaves a lasting impression as to just how complicated the process of film manufacturing really is.
Well it’s been a while since my last post due to work/travel so here is a bit of an update. We’re now more than halfway through 2016, my year of shooting only black and white film or at least that was my resolution. Have I stayed true to that commitment? Not quite, but when there’s a chance to shoot some Kodak Aerochrome (I actually have some more tucked away!), I couldn’t say no. That aside, I have just finished a roll of Ilford SFX 200 and Kodak 400TX. With a good stock of Tmax 400 and Tri-X 400 in the fridge, I’m happy that I can say 2016 will be ‘mostly’ shot in black an white. It has certainly allowed me concentrate questions like what makes an good image, should I go for contrast or tone and what do I actually want in an image? It’s relatively easy for me to head into the city (Adelaide) and look for some street photos, old buildings, silhouettes and shadows etc. However, my real passion is minimal landscapes and the adventure that goes with them. I’d love to spend every other weekend exploring the Flinders Ranges but that’s probably not going to happen. I’m still making good use of my Nikon F5 and also managed to use one of the Ilford Single Use cameras (HP5+ film through a fixed plastic lens). Not bad if you need something cheap and in a hurry but I’d rather something optically better (like a Nikon 35Ti). The small little camera did fit in my pocket which I will say was refreshing!