Four little bits of Magic

Following on from yesterday’s post four more images from that first roll.

All of these were taken on the Rollei Magic using Ilford HP5+ which was developed in Ilford ID11, diluted 1+3 for twenty minutes at 20°.

Thus far I’ve put three rolls through the Magic and been very happy with the results. I’ve used several TLR cameras over the years but none have ever left me looking forward to taking them out again the way this little marvel does. Give me a few months and I will try to write a more balanced report! For now though there’s a fresh roll loaded and I’m waiting for a break in the wall-to-wall deluge to get outdoors.

Embrace the plastic

I recently dusted off the almost forgotten Lubitel 166B and popped a couple of rolls of Ilford FP4+ through its plastic goodness. I’m not going to write a review of the camera however as pretty much everything that needs to be said has already graced the online world and I don’t propose adding to the wordage (is that even a word?) afforded this delightfully quirky box.

The crop
The full frame

It’s a kinda magic

Or a Rollei Magic to be accurate.

The Magic, as I shall hereafter call it, is a medium format, twin-lens reflex (TLR) camera manufactured by German company Franke & Heidecke. It was Rollei’s answer to the demand for a TLR with an automated exposure control. The camera uses 120 roll film so there are no issues finding film. As is to be expected, twelve 6x6cm square images can be captured for each roll of film. By using a special mask set the camera can be adapted to produce 16 images of 4×4 or 4×5.5cm on a roll however that’s not something I have in my kit bag.

The Magic’s successor, the Rollei Magic II, has full manual controls whereas the Magic has very limited capability in this respect; it was designed to be quick and easy to use. Load, compose, click! A true point and shoot really even if it’s in a TLR body.

Automatic Perfect Pictures!

Rollei Magic brochure

I’d seen the camera several weeks ago in the local camera shop’s window. Compared to prices on a certain internet site it was very modestly priced so I did some further research. In a nutshell, if the meter is knackered then it’s an interesting paperweight – very nice to look at but very little practical use. So, when my wife went in to town again recently I asked her to pop in and ask about the meter, explaining it was a good buy if the meter worked. I fully expected her to return home with an answer, which she did, but wasn’t expecting her to have the camera in her bag though!

My first task was to check the meter. The needle reacted to varying light levels which was a good start. The shop, who I trust implicitly, said it worked and had even given a 3-month warranty to back up this assertion. I loaded a roll of HP5+ and headed out for a wander.

It works! Twelve evenly-spaced, properly exposed negatives. Result.

I’m looking forward to more time with this magic little camera and perhaps a few more blog posts too!

The Dentist

Since the pandemic started our weekly routine has undergone a massive change and as a result so has my photography. We no longer pop into Halifax or Huddersfield just to wander (me with a camera), have a look at the shops, enjoy a coffee or some lunch. Such trips are now based on necessity rather than leisure and so I’ve photographed closer to home far more extensively in the last two and a half years.

Can’t resist a shadow-selfie

These last few months though I’ve had an ongoing issue which has necessitated regular trips to my dentist which although I no longer work in the town is still based in Halifax. And a trip to the dentist always includes a wander with a camera. It’s my one photographic “rule”.

So, here are a few images from my most recent dental appointment and there’s not a molar or a drill in sight!

A mini tale

As I type this, the consumer drone world is agog with the impending release of DJIs latest drone, the Mini 3 Pro. First impressions are that this tiny drone is a big leap forward; it’s certainly the hottest ticket in town, selling out four days before it’s due to ship on one well known online retailer and talk of buy now, deliver August. I however, bucked the trend and went for its predecessor the DJI Mini 2 and this weekend it had its maiden flight (excluding the flights I made in the house that is).

For context, this little drone fits in the palm of my hand, weighs less than 250g with a battery and yet is still a fully-featured and competent piece of kit. All the images here come from this diminutive flying camera.

Rooftop view
I don’t often photograph the sunset
Near Bradford
Elland looking towards Greetland and Halifax
From (above) my front yard
Early morning Banbury
It’s a Banbury morning
Elland Sunset

I started writing this post in mid-May and since then the Mini 3 Pro has started to appear in the hands of hobbyists (as opposed to online influencers) and whilst they are largely positive there’s quite a few notes of caution echoing around the online forums. Having flown the Mini 2 for the last few weeks, having previously used bigger drones like the Mavic Pro or Air 2s, I’m quite taken with the form. I can deploy it very quickly but more importantly it’s sub-250g mass means there are more places I can legally fly.

The two sunset images above are a case in point. From rising from my seat and taking the drone out of its bag to returning to my armchair with images captured was no more than ten minutes.

Will I buy the Mini 3 Pro? Probably. Photographically it’s a decent improvement on my Mini 2 and from a flying point of view it’s has some worthwhile enhancements too. I sold my Mavic Pro this week, after five years service I’ve upgraded my bigger drone to the Air 2s, and felt a slight pang as I posted it off. I learnt to fly with the Pro and have some fabulous images to show for its five years with me.

So there we have it. An update on my drone photography. You can expect some film-based posts shortly as I’ve just put the first 2022 roll of film through the Horizon S3 Pro; probably my favourite 35mm film camera ever.

Airdata UAV|Drone Safety Verified Badge

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.