Category Archives: landscapes

West Burton Falls, FP4+ in two developers

After leaving Aysgarth Falls (document in my last post here) I drove just a few miles to West Burton Falls. This is an easily accessible location as you can park in the village just a few hundred yards away and there are no hills to climb.

Mamiya RZ67, 65mm lens, Ilford FP4+, developed in Rollei RHS D74-DC

Mamiya RZ67, 180mm lens, Ilford FP4+, developed in Rollei RHS D74-DC

Mamiya RZ67, 65mm lens, Ilford FP4+, developed in Kodak HC110

The previous two images were both taken from the same spot, or nearly so, first with a 180mm lens (a short telephoto or portrait lens) and second with a 65mm moderate wide angle lens.

They were also developed with a different developer; the first three images in this post were developed with Rollei RHS-D74-DC and the last, which was the only shot taken with a second roll of FP4+, was developed in Kodak HC110.

I doubt very much if readers will notice any difference due to the developers; I’ve always thought that different developers don’t make a great deal of difference to the appearance of the image. Convenience factors (eg whether you prefer liquid or powder, one-shot or replenishable) and seem to be more important factors in choosing a developer.

I managed to make what seems like a major error with the HC110 developer, which was that I made stock solution by diluting the concentrate 1+1, even though the instructions quite clearly said it should be diluted 1+3. So by the time I had made up the working solution using Dilution B, my developer was twice as strong as it should be !

As soon as I saw the negatives come out of the tank I could see I’d made a mistake as they were very high in contrast, which is a sign of over-development. However I don’t think you can really detect ill-effects in this scanned version. I hope to print the image in the darkroom soon so I’ll see how that works with a soft grade setting.

 

 

Ilford FP4+ at Aysgarth Falls

You may have noticed that waterfalls are a favourite subject of mine and I was really overdue a trip to Aysgarth Falls, which I had last viewed about 20 years ago. This is a series of three falls in Wensleydale in the Yorkshire Dales.

There are actually three sets of falls. From the car park I walked downstream and first saw the middle falls – that is quite dramatic but the angle of view is limited to what you can see from a small viewing platform. So I moved on to the Lower Falls, which is well known as the location where Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood had a fight with Little John.

Mamiya RZ67, Ilford FP4+, 65mm lens

Mamiya RZ67, Ilford FP4+, 65mm lens

All the shots shown here were taken with a 65mm lens on a Mamiya RZ67, which is equivalent to about 31mm in full-frame digital or 35mm film terms. I hadn’t used that lens for a while but decided to take just the 65mm and 180mm lenses to force myself to consider the advantages of those lenses.

Mamiya RZ67, Ilford FP4+, 65mm lens

When I first bought an RZ67 it came with 65mm and 110mm lenses; later I added a 50mm lens (about 25mm in full-frame terms) and I tended to neglect the 65mm after that. However on this occasion I found the 65mm quite wide enough.

Mamiya RZ67, Ilford FP4+, 65mm lens

Some of the shots were a bit underexposed and I didn’t get as much detail in the shadows as I would like. Ideally I should have “overexposed and underdeveloped”. However I was using Rollei RHS D74-DC developer which gives a really short time for normal development, of 3m 15s for FP4+ – which doesn’t leave much scope for N-1 or N-2 development.

For this reason, I’ve stopped using the Rollei developer and I’ve not got some HC-110 to try. Of which, more in a future post.

I also visited the Upper Falls at Aysgarth, which are nice enough, but I couldn’t see a composition which I really wanted to take, which wouldn’t duplicate those from earlier in the trip, so instead I moved on to West Burton Falls a few miles away – I’ll show those in the next blog post.

 

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 !

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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.

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Mamiya RZ67, Kodak Ektar, 180mm lens

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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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A ruined iron bridge near Bonnington Linn

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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.

 

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

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The ruined Gibside Hall

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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

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A view from the Orangery

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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.

 

Poundland film and Northumbria Bastles

Usually when I go for a walk in the countryside I’ll carry a medium format camera such as the Fujifilm GA645Zi but also tuck one of my two 35mm Olympus 35RC cameras in the bag. If there’s black and white loaded in the GA645 then I’ll take colour in the 35RC, or vice versa.

A few weeks ago I walked the Tarset Bastles Trail in Northumberland with the GA645 loaded with some expired 220-format FP4+ and the 35RC loaded with AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200. The Agfa film is re-badged Fujicolor 200, which can be purchased for £1.00 for 24 exposures at Poundland, a discount store in the UK.

I used to think of this “budget” film as being only of use for testing a camera in case of light leaks etc, but I am becoming more of a fan. It’s no Kodak Portra or Ektar but it is pretty accceptable. I usually turn down the vibrance in Lightroom when using this film because I prefer more muted colours.

On to the subject matter – bastles are medieval fortified dwellings which were built around the borders between England and Scotland at a time when “rieving”, ie cattle theft, murder, kidnap, etc, was fairly common. The best preserved example on the walk is Black Middens Bastle – I took a pinhole image of this site which unfortunately was ruined by some exhausted developer.

 

2016-7,  Oly 35RC, Agfa Vista 200, Fuji Chems, 006

Boghead bastle – unusual in that it’s built in a boggy depression rather than on a hill with a lookout view

2016-7,  Oly 35RC, Agfa Vista 200, Fuji Chems, 007

Boghead

 

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Shilva Hill

2016-7,  Oly 35RC, Agfa Vista 200, Fuji Chems, 009

This one isn’t actually a bastle, it’s just a gatepost – but you can see that the same local stone has been used. The stones from bastles would often be re-used once they had been abandoned as habitations

The film was home developed in the Fuji Hunt X-Press C41 kit and I was fairly pleased with the image quality. ‘Tis a pity it’s only 35mm …