Saturday, January 04, 2020

Last Film Of The Decade

Fol-de-role! And a Jolly Green Giant of a New Years Greeting to you from the home of New Year . . Auld Scotia!

Well a new decade is upon us - in the forthcoming one, we'll achieve world peace, harmony, have turned around about the environment, be on a Universal Income and all in all everything will be tip top and super.
I'll be either dead, alive but nearly dead, alive and surviving, alive and independently-limbed, alive and non-independently-limbed, or in a concerned, bewildered and horrified torpor which sees me drifting around from environmental to humanitarian disaster, trying to do stuff.
I might well not be living in the country (a dream I have had my whole life) . . but hey-ho! I'm not discounting it - who knows (where the wind blows)?
What is likely is that I won't be working any more - having achieved state retirement age - unless the bastards have put it up exponentially - in which case, my old adage of:

It used to be WORK and DIE. Now it's WORK, INSERT YOUR OWN CATHETER and DIE

will be true.
Will Alec Turnips (son and all-round good egg) have spawned any sprogs before I am too old to pick the blighters up? Who Knows??
Will we still be able to buy film? Will you have to auction your kidneys to buy a roll of Tri-X in the UK? Oh, sorry foreign readers . . IT IS LIKE THAT NOW!
Ah, that's a good question though isn't it.
It leads to the thought, what would you do if you couldn't?
For myself, I'd stop photographing entirely. I totally cannot be arsed with digital and prefer the process that traditional picture taking brings to the table.

Which rather brings me to the whole point of this first FB of a new decade . . . the last film taken in the 2010's. I had to mark it somehow, so we'll get to that further down the page, though I couldn't resist chucking this photograph in.

Quiet, Haunted Lane

Anyway, if you can't be bothered reading and just like looking at the pictures, please feel free to scroll downwards.
And if you're from 2030:

Careful with your Cormthrusters . . you don't want them getting caught on your Space Suit.

Well, here we go - looking back to the start of 2010, I was writing in my journals long and lustily about the weight of my Sinar!


I weighed myself with all the big gear - it worked out I was hauling 4.6kg (nearly 11lb) of tripod and head, which probably explains why it took me nearly 3 hours to reach the top of the Shank (of Drumfollow). I weighed 15 stone 9.25 lb with all my stuff AND NO BOOTS! 26lb of extra weight. So after much deliberation I decided to buy another tripod"

Not only did I buy another tripod ( a Gitzo Series G224 Reporter and G24 head - which stood me in good stead for 8 years and I still have) I also bought a Wista DX from a chap called Mike Pirrie for the grand sum of £300. It was in boss condition, and had started out in the States by all accounts until Mike had bought it. The Wista is a superb camera - a true triumph of form and function. I used it a hell of a lot.
My last quote from the end of February 2010 reads:

"Had to take my new set up for a field test, so went to the Western.
It's quite a different camera to use - the GG is VERY bright. You have to be more aware of the standards and everything being parallel (compared to the Sinar, which is like a brick shithouse). . . . But at last I am relatively free from the tyranny of weight and bulk!"

Here's a photo taken with that setup:

Grave Detail With Light Frost - Western Cemetery, Dundee

It was with the Wista, the old Kodak 203mm Ektar with the Bumblebee Prontor shutter and Foma 100 sheet film at EI 50. It was developed in Barry Thornton 2 bath. The stonework was placed on Z VI and the reading was 15 secs at f45.
With reciprocity that was up to 60 seconds!
And that's the beauty and importance of keeping exposure notebooks!

I quite like it.
The old Kodak Ektars, whilst 'press' lenses, are really fine art marvels - mine is the British version which fits a Copal 0 shutter too, should the Bumblebee ever decide to fly away.
Anyway that was a photograph from a batch of 4 from how I started the decade.

And here's the last 5x4 I took - we have to rewind back to 2016 - May.
Bloody hell - it only seems like 2 months ago - I am far older and uglier nowadays.

Who Are You And Why Are You Taking My Picture?

This was the Wista again but with the 90mm Super Angulon. I'd got lucky with that lens and got a boxed, late-made one with a filter for a relatively paltry amount - it's a cracking lens.
Seeing these again has cemented an idea for this year - I'm going to start using LF again, but will be more selective and also use a different developer to Pyrocat - the thought of waiting around in the dark for something to emerge is almost too much for a sane brain to contemplate. Maybe Microphen might do the trick - thanks for the tip Bruce.

Anyway, in between LF in 2010 and my last film something dramatic occured, and that was the acquiring of what I really think is one of the very finest cameras made - a Hasselblad.
It changed me photographically.
I realised that FOR ME and MY PURPOSES it was pointless farting about with so-so cameras and 'extinct' systems - if you are serious about taking pictures, please consider this - the lens is the most important element, followed by the camera system to back it up and a plentiful supply of stuff to help you with your choice and to my mind, the V System was a no-brainer.
Finally being able to afford one was probably the most exciting thing ever, photographically speaking, for me.
Actually taking it out and getting used to it was a thrill that is still with me.
I love it.

So, on the last day of the decade, I knew I was going to take the 500 C/M and the 60mm Distagon (which I haven't used in a while) out for a wander.
I initially thought I'd get a lift from my wife on her way to work, but the sun doesn't rise till 8.46AM around these parts at this time of year and the realisation that I'd have to be making really long exposures in really cold (sub-zero) weather in an unknown part of town, made me think twice.
So I hunkered down and waited for the sun and headed off to my old stomping ground of the back of the Art College.
The sun was really low, but very beautiful and making images that thrilled me was a breeze.
It put a real spring in my step and, having examined the negs I can honestly say that I'll probably print every image on the roll - an all time first!

Film 66/63

Dundee, 31/12/2019
Ilford HP5+ - EI 200

1./ 1/125th f8 ZIII - Shed Bike
2./ 1/60th f8 ZIV - Bike
3./ 1/60th f4 ZIII - Prejudice
4./ 1/15th f8 ZIII - 180 Degrees From Prejudice - House
5./ 1/30th f4 ZIII - Bath
6./ 1/60th - 1/125th f8 ZIII - Liberty Tree
7./ 1/30th f8 ZIII- Me
8./ 1/250th f5.6 ZIII - Girl
9./ 1/60th f11 ZIII - Palms
10./ 1/30th f8 ZIII - Dark Wullie
11./ 1/60th f5.6 ZIIII - Wrestle
12./ 1/15th f4 ZIII - Spex Pistols

PHD  - 5+5+500 22℃
Usual to 14 mins then stand to 17 mins.
Really Happy With This -They Looked So Exciting Through The VF. 
Hasselblad 500 C/M + 60mm Distagon.
ALL Handheld

Sorry, but I started showing the contact prints for every film last year and I am going to go on, hence the above.

Anyway, buoyed up with how the negatives looked, I had a decent few hours printing on the 2nd of January, and here's the results.
They are all scans at 800dpi off of the prints which were printed on Ilford MGRC at Grade 3.
The weird thing is, that the contact is actually printed at Grade 2, but to get the same sparkle, I nearly always have to print at Grade 3.
It's probably something to do with the staining effect of the Pyrocat in contact printing as opposed to projection printing.
Anyway, here goes the prints - and with added descriptions too.

Quiet, Haunted Lane

When I finish my compendium of ghost stories, the above is going to be the cover - it has that feel to me. I'd taken the Prejudice picture and was quite happy with it, but then decided to turn around 180 Degrees and voila - the sun was shining up the lane just right and the house was veiled by flare from the backlighting.
It looked tremendously exciting in the viewfinder.

Ghost Of Bathing Student Wonders What Is Going On

Ah, those jolly students! The bath had been a part of someone's 'installation' for their graduate exhibition. It has now been moved off its display plinth and is being used as a saw horse.
The veiling flare from the strong sun coming through the roof bits made the wall face look like it was rising in steam off the bath - I know, I DO have a weird mind.
The print isn't too successful though - I think it looks better on the contact - that's one for a future session.

Sheephouse, International Man Of Mystery

This is the architectural building of Duncan Of Jordanstone - were it not for the fecking double glazing it would be an almost perfect reflection shot from my point of view. 
Double glazing really mucks up reflection photographs - I don't like it that much.
The light though has something almost sepulchural about it and my shadow gives it a certain air of mystery don'tcha think?
I am happy with the print on this - by the way, despite what people say the majority of the prints from this sessions were made at approximately the same exposure time of 32 seconds at f22. The enlarging lens was my Vivitar (Schneider) 100mm - a truly great lens.
I find once you get an idea of what the base exposure time is you can easily judge things from there. No Faffin'!

Palms - GTA-style

Yes I know, this IS Scotland . . but you see, some 10+ years back some brainbox decided to augment the delightfully quaint formal gardens opposite the Uni with a planting of palms. 
They also put some Lemmings on a wall in celebration of the coding of the game Lemmings:

Madly Addictive But Extinct

. . . and I now realise, the palms are maybe there to celebrate the coding of the game Grand Theft Auto. 
I'm just waiting for the Minecraft memorial in the Western Cemetery . . . 

The photograph shows what an incredible lens a Distagon is (IMHO) - coupled with the harsh light it's given it a weirdly off-kilter tonality I really like.

Dark Wullie Is Watchin'

And who doesn't love Oor Wullie? What d'ye mean you've NEVER heard of him?
He's a cartoon character created by Mr. Dudley D. Watkins, who also created Desperate Dan, Lord Snooty and The Broons. Printed by the mighty Dundee Institution D.C Thompson.
Anyway, this year we had about a billion cast sculptures of Wullie on what was called The Bucket Trail - look it up. 
They were auctioned at the end of the Summer and if you look closely there's one of the horrible little feckers staring right at you. 
Why horrible? 
The modernised Bucket Trail Wullie had no charm - you can read a brief history of Wullie on this link


This was taken through the old revolving doors of Duncan Of Jordanstone - the girl looked quietly optimistic . . give her a 4 year degree course and we'll see then.
This being said it has no doubt changed a deal since I was there in the 80's. Then, it was like a mincer trying to produce artistic sausages. A lot of my compadres went on to become really well-known artistes  - och well, them's the breaks - insert words if you so wish.
This being said, if the stuff that makes up the current Seized By The Left Hand exhibition at the DCA passes for the state of modern art, then art is in a place I neither understand nor wish to understand.

The New Liberty Tree

This is the NEW Liberty Tree - why new? Well in an act of road widening back in the 1930's the Council cut it down.
The original Ash had the most fascinating history recounted on this link
At least someone has had the grace to reinstate one in memoriam.
I've been a little heavy-handed in printing this, but I rather like the stark contrasts. In hindsight I'd have moved in closer, cropped it a bit more and made the difference even more obviouser . . . obviously.

Anyway, that's it - my last film of the 2010's and I am pleased with it!

Who knows what the next 10 years will bring, or even whether I'll still be writing this, or whether any of us will still be around to sound a "Hail Fellow And Well Met" to each other.
No matter what it brings, I wish you peace, harmony, positivity and good fortune.

As a recent fortune cookie message said to me:

Your smile is a curve that can get a lot of things straight.

I can't really add any more than that.

Till the next time, TTFN, and remember to brush your teeth or else they'll run away to join the circus . .