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Saturday, 31 January 2015

120 Film paper backing symbols.

When I started to use a zero multi format pinhole camera for the first time, I had a brief moment of panic because I could not remember what the symbols on the backing paper indicated before the frame number. I had also forgotten that the whole family of 120 formats were represented. I had not used the little red window on the back of a camera since my childhood. Fortunately for me it did not take long for it to come back.

Makes of film shown FP4+, Fomapan, Adox.
Beginning of film. (start)


Remember that the frame number also indicates the center of the film you are about to expose so it is important to get this in the middle of the red window. If you repeatedly over run this by the time you get to the end of the film you will only have part of a frame left.




End of film (Finish)
With this in mind the following pictures show you what to expect with different makes of 120 film - not just for winding on but for winding off before you remove the film from the camera. Not sure why you would need to know this when your coming to the end of the film? logic dictates that you just keep winding until you feel the backing freeing it's self from the spool.

The top line of symbols are for cameras that use 6 x 4.5 negatives. The middle is for 6x6 negatives. The bottom for 6 x 7  and 6 x 9 negatives.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Light metering?

For years I wanted to obtain a Bronica and when I did it was a very happy day. The SQAi has done a lot of travelling over the years; in all sorts of weather and across many different terrains. It has let me down on a couple of occasions but I do not blame the camera, overall it has been a great bit of kit. It can be a pain literally on long treks as it is no light weight, even in its lightest configuration.

I have not always been happy with the camera. When I first had it I could not get used to the back to front image which was really frustrating at times. I was not happy with having to use a hand held light meter either. I know! why did I
purchase it in the first place? Boyhood dream of some day of owning one? It has taken sometime for its use to become second nature, but now that it has, my picture making has become more fluent.

Along the way, my light meter use has changed; with some experimenting, I have found that two readings is better than one over all, making white bland skies with monochrome film a thing of the past. I, like you, have tried to solve it by using black and white filters from yellow to red and graduated neutral density filters to name a few. All of which are now gathering dust some where. Really and truly all you need to do is take a second light reading. Of what? The brightest part of the scene which in most cases is the sky and the amount of time it takes to do this makes it a no brainer. In fact you could have taken several in the time it takes to read this.


An understanding of Ansel Adams zone system helps to produce better negatives.

The picture right give a rough idea on how it works.

I have metered skies that have been as much as six stops brighter. In these cases, would it mean shutting the lens down by three stops to allow for it? With a little bit of help from the zone system you may only need to allow one stop to improve the detail in the sky, this would lead to better detailed negatives. The extra information would lead to more easily produced photographs.

Yes you can bracket your exposures which is a good way of learning what works best for you but as a long term method it is a waste of film. The idea is to know what works so you can get it right first time.


On average I have found that the skies in my pictures are about two to three F numbers brighter, meaning a slight adjustment to the exposure before pressing the shutter will produce more detail in the sky on the processed negative, without making the main part of the image too dark. When it comes to printing, whether burning in or holding back, depends on which method you prefer to use in the darkroom. My working method leads me to add light (burn in) more often than take it away (hold back). The sky is not always the brightest part of the picture, I'm using it in this case because it is the most common complaint with developed negatives and to keep my explanation simple.

The following pictures show what happen when the sky is taken into account:


120 format Film FP4+, 6x6 negative,
 Developed in ID11 ,
Printed on Ilford multigrade RC gloss,
 Developed in Ilford multigrade.





This picture was metered for the piper. I did not take a second reading for the sky. I have been unable to burn the sky in hence the white out so to speak.















120 format film FP4+, 125 ISO, 6x6 negative
Developed in Ilford multigrade developer
printed on multigrade RC gloss.





With this picture I closed the aperture down by one F number to allow for the sky. For example from F.8 to F.11. As you can see the clouds have been picked out. With a bit of burning in (adding light) The sky would have more contrast therefore stand out.














120 format Fomapan 100 ISO, 6x6 negative,
Developed in RO9, Printed on Ilford multigrade RC
gloss, Developed in Moersch 6 Blue.


This is a badly scanned photograph but it does illustrate how well the clouds stand out.

It was a difficult scene to meter. The lighting was changing quickly. The light reading for the sky was indicating a difference of three F numbers in brightness more than the overall reading.  In the end I only shut the lens down by one F number. It is a straight print without any burning in.











Friday, 16 January 2015

Thinking in Black and white?


I don't know about you, but I find it difficult to get back into the swing of things after a break. I find it hard to get my brain out of park. It would seem that the longer I get in the tooth the more likely I am to make the silliest of mistakes. Take earlier in the year for instance.




One Sunday afternoon we thought we would take a trip out to the Humber bridge. The day had turned very warm with a light breeze and rolling clouds. Ideal for making pictures. Earlier that day I had cleaned my SQAi and loaded up all my film backs with fresh film. Not unusual in it's self, except one of the backs was loaded with an out of date colour film. I placed this back on the camera and thought no more about it.



It was a great day to walk across the bridge and along the way I made pictures of whatever took my eyes fancy, happy in the knowledge that they would make good mono-prints. After making twelve pictures I changed the film backs with one loaded with FP4+ and continued on my merry way.



When unloading the film backs at home I discovered that the unmarked back had colour film in it and not the Foma 100 I thought I was using. Ah! How would these pictures work in colour? The reason I ask this is because I think and see differently when using black and white film. Or do I?




An unexpected chance to test what I have been saying and doing. When the pictures came back from the lab, the first thing I noticed was the way they had been composed. In fact the colour does not add anything to some of the pictures. I would not have made any of these pictures in this way had I known it was colour film. It would have been a different set of pictures altogether. 





Saturday, 3 January 2015

FADU 2014

The year book is out.

Hopefully this is the start of a new era of year books from the film anddarkroom users forum (FADU). Earlier in the year Ian a member of FADU expressed his desire to have the year book started again and enquired if any of the other members would be interested in taking part. To his surprise there was a ground swell of enthusiasm for it to be reinstated. A boost to its reincarnation was Les Mclean's offer to curate and edit the book on behalf of the members.

This is the first book since Dave Miller the forums owner bowed out of producing the book back in 2012. There have been a number of calls by different members to get it going again but were not able to find anyone who had the time to get it off the ground. One of the main differences is that a number of members have gotten together to form a group to over see the submission process for the year book.

What makes this year book different from others, and the forum for that matter, is it's strict adherence to all pictures being scanned from photographs. Likewise for a picture to be included in the book, each associate was allowed to submit up to four photographs no larger than 8 x 10 in size. To be mailed to the submissions member no later than the end of October. They were then sent on altogether to Les Mclean for editing.

Another good thing about the submission process for the book was any member no matter what his or her level of experience, was invited to take part. I have to add that FADU is a very friendly welcoming forum who's members are always very willing to share their knowledge no matter who or where you are in your analogue journey.
So to the 2014 edition of the year book, i have to say there is a wonderful selection of photographs reproduced in the book. In the end, nineteen FADU supporters provided work for inclusion in the book. Not as diverse as previous years editions but a good number to start things going again. Of the seventy six photograph’s entered forty have been chosen. Representing all genre of photography.


Thanks goes to all the members who helped to make it a reality and a special thanks to Les McLean for taking on the editorial role. I think his involvement gave the project the impetus it needed to make it a reality.