A lighthouse in London, you say!

At work we run a little photography club where a group of us get together and after work go on a walk with our cameras.  Generally it’s a nice slow paced stroll where we learn from each other in what we are trying to shoot but mainly we get to shoot with out friends and family rolling their eyes and telling us to hurry up.

I thought I would share with you the walk from the other week.  The plan was to go to an area in East London known as Trinity Wharf, the draw being that the wharf has London’s only Lighthouse.

The Wharf itself is now an arts centre with lots of street art, sculpture as well as space with working artists.  The lighthouse itself I believe is no longer in use, but was originally used to test lighthouse equipment and also train lighthouse keepers.

I will now take you on the walk with pictures and commentary. All the pictures were taking using an Olympus OM1n, 28mm Zuiko lens and loaded with Fuji Press 800 film, a film I had not tried before.

I took 800 film as all our walks take place in the evening and I wanted to be prepared for the fading light.

We meet at East India Dock station.  This station is on the Dockland Light Railway and is in the East of London, near the north bank of the river Thames.  We walked along the Thames path heading east.

The first view was the O2.  This is an entertainment, concert and sports venue.  It was originally built as the Millennium Dome as part of London’s millennium celebrations.  It was not very well received by many at the time and was known as a bit of a white elephant but architecturally it is impressive.   However over the last few years as the O2 it has become recognised as one of London’s best known entertainment venues.

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The line and dots you see in the third picture above is the cable car crossing linking the north bank with the O2 which is south of the river, but more on that later.

From here we continued along the Thames past some derelict warehouses and across the East India Dock Basin.

The train you see in the third picture below is the Dockland Light Railway I mentioned above

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As mentioned previously the area has a lot of street art and sculptures below are a couple of examples.  Yes that is a tree in a London taxi.

R1-05851-017AR1-05851-020AR1-05851-023AFrom here we headed into Trinity Wharf to see the Lighthouse. Unfortunately we were a bit late (it was around 7:15pm) and the Wharf gates were closing so although we walked in the security guard quickly stopped us and explained we had to leave as otherwise we would not be able to get out again.

A little nod to this guard, he was extremely polite, gave us the normal opening hours, a leaflet guide and told us who to contact for photography tours.  Thus I only managed a snatched picture of said lighthouse,oh well.

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Thus we turned back and headed towards and through Canning Town.   A little note about this area for context.  Canning Town was built up in and around the old working docks of the Thames and the sugar refineries.  It was always known for its its working class roots as well as an area where poverty was prevalent.  There is a lot of regeneration happening here now.  You will be told there are lots of improved housing for the local community but all I could see were flats being built at around £500k for a one or two bedroom apartment for people who work nearby in Canary Wharf or City of London along with the generic coffee shops such is the way of London now.  The pictures below show some of the new flats as well as the regenerated station and surrounding area. As you can see it is still a work in progress.

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Now remember the cable cars I mentioned earlier, well we decided that would be the next stop.  The light was fading fast so we had to rush but I think we caught it in time.

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I hope you enjoyed our little walk.

Film on Film

A slight change to the normal blogs.  This one is a bit of fun (for me at least).   With 35mm invariably being 36expsoures it can sometimes be a bit of a struggle to finish the film.   OK, OK let’s be honest I can sometimes be in a real hurry to finish films.  Thus when I remember, I quite often like to take a picture of the film box or roll that I am shooting.  I jokingly convince myself it’s because it helps me find thus file the negatives correctly as I can see the film.

I am not trying to prove anything here or use it for any scientific purposes.  There is no methodology or consistency, it’s just a bit of fun.

Thus here are the first set of film taken with the very same film.  I hope you find it interesting.

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The Sound of Brighton

If you follow this blog you may have seen my previous blog, The Sound of London.

This is where I shot a roll of Washi S one bright winter’s lunchtime.  As a recap this is an ISO 50 film that is used normally for sound recording.  I got surprisingly good results from that roll.  My plan was to try it in different locations and ‘record’ the sound of that city.  The film is a super high contrast film with pure blacks & whites and not too much in between

I used the same set-up i.e. my Olympus OM1n with an orange filter on the lens and based on the last set of results metered the same which was through the OM’s meter and pretty much as registered.

A quick note, I share this, as I get most of my film knowledge from those who put information out there and sharing information helps us all. Thus I hope this and my previous post helps those that want to shoot this film.

This post is based on the lab scans and at time of writing I haven’t seen the negatives yet, however I have no doubt the lab scans are accurate.

So how did I get on………really not good at all.  Looking through the images, it was very bright day, compared to the previous roll, the sun was much more exposed and the one thing I didn’t really account for was also that the water reflects the sun light.  So what did that give me for some shots, here you go, you may need sunglasses.

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As you can see totally blown and bright white spaces.  No amounting of editing is going to rescue these.

It was the same in the actual town. So did I get anything I liked. Actually yes, but I have to be honest these are very much personal taste, they are not technically good but this film is not about technical perfection.  That said I present to you The Sound of Brighton warts and all.

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Matt Parry made me do it

Those of you that follow me on Twitter (@givemeabiscuit) will know I own a Holga 120n camera.  You will then also know I hold no love for this camera and that is an understatement.

You may also know I really enjoy shooting slide film and that I personally only like slide film processed in E6 chemicals AS IT’S MEANT TO BE.

I am not a fan of having slide film cross processed in C41 chemicals.  To set the record straight here I have nothing against those that cross process it and who enjoy the unpredictable colour shifts they get from it.  I will jokingly tease them for it and give you a good old British frown for doing that to slide film but ultimately each to their own there is no wrong or right (except cross processing slide film, that’s clearly wrong).

Slide film shot through a Holga is not the easiest as you only have basic control so you really need the right light for the day.

Thus when I did a little film swap on Twitter with Matt Parry (@mparry1234) we challenged each other to shoot one of the films in a certain way.  Matt went straight in for my Achilles Heel.  Shoot a roll of expired Provia 100f in a Holga and have it proceesed in C41 chemicals.  So below are the images, most are as scanned and I make no further comment or opinion.

 

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London at night

I thought I would share my experiences shooting film at night for the first time.

I ran a little twitter poll as I couldn’t decide if I should start with black & white film or colour film.  Twitter picked B&W and it was highly recommended I start with Fuji Acros 100 for night and long exposure. So thank you everyone for that.

I mention long exposure as that was always my aim for a number of reasons. I prefer the sharpness long exposure can give over and above using a high ISO film.  The areas I had planned to shoot in are also tourist areas so I knew I would need to blur out people in certain places with a longer exposure.  My ever evolving photography style is based around calm and relaxed so long exposure works for me in that respect also.

My equipment for the evening was as follows:

  • Olympus OM1
  • 50mm & 28mm Zuiko lenses
  • Cable release
  • Tripod
  • One roll of Fuji Neopan Acros 100
  • Fujifilm XT1 camera

You will notice no mention of a light meter. I am a lazy bastard photographer and normally meter using the OM1 camera meter, I cannot be bothered carrying more than I need or indeed having to take lots of readings with a meter before taking a shot.  The laziness also includes not taking some photos as I can’t be arsed to kneel down to get the right perspective, anyway I digress.

I knew I would need some help with getting the right exposure so for this I took my Fuji XT1 digital camera.

I got to the area around sunset but then waited for an hour or so, my logic being I wanted the sky to be dark so I could get as black as sky as possible.  A bit of context, London, like most cities is full of night lights and light pollution.  The sky at night can quite often by a murky brown haze and not look particularly great.

Another bit of context, I do research what I’m trying to do but am also guilty of making things up as they sound right in my head, you may notice that in this piece.

You will be pleased to know I don’t plan on talking about reciprocity as you can google all about it.  All I will say is my understanding told me I am fine for up to 120seconds with Acros and from previous digital experience knew that would be plenty.

So the first thing I did was set up the XT1 to work out how long I would need. I set the ISO to 100 and the aperture to F20 and view to black & white. Why F20, again my logic, I wanted longer exposures to blur out people and also to get sharper images.  With a bit of trial and error I settled up at 15secs as a good time.  The image below is from the digital camera at F20, ISO 100 and 15 secs.

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I used this timing as a reference for all the shots taken that night adjusting where I felt I might need to due to differences in the lights.

Now I did openly say I think I underexposed every image I took that night and was expecting pitch black nothing basically.  That really wasn’t me trying to be humble but because I truly believed I had made many mistakes that night I list some of them below

  •  My reference aperture was F20, yet I used F22 on the 28mm lens and F16 on the 50mm lens
  • I planned on bracketing every shot one over and one under in terms of time, i.e. 10secs, 15secs and 20 secs. Yet did 5secs, 10secs and 15secs for no particular reason
  • The digital camera stayed in my bag I didn’t make any further readings

Thus on one 36 roll I took 3 shots each composition, thus 12 images to end up with.

I send my films to a lab so can’t give you any developing times or scan settings (note as mentioned I’m lazy) but when the scans came back I was very pleased that I had got images.  I am going to stop wittering now and show you a set of images, they are self explanatory.  The tweaks I made in Snapseed were shadows, highlights and contrast (inc curves contrast).

Side note I am totally fine with digital editing of film photos, I got over myself a while ago trying to be too purist.  I do agree however adjustments should be subtle and similar to darkroom edits, hence there are no unicorns or rainbows in my images below.

 

F16 5 secs, 10 secs & 15secs, no adjustments

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Final image below I choose the 10 secs exposure and made adjustments in Snapseed.

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The below is to show you some of the difficulties I experienced. One is an iPhone shot of the scence the other the film image at 5 secs.  The issue being that buildings are very well lit so getting the exposure balance right across the scence is difficult in some set ups. For me the tower is too bright and no editing is really going to change that.

This next one again shows how bright the lights are, so I really should have gone for a much shorter exposure.

5secs, no adjustments

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The first one is f22 at 10secs.  Below it is the 5 sec exposure adjusted and cropped.  Basically over 5 secs and it was getting too bright.

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The first one below is 16secs as you can see the film is picking reflection from somewhere and it’s showing in the sky.   The second one is 8 secs and adjusted in Snapseed.

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The below are 10,15,20 secs and then my adjusted scan using the 15 second exposure.

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Below is 8,15 & 20 seconds and then my adjustments using the 8 second exposure

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So overall it was a successful night, there was luck involved and I have been advised going two stops under with Acros is good.  I hope you have found this useful, next week I’m trying colour slide film in the same location!

Fuji Superia 1600 a first try

 

I was kindly gifted some ‘fast’ film by @roo_roo_s on Twitter amongst them a couple of rolls of Fujifilm Superia 1600. I have never shot a fast colour film before so was very interested in how it would look

As per a previous post, I am putting up most of the shots, good or bad, well composed or not so I can see how it worked or didn’t in various situations and you can too.

The camera was my trusty Olympus OM1 and no filters were used this time.  I hope this is helpful for you all as it was for me.  I would also like to thank @TwinLensReflux on Twitter for the very helpful mentoring, reminding me that making the black colours look like black goes a long way.

Lunchtime overcast and grey:

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Lunchtime overcast and grey, messing with focus points:

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Lunchtime bright:

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Night clear weather:

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Lunchtime under cover:

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Nightime under Station lights:

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Who was that?

I learnt through experience last year that it is good to have themes for my photography, that having a goal and themes helped me when I was out and about.

This doesn’t mean I can’t photograph random or interesting things whilst out with my camera, but having an overall purpose or theme helped me narrow down and not just take a picture for the sake of it.

In the early days I tended to theme a whole roll at a time.  So for 35mm, for example, that would mean trying to find 36 shots on a similar theme.  I took me a while to realise that I didn’t have to be so rushed and that actually my various themes could be a body of work over months or even years.  This is probably known already to most of you that are experienced, but to me it came as a bit of a revelation.

So today I would like to share one of my themes as an example.  This is by no means the finished article or indeed any images that would make a final cut, whenever that will be.  I also may start again using just one film stock only, who knows.

I am not a big portrait fan and also when it comes to it am very reserved in terms of approaching people to ask to take their picture.  I however like solitude and a bit of mystery but with a human element involved.  Thus my theme (and I still haven’t worked out the title) is around who was that person, where have they been, where are they going?

Hope you enjoy the images, many of which you may have seen before but maybe not tied together.

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Life on Mars

So for the Believeinfilm yearly redscale film challenge (checkout #Bifscale17 on Twitter & Instagram for everybody’s  great shots and the Believeinfilm social media accounts) I thought I would try something a bit fun and different.

As redscale gives a certain other worldly look, I went with my Olympus OM1n, a +3 close up filter, Rollei Redbird 400 and a space travelling friend.

here are the best ones, there were a couple more but they ended being totally underexposed.

so please enjoy my Life on Mars little set.

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Cinestill 800T first try

I was lucky enough to recieve a roll of Cinestill 800T to try from @dizd on Twitter.

I was given a very clear instruction to rate the film at 500 when shooting it.

I also did a bit of research on this film online. A few tips were:

  • It is designed for tungsten/flourescent/candle light
  • avoid using it in open shade, strong window light & cool light
  • Use an 81 or 85 filter if I want to shoot it in daylight

So me being me ignored most of this, not because I think I know better but more because I like to try things and am a bit reckless (read that as stupid)

So what did I do different

  • rated at 800, sorry Diz
  • shot it in daylight, indoor, outdoor, day, night
  • looked up an 81 or 85 filter, it looked orangey, so shot it through an orange B&W filter for outdoor shots, because orangey

so below are the results warts and all, no post processing of the scans but obviously can do some major WB adjustments on the yellow ones.

Daylight,outdoor, lunchtime, bright light, orange filter:

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Daylight, outdoor, evening, orange filter:

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5pm, outdoor, no filter:

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Outdoor, lunchtime, bright light, no filter:

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Outdoor, dusk, through shop windows:

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Indoor, lunchtime, fluorescent light & bright window light, no filter:

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Indoor, night time, no filter:

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Best before 2016

No this is not a post lamenting that the best years of my life are behind me. I’ll stick to film photography here at least.

This is about the film I choose to shoot.

Try not to roll your eyes at the next sentence as I mention it a lot but it is relevant to the conversation.  I have only been shooting film for about 2 and one half years now so am a relative newbie.

I’ve shot a number of film stocks and there are many more I need to try.

I’ve tried a few weird stocks and over the last couple of months seem to have tried a lot of expired stocks.

All this has been good for me to learn and experiment.

But it must stop now.

Over this year I will work through my expired film and buy no more except for the odd roll that suits what I want to do.

I will move to only buying and shooting fresh film for two reasons

1. To support the manufacturers out there who are keeping the film community alive. It’s important, they ultimately are a business and we need them as much as they need us.

2. I want to start bringing more consistency in my photographs. It takes time and practice to truly learn a film stock. I want to do this and I want to do this on a film stock that will be around.

I will still shoot the odd expired film and where possible join all the fun Believeinfilm and Emulsive led community events and parties as that’s part of what makes film photography fun for me and you never know what you might discover .

But I have made a few decisions on what film stocks I want to shoot and why and explain as much below. I should mention here I get my films lab developed.

Black and White:

For both 135 and 120 I plan to only use two stocks for standard shooting.  The first is not even a ‘true’ B&W film, Ilford XP2 400 Super. I love this film, it has a great look and it was the first film I used regularly thus I feel a connection to it.  The second choice will be a slow B&W film, again Ilford and either Pan F or FP4. I am minded towards Pan F.  I used to be very nervous of slow films and always though they were too hard especially for English weather. What I have come to understand is I shouldn’t be scared of it, just be prepared for it.

Colour negative:

I only have one choice in this category for both 135 and 120. That would be Kodak Ektar 100. The more I see of it the more I like it. As I will explain below, for me Slide film is the way to go for colour.  However it’s not always practical and is more expensive to develop thus my choice of Ektar. It can give a similar saturated look and in my laymans opinion seems quite versatile.

I like Portra but it’s not for me as a regular film. I know it’s meant for portraits but I find it has a slight orange cast. I am also not a portrait photographer and if I was my choice would be B&W.

I also like Fuji Pro400h, I like its pastel tones but I prefer the stronger saturation of Ektar

I appreciate there are many stocks I have ignored here, I’m fine with that.

Colour Positive/Slide film:

This is my go to film for colour. I love slide film. There is nothing to match its colours, nothing!

In 120 I will focus on Provia 100f for as long as Fuji continue to sell it and hope that Kodak will come into this market.

In 135 I will continue with Fuji Velvia 50, but am eagerly awaiting the the new Kodak Ektachrome. I worry about the long-term viability of Velvia plus it’s eye watering price!

Others:

I plan to do more long exposure and night photography this year and whilst I can and will use some of the stocks above, from my reading and what I have in mind, I plan to try Fuji Acros 100.

I enjoyed Film Washi S so will definitely try that again

Iford SFX for infrared

Whilst I enjoyed double xx and Kodak vision films, they are a pain in the ass to get and also get developed (vision especially)

Why not these:

I will consider Film Ferrania as and when they finally give us the E6 film they promised and it looks like a long-term solution.

I am very pleased for Bergger and will try it as I want to be supportive, but I was born in Ilford and will always have an affinity for their films

I HATE TRI-X

I have not tried T-max but will do as part of the T-Max party and similarly I liked Ilford Delta but still.

So in conclusion I want to learn my stock. Does that mean I will never shoot other films, of course not but it means I will be more focussed on learning this craft with consistent films. It’s time I got more serious.