Sunday, December 18, 2016

Working From One End To The Other (And All Points In Between)

Well folks, the festives are upon us again - so he's blocked up the chimley, nailed don't-land-here-bird-pokey-spike-things to every available landing surface and yer Sheephouse has been finally relaxing and imbibing plenty of Woods Old Navy rum and typing - and rather like an avalanche waiting to happen and thinking what the hell will he round things off with, he thought:
'Yes, dammit, heck . . . well, why not? A summary of the year . . . yesh, thash a good idea' (hic).

In much the same way, Basil Rathbone exclaims "My dear Watson, you astound me . . ." in The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes (1939) . . . (none of this modern BBC stuff here, oh no, I like my Sherlock in tweed and pipe) so I wonder why I haven't done it before.

Ed's note: Look, I've had to read and re-read this a number of times . . . there's a lot of pictures, and it does come across like one of those yearly round-robbin (as in Look-at-all-the-wonderful-things-we-special-people-got-up-to-this-year) Christmas cards you used to get from folk at your Mum and Dad's church . . . but I don't think he means it like that. It's more of a kick up the pants to himself . . .
The Light waits for no man, and soon, very soon, the last glimpse you get of the world is that coffin lid closing and the flare of gas jets, so let it be more of a salutory, Dickensian-style, "Get Thy Finger Oot Whilst You Still Have Time."

Sub-Ed's note: Look this is supposed to be the Festive Season . . . it's not that bad, so grab a bagel and a cup of Java and let's get on with it!

I suppose the supposition is that the life of a blogger and especially one that writes about oooooo, photography, is an exciting round of gear, gottle-of-gear, adoring followers, Tweets from the WHITE HEAT of Photogblogging, Farcebook posts, more gear and people thinking you are the second coming of Ansel.
Well, I'm sure Bruce at the Online Darkroom would agree with me that it is nothing like that!
Us poor bunch ("poor bunch" being distinct from the whatsisnames and whatsisnames, you know who I mean . . whatsisname) tend to write about The Process rather than Yer Actual Gear.
Who gives a shit about how people actually use tools these days -  it's ALL ABOUT THE TOOL isn't it . . isn't it? Certainly seems that way from where I am standing.
But gear does come into it (to a greater or lesser extent) and I can completely confirm that acquiring new (old) stuff is an addictive and expensive buzz but also enormous fun and an integral part of what we do.
I think I've come to realise that I rather like having a ton of daft old cameras around - it aids the creative process, by giving things a new edge, and with the exception of my almost total neglect of 5x4 this year (and with around 250-300 sheets to use) I think I have explored the fringes of my wee collection quite well.

However, at the end of the day if you've nothing to show for it . . .

Anyway, maybe my idea of a summary isn't so good - yes I've bought a number of photographic aids this year, but if the truth be told I have done precious little photography and almost no printing - a lot of the stuff here is scanned from contacts (gasp!!) - to be honest I have not had the time to have a good darkroom session since around May.
That's appalling, but it has been my reality this year.
Never mind - what you'll get in what follows is periods of stasis and general other stuff, interspersed with intensive bits of creativity.
In fact so polarised is it, that I think my end of year report could read

" . . . Sheephouse . . . shows willing, could do better."

Anyway, here goes, hold onto your hats and watch a semi-creative year unfurl before your very eyes!


I started with optimism. Spent all my Christmas money, and more on an Arca B-1 ballhead, which was a total revelation to use along with the Hasselblad. Yes it was a few years old, and yes it came from the same family of the infamous Arca lockup (google it - plenty of info) however mine is a later model in which the problem has been sorted out (the PMF B-1) - it was boxed and in 'as new' condition from those lovely chaps at Ffordes and it grips heavy loads like a bulldog on your nadgers making using the Hasselblad a total cinch on top of ye anciente Gitzo Reporter.

Having just about survived Storm Gertrude (a neighbour's roof had a whole 3.5 foot by 1.5 foot Victorian chimney pot embed itself into it from about 60 feet up) I marshalled myself at the end of the month with an expired 2010 roll of Neopan 400, and went out on a dreich and overcast afternoon to produce this.

Film 66/18 - Expired 2010 Neopan 400 (EI 200) in 1+50 Rodinal. Hasselblad Panoramic Adapter


Took the M2 and Canon 28mm f3.5 to Edinburgh and took some snaps, but didn't develop the film for quite a while.


(Almost) not a sausage done.


Developed photos from February and a handful from March - to quote my diaries:

 "Total shite - worst photos I have ever taken"

See what you think (these are probably the best!):

Film 35/40 - TMX400 (EI 320) in 1+50 Rodinal

Film 35/40 - TMX400 (EI 320) in 1+50 Rodinal

Seriously thought about binning 35mm altogether.

Took the Hasselblad out and in a brief moment of Dad free-time I had a total blast with the Hasselblad handheld!

Film 66/19 - More Expired 2010 Neopan 400 (EI 200) in Rodinal 1+50

Film 66/19 - More Expired 2010 Neopan 400 (EI 200) in Rodinal 1+50

Had a rethink about 35mm and bought a super-cheap (sub £55) 28mm f3.5 Nikkor and an ancient CCS Gladstone bag (it was really cheap [30-odd quid] and in brilliant condition. It holds all my MF stuff comfortably and was a bargain compared to a new bag (CCS no longer exist, but their bags are stil laround - not made in the Far East, but here in the UK).
So it was that fully loaded and me and the missus off for a short long-weekend to my favourite place. It held the Hasselblad, Leitz Table Top Tripod, Rollei T AND the Nikon F3 with the 28mm Nikkor and a 50mm Nikkor as backup + notebooks, books, film, reading material etc etc - it's like the tardis of bags.

Action Man - of course, I could reveal my location, but then I'd have to kill you.

Film 66/21 -TXP 320 (EI 320) in Pyrocat-HD - eventually developed in May

Film 66/21 -TXP 320 (EI 320) in Pyrocat-HD - eventually developed in May

You can't get an idea of the sheer sharpness (and atmosphere) from these scans, even at 3200 dpi off of the contact sheet - take it from me they're SHARP AND ATMOSPHERIC!

Film 35/41 - Tri-X 400 (EI 320) developed in 1+50 Rodinal
It never struck me at the time, but these are like two Ents.

Film 35/41 - Tri-X 400 (EI 320) developed in 1+50 Rodinal

Film 35/41 - Tri-X 400 (EI 320) developed in 1+50 Rodinal

You know, for all the pixel-peepers say "Oh you've got to get the 28mm f2.8 Nikkor as it is soooo much sharper . . oooh, look at those pixels" the f3.5 is what the likes of Don McCullin and his 60's/70's compadres used and you know what - it is no slouch, especially on film.
A very cheap, solid, but decent performing lens!

There was a very good Scottish Photographers meeting at Alan and Sheila's in Perth at the end of the month - as usual, it was great to be able to talk and talk nothing but photography for an afternoon.


Bought a Pyrocat-HD kit off of eBay.

Had a fabulous time with the Hasselblad at St Andrews Botanical gardens, photographing their incredible collection of condensation, dried-on plant food marks (seriously!) and weird reflections in the hot-houses. If you're ever in St Andrews just go - one of the nicest Botanical gardens in Britain.
Vic the Hasselblad was handheld again - seriously - a total revelation about how to use a large, non-TLR, MF camera - I can imagine with the standard 80mm it would be even more of a joy to use.

Film 66/22 - TMX 400 (EI 320) in 1+50 Rodinal

Film 66/22 - TMX 400 (EI 320) in 1+50 Rodinal

Tested the newly arrived Pyrocat-HD kit on some sheet film . . hopeless results - operator error:

"What the feck is going on? . . Oh yeah, that's ANOTHER couple of quid down the drain . . . "
TXP 320 (EI 320) in Pyrocat-HD 1+1+100 - way too thin at that speed . . people used to say that about me!

Yeah I know I look like a Granny in the above - the lens was the 90mm Super-Angulon

Processed my MF films from April.


Had been thinking about a Leicaflex as I so wanted to get a Summicron and it was the cheapest way, but after a few salutory emails from Ffordes about de-silvering prisms and an email from Bruce about perceived lens quality, I went mad, looked at as many old Leica photographs as I could find and finally bought myself a 35mm Summaron for the M2.
What a lovely lens - detailed in "Stepping Up To The Mark".
I tested the lens with a film I'd started using in the Nikon F back in mid-May, so I counted the exposed frames, rewound it and got back to the same point on the film in the M2.
Film was developed in P-HD. First two pics from Nikon end of roll, third a weird double 28mm Nikkor/35mm Summaron double exposure and fourth all M2/Summaron baby.

Tri-X 400 (EI 320) developed in Pyrocat-HD - 1+1+100

Tri-X 400 (EI 320) developed in Pyrocat-HD - 1+1+100

Tri-X 400 (EI 320) developed in Pyrocat-HD - 1+1+100

Tri-X 400 (EI 320) developed in Pyrocat-HD - 1+1+100

Holidays - hurrah!
I love UK-based holidays, because I can settle in to using where we are staying (usually caravans) as a base to explore the surrounding countryside and use my cameras to the point of exhaustion!
I took the Hasselblad and the M2 with the 35mm Summaron and loads of film. I've taken the 5x4 before, but (as detailed last year) using a changing bag is a total PITA, so this time thought, well why not use the Hasselblad for my 'serious' shots, and it worked a dream.

The Summaron shots were detailed in the post "Stepping Up To The Mark" from July and some of the Hasselblad ones are in "4K Burning Moggie" from September.

Here's some I didn't post:

FP4 (EI 50) - developed in Pyrocat-HD - 1+1+100

FP4 (EI 50) - developed in Pyrocat-HD - 1+1+100

You really do have to lose some speed with P-HD - EI 50 seems to suit FP4 well - my times and agitation were:
Constant and Gentle for 30secs
2 inversions per minute
Keep that going till 17mins, then let it stand to 20 mins.
Temperature was 20 degrees

FP4 (EI 50) - developed in Pyrocat-HD - 1+1+100
This was taken at twilight, wide open.

FP4 (EI 50) - developed in Pyrocat-HD - 1+1+100

FP4 (EI 50) - developed in Pyrocat-HD - 1+1+100

FP4 (EI 50) - developed in Pyrocat-HD - 1+1+100

FP4 (EI 50) - developed in Pyrocat-HD - 1+1+100

FP4 (EI 50) - developed in Pyrocat-HD - 1+1+100

FP4 (EI 50) - developed in Pyrocat-HD - 1+1+100

FP4 (EI 50) - developed in Pyrocat-HD - 1+1+100

FP4 (EI 50) - developed in Pyrocat-HD - 1+1+100

FP4 (EI 50) - developed in Pyrocat-HD - 1+1+100

FP4 (EI 50) - developed in Pyrocat-HD - 1+1+100

FP4 (EI 50) - developed in Pyrocat-HD - 1+1+100

I'll nail my trousers to the mast here and say that the 35mm f3.5 Summaron has that vintage look in spades - it's sharp, it's creamy, it's got GREAT (but subtle) contrast and above all it's damn pictorial - there's a pleasing quality that I haven't found with any other lens.
Just wonderful.


Despite showing the pics from June last month, the holiday ones were processed in July . . carefully!

Went for a 12 mile hillwalk, carrying no camera gear but the Leica M2 and Summaron and Leitz table top tripod - it was a revelation and I rather like the cut of the jib of a Summaron as a landscape lens - a joyous tool to carry and use and as I've said before, want a reliable companion tripod but can't be bothered with a big 'un? get a Leitz table top - brilliant wee things.

Loch Esk
Film 35/46 - TMX 100 (EI 50) - Pyrocat-HD 1+1+100

The Sedge At Loch Esk
Film 35/46 - TMX 100 (EI 50) - Pyrocat-HD 1+1+100

Leica M2, Leitz 35mm f3.5 Summaron, Leitz Table Top Tripod

The Mythical Wild Man Of The North (caught in reflective mood)
Film 35/46 - TMX 100(EI 50) - Pyrocat - HD 1+1+100

Film 35/46 - TMX 100 -PHD 1+1+100, EI 50

And this is what Storm Gertrude did to a bridge in a glen back in January - the bridge was solid as a rock, but nature had other ideas!

The flat concrete bit is bolted to a boulder that must weigh a couple of tons, the bridge was bolted to the concrete with concrete piers too. All gone - I kind of wish I'd been there to see it.

Ed and Sub-Ed's note: Non-photographic, essential stuff coming up.

Discovered my chimney was in a state of disrepair . . . basically the flue for the old boiler that was present when we moved into the house, was a steel pipe, dropped down an (unknown to me) chimney. The flaunching (a word I'd never heard till this year) had perished and basically the top of the chimney was wide open to the elements! OK, so it's an old (1888) chimney and has been dealt with in an awful way by intervening generations . . so, me being me, and bouyed-up by last years use of hairy lime putty to bed in my front windows, I started investigating and reading and eventually got some NHL (Non-hydraulic Lime) 5.
This is lime, the stuff they used to use before cement ruled everything - it's a time-consuming but benevolent mortar mix. It is also hydroscopic, so unlike cement (which is utterly waterproof from both sides) lime mortar allows moisture to pass from its interior to its exterior! This was just what I needed considering the fabric of the chimney stack had become damp.

Eek! Slate covers old chimney and flue is below.

So, work was required, and that meant me!


After a quiet statement to myself of "Holy Bungos" I got started and rebuilt the exposed part of the stack with the NHL - I used a premixed version from Conservation lime - it was very nice stuff and really does improve your muscle tone trying to mix it!
The hardest part was stopping it drying out too quickly in the really hot weather we were getting so I was hopping up the ladder three times a day with my plant sprayer and spraying it down and then covering it over.
With lime they recommend you use hessian sacking to cover it with because it stays moist, however I didn't have any so had to make do with painters exterior masking tape (the orange stuff) and those giant blue Ikea bags which are really rather good.
Anyway after 8 days of this regime, I was ready to expose my work. And it seemed to have dried fine, it is however no wonder modern builders rarely use it - it's so time-consuming, and these days no one has the time do they?
Anyway, at the same time of doing this I thought I'd use a roof coating to go over the felt. We have about 18sq metres of flat stuff - and economy was the name of the game; so after HOURS of debate and study I settled on a product by Scotch/3M called Scotchkote. It is a range of coatings, all designed for industrial purposes - they're breathable and come in a range of systems ranking from 5 year before first maintenance right up to 25 year! I was impressed by this and also by some feedback from industrial roofers, so I put my money where my brain was.
I went with the 5 year (Polytech LS 657), because it was the most economical.
But this ties into next month . . so . . and still no photography done . . .

Flue still there, but now upper section is rebuilt with lime.

Oh and I liberated some pensioners of their pocket money, went mad and bought myself a guitar.


Well, what a beautiful month! The weather was something else at the start.
I chickened out at the thought of taking film through an airport, sold the Canon EOS and used the funds to buy a Sony A6000 and a Metabones Nikkor adapter, seeing as I have tons of Nikkors lying around like leaves off a tree . . . 
And guess what . . another holiday!
This time we scraped together all our spare change, robbed a few more pensioners and flew to Amsterdam and then by train to Brussels.

The shots were detailed in "Ogden's Not Gone Flake" published in September, but here's a few more.

Film 00100111001 - Sony A6000 + 35mm f2 Nikkor-O

Film 00100111001 - Sony A6000 + 35mm f2 Nikkor-O

Film 00100111001 - Sony A6000 + 35mm f2 Nikkor-O

Film 00100111001 - Sony A6000 + 35mm f2 Nikkor-O

Film 00100111001 - Sony A6000 + 35mm f2 Nikkor-O

Film 00100111001 - Sony A6000 + 35mm f2 Nikkor-O

Film 00100111001 - Sony A6000 + 35mm f2 Nikkor-O

They're two outstanding European cities with different (yet similar) cultures but they are friendly and beautiful places and so very different from the a-typical views people have of them:

Drugs and sex - Amsterdam
Boring - Brussels.

I took a lot of photographs with the non-PC Sony A6000 and a 35mm Nikkor-O.
OK - it's not film-based, but you know what, I was happy to use it and think the results are really excellent, though I've not printed a single one.
The Sony and ancient (1971) Nikkor give a colour quality that pleases the hell out of me - very 1970's but very crisp too.

During our holiday I replaced my blood with Belgian beer and felt better for it. I've been a beer enthusiast since well before the word "craft" came into the language and it pleases me to see so many guys brewing their own and starting micro-breweries. I did my own proper, non-kit home brewing back in the 1990's, but discovered I couldn't even touch the likes of Westmalle and Samuel Smiths, so gave up . . 

Came home and cleaned out the loft - an epic job.


We got back, and the weather changed to 'orrible and rainy, so I steeled myself, waited for some decent weather (not so easy when all you have is weekends) and then started in earnest on coating the roof.
If you can imagine painting an unwilling, very hairy cat onto a flat surface, then that is what it was like, but it's all about technique and I got there.
It's pretty damn marvellous stuff too - you can apply it in falling rain and down to 0 degrees, though this isn't to be recommended from the applicator point of view -  we did have our first frost in October and kneeling in ice and applying stuff like this is not to be recommended - doesn't half make your joints ache!
It was a heck of a job, two coats and an embedment mesh in places too - got there though - phew!

The bit on the left in grey and white is my work - this was taken from the window of a flat for sale next door.

Near the end of the month an excellent package from Omar Ozenir arrived containing both copies of his self-published photo-journal Gözaltı.
It's great stuff and highly recommended - you can find it here - tell him Sheephouse sent you.

Re-discovered that I really love playing the guitar - it has been a 20 year break, as in nothing done, for 20 years, which, if you know me is highly unusual.
Basically looking at it with the benefit of hindsight, I think I stopped because there was nowhere else to go.


No real photography done, just a wee tickle out at dusk around the graveyard with the Sony

Film 00100111001 - Sony A6000 + 50mm f1.8 "K" Series Nikkor


And the same again.
There's a roll of FP4 in the M2, there's film in the fridge and I just need time.
I am on holiday for Christmas so hopefully there should be some full-on camera usage going on!

And tha-tha-tha-that's all ffolks - I hope you found that interesting and not too dull -despite the lack of vast amounts of stuff, at least I have been trying to do stuff, with only commitments and lack of time getting in my way. Next year I am planning on doing more.

So can I, on behalf of yer Missus Sheephouse and Alex Turnips too, take this opportunity to wish you and yours all a fantastic Christmas and an even better 2017 and for the world, a little peace perhaps, that can't be too hard can it, not if you really want it to happen.

I'll leave my final thought to Bruce Cockburn from 1971's "Sunwheel Dance" and the track "Going Down Slow":

God, damn the hands of glory
That hold the bloody firebrand high
Close the book and end the story
Of how so many men have died
Let the world retain in memory
That mighty tongues tell mighty lies
And if mankind must have an enemy
Let it be his warlike pride

Let it be his warlike pride

Take care, be good and remember to keep eating your peas.