In an Instant

I posted recently about the Spring Polaroid Week and commented that I wouldn’t be contributing for various reasons. However, the act of blogging about ‘roid week motivated me to get the Instax Wide 300 camera off the shelf and to make a few images with it.

My collection of shadow images

Now, whilst I did make these images during the week I was insufficiently organised to get any of them posted to the Flickr group that I joined specifically for this purpose. Rather than leave them on the table unused though I have shared them here.

I’m a fan of the Instax Monochrome film too

There are two Instax Wide films – colour and monochrome. I like both although the colour, contrary to the norm, is cheaper to buy so tends to be my first choice. The monochrome does what it says, it produces monochrome prints. Not strictly black and white but definitely monochrome; to my eyes they have a blue/grey hue (see first image) but that’s easily cured if desired (above). For context, I do have mild colour blindness – one of the reasons I mainly use black and white film.

I’ve been sat here this morning wondering what it is about instant images that appeals so much. I’ve not come up with anything erudite however I do think the clue is in the title. It’s instant. It is the nearest a film photographer gets to the instant gratification of the digital worker. It is also very easy to share around with others and in the moment as it were. From capture to consumption – instantly.

So, having missed the boat for the Spring edition I am keeping my eyes open for the Autumn date. In the meantime I had a look back through my more recent instant images – the only proper way to do so was of course to get the box down from the shelf and tip them on the bed!

Instax Wide 300

Zero Image 5×4 Pinhole with Graflock Back, Instax Wide film
Intrepid 5×4 camera, Graflock back and Instax wide film

These first three are all Instax Wide film but with three very different cameras. As well as my Instax cameras (I own a mini and a square, the Wide belongs to my grandson) I also have a LomoGraflok back which enables the use of Instax Wide film with one of my 5×4 cameras.

The next couple I guess help answer the question “why?”, the ability of an instant camera to capture then immediately share the fun moments in life. Be they fun selfies with the grandkids or double exposure selfies, they capture spontaneous moments wonderfully.

Instax Square
Instax Mini – selfies and double exposures

The oldest instant camera in my small collection is a Polaroid SX-70 Sonar. A rather temperamental old warrior that has a charm all of its own although doesn’t always want to play ball.

Polaroid SX-70 and some slightly out of date film
Polaroid SX-70: same day, same location, same pack of film but different results

So, there you have it. A romp back through the (physical) archive of instant photographs covering the last 18-20 months. Looking through the box I kept the duds as well as the successes – hoping perhaps that they will become fashionable one day?

A Sense of Place – eZine now available

I’ve finally got my act together and uploaded the next eZine to my Ko-Fi shop. Entitled A Sense of Place it explores my “happy places” down by the waters edge. With a mix of digital and film images it’s a celebration of some locations that are really inspirational to me.

Link below – or click the picture!

If you are interested in knowing more the link is HERE. Thank you for looking!

Polaroid Week 2022

This is Polaroid Week, an annual celebration of instant photography. I’ve had all sorts of instant cameras over the years but these days just a couple of Instax cameras adorn my shelf. However, there is a vibrant online community and I do enjoy seeing what is posted. From straightforward images of everyday life to fabulous fantasy creations the instant film community is thriving.

Out of date film is a lottery
But instant photography can be very rewarding
An instant twist on an iconic scene
One camera that I owned and used for a while is the Lomo’ Instant

I have however gone through occasional phases of using instant film as well as a fair number of different cameras and formats. I have blogged about it too of course on several occasions. My Perfectly Imperfect series springs to mind in this context too.

Priceless! Harry and the pepper plant he grew

So, whilst Instant photography isn’t something I do that often, it is priceless for capturing and sharing little moments. Harry is very proud of the pepper he grew from seed … this morning we took his picture with an Instax Wide and he’s proudly carried it to school to show his teachers. Priceless!

ps – the print behind mine is one he took himself

Lomography camera – Instax film
Double exposure: Instax Mini 90, Neo Classic.

So, to those of you celebrating Polaroid Week 2022, good luck, have fun and I’m with you in spirit!


the zipper at dusk
Finally, a link to the online ‘roid week album on Flickr

World Pinhole Photography Day 2022

This was my third World Pinhole Photography Day (WPPD) and as in previous years I had definite plans for the day. In 2020 a global pandemic confined me to the backyard; I compensated for the disappointment by using one of my last rolls of original Acros. In 2021 I planned to use two pinhole cameras at a coastal location but travel restrictions confined me to the local area. On both occasions I still produced results I was happy to submit which eased the blow a little.

The marina

2022 was to be different. My plans revolved around a favourite location locally and so I felt very confident. The weather was forecast to be favourable and I had cameras readied, film holders loaded and everything was set for a pinhole Trichrome-fest on the Sunday. I was planning on using 35mm, 120 and 5×4; my most ambitious Trichrome project yet. However, I failed to anticipate the demands of family life and totally didn’t see the curved ball which relegated me to chauffeur and my WPPD plans to the bin.

Brighouse, upper lock

BUT. Where there’s a WPPD there’s a way and I found myself with a short window whilst in Brighouse to disappear for a short period. Allowing for walking to/from the location I had around 30 minutes to play with the ONDU 6×6 that I’d managed to slip into the car. I had loaded it with a roll of TMax 100 and a mini tripod completed the set up. I decided to head for a weir on the river that I’d seen images of but never photographed myself. I spent fifteen minutes trying to find the way down to it but failed miserably. To fail to prepare etc although in my defence this wasn’t what I’d planned for! I decided to cut my losses and walk back to the adjacent canal.

Brighouse, upper lock

I chose a part of the canal that I was familiar with to start my brief “shoot” and from there walked down a very short way to a lock that I’d not photographed before. Fifteen minutes probably stretched to twenty five but I still got back to the car on time and with a roll of exposed TMax in my pocket I was pleased that I’d managed something for WPPD 2022.

Footbridge over Calder & Hebble Navigation

The following morning I loaded the roll into a tank, made up 600ml of Rodinal (at 1+50) and set to one of my favourite parts of working with film. I find developing film therapeutic and a good way to switch off. It wasn’t long before a roll of properly exposed negatives were hanging to dry and I eagerly anticipated looking at them properly on the light box later.

Footbridge and walker

The first two frames (bracketed as it was a low-contrast, dimly lit scene) failed to Wow! me but it was good to see them in the right ballpark for exposure; it boded well for the rest of the roll. Frames three and four were both views of the marina with the only difference being the addition of a yellow/green filter for the fourth. I left the filter on for the rest of the roll as I felt, rightly it transpired, that the sky would benefit from its presence.

Lock keepers gate

I “scanned” the roll using a Fuji mirrorless camera and, unusually for me, processed them on my computer using Photoshop. My usual approach is to upload the “scans” to my iPad and use Snapseed but this is WPPD so deserved a more consistent approach. I made very similar adjustments to each image, made easier by a consistently exposed negative, and finished each with a gentle selenium tone in Silver Efex Pro.

From the roll of twelve I shortlisted seven from which to select my WPPD 2022 submission. All of them are presented in this post and as only one of them can be submitted I will make my choice after I’ve cogitated for a few days at least.

Bridge and mill flats

So, in conclusion, WPPD 2022 followed the tradition of not going entirely to plan but it was still a success in my eyes. It may not have been what I intended but I’ve managed some very pleasing images and I am definitely not disappointed as I was in 2020.

Here’s to WPPD2023!

#WPPD2022

Cross Street – a work in progress

I photographed these disused, near-derelict houses in Cross Street a few weeks ago for my 365 Challenge and at the time decided to return when I got a chance with a medium format camera and a couple of rolls of black and white film. This short series of images puts Cross Street in context and finally focuses in on the small vignette that so attracted my attention on that first visit.

Looking at these again this morning before posting them to my blog I am thinking about printing them but also about producing a zine with a series of short urban vignettes such as this drawn from my local area. Before I do either of these though I need to reprocess them to produce a visually consistent set of images. I believe this will help tell a more coherent story.

Which, I guess, tells us a little about how we consume images these days. Increasingly, images are viewed individually as little bite-sized portions on social media. The photo-essay (and I’m not suggesting this post constitutes a photo-essay) is less often seen in an environment where individual images are the predominant form in which photography is viewed. That said, I actually took these with the intention of creating a short series that hopefully told a story but I then post-processed them as individual images over the course of an evening and morning. This was partly because I wanted to see how they had turned out and also partly because I wanted to post one to Flickr as that day’s image for my 365 Challenge. In other words, they were produced individually to feed social media in as timely a manner as possible. As such, the “final” series doesn’t fully reflect my aims when starting out so I shall consider this set as a marker along the way. A more visually coherent set is the next step, followed by a set of prints (I will print more than this selection and play with the sequencing on the table) and finally their inclusion in a zine as the “final” form.

So, having used this blog post to choose the final images and view them as a set, I will now transfer the RAW files onto the computer and re-process the final selection using a consistent and hopefully coherent treatment. I might even try a sepia feel to them too but that’s getting ahead of myself.


TECHNICAL NOTE: All of these were made with a Bronica SQ-A medium format film camera and I used two rolls of film, one my old faithful Ilford HP5+ which I rated at 250 ISO and processed in Perceptol and the other a new-to-me roll of Kodak TMax 100 which I developed in Rodinal (1+50). I “scanned” the negatives with a Fuji X-H1 and post-processing was done using the JPEGs on an iPad with the Snapseed app.

Mavic Air 2s – Take Two: the second take!

Two identical images … one in the original colour and the other in fabulous mono! The replacement drone got a second flight on Sunday morning. A frosty morning with the sun just starting to peak into the scene.

A more abstract view of Brookfoot Lock
So, which do you prefer?

DJI Air 2s, captured as RAW and processed in Lightroom.

Mavic Air 2s – Take Two

Two identical images … one in the original colour and the other in fabulous mono! The replacement drone got a second flight on Sunday morning. A frosty morning with the sun just starting to peak into the scene. I will pop a small gallery of images on as another post.

Brookfoot Lock

The sun is rising in the top right of the image hence the warmer tones on the left of the image and the cool blues in the shadows on the right.

A straight desaturation for the mono version

My Smart Week – the conclusion

So, my Smart Week actually spread out a little and was almost a fortnight in the final analysis and indeed is still ongoing in the background. Did I enjoy it? What did I learn and would I do it again?

First off, it’s been a fascinating and enjoyable experience. Going away for a few days with nothing more than a phone in my pocket, a mini tripod and a holder to join the two together was a strange experience but it forced me to focus on the challenge and not get distracted by my usual photographic tools. My delve into the available software was an eye-opener and I’m sure only skimmed the surface. I tried a handful of new apps and have earmarked a few more for the coming weeks but I suspect there’s a lot more to discover.

I learnt that there is a large and evolving ecosystem out there, one that I’d been largely ignorant of. You Tube for example is awash with smartphone content (at the usual variable range of YT standards) and social media absolutely swamped with smartphone imagery. There are apps to take images, apps to process them and apps to combine images in a myriad of ways. As well as straightforward photography there is also an active artistic community that uses their smartphone as the basis of their art. A well-established online magazine, Mobiography, was a chance find but a very interesting read nonetheless.

I also learnt the importance of supporting the smartphone properly for maximum image quality; self-evident perhaps but probably not at the forefront of ones mind when using a phone. I learnt how to hold the phone more securely but also learnt that a tripod, big or small, is a basic requirement. With the choice of apps that hand the photographer full manual control of the smartphone’s camera there is no excuse now for second-rate images.

In terms of post processing I had been using Snapseed for some time and to be fair will not be changing that any time soon. However, the improvements to Lightroom Mobile were a revelation and I have added it back into my small list of post-processing apps that I will use regularly.

The acid test for a photographer would be “did I get the image?” I guess and the short answer here would be “yes”. The phone gave me all the options of a point and shoot camera in a small package that I always carry anyway. It’s no surprise the P&S camera market is in decline; based on my experience there is no need to carry a P&S when you’ve got a modern smartphone in your pocket anyway.

So, in terms of my original challenge which was to use an iPhone exclusively for seven days I definitely met and exceeded my objective. In terms of what I learnt I surprised myself not only at the amount of apps out there but at how vibrant and enthusiastic the community are. Whilst nothing will replace the enjoyment of using my full-sized cameras, certainly not my film cameras, I have to say that I wouldn’t hesitate to take just the iPhone in the future, although I would make sure I took the holder and mini tripod!

To close … no edit done post-capture

And finally, a bonus observation. It’s no secret that I love the panoramic format and therefore having a panorama mode on my iPhone is a big treat. I’ve used it both indoors and outdoors, and both handheld and on a gimbal. On the whole the results have been pretty good as this indoor example demonstrates.

iPhone 13 Pro on a gimbal

However, I’ve found it a little more fussy than my Fuji camera when doing a handheld sweep panorama and occasionally it misses the stitching. The hit rate is definitely better with the Fuji but when the iPhone nails it then it does a great job and to be fair it definitely does a good job most of the time. It does pay to be wary of moving subjects though, especially with third-party apps that take a sequence of images rather than a continuous sweep. I’m thinking specifically of the DJI Go app which I used for the image above. On that occasion I asked my wife to stay still but the example below shows what can happen if your subject moves …

Oh dear!