Sunday, 26 August 2018

Be noticed

 How often do you review your images before you edit and or print them? There is a well kept secret among film photographers. The photo board or should I say the noticeboard - and yes they do get noticed.

On it I put all my new contact sheets and recently printed images. It is placed across the room from my computer and put there on purpose, allowing me to view the sheets and prints often, in those moments where I need a break from looking at the screen. It is a good reviver and helps to formulate how and which images to print. So when I take the negatives into the darkroom, things run more smoothly. 

I test whether or not the way it is printed and the paper used is right by putting the photograph on the board. Leaving it there for about three weeks or more. It also gives the print time to mature especially if I have used an FB paper. I have found that some of the fainter details show themselves when the print completely dries out. Along with any spotting that maybe needed. If at the end of this time I'm not compelled to reprint it. It becomes a print I'm happy to reproduce for sale.

I also use the noticeboard for editing sets of prints. This is a collaborative thing where anyone can move the order about or remove an image if they do not think it works. When this happens a discussion about the way the story should be told ensues, this a great way of getting the run of the pictures right.

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Cartier Bresson collected interviews

 This is a wonderful pocket size book that you can dip into anytime. The page colour is not the standard bright white but a gentle off white which is quite resting for the eyes while you read it.

It is laid out in interview/ conversation style, each chapter is a discussion with questions in bold type and answers. Making it easy to put down and pick up without loosing the thread. I have read this book three times in a row it is that interesting.


This is the first time since the interviews were first published that they have been translated from French and put into one book. The book covers twelve interviews from 1951 – 1998. He talks about his passion for books and art about being a prisoner of war, travelling to the far east and setting up Magnum.

I have really enjoyed reading the interviews I was not sure of the formate before hand but have discovered you take in far more and analyse what has been said far better than if I had listened.

Published by Aperture.

Friday, 24 August 2018

Zone System really

Love it or hate it Ansel Adams zone system has become the cornerstone of film exposure and printing that a lot of people cannot get their head round. I was one of those people until I made a point of sitting down many years back with a copy of what he actually wrote.

 It is important to stress that when reading his method on the zone system that it comes from the source and that now a days is his volume on the Negative. This is the best place to start your understanding of the process. How do I know this? I read an abridged version of The Camera, The Negative and The Print. To my amazement some of the important parts of the method were left out which made it impossible to understand.

 It was a friends encouragement that I obtain all three volumes and if I did It would improve my understanding of the relationship between the camera and the final print. He was not wrong. I ended up reading all three from cover to cover. I must admit reading the bit on the zone system left me cold. I was none the wiser from this first read. I speculated that I was producing nicely exposed negatives so what was the point.
A year or so later I started to see a number of references to the Zone system on the internet. Some condoning it and other condemning it. This reignited my curiosity in trying to understand it; so I made a loose leaf copy that I carried around with me so I could read it whenever I got the chance and make notes.
I cannot remember how many times I re read it or how many notes I made to remind me what I did not understand and how that fitted in with the rest but all of a sudden it made sense. I could work out how it related to what the light meter was telling me.

It made a difference to the way I metered and exposed the film it also settled down my sometimes erratic results. I noticed that the negatives started to be more consistent in there density which transferred to the darkroom. The number of segmented test prints reduced across a series of images on the same film.

It has been more than a decade since I set out to understand the Zone system. It will always be there in the background of my mind jumping to the fore when I have a particularly difficultly scene to meter. In the main, I use a sort of high bred method that gives me the style of negatives I'm looking for.
All I'm saying is a better understanding of where different tones and textures appear on the tonal scale in relation to the exposure data can only lead to better more consistent results.