The Woods on Velvia

Back in those ‘good old days’ when I shot (and processed) a lot of medium format Velvia. Before getting entirely sick of it and selling my Jobo processing kit and forgetting which box my Bronica got stored in. Amazing what jumps out at you when you haven’t opened Lightroom in a year or two. I should really look for that Bronica…

Gap of Dunloe

Taken an age ago on one of the increasingly less frequent (I know, I know) romps around parts of Kerry that aren’t 1; Molls Gap, 2; Kenmare or 3; Killarney. Back when I was only too delighted to leave the car, throw the tripod & bronica loaded with velvia over my shoulder and go off in search of a tasty foreground rock. Nowadays, Velvia (at least the developing and scanning part of it) has gotten old to the point where I don’t see myself planning on buying any more any time soon, the bronica sits in a dusty corner and I never get any further than 100 yards from the car anymore. Must try harder.

Bluebell Hunt

In Cork two weekends in a row (a rare treat) and the promise was made to seek out some bluebells to photograph. Currabinny woods has nealy always been a good spot, something I believe I pointed out on the morning we were setting out to go and take some photos. Without knowing I’d already jinxed the operation completely. Although there were bluebells, there was nowhere near the amount I’ve seen in previous years. So instead, I contented myself with using the remaining frames on the roll of God knows what that was in the A-1 while Julie tried to make the most of it.

When the film counter rolled past 24 with no sign of it stopping, I imagined that the loaded film (which had been in the camera for months by now) was a lovely roll of black & white. Just the ticket for bluebell photography. So I pretty much rattled off the remainder of the roll. I shot the sky, trees, the ground, Julie, grass, more sky. You get the idea. Having rewound the completed roll, it was a nice surprise to open the camera and find a 36 exposure roll of ‘that expired film’ staring back at me.

My distaste for scanning is intact and as such, expect to see spots, lines, hairs and other foreign bodies lurking in the scanned negatives above. It’s only the very special photos these days that get the full spit polish in lightroom. Again the DSLR sat in the bag and the above is a product of my two (and only) gorgeous lenses for the A-1; the 50 ƒ1.8 and the 135 ƒ2. There is a shopping list but it’s better not to explore that too much in case my bank balance gets wind of it and goes into hiding. Let’s just leave it by saying there’s a couple of ƒ1.2’s on there. Or, if I was feeling extra flush, maybe one of those ƒ0.95’s you don’t really see many of anymore.

I could go on and spitball at length about how my love of the FD lenses has led me onto the notion of selling an unused EF lenses and buying a Sony NEX-5N but then I’d just be waffling. And that wouldn’t be like me…

Sheeps Head

It’s probably as much about the pilgrimage to the end of the world as it is about the photography, but Sheeps Head is one hell of a location. It’s almost always as windy as hell (or as windy as I imagine hell might be on a windy day) down there, soggy or even sinky under foot for at least 30% of the walk and you never really know if one of the animals roaming the headland is going to take an instant dislike to you and formulate some kind of velociraptor styled attack. Having said all that, I wouldn’t change it one bit. If it’s not my favorite location in west Cork for the last few years, it’s certainly in the top three.

As with many of my favorite locations, it did eventually receive the Bronica coverage. PanF+ was the film of choice. This all happened a couple of years ago. Then the film sat on a shelf and greeted the full extent of the morning sun every morning for months. The only reprieve it got was when it was wound clumsily onto a spool, thrust into a tank by a ham-fisted operator (that’ll be me by the way), developed incorrectly (most likely) and hung up to dry in a dusty spare bathroom. So if you see some spots, water marks, hairs and some light leaks in these pictures, you’ll understand how they got there. Having said all that, I still intend on printing at least two of this set. I think it’s got less to do with being happy with the photos because they’re technically good (which they obviously aren’t) and more to do with the location.

Remembering finer days

Until I actually produce some new images in 2012 (I haven’t picked up the camera at all this year yet), I’m not going to stray too far from safe ground. The safe ground is currently Velvia. Going back over the old images I should have blogged months and sometimes years ago, I found these images from Powerscourt in Wicklow that sat in Lightroom being tweaked and fiddled with every now and then. Velvia has always been, for me at least, quite difficult to get right colour balance wise. Sometimes I hit the nail on the head and replicate exactly what I recall from the day and other times it ends up being too blue, too green or too much like nuclear fallout.

Remembering finer days; Because now that I’ve dusted off the motorbike for 2012, I’d like to see some blue in the sky again. Maybe even temperatures above 4-6 degrees in the middle of the day. I don’t ask much really.

Maybe now that I’ve dusted the bike off, I’ll take the opportunity to blow the dust off at least one camera and actually get out and press the shutter button. Oh and get to west Cork on it (the bike, be surprised if you see me riding around Bantry on a Bronica).

Avondale

A trip to Avondale park last year with Vlastik where I took the opportunity to use a few of the rolls of velvia in the fridge. I thought I’d get rid of the remaining slide film as my intention was to develop it then sell the Jobo CPE I bought a couple of years ago on ebay. I think I’ve had my fill of developing anything other than black & white and the Jobo, tanks, chemicals and all the E6 paraphernalia are just taking up space in the ‘junk room’. On that, if anyone is interested in buying a CPE plus, some tanks, spools and whatever else I’ve got, drop me a line.

One thing I’ve never quite managed is metering for scenarios like being in woods where you’re in & around different lighting situations. One minute we were in bright sunshine, then overcast, then under trees. As a result, quite a lot of the 5 rolls I think I shot that day are under exposed. I’ve dragged what I could out of them in scanning & post processing but alas, there’s only so much you can do. Pity, because one of the shots I really wanted was killed stone dead by poor metering, as you can see below.

What I captured compared to what I saw on the day almost made me lock the bronica up in a cupboard when I took the slides out of the tank. I believe I even said ‘I wish I had taken my 5D with me’. Another one below. I got the forest floor metered with some accuracy but sadly lost all the background. Let’s just say I meant to do it that way; Focusing the viewers attention on the tiniest of foreground rocks and not on all that messy shrubbery in the background.

Thankfully, and not to put me off shooting velvia again, most of the shots came out pretty much as intended. If that’s my skill/technique, a triumph of post processing or the hand of God during development is for the viewer to decide. It’s not too difficult to appreciate of the ease and forgiving nature of shooting digital when you come back from a day of film shooting and and up with crap. But that, of course, is an old story so don’t go sharply exhaling in exasperation and rolling your eyes at me just yet.

It does go right now and then and the film captures things in a way you only wished you could have seen them. While waiting for the sun to come back out I shot a couple of frames of this scene. The difference between this and the next shot, taken only about 3 seconds later, is amazing. Timing, or perhaps impatience to move on was on my side.

A low ISO film, a tripod, a cable release, ND filters and a river. No prizes for guessing what happens next. Vlastik may also have some mildly amusing photos of me getting into a precarious position on some slippery rocks and perhaps even more amusing photos of me trying to return to the safety of the footpath. I heard somewhere that it’s now been made illegal to not take ‘flowing water’ photos when the opportunity presents itself. That was tacked onto the ‘HDR Swan photo 2010’ legislation in congress I believe. (Forgive the in-joke).

That was pretty much our trip. An enjoyably sedate couple of hours spent wandering about taking conflicting light meter readings, arranging leaves, pine cones and other detritus while moaning about having to go back to work on Monday. If you haven’t already been to Avondale, I very much recommend it. It’s here, not too far from Rathdrum in Co. Wicklow.

Oh and as it’s my first post of 2012, happy new year.

That time of year

Been on a bit of an analog thing of late, thanks in no small part to the quantity of velvia scanned some weeks back. No updates in a while because I started a new job a couple of weeks ago and outside all of the settling in, trying to remember as many new names as possible and all that, I haven’t been hugely inclined to udpate the blog. These three were taken with the Diana fisheye lens that Julie got me some time ago for my birthday and/or Christmas. To tell the truth, I’d never successfully used it on the Diana before and it spent much of it’s time on my 5D thanks to the EF adapter that came with the gift.

I completely blew these out too but after some scanning luck and some wild slide bar wanging in lightroom, I got a somewhat acceptable outcome. Not to everyone’s taste I’m sure.  Subject wise, they are of course in the botanic gardens in Dublin on one of the last (or possibly the last) photowalk I attended up there while the place was under a blanket of snow about this time last year. The increasingly dark and cold evenings reminded me of these photos and have made me hope that the snow either stays away for as long as possible or doesn’t come at all this year.

Maybe some ‘novelty’ snow on Christmas Eve/Day. After that, I can’t be dealing with it.

Not very wintry but it was the next shot on the same roll so what the hell. The inside of the greenhouse at a much more friendly temperature.

Last Winter

Now that all the France holiday posts are done, I can get back to reviewing some of the more recent additions to my lightroom catalog. This was from a batch of Velvia I developed recently (and had been sitting on the shelf in the spare room for about a year previous to that). How do I know that? Because other shots on the roll were from Christmas/New Year 2010 at the Botanic Gardens. This was shot with the Diana, something I haven’t picked up in quite a while. I initially thought the light leaks this roll picked up from nearly a year sitting on a shelf would ruin the roll but once scanned some of the shots didn’t look too bad. Almost usable, like the above.

Reasons to be West

Another from the couple of rolls of Velvia scanned recently. West Cork again, just as the sun was going down. After fecking about with Vuescan and a couple more for what seemed like an eternity, I think I’ve finally got close enough to the negative to stop worrying about it. This is pretty much straight out of the scanner. Just got rid of some of the more noticeable marks and spots.

Garden Rambling

Back to the grounds of IMMA before I retire these two rolls worth of scans into the cavernous expanses of my photo archive. First, some Pan F 50 lovingly modified by lightroom.

Secondly some SFX, split toned in the only method I know; Ham-fisted. That’s about it for IMMA this time around I think. Of the 26 or so photos from this session I haven’t put up, I think they’ll have to remain semi-retired sitting in the ‘current jobs’ folder until I clear out that lingering job from 2009.

Cloistered

Another from IMMA, this time shot on Ilford PanF+ (5o ISO) to somewhat illustrate the difference between this and the previous shot in SFX 200. Both rolls processed using Rodinal for the recommended time.

I love using PanF+ but at 50 ISO, a tripod is quite often if not always necessary. Again I’m very impressed with how the metered prism did with the exposure and I’ll continue to use it now instead of carrying around the light meter or just guessing at exposure. Knowing that I can get decent exposure now will probably also inspire me to get through some of the remaining Velvia. Shoot it at least. I’m sure it’ll then spend about 12 months sitting on a shelf waiting to be developed. Then another 6-8 months waiting to be scanned. It’s not so much a workflow as it is a workslow. See what I did there?

The Royal Hospital

IMMAAfter yesterdays ‘oh shit I can’t post what I wanted to post so I’ll post something else taken with the same camera’ entry, here’s what I wanted to post. Having got my hands on some fresh developer, this is the result of the test SFX 200 roll I’ve had sitting in the fridge for over a year. It taunted me every time I went in there for milk so it had to get used.

Having looked over the roll, I’d give the result an astounding ‘meh’. For €4.85, I expected more of the ‘near IR’ to be visible. Maybe it requires something in post processing to pull that out, mabye I screwed the exposure, maybe I screwed the developing? Maybe it doesn’t like Rodinal? As with everything film camera based, there are way too many variables to consider.

I’m going to have to scan the roll of Pan F+ I shot the same day in the same location to work out the differences, but from looking at the negs drying I can’t see much in it. At least my untrained eye can’t.

IMMA is such an amazing location, more or less peaceful, amazing building, fantastic grounds and you don’t get hassled. Well, much. I was approached at one point by a security guard checking who I was working for because I ‘looked professional’. Nice guy though. Certainly didn’t give me any trouble as I strolled around with a bulky tripod and a camera noticably larger than your average tourist point & shoot.

But I digress. SFX? Pah! I’ll stick with Pan F+ in the Bronica, Neopan 100 in the Canon A1. Nice to try it out though. If nothing else, it lets you know you’re not missing anything special. Having said that, I welcome all commenters offering their two cents on what I did wrong.

Meander

DunloeA bit further up (if I remember correctly) from where I took this, but the same roll of film none the less. Spurred on today having just had the Bronica out for the first time in a hell of a long time. Shot two rolls of B&W in the Irish Museum of Modern Art, came home all enthusiastic ready to dev & scan. Nope, developer is well expired. Balls. Decided not to risk it with the rolls as one of them is SFX 200 that I’ve had in the fridge for the last 18 months at least. I really want to see how that comes out. Shot the whole roll with a 25A red filter and chanced my arm using the metered prism finder.

Anyway, that’s the reason for the medium format shot today. Also reminded me that we passed the Gap of Dunloe only a few weeks ago on the way back from Waterville and my intense desire to ride up through there on the bike was cut short by worries about the lack of tread left on the rear wheel. Still haven’t managed to get the tyres changed so riding has been somewhat restricted of late. That and the weather is pants. This is priority one for the next trip to Cork. Spin down to Killarney, through the gap and onto the pancake house nearish Kenmare for something cheesy and bacony.

I’m sure the sun will come back for at least another week…

Place to be

The weather is beginning to turn again and although some Donegal weather forecasting prophet has predicted more snow in the next couple of weeks, I think I’ll take a chance on a green Patricks day instead of a white one. So yeah, weather turning. Thoughts of getting back out and taking some landscapes. Loaded up lightroom and this jumped out of my catalog list. It’s from an almost forgotten roll of velvia I scanned some time back. I’m pretty sure this was taken at Barley lake in west Cork.

It also serves well to remind me that I haven’t done a tap this year photography wise and also that I’ve got a whole balls-load* of velvia to get through. I’ve never been much of a fan of slide scanning, mostly because it’s a pain in the arse to get the colours right on screen. Or maybe I’m just crap at it, that’s also a distinct possibility.

So this is the place to be. I might just print this one out and stick it to the side of my monitor in work. Possibly next to the countdown clock that I’ve set to mark my departure to the UK on my motorbike next month for a wee spot of touring.

*the new collective term for a lot of film to scan.