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Portrait: Rachel Owen, Artist

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

In the summer of 2012 I was starting to experiment with large format x-ray film and looking for willing volunteers to sit for a portrait so that I could test things out. One of my test portraits was of Oxford artist Rachel Owen who I knew also worked with film when we chatted at her Artweeks exhibition months earlier. Yesterday I was very sad to hear that Rachel died on Sunday 18th December from cancer. Pembroke College announced the news on their website.

[Tech info:] Wista 10×8, green sensitive x-ray film rated at ISO 50, processed in Rodinal 1:50 for 6 mins.

Rachel Owen, Artist (1968-2016).

Rachel Owen, Artist (1968-2016)

Still life: Orchids

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015

Happy New Year! Despite my best efforts I’m sorry to say I didn’t manage to post very much last month (December 2014) and although I’m not into new year resolutions I do plan to try to post more this year if only to share some of the mountain of images I made in 2014. It’s not going to be easy because I haven’t slowed down in making new images and don’t plan to any time soon so let’s see what this new year brings…

During a recent end of year tidy up I came across a box of Fomapan 100 5×4 sheets that I had forgotten I had. I thought it would be wise to test some of them before using them on any important shots so I decided to do some still life photography of one of my wife’s orchids which I’ve been meaning to photograph for a while. The light was very flat and less than ideal but I went ahead because Fomapan can tend to be on the contrasty side and you can’t get much contrasty than white petals on a black background. The film seems to be okay and for my next shots I’ll try to do some with a wider contrast range.

[Tech info:] Wista field 5×4, Schneider 150mm and 180mm lenses. Fomapan 100 processed in Xtol 1+1 for 8 mins.

orchids

10×8 portrait: Amanda

Monday, September 1st, 2014

A large format portrait made on 10×8 inch xray film. The making of pic below was made by Amanda from her viewpoint but you don’t get a sense of how large this camera is. I really enjoy making simple honest portraits like this with nothing fancy in terms of styling, lighting or location – just one light, subject and camera.

[Tech info:] Wista 10×8, Sinaron 300mm lens, green sensitive xray film, processed in Rodinal 1+50 for 6 mins.

Wista pic by Amanda | Xray film hanging up to dry

 

Oxford: 10×8 x-ray film

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Here is a set of large format images that I made on 10×8 (green) x-ray film a couple of weeks ago on a stroll into town. I was glad to see the workmen on the steps of the Clarendon Building because I often see them there on my lunch photo walk and think to myself how nice it would be to make a group shot of them on 10×8 film. I took 8 sheets of film with me but only used 7.

[Tech info:] 10×8 Wista Field, 300mm Sinaron lens, CXS green latitude x-ray film (ISO50), processed in Rodinal 1+50 for 6mins.

Setting up

Setting up (photo by Clive Jones)

Oxford: large format film experiments

Sunday, August 4th, 2013

Now that I’ve got a batch of  C41 colour film chemistry mixed up I decided to use some large format colour film this week which I don’t usually get to use. My go to 5×4 camera tends to be a Speed Graphic because of its built in shutter and the choice of old lenses this allows me to use but the film I wanted to use has an ISO rating of 12 which means it needs a ton of light and the Speed Graphic doesn’t have a shutter speed slower than 1/30 so I ended up using my Wista Field camera which is a lot lighter and a joy to use. I bought my Wista brand new in 1990 and it’s still going strong. Back then it was a magnet every time I used it on the streets and it’s still the same now although the questions people ask me now are different, for example a common one is ‘can you still get film for that?’ The answer is yes.

These images were all made on film that isn’t designed to be used outdoors, it’s meant for duplicating existing film with the use of an enlarger and a tungsten light source but I’ve found that it works nicely outdoors. The Top image of the Ashmolean Museum and the left hand shot of the Triumph motorbike were made with Fuji slide duplicating film that expired in 2011 and the other four shots were all made with Kodak internegative film that expired in 1991. I’ve posted the two motorbike shots side by side for a comparison between both film types. The Fuji film is designed to be processed in E6 chemistry to give a positive transparency but here I’ve cross-processed it in C41 chemistry to see what would happen. I’m pleased with the results. Next I want to try using it for a portrait. Any volunteers?

[Tech info:] Wista field 5×4 camera and Schneider 180mm and 90mm lenses. Kodak inernegative and Fuji CDII slide duplicating film, both exposed at ISO12.

 

5x4 large format

Wista Field 5×4 large format

Oxford: OWP skatepark – 10×8 portraits

Friday, June 14th, 2013

This is the second batch of portraits that I made back in April at the Meadow Lane skatepark. It was a great session and I made a total of eight portraits (that’s all the film I had with me). The first batch can be seen here. I really enjoy using 10×8 but unfortunately the camera and lens alone are a bit too heavy for me to safely cycle with on my back, not to mention the tripod and film holders I need to carry as well. This limits my usage and how far  I can travel with it which is a shame because there are so many images I’d love to make with this size of film. I really like how these have turned out and I hope to make some more during the summer if time permits.

[Tech info:] Wista 10×8, 300mm Sinaron lens, green sensitive x-ray film, ISO50, processed in Rodinal 1+50 for 6mins.

 

 

Oxford: OWP skatepark – 10×8 portraits

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Here are some portraits I made on large format 10×8 film yesterday as part of my ongoing personal project to document the users of the Oxford Wheels Project skatepark on Meadow Lane. We had a sunny morning with next to no breeze which is ideal conditions for dragging out a 10×8 camera. Fortunately it wasn’t too busy so I had space to set up and I managed to make 8 different portraits, my most successful session so far. I absolutely love shooting 10×8 and I can’t wait to shoot some transparency film at the skatepark. Below are the first batch from yesterday, I haven’t processed the others yet. These web sized images don’t do the originals any justice. The negatives are a sight to behold and the original high-resolution scans have so much detail in them it’s mind boggling.

[Tech info:] Wista 10×8, 300mm Sinaron lens, green sensitive x-ray film, ISO50, processed in Rodinal 1+50 for 6mins.

The 10x8 Wista camera I used.

 

Oxford: BMX riders at the new ramps

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

We finally had some nice weather last weekend so I made the most of it and did some large format film photography at the new Meadow Lane ramps. On Saturday I took a Super D 5×4 SLR camera (first two shots) and on Sunday I took a Wista 10×8 field camera. I’m not sure how much BMX action photography has ever been done with a 10×8 camera, I suspect not much at all. It was my first time photographing at the new ramps and I really like the new layout. I hope to spend more time there documenting the riders and skaters through the summer if the nice weather continues.

[Tech info:] 5×4 shots made with a 190mm lens on Ilford HP5, processed in Kodak HC110 (1+31) for 7:30. 10×8 shots made with a 300mm/5.6 lens on green sensitive x-ray film, rated at ISO50. Processed in Rodinal 1+50 for 6mins.

A rider from Carterton

Oxford rider

Hitting the mark

Oxford: Adventures with infrared film

Sunday, September 9th, 2012

Quite a few months ago I bought a box of 5×4 infrared sheet film and it’s been in my freezer ever since. I was waiting for summer to arrive with lots of sunshine and clear skies so that I could experiment with it. Partly due to the wettest summer on record I forgot about the infrared film until a few days ago. The weather this past week was unusually sunny and warm for September and that somehow reminded me that I had some infrared film in my freezer. I’m pleased to report that my initial tests were a success, you can see some of them below and there are lots more to come.

[Tech info:] Wista 5×4 with Schneider 90mm and 150mm lenses. Efke 820c infrared film processed in Rodinal 1:50 for 14mins (20c).

All in a row

View across Hinksey lakes

Over the bridge and far away...

Lock keepers cottage, Iffley lock

Setup shot

 

Oxford: BMX riders

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Some more images from my series documenting a local BMX ramp and the people that use it. The first images were made in the morning of my first visit there (Saturday), these were made in the afternoon and the following morning (Sunday).  I found that once the sun had moved around in the afternoon the light was a lot less contrasty and perfect for the group shot of the BMX riders. The group shot was not pre-arranged, the riders had arrived while I was setting up for the shot of the two people sitting on the middle of the ramp. I think they were intrigued by the old skool camera I was using but they were naturally cautious when I asked if I could make a group shot of them. I knew the shot would be worthwhile and once I focused the image on the ground glass screen I was sure it would be. Fortunately I had a sheet of Fuji Veliva Transparency film with me so I was able to make a colour image as well but I’ll try to process that later in the summer. The film is quite expired so there’s no knowing how it will turn out.

The shot of the two BMX riders almost didn’t happen. The rider on the right is Pipe Williams, I photographed him on Polaroid earlier in the summer during Eights Week and we’d loosely arranged to meet up at the ramp during the morning. Just when I thought he wasn’t going to show I started to pack my camera away and it was then that he arrived with another rider. I like how this shot has turned out and the sun went behind a cloud just at the right time to reduce the contrast. They’re both sponsored by Stolen BMX, a bike company.

[Tech info:] Wista 10×8 with Sinaron 300mm lens on green sensitive x-ray film, processed in Rodinal 1:50 for 6 mins.

BMX riders.

Pipe Williams (right) with friend.

I forgot to ask these two guys whether they're skateboarders or BMX riders.

This ramp is due to be torn down at the end of the summer and a new one built.

Middle of the ramp.

A behind the scenes shot of the camera I used.

 

Oxford: Skaters and riders

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

There is a ramp near my house that is used by skateboarders and BMX riders. It’s been there a very long time. Originally there were two but the higher one slowly rotted away so it was torn down. This weekend I decided to make some portraits there of whoever I came across as a way of documenting the ramp and the people that use it. On my way over there I found out that the ramp is due to be demolished and a new one is going to be built in its place. I’m glad I found this out now rather than when it was too late. My old middle school is next door to where this ramp is so I can remember the time before the ramp was there. I can also remember a time before BMX was popular in the UK. It all started with the movie E.T.

[Tech info:] Wista 10×8 camera with Sinaron 300mm lens on green sensitive x-ray film (ISO 50), processed in Rodinal 1:50 for 6 mins.

Skateboarders. These guys were leaving just as I arrived. Thanks for stopping.

A photographic first? BMX action shot on 10x8.

 

X-ray film test

Monday, May 14th, 2012

This is my first test with using 10×8 inch x-ray film instead of regular black & white film. Why? Because it’s cheaper. Another benefit is that you can handle it under a red safelight in the darkroom just as you can black & white paper so you can actually see what you’re doing. This not only applies to when you’re handling and loading the film into the film holders but also when you’re processing the film. A slight downside is that the surface of the film is very fragile and prone to scratching (it’s coated with emulsion on both sides) so extreme care is needed when handling. I first became aware of this film and the ability to use it instead of regular film from fellow photographer Mat Marrash via Flickr. I have him to thank for pointing me in the right direction and there have been some other photographers on Flickr that have since demonstrated how good this x-ray film really is.

The first shot below is the Lock keeper’s cottage at Iffley. For my first test with this film I didn’t want to travel a long way with the big 10×8 camera so I decided to walk to a location not too far from my house. My hope was to not only find something of interest to photograph that wasn’t going to move but also to do a test portrait as well. I figured that Iffley Lock is never short of people passing through and I’ve always meant to make a nice shot of the Lock keeper’s cottage so that location was an easy choice.

Once I had set up the 10×8 camera by the side of the Lock it was no surprise that people kept stopping to admire it. The camera looks like it’s 100 years old but 30 would be more accurate.  After I had made a few different test shots of the cottage and one of the Lock I had two sheets of film left. Lucky for me it was then that a lady came past with her three children and they stopped to ask me about the camera I was using. After a brief chat I offered to make a test portrait and they were kind enough to oblige. I have to say that these three kids were perfect subjects to photograph because they listened to everything I explained and they were able to sit perfectly still. Someday I hope to be able to say the same about my daughter 🙂

After I finished the portrait I let the kids peek under the dark cloth while their mum sat on the bench. It was lovely to hear them shriek with laughter as they saw the image of their mum upside down on the ground glass screen. It was then that it struck me that this was probably the first time that these kids had looked through a camera like this. They’re the digital generation coming into contact with something that couldn’t be more analogue. Hopefully they’ll remember how much fun it was. My thanks to the nice lady and her kids that stopped to chat and be photographed. I hope you like the shot.

[Tech info:] Wista 10×8 with Nikon 210mm lens. X-ray film rated at ISO 100 (it probably should have been 50), processed in Rodinal 1:50 (others use 1:100) for 7mins.

Lock keeper's cottage, Iffley.

My first portrait on x-ray film. I'm pleased with how this turned out.