Been a while since I’ve done one of these…

Last year I accidentally bought a Minolta Hi-Matic F (it came with a light meter I wanted, so that’s my excuse!) and put a roll of film through it. I wasn’t sure what to expect from it and actually forgot about the film until a couple of weeks ago, when I developed it.

Now, there’s a tangent here. I’ve been fed up with using my scanner (a canoscan 8800f) to digitize my negatives. It’s slow and I’d rarely get the quality of images I was after. My brother suggested digitizing with a copy stand and my Z6 (I also used an 18mm extension tube). I already had a light board and the 35mm negative carrier / mask from my Kaiser enlarger was just what I needed.

The copy stand was cheap, and it shows in the mount bending, with the weight of the camera. Live and learn, but at the time I wasn’t even sure if this method would give me the images I was after. Well… it did.

Two people tending a war memorial.
Minolta Hi-Matic – Ilford Delta 400 @ 400 in DD-X 1+4 for 8 mins

I left the number window on the negative carrier open, for easy reference, and along with the slight bowing caused by the bending copy stand, I felt it gave a somewhat whimsical and interesting to the photos. Therefore, I’ve decided to not crop the images from this film, and may do the same for future films.

Domineering Tree:
Minolta Hi-Matic – Ilford Delta 400 @ 400 in DD-X 1+4 for 8 mins

As for the Hi-Matic F itself, I enjoyed using it and it’s my first rangefinder camera. I did however find, that it was quicker and easier to guess the focus, dial it in and quickly shoot. Trying to focus just slowed the process down.

Minolta Hi-Matic – Ilford Delta 400 @ 400 in DD-X 1+4 for 8 mins

When I bought it, I had been looking for something light and relatively wide, to try my hand at more street photography. It really has filled this niche for me and I’ll be taking it out and about more. My one caveat is that it chomps batteries and you can’t actually turn it “off”. While you can’t get the original batteries (as far as I can tell) you can double up LR44 batteries and it will work, though it may be worth taking them out when not in use.

Booster Queue:
Minolta Hi-Matic – Ilford Delta 400 @ 400 in DD-X 1+4 for 8 mins

If you can pick one up for cheap, I’d really recommend getting one. Also, I’m converted to digitizing film with my camera 🙂

Covid Times

So, Covid has definitely affected my photography. We’ve been in lockdown and I can only really have a photo mooch when we walk the dog. Now, this has been interesting as it’s really forced me to focus on what I’m actually walking passed. Thankfully there are plenty of walls with plants growing up and around them where we live. I used to pay more attention to the little things photographically and this has definitely come round again.

Nikon Z6, Nikkor 24-70mm f/4 S, 18mm & 11mm Extension Tubes, Exposure X6, Silver Efex Pro 2

That said, I’m very much looking forward to getting to the beach again. I bought a Bronica SQ-A during covid and really want to put it through it’s paces soon. I bought it as more of a walk about camera, despite how heavy it is! Looking forward to getting back into film photography again too. More photos to follow soon, I hope.

Nikon Z6, Nikkor 24-70mm f/4 S, Exposure X6, Silver Efex Pro 2

A Bit of a Square

So, a lot of the time now, I’m using a square crop with my digital images. I think that may stem from scanning all the old shots taken with my C330.

Nikon Z6, Nikkor 24-70mm f/4 S,
Exposure X5, Silver Efex Pro 2

I do find the square crop very pleasing and I think it offers plenty of opportunities for composition.

Nikon Z6, Nikkor 24-70mm f/4 S,
Exposure X5, Silver Efex Pro 2

Before the current lockdown, I was starting to experiment with street photography and I found some of those shots worked in square format too.

Nikon Z6, Nikkor 24-70mm f/4 S,
Exposure X5, Silver Efex Pro 2

And let’s not forget colour images working in square format too.

Nikon Z6, 18mm Extension Tube, Nikkor 24-70mm f/4 S,
Exposure X5, Color Efex Pro 2
Nikon Z6, Lensbaby Composer Pro II, Sweet 35 Optic,
Exposure X5, Color Efex Pro 4

Time and a plethora of scans later…

So, last time I said that I didn’t know how to scan film properly. Well, I’m not saying that I now know how to do it properly, but after 2 days of going through old negatives I’m getting a feel for it. Vuescan is now a friend.

Zeiss Ikon Nettar, Ilford Delta 400 @ 400, Ilford DD-X, 1+4, 8 minutes @ 20C, Canoscan 8800f, Vuescan x64, Exposure X5

I’m surprised by how many scans I like, for negatives I’d forgotten all about. I suppose they got developed, given the once over and then I went on to other shiny things.

Taken with my Diana F+, Ilford Hp5+ @ 400, Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 at 20C for 9 mins. Canoscan 8800f and Vuescan x64, Edited in Exposure X5.

It has however, given me a new taste for film photography again. I love the results I get from my Zeiss Ikon Nettar. A lovely little camera. It doesn’t lend itself to quick photography, but that’s not necessarily bad thing. Also, the Diana F+ is a bit of fun. In some ways, medium format is where it’s at for me, being the middle ground between small negatives and really bloody heavy cameras!

Nikon f100, Probably Tokina 19-35 Lense, Ilford Delta 400 @ 400, Ilfotec DD-X, 1+4, 12 mins @ 20C, Canoscan 8800f, Vuescan x64, Edited in Exposure X5

I’d love to do some more street photography, with film. For me, it’s a matter of confidence. I can take photos of people walking away from me, no probs, but if they’re heading in my direction, I chicken out!

Taken with my Diana F+, Ilford Hp5+ @ 400, Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 at 20C for 9 mins. Canoscan 8800f and Vuescan x64, Edited in Exposure X5.

I also can’t forget my old friend, the lensbaby. It adds a new approach to street photography, isolating a subject. I also lament the fact that my Petzval 55 MK II is a Z mount lense. It’s great on my Z6, but I’d love to be able to use it on my f100. That would be fun!

Anyway, I’ll be shooting more film and scanning it now. Once my darkroom is up and running again (I’ve not really been in the mood to sort it out) lith printing will resume too. I’ll finish with one last scan:

Nikon f100, Lensbaby Composer, Sweet 50 Optic, Ilford Delta 100 @ 100 Ilfotec DD-X 1+4, 20C, 12 min, Canoscan 8800f & Vuescan x64, Exposure X5.

Getting Even Closer!

So, I’ve been experimenting with a Raynox 250, as I said in my previous post. This is essentially a lense that clips on to the front of a lense to get you even closer. When combined with a macro lense, you get even closer. This does have it’s problems though, in that even with steady hands there’s still some shake, requiring high shutter speeds and a bit of luck. A tripod would make life easier when it comes to shake, but also makes life more difficult if you want to freely explore an object.

If I was feeling brave, I could even throw in some extension tubes and get closer still, but there’s only so much you can do whilst retaining your sanity!

I will be keeping the Raynox close to hand as it’s useful, but will need more practice using. Here are a few images I’ve made using it, mostly clipped onto my Tamron 90mm.

The luminous colours of a Dianthus.
The petals of a daisy type flower.
A close up of the centre of the daisy like flower.
A close up of the entrance to a Trailing Petunia
This image was and experiment. It’s actually a curve of bubbles around a glass of coke. I lit it with an LED lamp, with a black background. The focus isn’t perfect, but I think that actually adds to the sparkle.
This little fella is only 1-2mm in size. Had to crop it quite aggressively. It’s quite amazing the detail you can get.
And to end on an orange Viola.

Why Film?

Firstly, it’s where I started. It was several years before I tried a digital camera and even then, I kept using film. But nowadays, digital is so easy to access. I’ve been guilty of trying to decide whether I shoot one of the other that day and going for the digital camera for ease of use. After all, I just download the photos and edit them in Exposure X4.5. Easy, right?

But here’s the thing. There’s magic in shooting film. I love opening the developing tank to see if I have got images. Not whether they’re any good… whether I’ve cocked up and not developed them properly (and I’ve been doing it long enough to not mess up). There’s a rush when I take the film off the reel and see negatives. After that, it’s all gravy!

OK, so once the magic of getting some negative is out of the way, what makes film so appealing? For one, it’s tactile. Holding your negatives and looking at them on a light table feels good. A print, made on good quality paper, has weight… has presence. There’s the process itself too and creativity.

It also leads to my love of lith printing, where I feel I can be creative. Where I can build and trust my instincts to get a certain type of print. I can’t do that with digital. I can edit an image, get it how I want it, but I don’t “feel it”.

Maybe all these reasons are superficial, maybe not. It all boils down to “because I like it”!

Fumbling In The Dark

There is a saying: Your first darkroom is for your enemy, the second for your friend and the third is for yourself. You learn many things from making your own dark room. Simple things, like what the ideal hight of a unit should be (for me, about waist height); where the safelights should go; how to blackout a room, which took several attempts to get right.

I had my first darkroom many years ago (not counting several attempts to use the bathroom), in a small shed attached to my mum’s house. I built all the units and even had a flap that allowed access to a chest freezer. There was a wet side, a dry side and plenty of shelf room. As I worked in it, I found what worked and what didn’t. It wasn’t quite for my enemy, but I wouldn’t have said it was for a friend either. It did however work, and I started to learn how to work in a darkroom.

After this, I went through many years without a darkroom. I could still develop film, with a Paterson tank, but print making was out of the question.

Life went on, as it does, and then I was eventually able to set up a new darkroom, in a shed again! I took what I’d learned from my first darkroom, thinking I had skipped a step. Since I first started working in it, I’ve had to adapt it and add things. It sort of works, so I’d say it’s now for a friend.

My (somewhat messy) darkroom.

Blacking it out was troublesome, as it’s a normal 8×6 shed. Lots of ways for light to get it! I bought a lot of (in-fact, far too much) blackout material from Firstcall-Photographic. I then got a hefty staple gun and attached it to the walls of the shed, overlapping it all. Thick black duct tape helps to cover light leaks too.

Ventilation was my most recent addition to the darkroom, and much needed. I took a bit of a punt, not fully knowing what I was doing. My first attempt was a failure. I bought a solar powered extractor fan and a tumble drier hose. The extractor fan only worked in strong, direct sunlight and the hose wasn’t even slightly light-tight.

Combi-flex tubing, with an in-line extractor fan.

So, I did a little research and ordered some combi-flex tubing, an in-line extractor fan and a couple of vent diffusers. This was much more successful. I did still make one mistake. I ordered 100mm width tubing and 100mm width fan etc. This meant that the tubing wouldn’t fit over the fan, as it was the same width. Doh! I cut a short line along the length of the tubing, allowing it to fit on the other parts, fixed it with jubilee clips and then covered everything with lashings of black duct tape. It works!

I still don’t have any running water, but that’s OK. I fill a large bottle of water in the bathroom, using a darkroom thermometer to get the temperature right, to mix chems. I also fill two large trays with water, so I can place a freshly fixed print straight in one of them. Then after a quick agitation, I move it to the second one to wait to be washed.

I’m sure I will make many changes as time goes on, but that’s my darkroom for now. As for the mess, I think it’s part of my creative process!