Thursday, September 03, 2015

Freak Out! . . . It's The Technicolor Sheephouse

Morning Folks.
Y'know, for some years I have had a hankering to explore the world of colour photography (by the way, in some weirdly synchronised thinking, this is rather similar to me old chum Bruce's post about colour . . .  again, no collusion, just entirely independent thinking!) 
Anyway, I've got the books, got the cameras, shot the practice films (6! all undeveloped) bought a C41 kit, and yet, I am still not there. 
Now there is a very long and daft excuse for this . . . 
So if you've got a mo, sit down and have a read . . . 

Many years back, when me and Ali found ourselves in the position of two wee Church Mice with a large mortgage on an unloved Victorian divided house, a small child to deal with and not a huge amount of money to spare every month, we both felt it would help us if I fitted a new kitchen with a budget one from B&Q - it had to be better than the old kitchen from the previous owner which had been a badly hatched plan of home-made non-joiner joinery and pine cladding - it was, to say the least, VERY brown and not a bit greasy. So, suitably bouyed-up to sort ourselves out (we both love cooking - it had to be done) we purchased a bunch of budget units from B&Q and, because they were being promoted as 'just the thing' at the time, a plastic sink. 
Oh you might think a:
® Corian! 
Nope - no such luck . . 
In typical Sheephouse fashion it's a:
® It'll Do Till We Get Something Better!
Well I do it a disservice actually - it has put up with years of HC110 and Rodinal being dumped into it without too much staining (Bar Keepers Friend helps!). 
But now I find myself with the thought of all those super-corrosive and super-staining colour chemicals being put into it . . . could we accept a permanently stained sink? 
Yeah, that's what I thought, so, until I can work my way round this and discretion being the better part of valour, the film stays in the fridge . . .

Anyway, to cut a long story short, you'll remember that I have officially sold out? 
I can't get rid of the people with placards from my front garden and the hate-mail has been particularly upsetting, but anyway, what do I care? 
I'm a digital warrior now, all that useless silver-based stuff . . pah! 
That's for Grandads innit! 
Nah, I'm cresting a new horizon to a land where all is golden and bright and everyone wears white suits, just like The Eloy in The Time Machine! 
Oh yes, none of that nassssty, wet stuff for me now, nope, it's didgey all the way.
Well, not really, but for colour and at the moment, it is 'convenient' and 'handy' as well as sparing the sink . . got to remember that sink.

So, here goes - a very basic initial exploration into The Wonderful Wurld Of Color, courtesy of a certain Mr. H.Sheephouse Esq, B.A (A.R.S.E.).

But why so few? you ask.

Well, because I've spent the WHOLE of August refurbing a very nice but very enormous (10 feet tall! 4 and a half feet off the ground!!) Victorian Bay sash window (and it is still ongoing) . . I must be the only person in my City using 'hairy' Lime Putty at the moment and LimeWash too - I have immersed myself deep into the wonderful world of Lime mortars - it's not been easy, but man is it nicer than cement. 
I've also come away with the knowledge that Victorian craftsmen were real artisans - so much so that I am in awe of them.
That, as they say, is my excuse and I am sticking to it . . . 

Anyway, on with the 'modern' shite:

Dull Morning 1

Dull Morning 2

Dull Morning 3

Dull Morning 4

As you can see from the above, my fondness for Ernst Haas and Elliot Porter and Stephen Shore has come through, though please excuse the 'loose' framing - not enough attention paid to the viewfinder in the haste of desparately trying to take something to shove in t'Blog . . .
You know, I love the muted tones of old colour films - it stomps all over HDR and all that hyper-colourised stuff that people think is an accurate take on the world . . maybe it is in places with more sunshine, however here in Scotland muted is IT. I think the Canon's 'capture' has made a decent enough job of rendering what I saw at 7.15 AM on a semi-dreich August morning.
Of course, I could probably have replicated all this with proper real tootin' film, and I will attempt to do so at some point, but in the interests of the Sink (think Sink before you start having a go) 'unreal 1's and 0's' is how it is.
Now all I need to do is make them into physical prints (thanks Bruce in advance).
There was no footering around with this lot, all I did was switch everything off except the meter and focus confirmation.
EI is 200.
White Balance (goodness I can't believe I am writing that) is Auto.
The camera is fully manual including focus (because the camera doesn't believe me when I want to focus on something weird).
And that's it.

I am now going to try and do some more intensive 'work' with the EOS.
Yes all the menus and all that crap are very annoying, but at it's heart I actually think I now have a very decent modern-ish camera.
To be honest, I have no idea what I have been afraid of, apart from the constant nagging that what I have taken a photo of, doesn't actually exist in physical terms . .
That, I think at the end of the day, is the hardest step to accept.

TTFN and remember to oil your galoshes . . just remember the stuff goes on the outside though . . not the inside.


  1. They're great, Phil. I'm beginning to see the benefit of an art college education. :)
    They'd look lovely mounted and framed as a set.

  2. Cheers Bruce - hardly art college, more art with a silent F!
    As for mounted and framed . . . well, I think you know someone with a spare gummy printer don't you?

  3. The Eloi wore articulated golden sandals, too. How are you getting on with solid gold sandals in Scotland?
    And now you've mentioned it, Morlock sounds about right for some of the stroppier fundamentalist darkroom workers, doesn't it? Morlocks don't get the credit they deserve.
    I've been restoring Victorian doors myself. When you get inside, under the century of pint, there's all sorts of little details and niceties that must have been routine at the time, but are very impressive to the thinking bodger. Mind you, they went straight from cradle to workbench, with no Johnston-of-Duncanstone nonsense in between. We are the lucky ones.
    But anyway, a very interesting departure from recognisable subject-matter into who-knows-whet.

  4. Hi david - been a Morlock for longer than I can remember . . so it's nice to get a bit of sunshine on me olde boned.

    I love the stuff you find on old doors and on old walls . . totting up wages, graffiti, practiced handwriting in proper copperpoint . . you name it . . makes a change from the polyfilla dumped onto a rolled-up ball off newspaper that you so often find in post-war DIY!

    I've got a few weeks of obscurity coming up, so I'll try to make as many obtuse images as possible - promise . . .

  5. Just come across your blog and have only read a few entries and noticed you reference Joe Mackenzie in one or two. Very sorry to hear in your most recent blog that he had died.
    Brought back memories of 1979 or 80 when Joe and Sandy (Tulloch?) had an evening class at DOJ that I signed up to. He was very inspirational and was exceptionally helpful with suggestions on how to improve your work (it couldn't have got any worse). He printed two of my crappiest 35mm negs and got something beyond my wildest dreams - now cherished possessions - a very talented printer and an even better photographer.
    I have an autographed copy of his book 'Pages of Experience' and it has pride of place between Paul Strand and Bill Brandt who I can see similarities with - a wonderful book and referred to every once in a while to remind me of time spent in his company.
    Notice that your ref to an M2 - have one but not used enough and won't be until I develop a back log of Tri-X (40+ and counting - a mini winogrand stash) shudder to think what I will find in that lot.

  6. Hi Anonymous, and thanks for the comment. Sandy was I believe Tulloch (can't remember myself either) and I never knew they did evening classes, but I know exactly what you mean about inspiration!

    You're lucky to have an autographed Pages Of Experience - mine are 'bog standard'. I think you are spot on about Strand too - there's a picture in his Hebridean book that is a spitting image McKenzie and I remember Joe's admiration for him.
    I doubt we'll see his like again to be honest - a master craftsman and someone who wasn't afraid of passing on as much knowledge as the recipient could handle.

    Are you still Dundee-based . . and how on earth do you get to a back-log of 40 rolls of film????


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