Sunday, 15 February 2015

The Large Format Tests Continue

I'd like to think that I may have mastered this large format business by now but I've only shot a total of 20 shots so far, which is a really small number in the grand scheme of things, considering it probably takes hundreds, if not thousands, to actually achieving a level of competency. Recently I acquired an old analog Pentax Spotmeter V to help me correctly meter scenes for exposure. Ansel Adams used one for his Zone System method of exposure, and it's famous for its high level of accuracy when metering, which he used to spectacular effect. It's a useful tool but I don't quite know how to utilise it to its fullest potential right now. It's another thing to learn but Adams' book, The Negative is very useful for such learning.

On top of all my muddy amateur fumblings and trying not get shot at by angry farmers, I still haven't sorted my development problems so I'm going to have to troubleshoot that problem till I find the 100% foolproof solution. Anyway, here's the latest couple of shots.

I got a lot of glare from the sun on the left and the top right is blotchy because of uneven development. I'll probably give this shot another go at some point. 

This is a interesting one. I used a strong red filter and it bleached out much of the dark texture on the battery, without overexposing it, creating this kind of strange, ghostly effect. I expected a high contrast image but this outcome was unexpected. It's actually given me a couple ideas.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Even More Large Format Tests

This time I got pretty close! Except for one sheet of film which didn't play ball, I got some quite even results. Next time i'm going to try less sheets of film on the holder so that there's more opportunity for fresh developer to circulate around the tank and onto the film. I've done very little tidying up of these two images, so excuse any dusk specks and whatnot.

I took these photos out on an old World War 2 airfield which is now a only a field minus the air and the rubble of some old buildings scattered about. I think there are plans to turn it into a housing estate.

This is the bad sheet, I like the tree though!

Friday, 6 February 2015

Large Format Tests Continued

A gloomy day down on the Kent coast. This time I sorted out the air bubble problem but I'm still having issues with achieving even development across the sky. It's not so noticeable when the sky is overcast and miserable but it's much more evident in images (not shown here) where the sky is a lot more clear. I think I know the solution so hopefully next time I should get it spot on, or close to that!

Friday, 30 January 2015

Noye's Fludde at the Cirque Jules Verne - In Colour by Tom Beg

The second part of my photographic record of Benjamin Britten's, Noye's Fludde at the Cirque Jules Verne in Amiens. The production was an ACT collaboration combining the talents of many artists and designers across a wide range of disciplines, including work produced by Computer Animation Arts at UCA Rochester.

Click the link below to view the first set of images.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Noye's Fludde at the Cirque Jules Verne - In Black and White by Tom Beg

On Wednesday 14th of January, I traveled with Computer Animation Arts' Phil Gomm to the historic French city of Amiens, with the purpose of documenting, via the medium of photographic film, dress rehearsals for a performance of Benjamin Britten's, Noye's Fludde at the spectacular, Cirque Jules Verne. Featuring work produced by Computer Animations Arts, the production was an ACT collaboration project combining Britten's original lo-fi, amateur-based intent, with fascinating modern visual production and design. Keeping in spirit with the analogue approach, I took along some classic photojournalist black and white film and also modern colour film hoping to capture the energy and buzz of the event as faithfully as I could. While it wasn't always easy, I hope these photos at least portray that sense of atmosphere and excitement, felt by all the performers, artists and technicians in the lead-up to the final performance. 

Part 2 'In Colour' Coming Soon

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Large Format Photography: First Attempt and Results

It feels like I've been talking about large format photography for very long time, and it probably feels like that because it really has been a very long time. The good news is I've finally been out and taken some black and white 4x5 shots and developed them, so I can start to get a feel for this interesting format. The weather has been dire and continued to be dire when I took these images but you take what you can get. I would like a little more light, but it's better than nothing. I went to one of my usual photo haunts, a marshy area which runs directly adjacent to the Eurostar line. In the summer it's a bit too overgrown, but in the winter it's like a scene from Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker. 

I'm learning that even though it is fundamentally the same as taking photographs on any other medium, large format really is quite different to taking pictures on a roll film. It feels like you're right back to square one and everything is a lot slower and a lot more fiddly. I'm getting a feel for it, slowly, but there's still lots of quirks I need to work out and get used to; remembering to take out the dark slide out, stopping down the aperture etc. There's more to think about for every shot but really it's quite simple.

Development feels a little less simple. The process is no different: developer, stop bath, fix and wash, but how you go about it varies from method to method.  Developing large format just seems to be tricky business, and a roadblock for anyone trying to get into it. From what I can tell, there is not a single method for getting perfect results each and every time, but rather a bunch of methods which you work with until you are able to get the results you desire. My choice is a fairly standard one but not without a lot to learn and issues to overcome. Needless to say, for my first try I expected a mixed bag and that is exactly what I got. I thought I'd share my results, warts and all.

Besides it not being a very good photograph for many reasons, I made the mistake of loading the sheets into the film holder the wrong way around so have ended up with these black patches along the top where the developer was unable to react with the emulsion on the film. A problem which is easily fixed. There's also these peculiar grey blobs, which are air bubbles forming on the surface on the film and therefore causing less development in those spots.

This is easily the best shot of the lot, but still not without problems. Again, air bubbles seemed to have formed on the emulsion and it's caused spots to be underdeveloped. However, I think you can really see the sharpness and detail starting to come through. Perhaps less so in the bottom half, where it has become a bit blurry, but this is where I can begin to see the potential over 35mm and 120 film.

I took this shot without using the shutter release cable, but even with a tripod there was a lot of camera shake, so in the end, a blurry shot. Lesson learned is to use the shutter release cable, and also to get a much better tripod!

Conclusion: more practice needed but exciting nonetheless!