Thursday, May 07, 2015

Il Buono, Il Matto e Il Cattivo - Parte 1.3



Morning folks - fed up of the election yet? 
Remember a vote for Sheephouse is a vote for fair dealings and honesty, so I urge you to go and put your X in the correct box - we're fielding candidates all over the country - YOU KNOW IT MAKES SENSE.

Well, here we reach the happy conclusion of something started a while back - you can read about part 1 here . . . and part 2 here . . .
I'll let you get on with that if you haven't read them already, and for the brave and exhausted souls who have . . . on with the show! 

OK, so I'd been weathered off and decided that I simply must take some pictures, so I found a nice riverbank and did something I haven't ever done with a 5x4 camera - 
I parked myself
Wot's that Sheephouse? Parked?
Yeah, parked - dumped my rucksack, unpacked it, set up camera on tripod, attached LowePro bumbag to my bum and over the next two hours wandered up and down the riverbank taking pictures leaving rucksack where it was and packing/unpacking nothing apart from at the start and at the end. I made 8 photographs - this would normally have taken approximately 3 total hours of time were I having to pack up and move on every time, so essentially I shaved around an hour off of valuable time. 
Light waits for no man and I was alternating between astonishing, bright sunshine, heavy cloud and deep freezing shadows. The river was running fit to bust. The air was filled with clouds of water droplets all diamondy and wonderful in the sunshine. The noise was incredible and my soul flew. 
It was a pleasure which I can hardly describe
How wonderful not to have to think about packing up and moving on! Never done it before, but I will from now on. I dug deep into the landscape and felt that having the freedom to just wander about paid out in spades. If you are a LF photographer, please consider using this approach:

study your maps
pick a spot that looks good
and then have fun

It made all the difference to me.
Anyway . . . 
Right, well what have we here Sheephouse?
It's prints M'am innit.
Oh really?
Yes M'am . . . proper prints, made on proper paper and developed in proper chemicals. The paper, if you don't mind me telling you M'am, is some ancient Agfa Multicontrast Classic (or MCC if you like) - it's at least 10 years old and has lost about a Grade of sensitivity, however it doesn't appear to be fogging. The paper developer was Fotospeed - it is excellent and very fast, and then they were archivally fixed and toned in Kodak Selenium.
Really young man . . . that's jolly interesting.
Yes M'am, I agree

So, here they are as promised at the start of this lengthy process - film was the last of my well expired TMX 400 (when it cost £50 for 50 sheets) and some of my well-expired TXP 320 (when it cost £50 for 50 sheets). All were developed in 1:25 Rodinal at 21 Centigrade. Some of the negatives were sorely underexposed (because I'd knocked my meter and hadn't noticed) and I had to try and enhance the upper Zones by Selenium toning the negative - this works quite well actually.
The lenses were a 1980's Schneider 150mm Symmar-S and a late production Schneider 90mm Super Angulon. I like them both - they are superb lenses.
Camera was the Wista DX which is a superb companion and my tripod was the Gitzo Series 2 Reporter - it is ancient but operates as new - testimony to great engineering and build.

So, kick back, dip your bagel in your coffee and tell me what you think.

OK - the eagle-eyed will notice that is only 5 contacts . . well the other 3 were impossible to get looking right so I haven't included them, I have however printed one of them!
So now for the projection prints. All printed on my DeVere 504 through an ancient 150mm Rodagon.

This was actually bleached and then toned - unfortunately it was a bleach too far and it has given it this lith look. That being said a number of people have said they really liked it . . so there.

I like the tonality of this one - it did need a little bleaching, but I was careful and then toned in Selenium

This is a little section from the above - you can see how well the Super Angulon has rendered the water.

And finally . . . this is my favourite - it reminds me of John Blakemore.
It's hardly original, but I find it pleasing.
The thing that attracted my eye first was the reflection of the tree at the bottom of the frame.
Bleached selectively along the water's white and then Selenium toned.

And that folks is that - was it worth the wait? 
Only you can decide. 
LF takes a huge amount of effort, and sometimes I am not sure it is worth the effort, however with that last print, I can say to myself (as I wash up on the beach of emptied and dying LF photographers, spent before their time on the river of photography) 
"Yes . . . at least I think so."

TTFN - poiple pills - yum yum yum.


  1. Nobody seems to be saying well done. Jealousy, perhaps?
    Here we go then: Well Done, Sheephouse!

    (Please sir, I want some more...)

  2. Hooray David and thanks - I think you're about the only person that has read it, seeing as it doesn't feature new digi-things or old expensive things!

  3. I've read it as well, of course! As always, enjoyed it.


  4. Thanks Omar - glad to know you're still out there!

  5. I have to thank you.
    I tried your wombling free method and it works. A small insulated picnic bag was just the right size to hold dark slides, a meter and a loupe (and a filter which I didn't use) although the darkcloth still went over the shoulder to cushion the tripod.
    It all worked as you say. Much less reluctance to move the tripod a foot or so to left or right, as you need to do. I should mention that the last time I left a bag behind and wandered off, it had vanished when I returned, so the lesson is not to park your kit close to a footpath. Fortunately the bag was empty, so it was a relatively cheap lesson.

  6. David - that is brilliant!
    Wombling Free - a perfect description!
    For small carry bags - there are lots of hillwalking/fell running 'bum-bags' out there. The one I chose - the Lowe Pro Fjell - fits 4 dark slides and a loupe (just) but it clips around your waist and doesn't look too ally.
    As for leaving the bag - how about a cycle padlockable chain round a tree/railing/person?



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