The (Not) lockdown photos

I don’t think I am alone in this feeling, but when the lockdown started to come into play, I lost my photography mojo. I had grand plans to shoot still life, macro and make some zines, but what transpired was actually my mind was all over the place and photography was right at the back.

For me photography has always been my escape, my time to myself to gather my thoughts.

I made a throwaway comment on Twitter about not having photographed anything for a while and Paul from Analogue Wonderland ( www.analoguewonderland.co.uk) asked if I would be up for a challenge. Coming from the Marty McFly school of don’t call me chicken I said yes. BTW to be clear this is not a sponsored or paid for blog.

About a week later I received the following package from Paul.

An empty simple use Lomo camera, a roll of Kodak Ultramax and an “anti-lockdown” challenge not to shoot empty street, people in masks closed shops etc. It suddenly dawned on me that this could be very difficult, you see I am on what is known as the NHS vulnerable list so the advice for me was to not even leave the house for 3 months. But I had accepted the challenge and was determined to give it a go

Before I get to the images, my thought process was to shoot everyday normal things as if life was going on without any differences. The normal mundane day to day things we do. After the images I will tell you how I felt seeing them. One extra point, I shot most of the frames late April and through May. In May going stir crazy I did start taking the dog for early morning walks when no one was around, I just could not sit anymore.

Looking at the images, I failed the brief, that’s OK though. It really is representative of what lockdown has been like. Both the light and the dark images are quite reflective. The one that really sums it up for me was taken through our kitchen skylight. This is lockdown

Cameras on camera

I recently purchased a desktop light tent, light box thingy. You know a box you can put on your tabletop, it has various back ground colours and led lighting so you can take product and other photos. I have a few indoor projects in mind for it.

I figured before starting any projects I should probably practice to see how images come out and what pitfalls there are. So I thought I would start by taking some photos of my film cameras.

I originally planned to take these on film but I started with my digital camera (Fuji X-T1 with a zoom lens )to get an idea of the settings and look. It quickly became apparent to me I would need to think more about how to use this when using film. Thus this whole set is shot on digital with some post processing

Before sharing the images the main things I will need to consider for using film are white balance (although can adjust a bit in post). What camera and lens to use to get the right framing that works and with the required focussing distance. Anyway this was just for practise and fun so please enjoy my film cameras on camera

Olympus OM1n

Olympus OM2n

Nikon 35Ti

Hasselblad 2000fcw

Fuji GF670

and a couple of randoms on the black background but ran out of time at this stage

6×6 lunchtime photochallenge

Earlier in January I had some time over one lunchtime where I knew I would be able to get out and about with my camera. During the week lunchtimes are the best time for me to get some photography under my belt. The one downside of this is that I know my area well so it can become a bit monotonous. So I thought I should shake things up a bit and make it more interesting for me. I asked my followers on Twitter to suggest some photography themes for my lunchtime walk. As always they did not disappoint and there were many good suggestions. I decided then that I would pick 6 themes and try and do 6 shots on each theme.

These are the following themes I choose:

– Shadows suggested by Parminder Matharu (@psmatharu81)

– Lines suggested by Jason Avery (@_JasonAvery)

– Sandwiches suggested by Duncan (@silverpanlab)

– Impermanent suggested by Duncan Waldron (@ozalba)

– Glass suggested by Duncan Waldron (@ozalba)

– People on phones suggested by Matthew (@Twinlensreflux)

I loaded my Olympus OM1n with a roll of Ferrania P30 and headed out. I had no real planned route and thought I would see how it went. I was also careful not to try and shoot all of one theme and then all of another in a sequence but just be sure I got them all over the time. I had fun doing it and it was great to be challenged and think outside of my normal safe photography. I struggled with sandwiches and eventually had to throw in the towel with that one. The results were not important to me, this whole exercise was about trying to interpret themes and along the way it also taught me that maybe I take them to literally and I need to think more conceptually. Anyway enough words here are the results. Btw I needed more than one lunchtime to finish the roll, a combination of the sandwich theme and failing light meant I had to go out for a second time.

Shadows



Lines

Sandwiches

Impermanent

Glass

People on Phones

The Hoff – Rolls 17 and 18. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

So two more rolls for The Hoff to share with you.

The first roll for this write up (roll 17) was Ilford HP5 Plus. This roll sat in The Hoff for nearly 8 week’s before completing it. I decided to rate it at 320. I like HP5 pushed but when shooting ‘normally’ I tend to prefer it rated at 320. For the few shots where I also used an orange filter I adjusted the exposure to 200 to compensate.

So why did the roll take so long. Partly it was the same reasons that affect us all. Finding the time, everyday stuff taking precedent and not having the opportunities to shoot. I also think however that I went through a bit of a phase of ‘is The Hoff the right camera for me’ as I found myself taking out my Olympus OM cameras with me. To explain, when I had the opportunities to go out shooting, I picked the lighter, faster and no requirement for a light meter camera. During this period I also contemplated if medium format film really was for me and should I stick to 35mm. This roll really became my wall I needed to breakthrough. I did eventually by forcing myself to take the camera with me one lunchtime at work to finish the roll with the view that if I didn’t feel it then I would need to make an honest decision about keeping the camera. I enjoyed it again and that was helped by the fact external non-photography reasons were falling away. I also reminded myself that this was a possible lifetime camera, there was no rush or pressure to shoot it regularly or indeed always take it with me as I have other cameras that may be more appropriate for the day’s shooting I was planning. I broke through the wall and The Hoff remains.

Here are a few images from that roll. Some scans adjusted in Snapseed.

By now you may be wondering why I have Christmas in the title well let’s move on to roll 18. We were taking the kids to see the Christmas lights in London and I happened to have a roll of Cinestill 800T in 120 so I figured why not load The Hoff and take it with me. I really like the Cinestill film, the 50D is also fantastic. I prefer to rate it at 500 (based on the Kodak Vision 500T) that is derived from. For those of you familiar with London, or any city centre for that matter, at night with street lights, shop lights and car lights, trying to meter to get the Christmas lights right is no mean feat. So to be honest I didn’t even try. I went with my gut, set the camera to wide open (2.8) and slow shutter 1/60. This was based on experience shooting Cinestill at night previously, trying to capture specific lit areas of the frame.

See what you think, scans adjusted in Snapseed

The Hoff – Rolls 15 & 16 AmeriCARna

A quick note for those reading for the first time. The Hoff is my Hasselblad 2000fcw and this series is documenting how I am getting on learning to use this camera by shooting 52 rolls through it.

Every year for the last three years a town near me, Horsham , has held an American car festival combined with US street food and music acts. It is a fun day out and has got bigger each year. I take my camera with me each time and this year was the turn of The Hoff. Unfortunately the weather was not great this year with lots of rain forecast. I had initially wanted to take black & white film as the other two times I took colour. Going through my 120 film stash I realised I had run out of my favourite Ilford HP5 which I wanted to take but shoot at 800. The other B&W films I have in 120 are a bit more specialist i.e. Washi S 50iso.

Thus I picked one of my favourite colour negative stocks, Portra 800. I love the colours from this film. It is expensive but as it is C-41 development I can justify the cost. It is also very adaptable and I prefer to shoot it rated at 400iso. You may now ask why don’t I just buy Portra 400? The answer is, because I find it too orange/warm. Portra is designed for Portraits which is why I guess it has that warmer feel for the skin tones. Portra 800, to my eye, is much truer to actual colours. Also a side note here for the film manufacturing industry, not every one is light skinned the warming does not work for all skin colours.

So off I ventured into the rain. I set my meter ( Gossen Digisix 2) to 400 iso. As per my previous post the meter is new to me and I am finding it easy to use and very accurate.

The next thing that I will remark on is something that will be obvious to seasoned photographers but has taken me a while to get my head round. When metering, for example through my Olympus OM1n, I would get the needle in the right place and take the shot. What I really wasn’t thinking enough about was adjusting either the speed or aperture from this starting point to get the look I wanted. The new meter is helping me think more the final look I want and not just be driven by the original meter reading.

Out I went with The Hoff into the rain to take some photos. The camera got wet, but it didn’t bother me too much. So now I have bored you all with words, here are some of the images. All Porta 800 rated at 400 iso some scans adjusted using Snapseed.

The Hoff – Roll 14 a day out with Ashley

So I finally got round to shooting The Hoff again. I purposely did not take it on holiday with me as where I went I was travelling light and the temperature averaged 34C most days and I didn’t want to subject myself and the camera to that. Also it was a holiday not a photography trip.

I was excited for the day’s shoot for three reasons:

  1. I was trying out a favourite film of mine Kodak Vision 3 50D. I had never tried it in 120 format before, you can normally only get it in 35mm. This is a cinema film stock and has a covering known as remjet. Thus it needs to be processed by labs that know how to handle it. If sent to a ‘normal’ lab the remjet could foul up their machines. The other reason I sent it to a specialist lab ( SilverPan Film Lab in the UK) is to have it processed in its native chemicals ECN-2. You can get this film with the remjet already removed and thus processed in a ‘normal’ lab in standard C-41 chemicals and that is CineStill 50D 35mm, which is lovely.
  2. I finally invested in a dedicated light meter. A Gossen Digisix2. Previously I had been using a light meter app on my phone. The phone app was relatively reliable, but it started to become a hassle to use having to take my phone out before each shot, unlock it, open up the app and then meter the scene. Also the phone app only gave one reading ie not settings across all the different speeds or apertures. Never having had to pay attention to metering before (my OM’s are through the lens meters) I had to do a bit of reading on the differences between incident and reflective metering. It will take me a while to judge when to use which one.
  3. The main reason I was excited was that I was getting to meet my friend Ashley (@Grumpyfck on Twitter). Ashley is a fantastic photographer and loves his old cameras and black and white films and great guy too.

So it will come as no surprise to anyone who knows us that we met up in a pub in Covent Garden. A couple of beers later we figured we should actually make an effort and go out to take some photographs. I loaded up my film in the pub, obviously I started to load it the wrong way round and then struggled to get the back on to the camera body, much to Ashley’s amusement.

Covent Garden was very busy so finding space to shoot was not easy. This was my first shot using the new light meter.

We decided to head towards the river as it would have been less crowded and there would be more light. We walked along Waterloo Bridge up to the National Theatre, there may have been another stop in a pub en route….

We walked back across the bridge towards Somerset House.

Whilst this may seem like a short walk this took us most of the afternoon as we were strolling, talking and taking photos. It was also thirsty work, so we may have stopped in another pub after Somerset House.

Overall I am pleased with this roll shot through The Hoff. The light meter was easy to use, the film has given me the colour palate I had hoped for and I had a great afternoon out. It was a pleasant change from the last few rolls of misadventure to get back on track.

The Hoff – Rolls 9,10,11,12 and 13

It’s been a while since I updated on my on going adventures with The Hoff. Life got very busy. This update is actually from when I took The Hoff to Scotland back in April.

I shot five rolls of film in my time there. Expired Fujifilm Neopan 400, Expired Fujifilm Pro 400H, expired Fujifilm Provia 400X, Fujifilm Velvia 50 and Fujifilm Acros 100.

I started with the Neopan and shot it on a day out Culzean Castle. I knew the film was a bit of a risk as I had no idea of it previous storage. I had the odd frame that came out (see below), but most of the rest the film was pretty damaged from poor storage.

I next went with the Provia 400X and took a walk along Ayr Beach. I had a CPL on the lens so set the meter on my iPhone app to 320 to compensate. Unfortunately something went very wrong. Everything was totally underexposed. (Pic sent by my lab). The big white square exposure is that thing where if you don’t set the shutter speed quite right. The lines are just from the poor compression of the photo.

This is where things really started to go horribly wrong and completely down to my error. I next loaded up the Velvia. These are the results

White square again, where I hadn’t selected the shutter speed accurately. The rest, can you guess what happened? Yep, my meter was still set to 320. Anyway blissfully ignorant I then loaded the Acros 100 with and orange filter on the lens. Do you think at this point I adjusted the meter.

No I had continued my error. The negatives were very underexposed and only a ton of post processing has even managed to get the pretty poor image you see above.

Again blissfully unaware of my errors, I loaded the Pro400H. I know what you are thinking, the meter was right again, even though it was by chance. You are correct, however we now circle back to the beginning and how I started with the Neopan. The film had been badly stored so most of the images were spoilt. The below is my favourite where I asked my daughter to pose, but I purposely added in some camera movement and her moving as a bit of an experiment.

Thus as you can see I terms of photography the visit was a bit of a bust. Most of it user error, rushing and not be patient or detailed on my part. The expired film being ‘bad’ is just one of those things you need to accept if you are going to shoot it.

I haven’t shot with The Hoff since, only because of time not because I am put off. Let’s see if I can remove the user error next time. One thing I have done is purchased a dedicated light meter (Gossen Digisix 2) as it is more user friendly than the phone, now I just have to remember to change the settings when I change the film.

Ooh Wheels- Kodak E100 Ektachrome

A few weeks back a town near us had an Italian festival and part of that (aside from the food and drink) there would be a display of Italian supercars and other car nationalities too. The weather was to be good, so I figured what a great opportunity to finally try a couple of rolls of the new Kodak E100, Ektachrome slide film.

This is not designed to be a film review and I have posted warts and all shots, but I thought it would be interesting for me and hopefully you to talk through my thoughts during the day shooting these cars.

Thus setting out the easiest decision was which camera. My OM1 was still halfway through a roll of Ilford HP5, so I took my relatively new to me Olympus OM2n. I did not want to carry a lot and I like simplicity thus I only took one extra lens. In the past shooting cars I had good success with the 50mm lens so obviously that wasn’t the one I picked. No, I decided to take the 28mm which I knew deep down in my soul would be too wide for crowded places and also my 100mm as you can get a different point of view with it. I regretted not swapping the 28 for the 50 for most of the day.

I started with the 28 on the camera and I don’t know about you, but it takes me a few shots to get warmed up. I think this is for two reasons, one being that it takes me a few shots to get into the swing of what I am shooting, almost practice shots. Even though I have no screen on the camera you get a sense pretty quickly what works and what doesn’t. Secondly, being there on my own amongst crowds I also feel a bit self conscious walking round taking shots like I’m some kind of photographer and feel (for no reason at all) that I’m being looked at by those with their phone cameras having fun with a ‘who does he think he is David Bailey.’

Quick note. All shots were at box speed, with a circular polarising filter on the camera. Some have been tweaked in Snapseed ( the ones I liked) the rest as per the scan. Oh yes, importantly all developed in E6 #SayNoToXpro chemistry.

So here are the first practice shots, as you will see I really had no idea yet what I wanted to capture.

Pretty boring eh, like I said test shots. I was also struggling with crowds at this point so I put the 100mm lens on to try something different.

That all felt better, I was starting to warm up and at this point it’s normally where I slip back into rushing again because I was excited and getting in the mode.

Aaaaaaaaand I was right, I started thinking more about the lens I was using rather than the image. More meh shots ensued.

I call this next set, ‘standing in a crowd waiting for the event to start and as I have a camera in my hand I should take a shot’. I should have shown patience instead.

After giving myself a telling off, I reminded myself that car details can be interesting.

‘Ooh wheels’. Not sure why I thought it would work as I have taken these shots before and was never really inspired by them.

‘Oh look you can see the engines.’ To be fair to myself, better composed and focused these could have been ok.

Again gave myself a bit of a talking too and then tried again with a lovely Porsche

‘Obligatory side shot’

‘Back in the swing of things and concentrating’

Then I tried to get a shot representing Porsche past and present, one close focus, one further. These haven’t really worked but it was worth a try. More patience and thought as well as considered lens choice next time.

‘Ooh wheels.’ FFS man what are you doing

After a short pulling myself together session, I tried concentrating again

Better and then…… ‘ooh wheels’. Dude!!

Concentrate again

‘Ooh Wheels.’ What is wrong with me (answers on a postcard, not in the comments)

Concentrates again

I tried a couple more through the windows shots but they didn’t really work

and a couple of more lined up shots that are OK

It then got to that point in the day when it was time for a drink before heading home. It was then the curse of 36 exposures struck. I was on my second roll and there were about 6 exposures left. So what else was a boy to do but

Dog

Wine

Pigeon

Dog

Flowers

So what is the point/learning of this post.

Well firstly, I am very impressed with the new Kodak E100. I still need to learn to pick my moments better and not get caught up in the excitement. For a while now I have been at peace with the fact I should not expect 36 ‘winners’. Experimenting is fine and good, trying new compositions is important as long as you learn from them. To stop wasting the last few frames on a roll of 36, I mean a Pigeon!! Mainly and overall STOP TAKING PICTURES OF WHEELS.

The Hoff – Rolls 7 & 8 Come Fly with Me

Here is the latest instalment on my continuing progress learning to use my Hasselblad 2000fcw (“The Hoff”)

For this update I shot a roll of Rollei RPX 400 and a roll of Portra 800. I was visiting a museum close to me, The Gatwick Aviation Museum. I had not visited before.

First thing you might notice is yes I have a second A12 back that I purchased. One of the advantages of a system like this is that I can now switch between films. This one came with a plastic bit stuck on the back which is frankly a bit ugly but it has a slot to hold the dark slide which is very handy.

A couple of updates from last time:

  • The lens hood I purchased, which did not fit, was apparently for older lenses so I need to be a bit mindful buying my next one.
  • When I first purchased The Hoff I expected to want a Prism Finder and I got to try one. I actually found it too heavy and cumbersome compared to the waist level view so for now that idea is parked
  • The screen going dark when I wound the shutter crank is apparently because of some kind of depth of field view and I need to change a switch on the lens. I have yet to try this, but will give it a go.

So what have I learnt this time:

Firstly to make sure when I set the shutter speed, it clicks in place. If you shoot and it has not quite clicked, the shutter locks and you will not be able to get another picture until you click it correctly onto the setting. You end up with something like this

Second thing I have learnt is that having two backs, to remember what film I have loaded. I had the Portra 800 back loaded, but realised, luckily in time that I had the orange filter on the lens, thus removed it. I had however forgotten that on my lighter meter I has set it to compensate for the filter (1 stop) and I was already planning to shoot the Portra rated at 400.

I think the third and main thing was in regard to focal length. I have the 80mm lens which I believe is roughly equivalent to 50mm in 35mm. A lot of the museum was indoors and quite close quarters. Thus a wider lens might have worked better in some instances. I was thinking about this afterwards. My initial thought was do I need to buy a wider lens. But on reflection I feel this was the wrong way to think of things. The answer should not be what am I missing and need to buy, but more what do I have that is most suitable. This was a visit that I would have been better taking my Olympus OM1n camera with the various lenses I have for it. It would have been much more practical. Thought and preparation before going out should have been better by me.

Anyway enough waffling. Here are some of the images. There was an issue with the backing paper on the Rollei film, hence the look of it. I am pretty meh about these images, but that’s OK as I have learned more again for my continuing journey with The Hoff and that sometimes The Hoff should stay at home.

The Hoff – Rolls 5&6 oh man not again

My continuing journey in learning the ways of my Hasselblad 200fcw.

This update, as the sun was out, I thought I would try a couple of rolls of slide film in The Hoff. Those of you that know me well know I am a big fan of slide film for colour work.

I thought as it was a special occasion, for my first slide films in The Hoff I would go for two special films. Fujifilm Provia 400X a sadly discontinued but absolutely fabulous film in 120 format (for some reason I’m not such a fan of it in 35mm) and a roll from 1995 of Kodak Ektachrome 200 that I knew had been well stored from new.

I loaded the Provia 400X first and spent two lunchtimes walking around the City of London taking what I consider the best 12 images I had ever composed. When I finished the roll I unloaded it and…….

I’D ONLY BLOODY GONE AND DONE IT AGAIN. I HAD LOADED IT BACKWARDS!!

But still best 12 images ever and no one can prove me wrong.

Note: I plan to rescue this roll by re-rolling it back in dark bag, Provia 400X is too good to waste.

You may recall from a previous update I said I should get a lens hood. I found one on eBay for a really good price as it had a small dent and some scratches which didn’t bother me

I looked up that it was for an 80mm lens and it arrived nice and quickly. I took the camera out to put the lens hood on and…..

IT DIDN’T BLOODY FIT, WHAT IS THAT ALL ABOUT!!

Note: I haven’t had time to research into this yet, but will hopefully let you know in the next update what I did wrong.

Anyway I am not one to dwell on failure and like to get up and start again. So I loaded the roll of Kodak Ektachrome 200.

A little side note I like to use a polarising filter when shooting slide film. Not for every shot but it can really make the colours pop. Try Velvia 50 with a polarising filter and E6 process and you will see what I mean.

The very nice man who sold me this camera (Hi Mike) gave me the B60-67mm adapter so I could use 67mm filters on The Hoff.

So out I ventured again and guess what

I LOADED IT THE RIGHT WAY AROUND THIS TIME!!

So excited was I a put another roll of Fujifilm Provia 400X in and went out again.

Thus before sharing some images with you there are two more things I wanted to mention.

Aside from the mishaps is there anything else I have learnt about The Hoff this time. Well actually there is. Don’t wind the shutter crank on until you are ready to press the shutter. Basically compose your image fully first as once you wind the crank and the shutter is ready, the view through the viewfinder is much much darker so it is much more difficult to compose. This was a change in process for me compared to how I shoot my 35mm camera.

Secondly, I purchased a 2nd A12 back so now I can shot two different types of film at the same location.

Enough from me now, here are a few images from both the Kodak and Fuji rolls