I was thinking today about the satisfaction I’ve had recently in being able to produce silver gelatin prints in the darkroom for gifts.
Whilst I appreciate that it’s a very personal thing to decide what photos you would like on display in your home, I’ve only gifted a couple of photos so far, to people who I know would love them and would definitely have them on display.
The first silver gelatin print I gifted was to my friend Clive, who went away with me last year to Singapore when we watched the Formula 1 Grand Prix there.
It was an amazing trip away and I managed to take a nice photo of Singapore using the zoom lens on my Pentax K1000 camera and Kentmere 100 black and white film.
I really liked the photo when I got it developed and practiced printing it on silver gelatin paper at my second black and white photography course at Varndean college. Here is a scanned copy of the print I did using a 3.5 Contrast Filter:
Clive saw the photo and really liked it. He had recently moved houses and said how lovely that picture would look framed up in his home office.
I therefore mounted it using white card and framed it in a nice black frame and gave it to Clive and he was really happy with it. It also felt like a nice moving in gift to his new home.
The second photo I gifted was to my husband today as it’s his birthday.
He is actually quite a difficult person to buy gifts for since he never really wants anything and if he does, he just buys it himself.
In the past I’ve taken him away on holiday for his birthday but due to current work commitments, he cannot take any time off work in the near future so I knew I wouldn’t be able to do this for him at the moment.
In fact, I think I felt more sad for him than he did at going to work today.
A couple of weeks ago, I had been practicing portrait shots with him using my Hasselblad 500 C/M camera and some Rollei RPX 400 black and white film.
I particularly liked a picture I’d taken of him cuddling our dog so decided yesterday when I was in the darkroom to make an enlargement of it.
Early this morning before he got up for work, I placed the photo on the mantel piece in our living room for him to see.
I’m pleased to say he really loved it and left for work with a big smile on his face. That was a great feeling for me knowing how happy I’d made him and I knew that photo meant more to him than anything material I could have bought.
I attached a copy of the photo in the blog heading but here it is again:
Since the beginning of my journey into film photography last April, I knew at some point, if the passion didn’t fade, that I would want to invest in a higher end film camera.
I had originally started off with my beloved Pentax K1000 as I knew I wanted a 35mm SLR camera and since this is a fully manual camera, I learnt lots about Aperture in relation to Shutter Speed and ISO with the help of the built in light meter in the camera.
Apart from my investment in some nice instant cameras such as the Leica Sofort and Polaroid SX-70 I suppose my next investment and step up into a film camera was my much loved Olympus Pen FT half frame camera. I love this camera and the image quality it produces.
In recent months I’ve been really getting into medium format photography. I really love having to think about my composition and how it can work into the square style box.
I think I must have a thing for composing a photo in a slightly different photo size as this is what I love about composing shots with the my Olympus FT.
I suppose my love of the medium format style photos first began when I bought a Diana F+ Camera cheaply on eBay.
As the months progressed I then bought another Lomography style camera, the Lubitel 166B which was originally meant to be a present for my husband as he had taken an interest in this camera but couldn’t get on with it when he tried it so I persevered and began using it.
I love the square format of the photos and I was starting to use more black and white film in it since I knew I wanted to do more darkroom work.
I always thought when investing in a high end camera it may be one of the Leica 35mm film cameras but my heart was telling me to invest in a medium format camera.
As we all know, there is so much choice in the medium format world. You can get fairly decent medium format film cameras ranging from a few hundred pounds right up to thousands of pounds.
If you had asked me in the summer of last year which high end medium format camera I would ever consider buying, I would have said the Pentax 67 which isn’t technically square but I was already in love with Pentax since owning the K1000 and thought I would love the fact the camera style and viewfinder can be used like a 35mm SLR camera.
However, I was fortunate enough to try out somebody’s Pentax 67 camera last year during a photography walk in Brighton. I knew instantly that it wasn’t for me. The main reason……because it was too heavy and big! I really struggled to hold that camera up to my eye and I knew that I would never use it or take it out with me if I owned one.
I had always thought that I would never like a ‘shoot from the hip’ style camera as that just seemed too weird to me to take a photo. However, after using the Lubitel 166B, I realised I loved taking photos in this way which I was really surprised at!
I then looked at potentially investing in a decent TLR camera and again was fortunate enough to have a friend who owns a decent Yashica TLR. However, on trying this, the dial placement just didn’t feel natural to me. I can’t really explain why as the picture quality and image in the viewfinder was much better than the Lubitel but I wasn’t falling in love with it. Also, I knew at some point I would like the option of interchangeable lenses. I know some of the TLR’s have this option but I just wasn’t feeling it.
I then looked at the various Bronica’s and Kiev’s at my local camera shop. Clocktower Camera’s had several for sale but again, on looking at each one, I just wasn’t feeling them.
I’m sure there are still loads and loads of medium format cameras I could have tried but by this point I started to consider the Mamiya and Hasselblad cameras.
Whilst I think the Hasselblad camera looks extremely stylish and I love the modular system, I really thought it wouldn’t be the camera for me either. Nowhere locally had one for me to try out and I didn’t know anyone that owned one although one of my friends used to own one years ago and told me how great they were.
Back in December I met up with one of my camera buddies for taking photos around London and we decided to head to the Camera Museum in Museum Street in Holborn so I could check out their Hasselblad collection as they specialise in repairing Hasselblad’s and also sell them.
The staff were really helpful in there and talked me through the different Hasselblad cameras from the more modern ones, to the V series.
Once I held one of the V series one’s (the 500 C/M to be exact) I instantly fell in love! I had seen the prices so knew I would only want to spend within the budget of the 500 C or C/M and I liked the fact they are fully manual which is what I personally look for in a film camera.
I was amazed at how light weight it was for a decent medium format camera! I was easily able to hold it with my left hand and turn the lens and fire the shutter with my right. It felt great. I loved the viewfinder which was very bright and clear, almost like looking at a television screen. The whole camera felt very natural to me.
The quality of the camera was amazing, it felt well built and not at all plastic.
I was very honest with the camera shop and admitted I didn’t have the funds to buy one there and then but that didn’t seem to bother them with the time they took going through the various camera’s with me which was lovely and helpful of them.
Even if I had the funds there and then I would have held back from purchasing one because I knew I needed to do more research. Also, the 500 C/M model from 1981 that I tried in the shop wasn’t in the best of condition cosmetically (although the price they were selling it for reflected that).
I had a lot of chats with different people about the Hasselblad cameras including one of my ex photography tutors who is also a professional photographer and does freelance work for companies such as Sunseeker Yachts and I really like his photography so I value his opinion. He knows my style of photography and also knows you can take photos hand held with this camera and he couldn’t find a bad word to say about this camera either. He also checked with a friend who owned a 500 C/M for quite a number of years before moving to digital and he also only had great things to say about the photo quality and use of the camera etc.
My ex tutor did say that for several hundred less the Bronica’s are quite good but he said I need to go with what I’m feeling and if I settled for a Bronica, I would only end up pining for a Hasselblad so would never be quite happy with the Bronica and I agreed with him.
I could have easily bought a Bronica since I had sufficient funds for one of those but I decided to be patient and save for the Hasselblad.
By this point I had also decided the Mamiya wasn’t for me. Although I had done much research on the different models and heard great things about those camera’s which I know are used by a lot of professional film photographers today. I suppose we have to just listen to what we would like rather than what everyone tells us is best for us and what we should like. Quite frankly my gut told me, buy the Hasselblad.
Through out January, I sold off a load of stuff I’d been meaning to sell for the past year and now I finally had an incentive to do it.
By last week I had made enough money to buy a Hasselblad 500.
I had already decided in my research that I wouldn’t buy a 500C, purely because I wouldn’t be able to change the viewfinder myself and I knew this may be something I possibly would want to change for a particular type of project at some point so it was going to be a C/M model.
I next had to decide on the type of lens as I initially liked the look of the original Chrome lenses but after further chats with the guys at the Camera Museum I discovered that they don’t have the special multicoated layer on the lens so I wouldn’t get as much contrast on clouds etc as I would with a later C T* lens (which are black not chrome). There is also a slightly later lens known as the CF and I was told the image quality wouldn’t be any different to the C T* but it just turned differently so it was personal preference on what style I would like out of these two. The CF lens is also a bit bigger which put me off and is also slightly more expensive so as a newbie to the Hasselblad system, I was quite happy to have a C T* lens when I bought my camera. I also knew for now, I would be happy with the standard 80mm lens since I had tried out the different size mm lenses (from the more zoom type to the wider angle) at the shop and got an idea of the scope of photo I could take through each one.
I already knew that I wanted to buy my camera from the Camera Museum, as they had been really helpful. Also, they provide new light seals with every second hand camera (which would normally cost £80 plus VAT if you asked them to do these for one of your Hasselblad’s) and they provide a 6 month warranty in case of any failures in the camera.
Since I would be spending quite a bit of money, I knew I wanted a warranty. I also knew I wouldn’t be getting any bargains on eBay or Gumtree as they were all going for the same price as what the Camera Museum was charging, if not more on some of them!
Whilst saving for one, the Camera Museum had listed a 500 C/M model for sale which was in a condition I was happy with (unlike the one I viewed in December). This particular model was from 1978 which again, I was happy with. After having a chat with them on Wednesday, I got on a train that morning and tried it out. I spent over an hour with them going through the workings of it. I was extremely impressed by the overall condition, especially the back curtains as you can see in the photo below:
We went through all the shutter speeds which seemed to work perfectly. I was also warned about potentially jamming the camera if I take the lens off and it’s been fired and the camera hasn’t etc so I need to make sure they all match before putting back together. So currently I’m a bit scared of accidentally doing this but hopefully I won’t!
Needless to say I purchased the camera along with a nice original thick Hasselblad strap in excellent condition to give me good support as again, the joys of visiting an actual shop rather than buying the camera online meant that I could try out various straps. I had liked the look of the thin leather strap but after trying it, the camera easily slipped off my shoulder and it just didn’t feel that well supported so I knew that I would need the thicker strap.
They also gave me a free black and white film which I loaded into the camera in front of them so they could make sure I did this properly. It also meant I was ready to go and shoot. I would have loved to have taken some shots in London but I had to rush back to Brighton on the train before rush hour ensued so I used the film locally.
I’ve since got the roll of film developed and am extremely happy with the results. I’ll be blogging about this separately since this blog is really long so thank you to everybody who has taken the time to read it.
For anybody interested in purchasing a Hasselblad, accessories or who would like some more information about the camera or getting a repair done, their website is:
I love experimenting with out of the ordinary colour films so was keen to try out the recently released ‘Jelly’ film from Dubble Film which I purchased from Zoing Image in Brighton.
The 35mm film has an ISO of 200 and from the sample photos I saw it gives a rainbow colour effect. Dubble Film state that results of the photos will vary depending on shooting conditions.
I decided to try this film out in my Pentax K1000 camera. I also knew that I wanted a circular fisheye effect. Now, I could have just done this in my Lomography Fisheye No. 2 camera but I wanted some control over the exposure which I knew I’d be able to do in my Pentax. This is because from previous experience of using Dubble Film’s Bubblegum film, I know that it had been best to over expose that particular film and I may have struggled to do this in the Lomography camera since I don’t have actual control of aperture and shutter speed except for cloudy/sunny option.
I also have a circular fisheye lens for my Pentax K1000, which I attach to my 28mm lens on the camera.
The reason I decided on using a fisheye effect lens was because I knew the film is pre-treated so the rainbow effect would show up on all of it and not just the circular photo. Normally the area around the actual circular photo is black when I take a picture so I thought it would be interesting to see what colour effects would show up on the black area.
I figured this style of film would be best suited to landscape style shots rather than of actual people so I decided to shoot a test roll on the beach where I live.
One key thing to remember about this film is that it only has 24 exposures. I had recently been shooting a lot of 36 exposure film so I completely forgot this when merrily shooting away and it meant that I missed out on some photos I had wanted to take because I thought I had another 12 exposures left to use.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this film but it certainly did give a rainbow colour effect and I think it worked well on the beach. Here are some of the photos:
Through my blog I was recently contacted by International Film Swap Group and asked if I would like to join in taking pictures on a roll of film, then posting it to somebody in their community in a another part of the world who would reshoot the film and get the film processed to create some cross country double exposures.
I was really interested to see what effects the photos would have if I did this via their group so I immediately agreed.
After agreeing, I was contacted via email from one of their member’s called Mathias who is based in Stockholm, Sweden. His instagram page is @haexes if you’d like to check out his work.
He suggested that I shoot a colour roll of 35mm film that I would then post to him and he would flip the roll and re-shoot it to produce a red scale fusion effect.
I had never heard of flipping a roll of film before to create this effect so again, I found this really interesting and was really looking forward to seeing the results.
After some further discussion with Mathias on what type of colour film would work for the red scale effect, I decided to use Fujifilm X-TRA Superia 400 35mm film.
I shot the film using my Pentax K1000 camera as I knew this particular camera would allow me to shoot the film at ISO 800. I had wanted to double the ISO from the original 400 since the film was going to be double exposed.
Mathias used his Olympus Trip 35 camera for the re-shooting of the film.
We had both agreed from the beginning that I was not going to give particular details of each shot I had taken as we wanted the finished photos to be more free style. Instead, I gave Mathias a brief overview of where I had taken my shots which I confirmed were of Brighton Beach and some other sites nearby such as the West Pier, a statue and the I360 along with a couple of flower shots to create a bit of a mixture.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect when Mathias developed and scanned the film except I knew it would probably look quite creative and very lomography-esq since part of the exposure would be of a red scale type of photo which would create a fire effect.
Today I received the scanned photos from Mathias and I was really impressed with the images we had managed to combine on the film.
Here are a few of my favourite images we took:
We’ve decided to do a further film swap together, this time using black and white film. Mathias will be shooting the film first then he will pass it onto me to re-shoot and I will get the film developed and scanned.
I’d be interested to know what other people’s opinions are of the double exposures. Do you like them? or is it something you wouldn’t want to do in your own photography?
If anybody reading this blog post is interested in doing a film swap with me, please contact me as it really is great fun to do.
Last week I had the chance to try out a contrast filter for developing a photo during my black and white dark room photography lesson.
I’m already aware of contrast filters being used on cameras on the lens.
Contrast can be high and low (depending on whether you want your picture be dramatic and bold or if you’re after a more subtle and soft photo).
I learnt that in the darkroom, you can use contrast filters to alter the tonal contrast of your prints (providing you use multigrade or multi-contrast paper).
Contrast filters are built into some enlargers but if the enlarger you’re using doesn’t have this, then a contrast filter can be added to the enlarger (usually fitted into a slot below or above the negative holder).
A contrast filter on the enlarger will allow some light through and alter the way the the tones look on the enlargement.
Contrast filters for the enlarger are numbered and go up in half increments as follows
00 0 1/2 1 1 1/2 2 2 1/2 3 3 1/2 4 4 1/2 5
The lower the number (e.g. 00), the lower the contrast.
The higher the number (e.g. 5), the higher the contrast.
One final thing to note is that when a contrast filter is used on the enlarger, the exposure time will be affected, so I would always need to do a new test strip with the filter in order to work out the new correct exposure time needed.
The title image in this blog is a photo taken during my recent trip to Singapore on my Pentax K1000 camera using Kentmere 100 black and white film. I used a 3.5 contrast filter in the enlarger to make the hotel building more darker and at the same time, make the sky almost white.
Yesterday was my fourth lesson in learning about dark room black and white photography.
I was quite excited because I knew this lesson would involve making an enlargement of one of my negatives.
I had already decided on the negative I wanted to initially try which was a picture I had taken of one of my cats who is a Silver Tabby using my circular fisheye lens which was attached to a 28mm lens on my Pentax K1000.
I liked the fact this picture had my shadow in it and the white walls and patterned tiles in my garden also made the picture more interesting.
First of all I had to make a sample sheet once I had decided on the size of the enlargement.
In this lesson I unfortunately picked an enlarger with a temperamental digital timer so if pressed slightly wrong, the image wouldn’t expose for the full second which was annoying.
I set my first sample sheet using F/11 as per last week although I was informed by my tutor that the times wouldn’t necessarily be the same as before because I was doing the photo at a different size and distance to my contact sheet, hence why we do a sample first. Here is my first sample sheet:
I decided I liked the area that had exposure of around 4 seconds but because my timer was temperamental, I wasn’t sure if this was entirely accurate. Here is the result
I decided it was a bit dark so tried again at 3 seconds:
I preferred this contrast to the previous one but I discovered a little lighter circle in the left corner where I must have accidentally splashed some chemical before developing (that will teach me to wash and dry my hands before using a new piece of photographic paper!).
I wasn’t quite happy with the alignment of the images on the photographic paper as shown below:
I therefore decided to do another enlargement making the image larger on the paper. This meant I had to do a sample sheet again due to changing the focus:
On this sample I again used an aperture of F/11 and decided on an exposure of 4 seconds. Yet again the timer had not worked correctly so I wasn’t 100% sure if this would be accurate and here was the result:
I was really happy with the border but the image was too light. I was nearing the end of my lesson with 5 minutes to spare so my tutor suggested I quickly do it again with an 8 second exposure and here is the result:
I was really happy with this image and exposure plus the border.
For a first attempt I’m definitely pleased with the end result. In next weeks lesson I shall be developing more photos but perhaps I’ll use a different enlarger with a timer that works properly.
In previous posts I mentioned that my Zeiss-Ikon camera no longer worked and I needed to find a replacement.
After much research I finally decided on the Pentax K1000 SLR camera. I know that I wanted an SLR 35mm camera and I also knew that I wanted it to be as manual as possible so I could learn the basics of photography on it.
There is plenty of information on the internet regarding this camera and I heard from people I had spoken to that it was a good ‘student camera’ to learn on. I had also read that it is a good robust quality camera.
This camera has a shutter speed of 1 /1000th to 1 second and a centre-needle metering in the viewfinder. There is a battery that is required for the centre-needle metering system. However, what is great about this camera is that it’s still fully functional if the battery runs out. This means you’d have to work out the exposure yourself (you can’t go too wrong with the ‘sunny 16’ rule) or alternatively use an external light meter. This is one of the main reasons I picked the Pentax K1000 over the Canon AE-1 because if the battery dies on the Canon AE-1, the mirror will lock up so no more photos can be taken until the battery is replaced.
I really liked the fact that the Pentax K1000 was manufactured from 1976 to 1997 which made me think it must be a good camera if it was in production for 21 years.
Whilst in production, from what I’ve read, it was initially manufactured in Japan and then in other countries. The earlier models state Asahi Pentax on them where as the later models only state Pentax which again, from what I’ve read, the quality of the materials produced on the later models isn’t always as good quality.
I therefore decided that I wanted an earlier ‘Asahi Pentax’ version. Thanks to the timespan of manufacturing of these cameras, they are very easy to get hold of but they are going up in price every year.
I decided that I wanted my camera to be in an excellent condition and was willing to pay a little extra for this. After much searching in my local camera shops and online I finally managed to find an older style ‘Asahi Pentax’ that was cosmetically in beautiful condition, fully working with the light meter working correctly and the light seals newly replaced on eBay from a reputable camera dealer with an SMC Pentax-M 1:2 50mm lens (Asahi Optical Co.) included. What was also lovely was that the camera came with it’s original case which again was in immaculate condition and also the original cool 70’s blue and white embroidered strap. I find the strap extremely comfortable to wear when using the camera.
I think the pictures do come out really nice on this camera (will show examples in a later blog) and I’ve learnt a lot about shutter speeds and aperture since using this camera.
It is a proper solid, well built camera and I’ve certainly not regretted my purchase and have had much joy in using it.
When I started using the camera I did feel rather restricted in the lens I was using so decided that I wanted to purchase some further lenses, ideally for wider shots and a zoom type lens for closer shots of wildlife when I’m on the beach etc.
I managed to find a copy of the ‘Complete Pentax user’s guide K1000’ by David Kilpatrick on eBay. This gives great information regarding the mechanics/use of the camera and also the types of lenses available.
I visited my local camera shop, Clock Tower cameras in Brighton (www.clocktowercameras.co.uk) where I was able to purchase two of the lenses I was after.
The first one was the SMC Pentax-M 1:2.8 28mm lens (Asahi Opt. Co. Japan) which I was able to pick up for less than £60 and is in excellent condition and gives wider angle shots.
The second lens I purchased from there was the SMC Pentax-M zoom 1:4 75-150mm lens (Asahi Opt. Co. Japan) which again was in excellent condition and cost around £30. The zoom is quite a good general zoom lens but if you wanted really detailed shots, you definitely need a larger zoom. For me though I was happy enough with this purchase.
I learnt from my local camera shop that the wider angle lenses are more costly than the zoom lenses for this camera. They told me this was because people don’t always want the bulk of carrying the zoom lenses around so they’re ultimately not as popular.
The main lens I use the most out of the three I currently own is the 28mm lens because of the coverage I can get in a shot. If I was taking a picture of something closer up (such as a portrait) then I would opt for the 50mm lens. When I need to zoom in then I obviously use my zoom lens.
I use this camera a lot and I’m currently trying different films, both in colour and black and white, to see what types of pictures each film produces.