A Sunday Morning Stoat – part 2

Stoat: Scottish slang, meaning to wander around aimlessly. For example: “I was just stoating aboot the toon”.

So, back to last Sunday morning and the tale of two cameras. In part 1 as well as talking broadly about the route I took I also shared some images from the Fuji. This time it’s the turn of the camera in my other pocket, the Zorki 4, a relatively recent addition to the kit bag – or indeed to the pocket!

I still had the Chroma Double Glass* lens attached from the previous day’s walk and was happy to leave this in place. Bear in mind that this is not a typical, optically perfect, lens. It has two glass elements and a unique look that in my opinion is well suited to 35mm photography. I popped a Cokin filter holder in my pocket and an orange filter too. The Weston Master V was in my back pocket (note to self: don’t sit down) so I was all set. The roll of HP5+ was to be rated at box speed of ISO 400 as the light was such that I’d need all the help I could get!

This lens has a very distinctive rendering – something I will write about at some point

Now, I don’t believe that I’ve written about the Zorki 4 in my blog as yet. The Zorki 4 was possibly the most popular of all the Zorki cameras, with around 1.7 million made by the KMZ factory. The Zorki 4 was also the first of the Zorki cameras to be exported in large numbers to the West. It is a fully manual camera, and does not have a lightmeter, hence why I had a Weston Master V in my pocket. I’ve a few of these old rangefinder cameras on my shelves, less used these days if truth be told, and whilst they are essentially Leica copies they lack the mechanical finesse of their putative progenitor.

Even an orange filter didn’t help!
The weather/light really was this grotty

The Zorki 4 uses a wind-on knob which does the job but isn’t as pleasurable to use as a lever-style wind-on mechanism. But, it’s not a deal breaker so it’s something to be tolerated. The rewind knob though is a different matter. Narrow enough to be aesthetically pleasing but not large enough to use comfortably, especially as it’s also fairly stiff. There is also a small collar around the shutter release that needs moving to facilitate rewinding the film and it’s a little temperamental which also detracts from the rewinding experience as well as interfering with the subsequent loading of film. I lost a third of a 36-exposure roll to this idiosyncratic arrangement. It probably worked perfectly fifty years ago to be fair. My Zorki 4 was manufactured in 1969 to be fair.

The solution to this came to me a few days ago though. Don’t rewind the film and don’t move the little collar. Simples!

So, once home, I now pop the camera, without rewinding its fully exposed film, into the changing bag along with scissors, a film reel and tank. Snip! Film cut out of camera and popped onto reel. Matter of 30 seconds and painless! I’ve also taken to loading film as if this were a bottom-loader so that I do not have to disturb that problematic collar. It’s made using the camera much more pleasurable and by way of a bonus I’ve been getting 26 frames from a 24-exposure film too!

Gotta say, I’m liking this lens!
I do need to remember not to put important detail on the edge of the frame with this lens

With a sky that wasn’t anything to write home about (see above) I’d decided to keep the Zorki in my pocket for the most part. A few frames would undoubtedly be exposed, mainly out of interest in seeing how the Chroma Glass performed, but I was not expecting to use all 24 exposures. Oh, and a note on this unusual use, for me at least, of short rolls. My first play with the Zorki 4 was with a 36-exposure roll of film. Towards the end I started suffering spacing issues. On a hunch I moved to shorter rolls which solved the problem. Andy suggested that perhaps being an older camera, and a copy of one that was probably even older at that, it wasn’t designed for 36 exposure rolls. I was just pleased though that my solution worked.

Once again, the orange filter might as well have stayed at home

In the end, I did use the whole roll. The light was forcing me to look for more intimate compositions with the Fuji digital camera and some of the textures I found were screaming to be captured on film, especially with the Chroma Glass attached. I also enjoy using the Zorki too if I’m being totally transparent.

So, presented here are a selection of images from the Zorki 4, the Chroma Double Glass lens and a roll of my go-to film, Ilford HP5+. I hope there is something here that appeals to you. This lens though, renders like no other lens in my kit bag apart perhaps from the Lensbaby. But that’s another blog post!

* I will write about this lens in a future post. So far I’ve posted two sets of images made with the lens, those in this post and also those in my previous post entitled Marmite.


Marmite. You either love it or you hate it. I love it but I’m in the minority in my household. But, what has marmite got to do with photography? Well to be honest, nothing. However, the images I created for this blog post will probably be like Marmite; some will love them, others will think I’ve lost the plot.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m quite lazy when it comes to processing images. I primarily use the Snapseed app on my tablet and only occasionally make use of Photoshop on my desktop computer. In the past I’ve tried all sorts of Apps on my tablet but most end up being deleted as I turn to Snapseed for most things. I do use a little App to create small collages, diptychs etcetera and another to resize images for this blog. So, not a particularly extravagant set up! I do have another App that has escaped the regular culls however. Step forward Distressed FX.

Creating gorgeous artwork from your photos has never been easier. With Distressed FX, simply take a photo and choose from a wide range of textured images and overlays. Transform even the most mundane photo into a work of art.


I’ve always tried to keep an open mind about photography. I’ve embraced the so-called hybrid approach; film capture, digitising the negatives and then digital post-processing. I also use a traditional approach in a darkroom. One thing I’ve also dabbled with in the past has been digital textures using Photoshop. I’ve created my own textures with a digital camera or scanner and then combined them in Photoshop with my own digital images. The Distressed FX App does the same sort of thing using it’s own library of textures and overlays. Less nuanced but quick, easy and highly effective. I confess to occasionally indulging myself!

So, here are a few images which all use Ilford HP5+ negatives from a recent outing with the Zorki 4, a Chroma Double Glass lens and a yellow/green filter. The negatives were digitised with a Fuji X-H1 and processed in Snapseed before being let loose within Distressed FX.

All above images: Zorki 4 and Chroma Double Glass lens
Base image: Fuji X100T, monochrome

Love them or not I’d be interested in your views.

A Sunday Morning Stoat – part 1

Stoat: Scottish slang, meaning to wander around aimlessly. For example: “I was just stoating aboot the toon”.

Sunday morning, up early and feeling in need of some fresh air I decided a walk was in order. Spring hasn’t arrived yet so I’m still wearing a warm coat which means I have two large pockets – camera-sized pockets. In to one went the seemingly ever-present Fuji X100T with its fixed 23mm lens. The picture mode selected in the camera’s menu was “monochrome with red filter”. The “red filter” was probably wishful thinking as it was another dull morning with a lifeless, bland, grey sky.

I wrote recently about becoming more selective in making film photographs which was why I had the Fuji with me. The conditions weren’t brilliant hence opting for a digital camera.

My wander started on familiar territory although this is a scene I’ve not photographed that often

Walking down the high street I was on familiar territory so I decided to walk out to the edge of town, somewhere I’ve not walked to for quite some time.

Another scene I’ve never photographed.

The road out of town is rather steep. At the top there is a fabulous view back over the town but I wasn’t planning on walking to the top this morning. Half way up was enough for me and so, having made a few images, I pocketed the little Fuji and turned to retrace my steps – downhill this time! On the way back I spotted a side street I’d not walked along before, time was on my side so I turned left.

A new subject!

After exploring a few new-to-me compositions, and noting them for future reference when the light was more helpful, I found my footsteps leading me back onto more familiar territory. One of the difficulties of familiar scenes is in looking at them differently. This morning was no exception but with less than optimal light I wasn’t going to stress about that.

Back to an old favourite location

Now, this is titled “… part 1” which suggests a part 2 is coming. Remember I mentioned at the start that my coat has two large pockets. As we’ve seen one held the Fuji and as we will see in part 2 the other held a Zorki 4 loaded with Ilford HP5+ and in my back pocket was the Weston Master V.

Two pockets … two cameras

You didn’t think I’d go out without a film camera did you?

This back lot has changed a lot since my last visit six months ago
A texture-fest!

That’s it from the Fuji X100T for this episode, I’ll see you in part 2!

Times they are a-changin’

There’s been a lot of noise on social media regarding the ever-rising costs of film photography. Some of it is attention seeking; click-bait from the keyboard warriors. Some of it is genuine concern at the way prices in many cases seem to be far outstripping the headline inflation figures. Very little of it is evidence-based, much indeed is just rehashing what others have already parroted. Some of it though is well-informed, considered and a reasonably sober consideration of the situation.

Zorki 4

Some of the noise I, rightly or wrongly, feel I can dismiss as simply attention seeking – I’M DONE WITH FILM! NO MORE FILM FOR ME! I’M GOING DIGITAL! FILM IS DEAD! [insert company name] ARE KILLING FILM PHOTOGRAPHY! FILM’S DEATH KNELL! THE END IS NIGH!

I’ve absorbed multiple price rises in the last few years and being honest these latest will mean a slight change in my behaviour (more on this later). Much of this change though is driven by factors other than price.

Horizon S3 Pro

Take colour photography. For many years I’ve mainly used digital for colour photography. Yes. Digital. I’m a photographer and I don’t feel the need to differentiate between film and digital; it’s the end result that matters. In truth I don’t choose to use film because I think it’s the easiest choice. I probably do it partly because it’s not the easiest; I’m a born contrarian as my family will attest. I use film because I enjoy the whole process, from choosing which camera, which film and because I mainly use manual cameras (I’ve never seen a fully automatic wooden pinhole camera) choosing which aperture and shutter speed settings. I find film cameras more tactile, the act of winding on seems like a full stop to each individual exposure. I enjoy experimenting with different developers and find developing films a very therapeutic activity. I don’t enjoy digitising the files but do enjoy occasional darkroom time.

Fuji X100T

But. Colour. Sorry, rant over, I distracted myself there. I am by inclination and as an aesthetic choice primarily a black and white photographer. Film lends itself well to this aesthetic. I am also slightly colour blind and occasionally have difficulty in judging accurately the colours in an image added to which my eyesight is deteriorating too. Take the two considerations together, aesthetic choice and eyesight, add in how much I enjoy using my film cameras and then it’s no surprise that 90% of my photography over the last few years had been with black and white film. I do enjoy using colour occasionally, indeed I used to develop my own C41 colour films, but these days I send colour films away for processing.

Looking at my developing book for last year I see that I exposed 135 rolls of film. A considerable reduction on previous years but we’ll return to that. Of these 135 just 10, or 7%, were colour. 2022 saw a 35% reduction in my film usage overall compared to 2021. This trend is likely to continue partly because of financial considerations but largely because my way of working has been evolving. I’m not alone either it seems.

“I am now extremely comfortable in the realisation that I no longer feel the need to be constantly exposing film. Selective, thoughtful, darkroom and cheaper. It may be a phase I’m going through or an evolution.”

Andrew B on Twitter

Evolution. Definitely. It’s been creeping up on me slowly and stealthily yet steadily too. As time goes by I’m being fussier about pressing the shutter release. Be it film or digital. Whereas a few years ago I would measure the success of a trip by the number of rolls of film in my to-be-developed bag, these days I’m more concerned about what images I’ve made and not how many frames I’ve exposed. It applies equally to digital and film which has surprised me. I recently spent a day out with a DSLR and on getting home found I had made just 40 images. In the past 400 digital files would have been a minimum but the 40 I made that day is spookily close to the number of images on a 36-exposure roll of 35mm film.

Canon 5D MkII

So, how will the latest price increases affect me? Well, I will probably make the final switch to fully digital for my colour photography. But not immediately as I’ve around fifteen rolls of medium format colour film in my cellar. This is simply a continuation of an ongoing trend as I’ve already mentioned and whilst it may hasten the transition it is by no means the primary factor influencing the change.

I will definitely buy less Kodak film. Ironic, as one of the reasons cited for the increases is so they can expand to meet demand. Whether the price increases will shrink demand sufficiently for them to meet it without further investment though is not something I’m going to attempt to speculate on! On a practical level I am very happy with my go-to Ilford films and the price increases mean I will now use less Kodak black and white film, specifically Tri-X and T-Max, both film stocks that I’ve recently only bought when there’s been a price promotion if I’m honest. Back in the day Kodak Tri-X was my go-to black and white film and price-wise it was on a par with my current day choice of Ilford HP5+. In addition to using less Kodak black and white I probably won’t get to try Portra 800, a film that’s been on my “one-day-I-will-try-it” list for a while now.

Rollei Magic – Kodak Ektar

But, in the final analysis, my current trend of using less film each year is likely to continue and that in itself will shield me in a sense from price increases; I will spend the same in monetary terms but will purchase and therefore use less film for that budget. For that matter, I’ve enough film in my cellar to see me safely through 2023 without bothering my wallet if things became tight though.

So, in the short term I’m not getting anxious about price increases. Pragmatically, I will further adjust my behaviour if required although ironically it seems I’ve been slowly changing my behaviour already. Based on current usage my 2023 totals will again be lower than in the preceding year and talking to some of my online friends this is a trend many of them are reporting too.

Chroma Snapshot – 5×4 film

Anyway. It’s not often I publish an opinion piece but I hope this has been of some interest. If nothing else it’s been a vehicle for sharing a few recent images, both film and digital, colour and black & white.

Another nocturnal stoat

A simple post today. A few images from a couple of nights ago when, needing some fresh air, I took a short walk (aka stoat these days) with the venerable Fuji X-100T in my pocket.

Don’t worry … it’s all black and white from here!
The night of the lonesome cone
First of two takes of this scene
Take 2
The Sentinel

So, there we have it. A few images from a short night time stroll. Whilst not noted for its low-light performance the X100T has never let me down and unless I’m using film then it’s my go-to for this type of urban photography. I hope you enjoyed these few images.

Overlapping frames

Recently, whilst moving files across to a new-to-me computer, I found some in-camera panoramas from a couple of years back. Created by making a series of consecutive images as the camera is passed across the scene. The negatives are then copied/printed as a block to create a joiner-cum-panorama style image. I posted one to my Twitter account (see below) and it gathered a fair bit of attention including some comments about applying the technique to the urban or built environment.

The “tweet” that started this post

I took it as a Challenge.

Challenge accepted … from my armchair.

Within a matter of minutes I’d picked up the Olympus Pen EE3 half-frame 35mm film camera that is my go-to tool for these images. A roll of Ilford HP5+ was quickly loaded and I couldn’t resist a cheeky five-frames from my armchair.

My approach to making these images is very simple and the key is not moving my feet, just my upper body. So, standing (or sitting) still throughout the process, I start with my torso slightly pointing to the left and move the upper half of my body until my torso is pointing slightly right. I’ve found that it helps to decide how many frames I’m planning on before starting so that the middle frame is made looking straight ahead. It is actually easier to do than write down. I typically make three or five exposures per sweep but have also made these images with four, six, seven and even nine. These are usually as a single strip but I do occasionally make nine exposures in a grid pattern.

Diptych, 9-frame grid, multiple-frame panoramas … all grist to the mill
I typically leave sprocket holes as part of the final image to show they are consecutive frames.
Negative … to positive
Two six-frame panoramic joiners ready to process.
And the two finished images.
I live in “Happy Valley” apparently – this is next-door but one to my house.

There’s nothing complex about my technique, see above, but that leaves me free to concentrate on composition. The Olympus EE3 is also an automatic camera which really does mean freedom for this technique.

In terms of post production I cut the negatives into strips corresponding to the composition. So, instead of six strips each containing six negatives (or twelve, this is a half-frame camera) I have lots of strips of three, five or six half-sized negatives. Rather than sleeve these I place the negatives in an envelope knowing the frame numbers will help me reconstitute the grid-style joiners.

If not printing these in the darkroom I digitise them in my usual way with a digital camera. I use a diffuser to place the negatives on (the one from my Pixl-latr works well) and also a small piece of clean glass to hold them flat and in place. I will at some point invest in a piece of newton glass but for now am happy cloning out any newton rings.

In hindsight I should have gone with five frames here

So, there you have it. My simple approach to multi-frame panoramic joiners or whatever you’d like to call them. It’s a technique I’d typically only used whilst away on holiday but apart from the tweeted image at the start all of these were made in my local urban environment a couple of days ago especially for this blog post.

Something borrowed …

… something blue.

The something borrowed was a Minolta X-300 with a Hoya 28-85mm f4 lens. The something blue was a roll of Fomapan 100, OK the packaging is blue, a film I normally only use in 5×4 sheets and rarely, if ever, in 35mm.

Jim (@Gravmadboris on Twitter) recently offered me the loan of his Minolta X-300, a well-respected 35mm SLR film camera which was produced between 1984 and 1990. The X-300 was also marketed as the X-370 in the U.S. and Canada so anyone looking for more information online needs to keep this additional model number in mind.

It’s a very simple camera to use but nevertheless still a very pleasurable experience I found. In fact it’s probably the ease of use that makes it a joy to use. I set the ISO on the camera, set the aperture to the desired value and just keep an eye on the shutter speed in the right hand side of the viewfinder. The view finder itself is bright and consequently easy to use.

As it was a dull, grey, dismal morning I wasn’t expecting any photographic masterpieces (not that I ever do if we are honest) but that didn’t really matter. I enjoy using cameras and was soon forgetting the conditions as I concentrated on composition and the tactile pleasures of a well considered piece of photographic machinery.

Given the conditions and the likelihood of rather low contrast images I opted for developing in Rodinal at 1+50. I normally use Fomadon Excel with Fomapan 100 but felt that this would benefit from the extra bite of Rodinal. It was a good choice and whilst there is grain clearly present it works well I think with the subjects and the conditions.

So, in conclusion this was a lovely camera to use. The Hoya zoom is a very nice lens but rather heavy to my taste, making the camera front heavy. If I decide to add a Minolta to my kit bag (and the chances are high I will) then I will definitely look for a couple of primes rather than a single zoom and from my researches there is a nice little 45mm f2 available in this mount. I reckon that this combination would fit in my winter coat pocket very easily.

The Frugal Film Project – February images

After reading my previous update, one of my contacts remarked that it was “Dave’s not-so frugal film project”. Which was probably fair comment but hopefully January’s shaky start is now behind us and it will be much smoother sailing moving forward.

I soon got in the zone with this new-to-me camera

The inaugural roll of Kentmere 400 through the Zenit 12XP certainly gave no cause for concern. Despite not having a working meter (a defect since remedied by installing fresh batteries) I found it a joy to use. My preference for simple, intuitive cameras was well and truly satisfied with this sturdy and unpretentious camera. Zenit quality control often gets a bad rap but I was perfectly happy by the way this copy functioned and handled. Bear in mind too that this was its maiden voyage under my stewardship.

I did find that the field of view from the 58mm lens was a strange one to work with. It’s longer than the 35mm I typically use but not as obviously short telephoto as a 135mm lens would be. It’s stuck in an optical no-man’s land for my style of urban photography but was quite useful when moving in close for a more intimate composition. As there is still room within my FFP budget I might see if I can pick up something a little wider to use alongside the 58mm lens.

The 58mm lens is prone to flare, especially with the low winter sun in the scene

So, with the malfunctioning Sprocket Rocket RIP drama a thing of the past we start the next chapter in my FFP for 2023. I’m hoping it’s not going to be a saga!

Sprocket Rocket RIP

The Frugal Film Project – February update


The Sprocket Rocket has bitten the dust. After using four rolls of film last month testing the thing and working out its personal film speed with Kentmere 400 it has gone to that darkroom in the sky.

The sun was shining this morning. A cold, bright wintry morning and made for photography. To avoid being distracted from my purpose I took only the Sprocket Rocket, loaded with it’s February roll, and set forth. I was confident that I had everything in place for a successful roll this time after January’s disappointing experience.

Spotting some lovely light on a house wall (incidentally, it’s the house used as the pharmacy in Happy Valley) I stopped, metered, and settled on four shutter actuations to get the February roll underway.

click, click, click, click

Something is wrong here … it should have been KER-LICK!! KER-LICK!! KER-LICK!! KER-LICK!!

Mission aborted. Phone snap of the scene captured and return to base.


Whilst I walked home I cogitated. This camera has been very problematic and the likelihood is the piece of wire that acts as a shutter has given up the ghost. It’s not worth worrying about though as I bought it several years ago for very few pounds. I would take the camera into the darkroom, transfer the roll into a Holga and continue on my way. Being a 120 camera, if I don’t put the dedicated 35mm back on, I will get a similar result to that from the now defunct Rocket. The lo-fi aesthetic would continue as would shooting the film sprockets and the slightly panoramic format.

Back home in the darkroom I removed the film from the Sprocket Rocket RIP and using some 35>120 adapters successfully transferred the roll to a Holga 120N. With the lights back on I had a look at the now deceased Rocket and sure enough, the shutter assembly was even dodgier than a very dodgy thing. I carefully placed said piece of precision equipment in the bathroom bin and went downstairs with the Holga in hand.

Heading back out I found that the sun had shifted enough to render the planned shot unobtainable – cue a dilemma. In addition the bright blue sky had given way to a uniform greyness through which the sun was struggling to make itself felt. Pragmatism came to the fore, the Holga went back in my pocket ready to try again another morning.

Holga 120N – note the flare across the frame … with sun behind me!


Another day, another attempt to make my February images for the Frugal Film Project. Not that it’s been that frugal; four rolls last month working out the best way to expose the frugal film in this idiosyncratic frugal camera, a camera which is currently on its way to landfill . Still, I wanted panoramic format with full on sprocket holes so the Holga will hopefully be a good substitute.

A full-on day of childcare today but I did dive out quickly to make the image of shadows and light on the end terraced house (see Monday above). Fingers crossed. However, duty calls so I put the Holga away until tomorrow.

An unintentional double exposure – Holga 120N


Some heavy duty thinking and soul searching overnight. The Holga will give me the near panorama and exposing over the sprocket holes I would have got from the Sprocket Rocket RIP.


Much as I love the Holga I couldn’t see me loading a MF camera with 35mm film for the next eleven months without losing enthusiasm for the task. I also couldn’t realistically change camera again so it was time to be pragmatic and I looked over my shelves for something suitable.

There, at the back, was a camera I bought for £35 a few years back but haven’t yet film tested. Surely, nothing else can go wrong … I’m hoping that isn’t famous last words. Spoiler alert: it functioned fine.

So, the February roll of film is now in its third camera body in as many days. I’ve hopefully wound it on sufficiently to protect the three frames I made with the Holga. That said, of my two Holgas this one produces a huge flare across the middle of the frame (see above) and on 35mm this will probably mean the full height and width of the negative. Hadn’t thought of that before, probably another reason to justify my final choice of camera.

Immediately after taking the grandson to school today I had a quick wander around the block taking in a range of lighting situations. The 12XP is a fully manual camera but does have an onboard, uncoupled, light meter. Mine wasn’t working due to a lack of suitable batteries but I will remedy that on another occasion. I used an app on my phone to determine exposure and quickly fell into my usual routine of measuring once then adjusting the speed or aperture based on a gut- feel. Some call this experience I believe, but good old photographic intuition works for me.

The camera was a joy to use, a real throw back to the 1970s for me. Manually focusing the 58mm f2 lens was a lot easier than I’d expected and the lens is so well damped that it instils confidence that it will stay where you leave it regardless of what else happens. I liked using it. I found the 58mm focal length a little long for my usual style though so will probably try to find a 28mm or 35mm which are both more within my comfort zone.

So, the Zenit 12XP will be my Frugal Film Project companion for the next eleven months. The roll of film is hanging to dry but watch this space for the February images from the Frugal Film Project 2023.