Saturday, 14 April 2012

A few tweaks here and there

Following on from the last post I am going to tweak the way in which I work. I will shortly submit five images for assignment one as previously planned.  I have made technical amendments where feasible. Despite the cool reception my proof sheets received at the Masterclass, when presented larger, and after some careful post processing, I am not unhappy with them...they are certainly 'salvageable' as a series. Not to say that I won't make changes as I progress with this series from assignment one in to the basis of the portfolio. But for now, I happy to wait for my tutor feedback before making any decisions.

Going forward, beyond assignment one, a few adjustments to my method of working:
  • keep it simple, keep it simple, keep it simple
  • I have too many complex themes running around my head that seem hugely complicated to execute. I will continue pursuing the concept of 'alternative ways to photograph the Lake District' (apart from for assignment two). But I suspect my execution will be radically simplified, particularly for assignment three.
  • no more colour film with 5x4.  Two reasons for this, first I can get 25 sheets of b/w film for the same price as ten colour sheets. So I can take more pictures, make more mistakes and learn more quickly.  It also means that if I want to develop my own in the future, I can.
  • go back to basics - I need to become much more meticulous with regards the technical aspects of my image making and processes.  I'm hoping the slow approach the 5x4 enforces will encourage this.
  • I need to tackle the 5x4 without the added complication of people and animals.
  • each image will require much more thought with regards concept and execution...I haven't been neglectful of this by any means, but am now acutely aware how much more attention I must devote to it. 
I'm sure there are other things that will have altered but those are a few of the main ones.


  1. You can also develop colour yourself, you just need more control over temperature... And also, bear in mind that many (35mm and 120) black and white films are developed using colour chemicals now. Choosing to work in B&W is a step change, a level of abstraction that has been missing from your previous work that I've seen. Is it consistent with your vision, your methodology?

  2. I'm not sure going to black and white is a 'step change'. I'm trying to make using the large format camera more affordable...and black and white film will help this...and when I have mastered the kit I may or may not revert back to colour. I'm not intending on making abstract imagery per se or even strictly black and white, but I am trying to streamline and simplify my approach...

  3. Penny, I understand your frustration—coping with the technical aspects and complex themes—I think your approach is sound, stepping back a little, and simplifier your process will allow you to focus more on the individual aspects that you want to 'perfect' or at least improve. Sometimes, I think we take on too much, are over-ambitious—and then are disappointed when it does not work out as we had hoped.

    I'm not suggesting that you lower your sights at all. Those will always be high; but by concentrating on building the foundations as you imply you are going to do—those foundations will then be strong enough for you to climb on them and reach even higher! Good luck!

  4. simplify as opposed to simplifier! Sorry about the typo!!

  5. I read your other posting about the "issues" you had with 5x4. Similar to mine and who knows maybe everyone who starts using that format. I found that even the simple things I had in my mind at home (like all slides loaded with the white tab showing and when exposed turn over to black tab) were reversed, or were they in the field. I ended up writing on my hand in felt pen to remind myself. An alternative I have thought of would be using a roll film back. materials and process is cheaper, winding on is less prone to double exp etc and retain the benefits of the camera movements. The scanned neg is still going to have plenty of pixels for a big print.
    I agree about no people or animals (esp with a view camera) unless they are all under your direction. The time between the last composition check and shutter open is too long and comp changes. I can see a use for 5x4 but for me it will be studio based I think. I want to try some still life with a simple north light and long exposures.
    I am sure you will get to grips though and get what u want from it.

  6. Vicki, you've hit the nail on the head, you've expressed my dilemma very well and I like your turn of phrase. Let's hope it works now!!

    Nigel, a roll film back, what exactly is that Nigel? And what type of film would you use? With regards the usage of 5x4 it would be a shame if it stayed in the studio, but on my few trips out with it, all the inclements the British weather bring with it are exacerbated when you have all the bulk. I've resorted to an Ikea bag full of stuff. I went out in quite a strong wind yesterday and my improvised black pillowcase (dark cloth) was hellish!! But without the hazard of kids and animals in the shot I suddenly realised that without the anxiety of time limits I could take my time, think about things more and I actually enjoyed it instead of feeling harassed. So as mentioned above...back to basics and simplifying things to make it more achievable and as Vicki says hopefully I'll avoid the disappointments too then.

  7. If I'm not mistaken, a roll film back is a 120 film cassette as used on a MF camera - not 100% sure on this, but it would be similar to using a digital back I suppose - same sort of adapter. Film would then cost a few quid for 12 (or more, depending on the back/film combo) exposures.

  8. As Rob says its a 120 roll film holder. You use the GG screen as nornal for composition and focus but instead of putting a darkslide in the grooves at the back you put in the special 120 back. Pull out the dark slide (thin stell plate), take the image, put back the dark slide and wind on ready for the next frame. The only thing that changes is is aparent focal length of the lens, so a 150 standard lens for 5x4 becomes a short telephoto and you would need a 80mm for standard lens coverage. Most are for 6x6 and 6x4.5 and some go to 6x9 and 6x12.
    There is one here

  9. cheers guys...I will have to give this some thought...the technical aspects of film photography is mind-boggling. I think I will probably need to master the equipment I have got until it is instinctive and not be tempted to purchase more...I just have to get my head around it.

  10. I can't comment on the technical aspects of 5x4, but I think your action plan is a good one in stripping everything down to some fundamentals. Complex themes can also be reduced down into simpler steps as well - I'm guessing from your images that you have some strong views regarding 'going back to nature" and the pastoral idea. Please correct me if I'm wrong though. Also, I've probably missed this, but do you 'try out' your ideas with digital first?


    ps Blogger doesn't seem to want my Wordpress ID so I'm trying to be 'anonymouse'!

  11. Catherine, strong views on 'going back to nature'...I haven't considered this for a very long time...but I suspect I do and is now so ingrained in my make-up (or lack of it) I don't even know its there. When I think about it more, your assumption is probably correct. With regards 'try-out's'...I take my digital with test shots and cross reference the light readings with my light meter, but I haven't been methodical...some I have back-ups on digital, some I haven't...I think I under-estimated the difficulties of setting up shots like this, with people or animals...and the extra time pressure this brings with it. I could do with a support team like Crewdson!!

  12. If ever I'm round your way I'll volunteer Penny. Had another thought re complex themes, being in a philosophical mood today. Maybe they're like having therapy. You need to keep working at the various aspects as they come into your here and now consciousness as opposed to trying to cover everything at once. Otherwise it could be all field but with no ground to place your feet upon.