The Unkillable Clerics @ The Hop – Oct 2015

Well, here we go!

Before I get stuck into the holiday snaps, I’m just going to post a few shots from a gig that my other half’s band played a few months back at The Hop, an Ossett Brewery pub in Sheffield city centre. Known as The Unkillable Clerics, they play a rather technical brand of ‘post-rock’ based upon metal, folk and classical influences.

I had well stashed a roll of Ilford’s high-speed Delta 3200, just waiting for a special occasion. A few gigs down the line (i.e. too well-stashed!) and I re-discovered this hidden gem in the fridge, so naturally I decided to put it to good use.

Loaded into the Pentacon Six  affixed to the 80 mm f 2.8 Zeiss Biometar, I metered the film at half box speed, ISO 1600, using the Gossen Mastersix and a grey card, (Ilford recommend somewhere between this and ISO 6400). Having never used this film before, I figured I’d start at the bottom, perhaps being somewhat over-wary of the ‘low light’ conditions in the venue.

Given my relative ignorance of this specialist film, its expense and the fact that I was sending my holiday films off at the same time, I decided to get these developed professionally; so processing, printing and scanning was performed by Ag-Photographic’s Photolab service. Turnaround on a total of 12 films was just two days after receipt at their lab, as usual a fantastic service!

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Anticipation…

Much has happened since I last posted. I completed and handed my PhD thesis in. Moved house. I was examined on my thesis and passed, somehow and with minor corrections mind. Then we went on a much deserved holiday where we spent significant time in Peru, followed by Seattle, Vancouver and Reykjavik. Moved house again. Completed and handed my corrections so officially becoming a Doctor of Philosophy. Moved house again! Phew!!!

Amongst all of that, my holiday films have been transferred from freezer-to-freezer, house-to-house but now, at last, I’ve finally got my holiday films developed. Processed, printed and scanned by Ag-Photographic’s photolab service.

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Anyhow, I’m very much looking forward to getting a look through these images and will bit-by-bit post some of them up here with a wee story perhaps.  x

Kodak Portra 400 – Park Hill, Sheffield

More Park Hill.

The afore-maligned, post-war re-housing effort has recently been receiving a lot of attention. Last week’s Sheffield Design Week had stalls up there and viewings in the new units in collaboration with  the company responsible for the, as yet partial, refurbishment whilst members of the Royal Photographic Society recently produced a glossy photobook, (which contains some pretty awesome images).

My interest has correlated with this upsurge in promotional activity, but has for the most part been separate. Though I did partake in a viewing and certainly had some delicious pizza last Saturday!

The show apartment was itself interesting, with some innovative space saving design bits, comprising elements that echo the industrial nature of the area and thoroughly had the whole functional minimalism thing going on. Hopefully the regeneration plans they have made see it out to full completion.

Years of accumulated grime and decay have painted the undeveloped portions of the site a decrepit and concrete grey. I believe the original colour scheme had contained blue and yellow elements, which if you look hard, you can spot when walking around the inner facade.

I loaded the Pentacon Six with some Kodak Portra 400, affixed the Biometar 80mm and mooched up there an afternoon a couple of weekends ago. The sun was in full effect, the sky with few clouds; a perfect day and a complementary film to shoot the “streets in the sky” in an attempt to rediscover those original colours and to capture those new ones, often reflected in the plastic safety windows and ubiquitous metal panelling that have been installed over time.

Unfortunately my analogue Profisix has decided to pack in, maybe once my thesis is submitted I can look into fixing it, but until then I’m metering using a digital Gossen Mastersix that I managed to get along with my Profispot. As usual, I used a grey card instead of the latter, though hopefully with the advent of more time to waste, I can soon start learning zone metering! This roll was metered at ISO 200.

Some cropping, straightening and saturation modification was perpetrated in PS but developing and scanning is thanks to Ag-Photographic’s Photolab service.

Anyhow, enough waffle. Enjoy!

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Fujicolour Pro 400H – Sheffield Photowalks; City Centre & Kelham Island

Having been out hiking a little less than usual in recent weeks, one alternative has been to head out early’ish and take to the streets of Sheffield.

I often head down towards Kelham Island, the ex-industrial area of Sheffield that seems to always be in a state of permanent gentrification. The place is steeped in history, though is now predominantly devoid of big industry, thus can often give off a somewhat melancholy air. On the other hand, some skilled, cottage industry still exists, some of the new development is helpful and the locale is populated with a number of pubs, of which many would have served the original workforce, and now are known as some of the best that Sheffield has to offer.

The resulting shots showcased here represent two rolls from separate trips; one such Kelham Island walk, and another that also continued closer to the city centre, also taking in the ever maligned Park Hill Flats. The flats, (originally envisaged as a government-led, post-war re-housing scheme), have been a visual icon of the city for decades, and once hosted a thriving community. Now the flats are torn by development, dereliction and the last remaining, legal residents.

Both rolls were shot on Fuji Pro 400H, using my Pentacon Six TL, with a Zeiss Biometar 80mm f2.8, (zebra version); though one roll was shot at ISO 400 and the other at ISO 200. All metering was done using a Gossen Profisix in conjunction with an 18%  grey card. Some cropping, contrast and saturation  modification has been perpetrated in PS, but rolls were developed, printed and scanned by Ag-Photographic.

The Moor, Sheffield City Centre. Fuji Pro 400H. shot  at 400
The Moor, Sheffield City Centre. Fuji Pro 400H. shot at 400

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Kodak Tri-X 400, Pentacon Six TL

Well, I finally managed to get back in the darkroom and try out our new-old Hewes steel developing tank & reels. After the auto-loading Paterson reel we had decided to start giving up the ghost, I figured it might be a good idea to try something that might end up being a bit more reliable, though there are caveats, as always!

Loading the steel reels is straightforward, but requires practice; there are videos on youtube that are very helpful, I found this one and this one to be helpful. One of the two rolls I developed this time was misaligned and therefore ‘bunched up’, somewhere in the inner spirals, causing the chemicals to pool there during the process. This resulted in lines and blobs on the negatives at around this point on the roll. Like I said, practice will hopefully alleviate this.

I also recently managed to get hold of a Gossen Profispot for around half the price they normally go for – this is the spot meter attachment for my Profisix light meter. For the purpose of testing, instead of using a grey card, I used this to meter on the Edale to Hope walk, and after looking at the ‘scanned’ negatives, it became apparent that a steep learning process is going to transpire, when at last the time arises of course!

Anyhow, I shot a couple of rolls of Tri-X on two separate trips out to the Peak District from the past month or so; one a walk out through Endcliffe Park towards the Norfolk Arms shot using the MIR 45mm f3.5, the other a very wet and windy hike out from Edale towards Hope, via the Roman Road – shot on the Zeiss Flektogon 50mm f4.

The rolls were shot at ISO 320 and developed accordingly in 1:3 Perceptol, for times derived from the Massive Dev Chart. I also performed some cropping, contrast boosting and white balancing in PS, and the negatives were scanned using a Canon 500D, fitted with a Sigma 18-250mm f3.5.

One of the Riley Graves, Eyam. MIR 45mm f3.5.
One of the Riley Graves, Eyam. MIR 45mm f3.5.

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Fujichrome 64T II (expired) – Sheffield – Evening Photowalking

Good evening! It seems to have been ages since I last posted anything but I finally managed to get some colour films sent off for development, and I still have a few b&w rolls in the fridge, which hopefully I can get around to developing sometime soon!

A few weeks ago, loaded with some expired Fujichrome 64T II, I took the Rolleiflex, Profisix and tripod out for an evening photowalk; heading out around the immediate outskirts of Sheffield city centre, ultimately towards the city’s old industrial heartland, Kelham Island.

This was my first experience using a tungsten-balanced film, and given that the film was expired, to help with determining the correct exposure I decided to try out an app I came across via a post from Francois on the Filmwasters forum. This app allows you to plug in the details for your film, and it gives you a read-out of upper and lower suggested ISO settings. For a 07/2002 expiry date, and the ISO 64 film rating, the app suggested ISO 25.

To complicate things, 64T II is a colour reversal, slide film, and according to internet wisdom this means that you can achieve better colour results if you underexpose the film, (the opposite is an often used technique when using colour negative film). However, with the film being expired, results will vary based upon several factors, not least how it has been stored, as such it may be wise to test for yourself. In the end, I decided to use the app’s recommendation, but also shot a second exposure at ISO 40 with the aim of underexposing.

I further post-processed the scans from Ag Photographic’s Photolab service, boosting the exposure and changing the white balance.

The first shot is of the reverse of the Cemetery Road entrance to the derelict cemetery, located just off Ecclesall Road; the Sheffield General Cemetery.

Entrance to the Sheffield General Cemetary. ISO 25, +1 exposure in PS.
Entrance to the Sheffield General Cemetery. f16, 15s, ISO 25, with +1 exposure and white balancing in PS.

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Lake District Winter Camp – Rolleiflex T

Our annual winter hunt took us to the Lake District this month. Taking up position at Rydal Hall, we stayed in one of their ‘Eco Pods’, which equated to a secure, carpeted but cold, wooden hut. But at least we had no need to carry the tent, and we had access to the best shower block in the Lakes!

Our walking route had been planned to take us from Rydal to the summit of Helvellyn, via Fairfield. However, late starts and winter terrain makes for long days; as such we decided to cut things short on the way down to Grisedale Tarn from Fairfield summit, heading instead for Grasmere and the pub. To make up for it, we took to practicing our glissade technique on the way down. Always fun!

I used the Rolleiflex T and a combination of films on this trip, the remnants of a Fujicolour Pro 400H from last months camp in the Peak, though these were shot at 200 and developed normally, for ISO 400. I also shot a full roll of Kodak Ektar, exposed at box speed. Both films were developed professionally by Ag-Photographic.

I use a Gossen Profisix light meter, (known as the Luna-Pro SBC in the ‘States), reknowned for it’s sensitivity in low light conditions, and overall it is a great device. Though it does tend to get a little wacky in the cold, starting off by being unable to settle on a reading, then by complete cessation of action. It’s had me worried a couple of times, but it starts to work normally after it warms up sufficiently.

I took to metering these scenes using the Profisix in conjunction with an 18% grey card, found on the back surface of my analogbook notebook. Camera light meters are designed to normalise light levels to the reflectance of an 18% grey surface, some more information here. With metering being tricky in the snow, I took it on conventional wisdom that I might get better results if I used a grey card to consistently meter reflected light from.

See for yourself, I do really like the balance in some of these images, though I can’t be entirely sure of what has been done during  lab processing.

Enjoy. X

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Our sunlit Eco Pod at Rydal Hall. Kodak Ektar shot @ ISO 100.

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Fujicolour Pro 400H – Peak District Winter Camping

It’s always a joy when the snow starts to fall, especially when with friends of a similar mindset. Our good friends Dom & Craig are two such fellows and they were our accompaniment for an overnight camp at Edale in the Peak District, followed by a walk around the dreaded-Knoll-that-never-ends, (Brown Knoll to those who don’t know),  to Castleton and the refuge of the Old Nags Head pub.

Winter walking can be arduous, with the terrain underfoot being difficult, let alone when carrying weight, but you know the snow is worth it! The weather progressively varied throughout the day and was perfect for a mini winter adventure, and made for some decent shots.

Also, get yourself some winter gas if you need to cook in sub-zero temperatures. It will save some hassle!

This roll of Fujicolour Pro 400H was shot at box speed, on the 75mm f3.5 Carl Zeiss Tessar of the Rolleiflex T, and was developed by Ag-Photographic.

Enjoy.

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Breakfast Time!

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Kodak Ektar 100 – Pentacon Six TL Test

Just a few test shots, taken through the Russian MIR 45mm f3.5 and using the Pentacon Six TL; the post-war, East German, medium format SLR whose reputation is somewhat chequered, if you believe the ‘hype’ of course.

Despite these aspersions, this particular specimen appears in mint condition cosmetically and functions really well, at all shutter speeds and came as an absolute bargain, a steal in fact. It’s safe to say that I’m pretty pleased and look forward to shooting many more rolls through it.

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Reminiscent of Cajal’s drawings; neuronal documents, like memories.

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Ilford FP4+, Shot At 100 – Pentax SV.

Shot over the X-Mas and NY period on the Pentax, through a Pentacon 30mm f3.5 lens; this film was home developed in Perceptol 1+3 dilution, for ISO 125, and represents my first 35mm developing nightmare!

120 film is a cinch to load onto the old Paterson developing reels, though I had previously had a problem with the reel coming apart during inversion; thus ruining a roll of 120 Ilford Pan F+. 35mm turned out to be pretty much impossible, no amount of releasing and re-spooling was enough to get the full roll on, it just kept on bunching and ripping. And to add insult to injury, the previously occurring fault also featured in tandem, with the reel, (supposed to adjust to fit 35mm or 120 film), popping open, releasing the film inadvertently at the most inopportune moments. Anyhow, after much sweating and swearing, I had to lose a third of the roll, so there went the NYE pics; which were probably drunken-blurry anyway.

Despite the annoyance, it’ s interesting how certain kinds of visual artefact can add to the allure of film. They isolate and accentuate aspects of the image, directing our focus and nursing our nostalgic tendencies but irrespective of character, I guess that the banding evident in these images is probably down to the ‘bunching’ of the film during loading and the resulting uneven exposure to the developer within the tank, (at a guess anyway, please feel free to make any other relevant suggestions).

This old reel and tank was generously gifted to us by Sarah’s Dad, and has allowed us the opportunity to delve into home developing, but given the persistent fault in this old reel, I think I might try and get hold of some of the stainless steel reels and tanks; though these might take some time to source second-hand, as some of the UK-made Hewes products are no longer being manufactured.

Some cropping, straightening and contrast modification was undertaken in PS Elements. Anyhow, enjoy.

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