A batch of boathouses in the Trossachs

The Trossachs, and Loch Ard in particular, are well known for their photogenic boathouses and I couldn’t resist their charms. They do make good subjects, and they don’t move !

2016-11-scotland-rz67-velvia-50-006

Mamiya RZ67 and Fuji Velvia 50 film, Loch Ard

The above image was taken at the “narrows” of Loch Ard, which is the exit outflow from the Loch, more like a river really than a loch. Just opposite that boathouse is the one below:

2016-11-1-scotland-rz67-ektar-003

Mamiya RZ67 and Kodak Ektar film, Loch Ard

On the other side of Loch Ard is what is probably the most photographed of the Trossachs boathouses:

2016-11-1-scotland-rz67-ektar-001

Mamiya RZ67 and Kodak Ektar film, 50mm lens

This is typically photographed with the wooden jetty, which is on the right of my image, in the centre foreground. However there was actually a queue of three photographers waiting to take that image – even though these were the only other photographers I saw all week. (The Trossachs is a bit like the English Lake District, but with only 1% of the number of people about).

I walked around to the other shore and got behind the same boathouse:

2016-11-rz67-ektar-loch-ard-vuescan-2

Mamiya RZ67 and Kodak Ektar film, 110mm lens

The same path led me to the distant view of some more boathouses … at this point two of the three other photographers had taken position near the spot I was looking towards, with a pink sweater rather clashing with the autumn hues … I had to be patient.

2016-11-1-scotland-rz67-ektar-006-edit

Mamiya RZ67, Kodak Ektar, 180mm lens

I moved on to Loch Chon and found another boathouse ….

2016-11-1-rz67-ektar-loch-chon-vuescan-1

Mamiya RZ67, Kodak Ektar, 180mm lens

The next day I cycled around Loch Katrine – it has a private road with very few cars – and found another one. This one is a little more utilitarian but it does have a nice view of Ben Venue on the other side of the loch.

Fujifilm GA645Zi, Portra 400 film

Fujifilm GA645Zi, Portra 400 film

 

The Falls of Clyde in Autumn

The Falls of Clyde are a beautiful collection of four waterfalls near New Lanark, about twenty miles south of Glasgow, which I visited en route to a few days stay in Callander, in the Trossachs area. I was surprised by how nice the countryside was close to Glasgow and there are lots of photographic opportunites in the area.

After driving a few hours from Newcastle, I was eager to get started with photography and too impatient to thin out my camera rucksack so did the walk carrying the Mamiya RZ67, three film backs, and 50mm lens, 75mm lens with tilt-shift adaptor, 110mm lens, and 180mm lens. I think I did use all the lens but I could have managed with less and had a lighter pack.

2016-10-31-falls-of-clyde-rz67-ektar-022

 

 

This is the Bonnington power station, unusually attractive for a power station ...

This is the Bonnington hydro-electric power station, unusually attractive for a power station …

The water supply pipes at the back of the power station

The water supply pipes at the back of the power station

2016-11-scotland-rz67-velvia-50-008

Corra Linn

Corra Linn is the highest of all the falls, at 84 feet. Other visitors told me that the water level was much lower than normal. Obviously the amount of recent rain will influence the water level, but more importantly water can be released from a dam further upstream in order to regulate the hydro power system. I have seen photos with great torrents of water at this spot, which must be quite a sight to see; but personally I find that photographs of waterfalls in heavy flood are less pleasing than the more normal conditions because the shapes and finer details of the water are lost.

2016-11-scotland-rz67-velvia-50-009

All of the images here were taken on Kodak Ektar film and home developed. I also took a couple of shots on Fuji Velvia 50 slide film, which are lovely to look at, but I used up my last slide film on this trip and don’t plan to buy any more. Most readers will know that slide film has a much lower dynamic range than colour negative film; but the deciding factor for me is that I can’t justify keeping both C41 chemicals for colour negative and E6 chemicals for slide film at home as they would go bad before being used up. So I sent my last two slide films away to The Darkroom UK, who do a fine job with quick return, but commercial processing of slide films work out about three times the cost of home processing of colour negative.

2016-10-31-falls-of-clyde-rz67-ektar-014

2016-10-31-falls-of-clyde-rz67-ektar-010

A ruined iron bridge near Bonnington Linn

2016-10-31-falls-of-clyde-rz67-ektar-021

A tiny stream on it’s way to join the River Clyde. The 75mm lens with tilt-shift adapter was used for this image.

You can find more information about the area on the Scottish Wildlife Trust website which includes a short colour movie made in 1926.

 

Single image: Raindrops on grass

I’ve recently returned from a 6-day trip to Scotland, staying most of the time in Callander, in the area know as the Trossachs, but with calls at the Falls of Clyde, south of Glasgow, on the way out, and a detour to the Fife Coast (Crail, Anstruther, and Pittenweem) on the way home.

2016-11-scotland-rz67-velvia-50-001

I returned with 12 rolls of medium-format colour negative, and two rolls of slide film. So far I’ve developed 7 rolls of film and I’m planning to wait until I’ve got them all done before posting some location-based selections here.

In the meantime I’ll leave this single image which was taken in the Falls of Leny car park near Callander, on a Mamiya RZ67 loaded with Fuji Velvia 50 slide film, and a 110mm lens. I’d just stopped to drink some coffee from the flask, in pouring rain, and noticed these raindrops hanging on the grasses just next to the car.

I would have liked a little more depth of field, but the light levels were very low, and if I pushed the shutter speed too long the breeze may have been a problem; I think the settings I used were 1/15s at f5.6.

More to follow …

 

 

 

Single image: sunflowers

Sometimes I have a roll of film in a camera so long that I forget what was on the film, particularly at the beginning. That’s particularly likely to happen to photographers who have too many cameras (which I do, but probably less than the average). I also have multiple film backs for my Mamiya RZ67, which increases the potential of losing track, including the possibility of forgetting what type of film is loaded …

Anyway I finished off a roll of Tri-X in the RZ67, four months after it was started, developed the film in Firstcall B&W developer, and was pleased to find this image:

Sunflowers

Tri-X pushed at Locomotion

I took a trip to Locomotion: the National Railway Museum at Shildon last weekend. This is an outpost of the National Railway Museum at York, and much smaller than the York site but also much closer to home.

I wanted to use the Mamiya RZ67 but wasn’t sure if I’d be able to use a tripod, so decided I would take a monopod and be prepared to push Kodak Tri-X film up to EI1600. This gave me exposures of 1/60s to 1/125s when near the windows of the museum “shed” and 1/30s when further away from the windows, with apertures around f5.6 to f8.

I also limited myself to two lenses – the 110mm and 50mm (equivalent to 55mm and 25mm in 35mm-equivalent terms.

2016-10-1-shildon-railway-museum-rz67-tri-x1600-firstcall-dev-003

I developed the film, as usual, in Firstcall B&W film developer, but I didn’t have a time for pushing the film to ISO 1600, so  I used the Massive Dev Chart to eastblish the typical time differential between processing at 400 and processing at 1600, and used a time about 2.25 times for ISO400.

2016-10-1-shildon-railway-museum-rz67-tri-x1600-firstcall-dev-001

2016-10-1-shildon-railway-museum-rz67-tri-x1600-firstcall-dev-004

After scanning with EpsonScan to TIFFs, I imported the images into Lightroom, darkened the blacks, and used a “Selenium Brown” pre-set. When I think an image might need quite a lot of adjustment, I prefer to scan to TIFF rather than JPEG, to avoid the “Jaggies”, i.e. gaps in the histogram following processing.
2016-10-1-shildon-railway-museum-rz67-tri-x1600-firstcall-dev-0022016-10-1-shildon-railway-museum-rz67-tri-x1600-firstcall-dev-005

I had to open up to f2.8 with the 110mm lens for the image above, which gives the same limited depth of field as f1.4 on 35mm film or full-frame digital, i.e. not much !

2016-10-1-shildon-railway-museum-rz67-tri-x1600-firstcall-dev-0062016-10-1-shildon-railway-museum-rz67-tri-x1600-firstcall-dev-008

I’m not keen on Tri-X in 35mm, which I find too grainy, but it’s OK in medium format and I think the “gritty” approach of push-processed Tri-X suits these images well.

2016-10-1-shildon-railway-museum-rz67-tri-x1600-firstcall-dev-009

By coincidence, there was a classic cars display outside the museum that day, so I took some shots of the cars. These haven’t been processed yet but might make an appearance in a future post.

 

 

Infrared with Efke IR 820c Aura

I’m not usually one for using obsolete films – in fact I’m trying to standardise on a small range of currently-available colour negative and B&W films. The colour choice is pretty fixed at Kodak Ektar and Kodak Portra 400 – at least in medium format. In 35mm, I’m not averse to using Agfa Vista 200, at £1 for 24 exposures, when the results aren’t critical.

For black and white I’m concentrating on Ilford FP4+ for the slow-medium speed range but still haven’t settled on a faster film. I like Tri-X in medium format but find it too grainy for my liking in 35mm. I’ve never used Ilford Hp5 but all the results I’ve seen online look too grainy for me.

Getting a little closer to the title of this post, I recently purchased 8 rolls of Rollei IR400 in 35mm together with one roll of the defunct Efke IR 820c Aura, second-hand for a very reasonable price.

I’ve blogged about Rollei IR400 before; in that post I developed the 35mm version in Rodinal and liked the film but found it a bit grainy. Since then I’ve used the medium format version in a Yashicamat 124G and other developers, which resolves the grain issues.

Having eight rolls of IR400 is enough to make it worthwhile doing some testing to determine a good base ISO and developing time, for my now favourite/only developer, Firstcall’s own brand B&W film developer. 

As well as using the film for infrared with a Hoya R72 filter, I also intend doing more tests without a filter, for use as a “normal” faster film. If that goes well, then the Rollei IR400 may take it’s place alongside FP4+ in my small range of chosen films, doubling up for infrared and those occasions when I need a little more speed than FP4+ can provide. We shall see.

So finally getting to the point – my single roll of Efke Aura. I shot the film with a base ISO,  allowing for Hoya R72 filter, of ISO3, but also shot additional shots with an extra stop on top of that reading. On the whole the shots with the extra stop were probably the more useable ones, but I didn’t take careful records as I only had one roll and didn’t expect to repeat the experience. The film was shot at two National Trust venues in the North East of England – Washington Old Hall and Gibside.

I couldn’t find a published development time for my chosen developer so followed a very unscientific route:

a) Looked at the Massive Dev Chart filtered for all developers and Efke IR film, then took a mid-range guess of 8 minutes at 20c.

b) I then used the Massive Dev Chart time and temperature convertor to take account of the actual temp of my chemicals (18.5c) and the reduction needed when using constant agitation in a Jobo processor. This gave a time of 7m 54s.

So here are selected results.

 

2016-8-14, Washington Old Hall, Canon FTb, Efke 820c Aura, Firstcall Dev 1+15,026

Washington Old Hall – the home of the ancestors of US President George Washington

2016-8-14, Washington Old Hall, Canon FTb, Efke 820c Aura, Firstcall Dev 1+15,0312016-8-14, Washington, Canon FTb, Efke 820c Aura, Firstcall Dev 1+15,023

2016-8-21, Gibside, Canon FTb, Efke 820c Aura, Firstcall Dev 1+15,001

The Column to British Liberty at Gibside, completed in 1756

2016-8-21, Gibside, Canon FTb, Efke 820c Aura, Firstcall Dev 1+15,002

2016-8-21, Gibside, Canon FTb, Efke 820c Aura, Firstcall Dev 1+15,015-Edit

The ruined Gibside Hall

2016-8-21, Gibside, Canon FTb, Efke 820c Aura, Firstcall Dev 1+15,016

The Hall has been deserted since 1920 and visitors cannot enter

2016-8-21, Gibside, Canon FTb, Efke 820c Aura, Firstcall Dev 1+15,019

The Orangery at Gibside

2016-8-21, Gibside, Canon FTb, Efke 820c Aura, Firstcall Dev 1+15,018

A view from the Orangery

2016-8-21, Gibside, Canon FTb, Efke 820c Aura, Firstcall Dev 1+15,020

Sunflowers in the walled garden at Gibside

 

2016-8-21, Gibside, Canon FTb, Efke 820c Aura, Firstcall Dev 1+15,004

So how was the Efke Aura in comparison with Rollei IR400 ? Well of course it is impossible to say after using only one roll. I didn’t see much of the “bloom” that the Efke film is known for, and it probably needs even more exposure to bring out that feature. I certainly liked the results (or the ones that worked well, and the hit rate with IR film is always going to be lower than it is with normal film). But I didn’t like it three times better than Rollei IR400 – and the few rolls of Efke Aura for sale on eBay are going for 3 times the cost of the Rollei IR400 film.

 

 

 

 

Birthday pinholes on Skye

August 2016 saw me head to Scotland for a week’s family holiday, at Balmacara which is on the mainland not far from the Skye Bridge. Family holidays naturally mean less dedicated time for photography than, well, a dedicated photo trip, so I left behind the RZ67 and heavy tripod and took the Ondu Multi-format Pinhole camera with Fuji Acros.

2016-8-4, Fairy Pools, Ondu 6  6, Acros, Firstcall Dev 1+15, 3

One day in the week was my birthday so I got to choose where we went and to devote some time to photography. A trip over the bridge to Skye was my choice, specifically to Glen Sligachan and the Fairy Pools, which lie either side of end of the Black Cuillin mountains.

2016-8-4, Fairy Pools, Ondu 6  6, Acros, Firstcall Dev 1+15, 4

I had photographed at both these spots before so I wanted to do something different rather than replicate my previous approaches, so the pinhole camera was the obvious choice.

2016-8-4, Sligachan, Ondu 6  6, Acros, Firstcall Dev 1+15, 5

My previous visits to the Fairy Pools had been in May 2012 and October 2014, and there hadn’t been more than a dozen other visitors spread out over a mile of the stream bank. This time, in August, there were literally hundreds of visitors, with both car parks overflowing and cars parked on the verges, leading to struggles to get back up the crowded single-track road on the way home.

So quite a lot of effort was involved to try to minimise the number of people in the images; some were reduced to ghosts as they moved through a ten-second exposure.
2016-8-4, Sligachan, Ondu 6  12, Acros, Firstcall Dev 1+15, 2

All the above images were taken on Fuji Acros developed, as usual for me, in Firstcall B&W developer. After scanning they were imported into Lightroom where toning a large amount of clarity added.