May 20, 2013
Carlo was about 87 when he related a story to me about seeing some violins during a visit to Perth many years ago and how, when he returned home to Margaret River, decided to make one. I asked if he still had it and if so, could I see it. He went inside the house and then returned to the verandah where we had been sitting, with a partially made violin. He had hand carved the instrument from a local marri tree, shaping the wood from the memory of his Perth visit. The marri had proven difficult to work and cracks finally appeared, so the project remained an unfinished dream from all those years ago. But really, I digress. I read a wonderful book recently called Piano Lessons by Anna Goldsworthy, an autobiographical account of a young musician who grows and matures through her successes and disappointments, and gains a worldly wisdom from her wonderfully gifted piano teacher. The piano teacher’s knowledge and insights transcend mere musical technique and reveal her great depth, not only as a human being and artist, but as a great educator. Goldworthy’s narrative style flows easily, her recollections priceless. If you are considering a career in the arts, or if you are already involved with an arts practice, I highly recommend you read this book.
Goldsworthy, A 2009, Piano lessons, Black Inc., Melbourne.
Day 1 – Film Camera Introduction
Kent St Weir, Canning River
Saturday 22nd June, 2013, 12.30pm to 4.30pm
Are you all pixeled out? Curious about photographing with film, or just want to reacquaint yourself, but need a few tips to get started? Then dust off your 35mm or 120 film camera and come along to this weekend workshop. This introductory film photography workshop provides practical experience and techniques, with applications for both portrait and landscape work. For those wanting to learn about black and white film processing and printing there is an Introduction to Darkroom Film Processing & Printing on Day 2.
Day 2 – Introduction to Darkroom Film Processing & Printing
Sunday 23rd June, 2013, 10.00am to 4.30pm
This provides a logical continuum to processing and printing stages, you will learn how to develop a black and white film, and have the opportunity to enlarge one of your black and white negatives and be guided through the process of making your first silver gelatin print. For more details about either day please visit my website. If you would like to ask any questions about the workshops then please contact me. And remember, film is not dead!
May 7, 2013
Last weekend I ran a 2 day workshop covering an introduction to 4×5 on the first day, then developing and printing those images in a darkroom on the second day. For some it was the first time they had been inside a darkroom, seen their films developed and enlarged their own photographs and watched them develop in the tray. I suspect that the second day, the darkroom day, is possibly the highlight for most who attend. The first day we are out in the field, learning how to operate the camera in the morning and photographing for the remainder of the day. But the second day brings the whole experience of working with a new format and film, full circle. Yesterday’s photographic ideas and compositions are brought into existence as real silver gelatin prints through the application of standard darkroom procedures. And with that experience comes a new found knowledge about the simple, tangible, controls possible over the film and paper mediums. That experience is something that can be taken with them and applied throughout their photography.
The image above was made on 4×5 Polaroid Type 55 pos/neg last November and is a direct scan. During that trip I used the last of my Polaroid 4×5 sheet film up, it was well past its expiry date and needed using. Photography has always been on the cutting edge of technology, and I still marvel at beautiful tonal range of these negatives and the sophisticated technology that underlies its apparent simplicity. Technology is a topic that generally surfaces in one form or another at workshops as comparisons are made between film and digital approaches. One common theme that seems to emerge, is that whilst there will always be new photographic products and technologies enabling faster outcomes and greater volumes, it is not always the speed at which you arrive at a photographic point, but the journey in getting there, because it is in undertaking that journey that you begin to understand. Once you understand you have the skills to make your own interpretation.
April 19, 2013
With my first camera and darkroom workshop for this year filled, I started to think about some of the more common technical questions I get asked about film development and printing techniques. Text references provide students with a different point of view from the tutor and I thought it was time to update some information on the photography student resource page on my web site. Below is a list of books on photographic technique which I have found useful. It is by no means a comprehensive list of my library or what is out there, so what are some of your favourites?
Beginners Guide to Darkroom Techniques
(Suit beginner to intermediate)
If you absolutely need to start at the beginning, I can think of no better book. I came across this book in my teenage years and it created a lasting impression. Hattersley is an educator, able to convey information and theory without overwhelming those who are not technically minded. The book is a complete guide for the amateur photographer on the creative and practical skills of developing, printing, and retouching black and white photographs. Regardless of how little gear you may own or how makeshift your darkroom set up is, Hattersley will guide you through the basic steps, suggesting solutions for the amateur working from home. Above all, Hattersley demonstrates throughout the book that regardless of what stage you are at in photography, you can work cleanly, neatly and take pride in your darkroom work. I love this book, there is not a Zonie in sight! It is out of print but easily available online secondhand for a few dollars.
Hattersley, R 1976, Beginners guide to darkroom techniques, Robert Hale, London.
Zone VI Workshop
(Suit beginner to intermediate)
This is a good little reference book for the newcomer to film, who, at some stage, will want to learn just how long they should develop their B&W film for and what ISO (exposure index) should they set the light meter to for optimal quality. Fred’s methodolgy will work well for those who scan their negs or use diffusion or colour head enlarger light sources or contact print. His method may lead to overdevelopment of negatives used in enlargers with condensor light sources and would need to be adjusted accordingly.
This book will cover exposure, the zone system, determination of a personal film speed, development procedures, development time test and the proper proof. The last is possibly the most important concept upon which everything else hinges. I still use this concept today when testing a new film or just making a contact print of my developed negatives. The proper proof is the departure point from which you can make comparisons about film grain, tonal range, development time, exposure index, camera and meter function and so on.
I first came across Zone VI studios and Fred Picker as an undergraduate at Curtin University. I was able to add a little garnish to my science degree with the only photography unit then offered by the Arts Faculty, and my tutor gave me a Zone VI newsletter by Fred Picker to read. Fred was contoversial at times, and I don’t agree with everything he said, but Zone VI made some innovative gear. About twelve months later I bought my 4×5 wooden field camera from Zone VI which I am still using nearly 30 years later, and I still have Fred’s newsletters which can be highly entertaining at times! The book is out of print but available second hand online, usually for just a few dollars. Now and then his newsletters also surface for sale.
Picker, F 1974, Zone VI Workshop, The fine print in black and white photography, Amphoto, New York.
Way Beyond Monochrome
(Suit intermediate to advanced)
Overall, this is an excellent reference book to have on hand and one I have found most usefull in recent times. The authors are not afraid of the science behind photography and go into considerable detail with diagrams and formulae, covering a comprehensive range of topics from print presentation through to advanced printing techniques and of course film exposure, development and the zone system, to name but a few.
As far as determining your film speed and development time testing, the authors provide several solutions from simple to more complex, and there are parallels in some aspects to what is decribed in the Zone VI Workshop, albeit without the terminolgy used by Picker.
In excess of 500 pages, with intelligent tips, this is definately a go to book for when you need more indepth explanations. The book is in print and available online.
Lambrecht, RW & Woodhouse, C 2011, Way beyond monochrome advanced techniques for traditional black and white photography, 2nd edn, Elsevier, Amsterdam.
February 20, 2013
I want a one shot process that gives me a maximum film yield of 12 films per 1000ml Tetenal working solution, and I want to process 12 4×5 sheets of film at a time.
After successfully trialling the Tetenal E6 3 bath kit on Velvia 4×5 50ISO, I intend to make some modifications to the procedures set down by Tetenal.
- First, I will be using a one shot technique, rather than the re-use technique, thereby eliminating the need for adjusted development times from chemical activity depletion.
- One shot has the potential to minimises the overall process time and it also avoids the risk of cross contamination of chemistry.
- One shot also avoids the problem of volume depletion of solutions, especially of the first developer, from the incomplete return of all solution.
- I intend to use the chemistry to obtain the full yield of films as recommended by Tetenal, ie 12 films per 1Litre of working solution. This is equivalent to 48 sheets of 4×5 (4 sheets of 4×5 = one 120 film =one 35mm 36exp film).
- For the developing I will be using a Jobo CPE2 processor with a 2550 drum and 2 4×5 reels, holding a maximun of 12 sheets of 4×5.
- The maximum volume of solution for my Jobo is 600ml. This will ensure all film is in contact with the solutions during agitation.
- I will be using only 250mls of working solution for each batch of 12 sheets. That’s because according to Tetenal, 1000mls of working solution has sufficient development activity for 48 sheets, therefore, by proportion, 250mls has enough activity for 12 sheets.
- Each working solution, once made up according to Tetenal’s instructions, will then be further diluted with water to make a total volume of 600mls.
- This act of dilution may require additional processing times which I will need to test. So far, my development times have been based upon visual inspection of my own film tests with a grey card.
When I get my next batch of chemistry I will test the times using my new proposed dilutions. If it all goes to plan I will post the results.
February 15, 2013
This past week I have been trialing Tetenal’s 3 bath E6 process with 4×5 velvia. I must admit I had a little trepidation about undertaking a colour process. The last time I processed colour slide it was as a young teenager using my mother’s cement laundry troughs out on the back verandah. Back then it was the Kodak E4 process, and it required that I refog the film to a 500 watt light source after the initial development. I was processing Pacific 35mm slide film from my high school’s media department. The results were radical to say the least, blue and magenta colour casts and wildly contrasty images. Needless to say I loved it. But it’s not exactly a comforting result if you are processing your professional images that you have spent time, money and effort just traveling to locations to create them.
For years I was sending my chromes to Melbourne for processing, but I decided it was time to rethink how I wanted to process my 4×5 velvia. It was time to press my Jobo processor, which I use for all my black and white negatives, into doing some colour work for me. I started with a 1L Tetenal kit and put a few 120 velvia film tests through first to confirm my development times. I found a development time of 7.5 min a good starting point for velvia 50 ISO. To my surprise the film processing was remarkably consistent between batches and the information provided by Tetenal is a good starting point, and the process much simplified with the 3 step chemistry.
Overall I have been pleased with the results and I will be continuing with the Tetenal E6 during the year, using a one shot technique, processing 12 4×5 sheets at a time, with 48 sheets processed per litre of stock solution. I still have that 500 watt bayonet photo flood globe I used for E4 all those years ago. If you have a use for it let me know!
- Old Man’s Beard (alexbondblog.com)
February 13, 2013
Yes it’s an odd name, but old man’s beard is a common name to describe the feathery tendril like appearance of the native clematis flower as it matures. This soft, fine structure is so delicate it literally blows away on the breeze. Luckily there was no breeze on the evening I made this photograph, I was tucked away in a sheltered section of thick coastal heath, south of the Margaret River. The sun was almost on the horizon, but undeterred by the fading light. I pulled out my trusty wooden field camera from my backpack and reached for my 150mm Schneider lens. Comparative to the 4×5 inch size of the transparency, I knew I would want to achieve at least a life size reproduction to fill the frame adequately and I had just enough bellows extension, about 300mm, to do it. With a 2 stop exposure increase for the bellows extension plus an additional adjustment for reciprocity failure – the velvia film was exposed for about 90 seconds. I also made some black and whites negatives. Somewhere in those I have a blurry looking ant as it walked around the flower during the exposure. The local talent can be uncooperative at times.
The 4×5 velvia was processed in Tetenal 3 bath E-6 which I have been trying out recently in my jobo processor, the perfect activity for a 40C degree day! This is a “straight” scan off the tranny.