Saturday, November 23, 2019

Bruce And The Online Darkroom

Good morning folks - I've had a few concerned enquiries about old blogging mate and local all-round good egg, Bruce Robbins who writes The Online Darkroom blog.

He's posted nothing for a while, and the general enquiries were along the lines of "Has he dropped off his perch and become an ex-Norwegian Blue . . .?"

Well the answer is far from that - he's fine. So in the interests of facts (goodness knows we need them at this time) I said I'd post something here for him, so here goes:

Hi folks and thanks for your concern. I’m fine but just short on time just now. We moved house three months ago, became grandparents for the first time the same day and my 89-year-old mum has developed dementia which is taking up a lot of time.

I had The Online Darkroom set up to automatically renew but the host, for no valid reason I can see, decided about three months ago that they would no longer accept my perfectly valid payment card - and sent a warning message to an old email address I haven’t used for years to tell me. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t get that message so the domain expired. Needless to say, I now hold them in the same regard as Emulsive.

I’ve downloaded the TOD content and uploaded it to a new blogger site:

Most of the content transferred over but I noticed that Omar’s articles didn’t and there might be some other stuff that I’ll need to upload manually. The new site looks different from the old one and it might change appearance again but at least it’s now unlikely my posts will just disappear.

Hopefully, that explains where I’m at and how I got here. I’ve still no time for photography but that will change at some point.


So there y'go, he's still squawkin' like a good 'un and pining for those fjords!

Over and out.

This was a public information broadcast from Sheephouse Turrets.

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Fun With Rocks And Mist (Again)

Well, what can I say apart from "the title tells all".
Two things I have learned from this exercise:

Don't trust BBC weather


Although the MWIS (Mountain Weather Information Service) forecasts are utterly superb, use your brain and eyes first.

Y'see there I was, all armed and ready to go:

" . . . maybe I'll be able to do Driesh AND Mayar all on the same hike - the low cloud looks like it will lift. BBC says none, MWIS says scattered and lifting. Let's DO IT!"

So I got my jaw-line all bristly and cragged-up and hit the path.
The path being The Kilbo - a really ancient path linking two glens, Doll and Prosen. 
It's really steep, but is the quckest way I know of being able to climb not one, but two Munros in relative ease.
I've been up there many times and in all weathers - the worst being with a massive haul of Sinar and all associated gear (an extra two and a half stone [including boots] which nearly ended me) the best was being able to climb both and skip home unscathed - mind that was a long time ago and all I was carrying was my Rollei T and The Screamin' Chimp (a Hakuba tripod with dodgy leg-locks . . it screamed like a chimp every time I operated it, hence the name).

Things, however, had changed; whereas before the entirety of the 'lower' path was forested (and also I might add very gloomy and not a bit scary at 6am of a Winter's morn . . you could feel the ghosts coming out of the woods to gloat . . .) - recent forestry work has denuded 90% of it.
I've no idea why they've left a large chunk at the top near the upper glen before the path starts to climb in earnest, but they have.
Anyway, this devastation evoked a real visceral reaction in me.
On one hand it was quite amazing to see the new vistas that had been revealed and on the other it was easy to be utterly appalled at the mess left behind by modern forestry.
To be fair to the Commission and the hard working guys and gals, it ain't an easy job, and I think what I reacted to was the bleached bones of tree stumps that were everywhere.
Everything looked different.

Dead Boulder

Anyway, before we get to the photographic meat and potatoes, just to guide your way from the comfort of wherever you're sitting, here's some vidjos (as they say in Glasgow) - they basically sum up the whole thing in 4 short snippets.
Please excuse me if my fizog breaks your device though - jings I look more like my Mum (with a beard) by the day . . . though to be honest that does a terrible disservice to my Mum who was smiley and beautiful - certainly nothing at all like the dishevelled tramp you see before you . . . .

On The Way Up

Further On The Way Up



Oh go on then - here's a bonus vid for budding photographers - kind of a strange thing for someone to spend probably a fair amount of money on, don't you think? It looks kind of weird and incongrous in the landscape.

But it is an interesting project (and quite a good one I suppose - wish I had thought of it) you can read about it on this link:

Thing is though, far be it for me to state it, but the road into the Doll could really do with some money spent on it . . . .

Super Bonus Vidjo
Rock Bottom

I do sometimes wonder about official bodies and their thinking though - I suppose they know better than us general public bods though - anything that engages some interest is a good thing I suppose, though tbh, Geograph (click on the green Geograph  . . . it's a link!) has been doing a similar and more thorough thing for years and years.

Oh, and NO, I didn't put the SW on it . . though this could be a project for that camera . . . 

Anyway, as usual I digress - on with the film.

What do you mean you can't be bothered looking at ANOTHER Contact Print?
OK, fair enough, leave your name and address at the door . . I'll be in contact later on.

FILM # 66/60
FP4 EI 50-ish

I only took the leica TTT!

1./ 1/8th f11 ZIII Boulder TT
2./ 1/15th f8 ZIII Boulder TT
3./ 1/15th f16 ZIII Hand Rest
4./ 1/15th f16 ZIII Rocks
5./ 1/2 f5,6 ZIII Gate Tree Rest
6./ 1/8th f8 ZIII Boulder
7./ 1/15th f11 ZIII Stump
8./ 1/30th f8 ZIII Boulder
9./ 1/30th f8 ZIII Boulder
10./ 1/30th f8 ZIII Boulder
11./ 1/15th f11 ZIII Boulder
12./ 1/30th f16 ZIII Boulder

All processed as usual in PHD, agitation to 14 mins, stand to 17 mins - it tamed the overexposure a bit.

I was travelling really light this time - a newly acquired Savotta rucksack - light but robust - inside it I had a Lowepro snooty massive telephoto/SLR case, which actually fits a Hasselblad 500C/M and 150mm Sonnar quite nicely. I was carrying the SWC/M though and that was as snug as a bug in a rug.
Pah,! nope.
I had the Leitz Table Top and Leitz ballhead.
As I've said before, it is surprisingly capable and adaptable, as well as weighing next to nothing.
I've also adopted the OpTech Pro Strap system for MF stuff. Why? Fully modular and very very comfortable to carry

Savotta Jakaari S Rucksack+Savotta SA-MPP Pouches
+ Tasmanian Tiger Pouch + Lowepro Toploader 70AW
+ Leitz TTT + Leki Wanderfreund Walking Stick.
Nice and Light even with 2 litres of water!

Hasselblad SWC/M + Leitz TTT In Action

This was about the lightest MF format kit I could assemble and I was looking forward to using it. It did seem a little weird taking a super-wide lens into the wilds, because everything is so far away, but it doesn't hurt to try and rethink things photographically every now and then - in fact, it's probably good for you.

Self Portrait With Knees And Mist (at 834 meters)
Coo, look at that bromide drag on the right!

At the height of 834 meters (2736.22 feet) I kept thinking the mist would lift, after all that was what had been predicted . . but did it? 
Certainly not. 
I sat for 45 minutes with my fingers crossed.
It was getting really cold too - mist can be like that.
In fact it was baltic, so faced with taking pictures of a wall of grey and getting a very soggy bum from sitting on a mix of grass and boulder, I took out the camera, had a butchers and took a very grey pic. 
Probably bang on a Zone V wouldn't you say?
Those are my knees btw - they're not stunt doubles. 
They're my boots too.
Anyway, after this I moved on a bit, watched two Mountain Bikists appear, chew up the ground and zoom off into a wall of grey, ate some food, shrugged my shoulders. Thought I should at least go to Mayar following the fenceline . . what was the worse that could happen? . . then thought that the whole reason I was here really was to take photos and there was little point if all there was, was dense mist.
I was getting a tad disgruntled, so I thought I'd be better spending my time taking photos back down in the forestry; in the interests of my sanity I turned tail and headed back down.

As I emerged from the mist, I could see beautiful, cloud-free peaks over by Bachnagairn and The Capel and then, two thirds of the way down (and quite a descent) the sun came out and the mist cleared completely . . them's the breaks with hills.

The air was bluer than this typeface . . . .

I looked back to where I'd been and it was lit by sunshine. So I chatted to someone coming up the way (hello chap my age from Montrose!) shrugged my shoulders and set my mind to taking pictures.

Hell Yeah!
Black And White Ones.
Locked And Loaded.
Gripped, Sorted . . .
 . . . Let's Off-Road

(Apologies to Action film and Fast Show fans for that last outburst . . . )

Exposed Boulder Pile Or Stone Tortoises . . . You Decide

So, on the way down, I encountered some weird rocks - they actually looked weirder than when I'd encountered them on the way up.
Magnificent aren't they!
I was so taken with their faces that I found it hard to concentrate on anything else.
This was my favourite shot of them - they look alive and lumbering.

If you've read FB long enough, you'll recognise the following . . or maybe you won't . .  anyway, this was taken with the Sinar and humble 90mm Angulon - the old press variety, not the super-duper Super Angulon.

The Sinar you say?
How weirdly synchronous . .
Yes, the last time I was photographically defeated by mist as well actually . . . some call it happenstance.

Anyway, back to the humble Angulon - its tonality is exceptionally good for such a cheap lens - I think it is the single coating tbh.

Same Pile From A Different Angle And A Different Camera And A Different Year

It is the same pile as the Tortoises, but obviously from above, rather than below - just look at the gradient of that slope!
I actually think that these might well have been placed in ancient times as a marker rather than being a willy-nilly dump from a Glacier - there's something about them that doesn't look natural.
Being just below the modern tree line, it is quite conceivable they could have marked the track even in the midst of ancient Pine; they're distinctive enough for a second look . . and under snow . . well, I think they'd keep you right.
This being said, glaciers don't half do some funny things to the landscape -there's some truly excellent descriptions and examples in this book published by the SMC:

OK - £20 seems like a lot for a book, but it is a solid hardback, designed for years of reading - all my SMC books are like that.

Anyway, back to the 'tortoises' - it's sad to see that the forestry work has bumped the stones a bit and we've had a couple of falls and splits - I suppose it is inevitable with such large and powerful machinery.
But anyway, the stones are now awake and ready for the next 20,000 years!

That is, as long as people don't keep using them as a Fecal Evacuation Area . . UGH!

Oh yes, you can see it at frame 11 on the contact (not quite sure why I took a picture of it actually) - the remnants of toilet paper and possibly something else. I suppose if you have to go, you have to go, but personally I'd have been rather happy if one of the 'Tortoises' had moved at the critical moment . . . that would have been funny.

If it keeps on happening they're going to up sticks and move.

If you're a human and you really need in the great outdoors, make like a dog, bag it and bin it, and if you don't fancy binning it, chuck it in your neighbours garden. Failing that, make like a cat, get a stick from some of the devastated forestry work, dig a hole, fill it and cover it over.
Some people.

If you're some Futurenaut reading this in a distant future when the messy ones have gone, remember to empty your waste at an official waste disposal station . . . I know, I've been telling them for years.

Dead Boulder

I took this further up the path on my way down - it was gloomy but the light was beautiful and (hold on, pretentious photographic description) quiet.

Actually, I really like this - somehow I've achieved something I have been after for a long time - WBT . . . Wynn Bullock Tonality!

If you're unfamiliar with the great man, please do spend some time looking at his photographs - they're often very beautiful and for me, of all the "Masters", his tonality really sings.

The stuff that looks like clover in the foreground, btw, is wood sorrel.
I scrumped a handful of it - it's refreshingly lemony in flavour and a real balm to the weary traveller. I also have it in my garden and often munch a bit when tidying stuff up - nature's bounty and all that - talking of which my entire garden has received a wild seeding of Curly Kale this year . . no idea where it came from, but I'm keeping it going till it seeds in the Spring, and then I can wild Kale the whole neighbourhood!

Kissing Gate (From A Dream With No Fences)

This was even further back up the path than the last one.
I was braced against a VERY POINTY tree - I couldn't be bothered taking my rucksack off (again) and fixing the TTT on, so I just braced, exhaled and prayed for around a half a second. 
It was really gloomy - I've printed it lighter just 'cos it looks better and you know what, nothing is supremely sharp because of very slight shake, however it has captured an atmosphere I find most pleasing. 
And yes, the deer fence has gone, as has the swinging gate bit, so it's like an archaeological find . . . well, it is to my mind.

The Biogon has rendered the really really out of focus bits beautifully - they're light and fluffy, not lumpy and clumpy and to my eye it has a certain pictorial quality whch is making me think in different ways of using the SW.

Anyway, these were all scans (800dpi) off of physical prints and you know, I think I have finally realised why prints simply don't look that great online . . . you're missing the surface of a real, hold-it-in-your-hand-and-cover-it-with-sausage-grease print!
The gloss (I nearly always print on glossy paper) imparts a lift and a certain 3-D aspect that scanning all but removes.
Maybe there's an app somewhere that can impart fingerprints and a "hold it there, no not there, it's gone all glarey, that's better, hold it" feel to all scans - if there isn't, there y'go, that's your next 100 million dollars . . .

And that as they say, is that. 
Hope you've enjoyed it, and bless you for reading - I rather like all this intensive detailing as it sharpens the memory and is more detailed than my notebooks. 
I've actually started saving Fogblog as PDFs . . just in case. 

If the whim so takes you, please feel free yourself.

I think I am going to have to remove the Ralph Gibson Experiment ones and put them as a separate link - goodness knows how they became so popular . . . seems everyone wants to be Little Ralph 👀

Now, where did I put that Paxo? 
The sprouts are on already and I've got a turkey to stuff. 
Christmas Day is approximately 7 weeks away . . wonder if they'll be done by then?

This Brassic FB endpiece is dedicated to long-time FB reader Julian . . or Mister Sprout as he might be known in an alternate Universe.