Testing the Rocket (II)

So, it’s been a few days since I tested the Sprocket Rocket with a roll of HP5+ and although the camera has been back on the shelf whilst I’ve pursued my nocturnal project I’ve still been cogitating quietly on the matter behind the scenes. Key questions in my head have been, will my metering plan work with the Kentmere 400 and should I wait until the February roll to find out?

My reader knows that doing nothing is rarely my answer to matters photographic however, especially when I have the means for doing something so readily available. I accordingly made up a short roll of the Kentmere 400 and loading the Rocket once again headed out.

Now, I’d already decided that I’d assume the camera was f11 and 1/200th (it could equally be f22 and 1/40th of course) and that I’d meter accordingly. The other question was at what speed to rate the film. I’d done some more online research and also consulted friend and technical consultant Andy (@holga_pics)and had decided to rate the film initially at ISO 200 although I might even move to ISO 125 at some point. A handy scrap of paper enabled me to check my logic (see below) and if the meter reading was 1/30th then I’d need seven shutter actuations to build the necessary exposure. Unless I took a tripod then I’d probably be looking at ICM [(un)intended camera movement perhaps?] given the typically grey day here in West Yorkshire.

Prepared!

I wasn’t looking for portfolio images but for the answer to the question “is it worth pursuing this quest for another 12 months?” As Andy had said:

The film is sub par and the camera is junk, so you’re trying to make a silk purse from a sows ear.

Sir Andy of Holga
Could Sir Andy be right?

In fairness I have to agree. The roll I put through the Nikon F801 was perfectly acceptable; not on a par with HP5+, why should it be, but OK. The camera is plastic, made with virtually no noticeable quality control that I can see and will almost certainly be donated to an unsuspecting victim once the December roll is in the tank. Form an orderly queue please!

I developed the film in Perceptol, freshly made stock solution, for ten minutes which is the recommended time for the film exposed at 400 ISO. The resulting negatives were an improvement but decidedly lacking in contrast. Perhaps this is a feature of the film but regardless as I’m digitising the negatives for this project it is not an issue. Every exposure was made using the principals outlined above. Where the metered exposure was shorter than 1/250th I gave just one shutter activation but on the whole erred on over exposing. Only one of the fifteen negatives exhibits any over exposure so I’m heading in the right direction. For February I will rate the film at 125 and develop in stock Perceptol I think.

Metered at 1/350th so single shutter actuation
Quite pleased with this – it’s definitely a distinctly lo-fi aesthetic
My favourite from this test and the last frame on the roll

I’ve now used six rolls of film testing this set up, including a roll of HP5+ and a roll of Kentmere 400 that I sent to a friend for an independent view. I have nine further rolls made up and stored in the cellar which should see me through until the October roll. There should be enough of the bulk film left for me to make rolls for November and December once I have a couple of donor cassettes available!

Next update will, hopefully, be in February.

Snapshots in the dark

A couple of days ago I reached an intermediate milestone in my 365 project – 1,900 consecutive daily images in an unbroken sequence from October 30th 2017. I wanted to mark the occasion suitably and after some cogitation decided to bring forward the handheld 5×4 in the dark idea I’ve been contemplating.

The choice of camera was easy. I recently purchased a 5×4 camera specifically for handheld large format photography. The Chroma Snapshot was the logical choice and whilst I’d some experience with a loaned copy this would be my first outing with my own which had arrived prior to Christmas but which a bout of the flu had prevented me from christening.

Chroma Snapshot, 65mm lens f5.6 1/30th handheld

As I’ve already written in an earlier post I’ve been using a Nikon F801 and Ilford HP5+ to gain some experience of photography in the dark with film so I was confident that, whilst I’d not finished my experiments, I had enough knowledge to make it a feasible proposition. I had a few sheets of HP5+ in 5×4 left from a project last year and so I loaded up a couple of film holders and set forth.

The lens I have paired with the Snapshot is a wide-angled 65mm but it only has a maximum aperture of f5.6, two stops slower than the f2.8 of my Nikon 24mm which I’d been using on the Nikon F801. Looking back at my notes, 1/15th to 1/60th of a second at ISO 3200 was the ballpark for exposure depending on how much streetlight was in the frame. Bear in mind that I was planning on handholding the Snapshot, I would have preferred to have set 1/60th but needing to make up at least two stops I went for the pragmatic choice of 1/30th and bumping ISO to 6400, knowing that I was heading beyond the 3200 limit that both Ilford and many online commentators considered the maximum for this film stock.

A bit of extra detail pulled out at the expense of some increase in grain

I had four sheets so would photograph one scene (top image) where the subject was reasonably well lit (well lit is a relative term at night) and I would get in close, a second would be a similar scene but from a distance of around 15 feet (middle image) and then two others where the scene was a wider field of view with the light points well scattered (bottom image).

Would have benefited from a little extra exposure

So, as the results above show this experiment was a reasonable success albeit with room for improvement in terms of my technique and perhaps also my copying of the negatives and subsequent processing. I will cogitate and come back to this in a future blog post.

For completeness, these sheets were developed in stock Microphen for twenty three minutes; the suggested time was twenty minutes thirty seconds which I rounded to twenty three to allow for the fact that I’d already used the chemicals for a previous roll.

The other thing to note is that all the images here were created by copying the whole negatives with a mirrorless camera as a single frame and then inverting the images in Snapseed. For improved quality I need to copy the negatives in three or four segments, stitching and processing them in Lightroom. I shall do that for the next stage of the experiment.

Watch this space!

Stoating in the dark with the Nikon F801

It was a forgone conclusion that having spent several evenings perambulating the streets with a digital camera that I would then proceed to load a roll of film and give that a try. Indeed, I intimated as such in an earlier post:

As night-time photography will of necessity mean pushing the film you can expect some blog posts on the subject. I’m thinking that a roll of Ilford HP5+ rated at ISO 3200 and developed in Microphen will be a good starting point but watch this space!

Dave in Elland

I’d been looking at the EXIF detail from my Fuji X100T image files and noted that ISO 3200 and 6400 were the two most common settings (I was using Auto-ISO) and so that gave me a ballpark for choosing a film. I wanted to use a film stock that was available in 35mm, 120 and also 5×4 formats – I was looking even further ahead than simply a 35mm SLR. The logical choice for me was Ilford HP5+, my go-to black and white film, but I still did my research online to understand other peoples’ experiences. To cut a long story short I stuck with HP5+ but decided that, to start with at least, that ISO 3200 would be my ceiling. Let the testing begin!

Now, I’ve never used a digital camera in the field to meter a scene for a film camera but nevertheless I thought that studying the EXIF data further might be a useful place to start thinking about shutter speeds and apertures. I’d used the Fuji wide open, so f2.8, and the most common shutter speeds were in the range 1/15th to 1/60th so that gave me my starting point.

In terms of an aesthetic I am looking for images with inky shadows and bags of contrast so after studying the images from the Fuji I set ISO 3200, f2.8 and 1/60th of a second on my Nikon F801 paired with the 24mm Nikon lens. The logic in my lens choice was that as it’s a wide angle lens it might be a little more forgiving of being handheld at slower shutter speeds.

The other consideration was developing the film. I’d kept this in mind whilst researching what film stock to use and had tentatively decided on Microphen, a box of which has been in my chemicals box for several years. How I came by it I’ve no idea, I’ve never used Microphen, but as it was in powdered form I was confident it would be fine to use. However, one of the benefits of the #believeinfilm community is that there is generally someone online ready to offer support. So it was that Andy (@holga_pics) and I had a conversation during which I laid out my proposed treatment of the film and Andy offered his views and a slight tweak to my proposals. I was ready to go.

Before I left home, I put the F801 into manual mode, set f2.8 and 1/60th of a second and was thus prepared to go outside as soon as the street lights came on. I’d also set the ISO manually to 3200 so I could keep an eye on what the camera was thinking of my exposure settings. I found that for most of the time it was able to autofocus quite happily but when needed the 24mm lens was easy to focus manually too.

Having little or no previous experience of night photography I’ve now got a fair few urban stoats (that word again!) under my belt and I’m comfortable with both my film choice, the developing thereof and the camera settings.

All images Nikon F801, 24mm Nikon lens at f2.8 and ISO 3200

My long term aim is to create handheld 5×4 large format black and white film images of my local urban environment in the dark (there I said it) so everything needs to be capable of scaling to an aperture of f5.6 which is the widest aperture on the lens I use with the Snapshot. Realistically, this means that I may need to compromise in terms of ISO but thus far I’m thinking that I might just get away with it at ISO 3200!

The Frugal Film Project 2023

The Frugal Film Project is now in its fifth year and like a lot of film photography initiatives had its genesis online. From a bespoke website in 2019 it has migrated to the Facebook social media platform and this is my first involvement with the project although I’ve been aware of it for a couple of years now. The premise is simple – one camera, one film stock, one roll a month. The catch? Well, it’s frugal so a strict limit on the cost of gear and the cheapest film you can find. The following has been taken directly from the Facebook Group pages.

New rules from 2022 carried forward for 2023

When I introduced myself on the group one member, who I also converse with on Twitter, made reference to my panoramic credentials. I felt therefore that I ought to see what I could do in that respect but my Horizon and KMZ FT-2 are both well outside the budgetary limit, as was my RSS 617 pinhole camera. Then I remembered the Lomography Sprocket Rocket, a plastic-fantastic that I’ve never got on with at all … but it is panoramic and I only spent £29 on it. Dare I? Well, yes I have but after the January roll has been developed I’m really wishing I hadn’t!

Here’s what I wrote about my January roll …

First roll for the FFP 2023 was an eye opener … rather (a lot) under-exposed, seems the stated 1/100th second shutter speed of the Sprocket Rocket is rather ambitious! Kentmere Pan 400 rated (not that it mattered!) at EI800. I’m also experimenting with intentional camera movement and multiple exposures at present, something the Rocket facilitates very well.

Dave-in-Elland writing on Facebook

For the record, I metered the scene at EI 800, which suggested around 1/25th second at the nominal aperture of f11. The Sprocket Rocket claims 1/100th second so a multiple exposure consisting of four shutter actuations should, in theory, let in 1/25th of a seconds worth of light. Well, that was my theory but the negatives are so thin that I’ve not even kept them after digitisation. I will never be able to get a decent darkroom print so for the first time in my life I’ve consciously disposed of a roll of negatives.

They are that bad.

Seriously.

I have had to work hard to drag detail out of the negatives and even then I’m not a happy bunny.

So, what am I going to do? I’ve used my January roll so however unhappy I am with the negatives I’m stuck with them. I know, I could have pretended I never shot the roll and redo it but that’s hardly in the spirit of the project. I’m still cogitating, but I’m considering a roll of HP5+, a film I know well, and some test shots from a tripod. Meter the scene, then make a multiple exposure of the relevant shutter actuations as if the shutter speed were truly 1/100th second, wind on and repeat but with two more shutter actuations, wind on and repeat with double the suggested actuations. Repeat with a few different scenes, keeping notes, develop at box speed and see what the verdict is. I cannot influence the aperture in any way so playing with the shutter speed and nominal ISO is all I can do at this stage. I can expose the film in the garden one morning, cut the exposed part out of the camera and develop it that afternoon ready to scan in the evening.

One of the aims of the project is to encourage photographers to really get to know a single camera and film stock so I’m taking all of this in that spirit. The only excuse for changing cameras mid-project would be terminal mechanical failure (such as standing on it I guess) but I’m confident it won’t come to that!

In case you’ve had a thought about playing with development times let me reassure you that I used a semi-stand for this roll, a process that is to a large degree ISO-agnostic. I’m hoping my tests can lead me to a point where I can develop using my normal methods. Time will tell.

I shall let you know how I get on and how that influences my February roll.

#InstantRegret (not)

Throughout August my Twitter feed has been full of regret, of the instant kind!

The event is run by @ShittyCameraChallenge who are “a grass roots photography contest that encourages photographers to get out & make art using shitty cameras.” It’s not for the purists or the anal. The emphasis is on having fun and the only real restriction is that you can only use a camera of dubious quality. This August was dedicated to instant cameras and with plastic lenses and uncompromising recording media there was a heck of a lot of dubious quality but aesthetically wonderful images on display. From Polaroid and Instax to thermal printing paper there was a lot of variety to enjoy.

For a truly analogue experience I also chose to use a typewriter for the captions and for the same reason typed each only once, seeing errors and typos as part of the authentic vibe.

Whilst instant photography on the whole has a built-in lo-fi aesthetic it’s not a genre where you can just point and shoot willy-nilly and expect to get consistently great images. At least not in my experience. Much like traditional transparency films instant film is not the most tolerant of extremes of contrast for example. I therefore tend to look at a scene reasonably carefully (not to an anal degree though) and consider what will happen to highlights and shadows before pressing the button. Some of these cameras have a limited degree of manual control, emphasis on limited, but nevertheless this can be a real benefit in certain situations.

Polaroid SX-70 Sonar

Week 1 was all about Polaroid for me, the SX-70 Sonar to be precise. At £18 per pack (the cheapest I could find) this works out at £2.25 per image. It’s definitely not a camera to wave around indiscriminately! That said, I still experimented and so not every frame was a “keeper”. I shortlisted 19 of the 24 frames however and posted 16 to my INSTANTREGRET album.

But, it’s not just about cost. It’s about the aesthetic and the experience.

Before anyone who knows me objects, I know that I don’t usually like the word “experience” as in “customer experience” applied to visiting the bank to withdraw money. That’s a necessary chore … an experience for me is something outside of the realm of the daily humdrum of life. So, using a camera is definitely in the category of an “experience “ in my view. But I digress.

The SX-70 is a lovely old SLR camera using SX70 instant film, introduced in 1972 although my Sonar model hails from around 1978. It is of the right vintage for my first serious photography phase during my teenage years but at the time I worked exclusively with a couple of 35mm film cameras and never dabbled with instant photography. It sits very nicely in the (my) hand and handles beautifully. Even my 10-year old Grandson can handle it with confidence (see pic). Mine has no “frog tongue” to protect the newly ejected print, however I have developed a technique of twisting the camera upside down at the moment the print starts to eject which appears to do the same thing. It’s an odd looking camera compared to a standard SLR with no obvious hand grip … but as Zac demonstrates, it is incredibly easy to hold.

Week 2 saw the Instax Wide 300 camera in action. A large, chunky and clunky affair with some limited manual control available, it is my preferred instant film format. The image area is similar to the Polaroid and I also have a Wide printer that I use to print iPhone pics for giving to others.

Instax Wide 300

This printer allows me to instantly print phone pictures and also demonstrates that the film itself isn’t that bad. Limitations in the images from the Wide 300 are down to the camera rather than the film.

Week 3 Instax Square with the Instax SQ6 was the camera of choice next. I enjoy the square format. My Bronica SQ-A medium format camera produces fabulous 6x6cm negatives and whilst I know some people struggle with the format I thoroughly enjoy creating images within the square field of view. The only struggle this week was with time for photography. My wife and I provide childcare during the school holidays for our four daughters. With up to six grandchildren at a time and never less than two it’s been a busy time.

Instax SQ6

Week 4 is currently underway and was originally intended to be devoted to the Lomo Instant which uses Fuji Instax Mini film. However, the week isn’t going exactly to plan. With additional, unplanned, childcare our free time is less than expected. In addition I had an attack of FOMO* and rather recklessly added another instant camera at the last minute.

So, in addition to the Lomo Instant, with which I have a love-hate relationship, I also have a kids thermal print camera in the bag vying for attention. I will write about this latest addition at a later date but the images it produces are truly “shitty” and I love them!

Kids Thermal Print Camera

So, a quick update from the midst of the Challenge. I shall return to the theme several times over the coming weeks I’m sure. I will also share more images from the Challenge as I start to work through them prior to pulling together a commemorative zine.

Watch this space!

*FOMO – fear of missing out

Wednesday

After a day stuck indoors yesterday I decided I needed a wander before breakfast this morning. The wife was still asleep and as I had three cameras with part-exposed films in this was an ideal opportunity to kill two birds with the proverbial stone.

I surprised myself by heading for the front door. Taking the two or three strides from door to gate I hesitated. Left or right? I wasn’t used to exiting via the front of the house and momentarily I was confused. Turning right I noticed the light on West Vale, nestled down in the valley, I clearly had my photographer’s hat on this morning as I headed toward the top of the hill and a view down into the valley.

Horizon S3 Pro

I stopped to admire the view; it never fails to delight me. With the sun bright in a cloud bedecked sky I watched the patches of light and shade ripple across the landscape before reaching for the first camera.

Having captured images with all three cameras I hesitated again. Down the hill and then a long loop home with much of it uphill? Retrace my steps slightly and wander down Gog Hill which would also necessitate an uphill return. Or walk south, past my own front gate, and into the maze of streets that I wander so often? In the end my stomach decided. Part way down Gog Hill, then cut up behind the sheltered housing and down into the high street and my favourite café.

Gog Hill is the oldest extant street in Elland. Much changed, it had houses along part of its length at one point, it drops steeply down from the top of Elland to the River Calder and the Calder & Hebble Navigation. It is cobbled, poorly maintained and dry or wet it’s slippery but nevertheless I have walked up and down this overgrown lane countless times. For most of its length it is overhung by trees with walls on the opposite side and in the Summer the canopy of leaves keeps the lane shaded for most of the day.

Part way down I turned off the cobbles and turned right up some muddy steps. This part is nearly always dank and dark, little sunlight penetrates in the Summer and being Yorkshire it rains for much of the Autumn and Winter. It’s particularly overgrown at present and I had to duck and walk bent over before popping out onto the street behind the flats. Following the service road I passed the garages and came to the end of the road.

Turning left the familiar bulk of the rear of the Savile Arms pub was partly silhouetted by the sun rising behind it. The sun itself was partly screened by clouds and I thought the resulting contrasts would suit the long-expired ORWO NP27. I took a light reading, dialled it into the KMZ FT-2, making an allowance for the limited shutter speeds available. It was then that the sun, which had been playing silly-beggars from the moment I’d left the house, started a game of hide and seek with the clouds.

KMZ FT-2

By now I was conscious that I hadn’t broken my fast and with just a few frames left in my cameras I made the best of the opportunity before heading to the café which was now less than a hundred metres around two corners. A final couple of frames on the first corner saw all three cameras empty and with no further reason to dawdle I gladly sought out a medium breakfast and mug of Yorkshire tea.

By the way if you’re wondering what the two Polaroid images are all about you’ll need to watch for the forthcoming #InstantRegret post once it’s written! Or just find me on Twitter – @elland_in

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

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!

Trying Trichrome – the testing!

Yesterday’s snow took us by surprise here, it wasn’t forecast for our part of the country and in any event sheltered by the Pennines as we are we don’t usually get too much of the white stuff. Nevertheless, after breakfast this morning I headed into my backyard for the first part of my Trichrome project – the test run in the field (or backyard in my case) and capturing the images.

I started by using the light meter on my phone to check the filter factors of the red, green and blue (RGB) filters I had purchased especially for this test. These suggested that the relevant factors were three for red and blue and two for the green; in the ballpark of where I’d expected them although I decided to do the second of todays four sets at R3, G3 and B3 rather than 323.

I set up three compositions. One with some colourful objects I found in the snow and I photographed this six times, two sets of three images, in order to have a reference for the green filter as discussed above.

Ready, steady, test!

I had the Bronica SQ-A setup on a sturdy tripod and fitted with a cable release. Once the composition had been made and the lens focused I touched nothing apart from the cable release and the wind-on lever. My mind thinks of these colours as RGB so it made sense to make the first exposure with the red filter, the second with the green and the third with the blue. Your mileage may differ but the key thing to remember here is that whilst red and blue have the same filter factor the green I was using has a different filter factor (probably – this test will confirm). I took all three exposures within a few seconds of each other, just enough time to carefully change the filters over without bumping the camera, and altered the shutter speed to adjust the exposure for the different filters, leaving the aperture unchanged.

This first composition was photographed twice. The second time I treated all three filters as if they had a filter factor of three (see above). However, I reverted to 323 for the second half of this roll of Fomapan 400.

Whilst the first composition was a still life and evenly lit the second was a wider scene encompassing more of the garden and a little of the sky too. The final set of three was very similar to the second composition but included far more of the sky in the frame.

I wasn’t expecting any issues with taking the images, I’m very familiar with my gear, I’d prepared myself beforehand and had the filters laid out ready to use. I’d considered the filter factors for these new filters and I’d dug out the sturdiest tripod I own so knew nothing would move. A cable release ensured no camera shake and a light reading with my Polaris meter would give the best chance of properly exposed negatives. Being organised and knowing up front what I was going to do helped with a smooth session in the backyard.

Next job is to develop the film, scan the sets of negatives and carefully name the files to incorporate red, blue or green as appropriate in the file name. All being well I will be in a position to try assembling the Trichrome on the computer tomorrow evening or possibly tonight if other things don’t get in the way!

Keep watching this space!

Trying Trichrome

Oh I do like an alliterative title!

If there is something that many film photographers have in common it’s their willingness to try things “because they can” even if there are far simpler ways of achieving results. My glass plate project is probably a good example of doing things the hard way (currently on hold until the Spring incidentally). Indeed, it could be argued that film photography as a whole fits this theme given how easy digital photography can be. But, I digress (not for the first time).

So, when someone (I’m looking at you @apkeedle) starts posting colour images created from black and white film negatives my interest is piqued. Colour from FP4! When I saw that it involves using the computer however I mentally consigned it to the “follow with interest but don’t get involved” list. Which is where it has firmly stayed for many months as I’ve enjoyed the images I’ve been seeing, particularly from Andrew, and have been content to consume rather than produce.

Until.

Until Andrew (yes, still looking at you Mr K) suggested a Trichrome Party on Twitter and in a moment of weakness I found myself saying “of course I’ll have a go”. I dug out filters, ordered stepping rings and even adapted my Titan 5×4 pinhole camera to accept filters. I then had the bright idea of infrared trichomes too. Ooh, Trichrome pinhole infrared….

The thinking about it has been fun. But now comes the moment when I need to properly understand what is actually involved prior to having a go myself.

So, this post is simply a marker in the sand, a note of intent if you will. The plan is to spend this evening binge watching/reading everything I can find on the subject and then tomorrow I will load a roll of 120 into the Bronica SQ-A and head into the backyard for the test run.

In the meantime here is the image that “started” it all for me from the aforementioned Andrew Keedle who retains copyright and all the glory emanating from this fabulous 7×17 ULF masterpiece …