Highgate Cemetery Tour with the Diana F+ Camera

On Saturday 20th October I visited Highgate Cemetery to do a Lomography workshop using the Diana F+ camera.

You’ll see from one of my other blog posts that I already own a Diana F+ camera so am familiar with how it works, but I’ve always wanted to visit Highgate Cemetery so thought this would be a good opportunity to finally go.

The cost of the workshop was £20 which included a loan of a Diana F+ camera, a roll of black and white 120mm lomography film, entry to Highgate Cemetery’s East side plus development and scanning of the film that was used during the workshop.

I arrived at the cemetery’s box office (where the meeting point was) and quickly saw how popular this workshop was going to be since there were a few of us.

There were several employees from Lomography who also attended the workshop so they were able to split us into two groups.

Before we went into the cemetery, we were given a handout about occult photography in the 1800’s. We were told that with the Diana F+ we would be able to create some ghostly style images and were even offered some tissue paper if we wanted it to create an ectoplasm effect.

There was a whole bunch of Diana F+ cameras in different colours on display at the meeting point which were pre-loaded with black and white 120mm film. The nice thing was that we were allowed to pick a camera ourselves rather then just be handed one.

We were shown the features of the camera and were informed that we’d always be best off using the cloudy setting on the camera for UK weather even on a bright sunny day. The day of the Workshop was very bright and sunny which I was pleased about since we’d be outdoors. I’d also learnt something new as I personally would have used the Sunny setting if I hadn’t have been told this.

We were talked through how double exposures can be taken on the camera to try and create a ghostly effect. We were also shown how we could take pinhole photos if we removed the main lens and took a longer exposure in bulb mode.

Since the film only has 12 shots, we were also able to purchase more film if we needed it for an additional £5. I’d thankfully thought ahead and brought my own Diana F+ camera with me and some spare black and white Lomography film. However, I initially used the camera they loaned for the workshop since it already had the film pre-loaded.

We proceeded to walk round the East Side part of the cemetery and it certainly didn’t take very long to use up the 12 shots. I then used my own Diana F+ camera with the spare film I had brought with me.

I decided to take the used film home with me rather than let Lomography develop and scan them since I have my own flat bed scanner that I scan my photos on and I wouldn’t have to wait for them to post me the negatives after scanning the film etc.

Here are the results of the photos I took using the camera that Lomography loaned me during the workshop:

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I can see why Lomography used this particular camera for the workshop as the heavy vignetting produces a great dreamy effect which I think works really well with the graveyard shots and also the black and white film gives them an old fashion feel.

Here are the photos I took using my Diana F+ camera and the black and white 120mm Lomography film I own:

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I think most people will agree that the photos I took using my camera are a real disappointment and this is because the backing paper from the film has imprinted itself onto the negatives.

I can see this has happened on a couple of the shots too using the loan camera from lomography but it’s not been no where near as bad as my film.

I’ve since discovered this will most likely happen if the film is expired or not stored correctly.

I normally store my film in the fridge, however, I have to admit that I had originally intended to use this black and white film in my Diana F+ camera several months back for another project which I didn’t end up doing and I lazily left the film on the side and didn’t end up putting it back in the fridge. We’ve also had quite a warm summer in England and the room where the film was left does get very warm so I think this has definitely been a contributing factor.

Overall, I found the workshop great fun and the Lomography staff were really nice and extremely supportive with any queries we had throughout the workshop which ran from 1pm-5pm.

I thought the workshop was great value for money and such a good thing to do around Halloween time.

If they run one next year, I would highly recommend it to anyone who can get to London and is keen to try out the Diana F+ camera.

Contrast Filters – Black and White Dark Room Photography

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.

My Contact Sheet Obsession

Back in July I took an adult education course in Black and White Darkroom Photography (which I’ve written about in some of my previous blogs).

I decided to take the course again from September because it was slightly longer (eight weeks rather than five) and I felt I’d be able to expand on knowledge from what I learnt in the original course.

One of the parts I have really enjoyed from doing the course is making the contact sheets. For some reason I love this process over actually enlarging a photo and making a larger print and have ended up spending the last few weeks of the course purely doing contact sheets from some of my existing black and white negatives.

Developing contact sheets has almost become second nature to me from working on a test strip to establishing the length of time the negatives need to be exposed under the enlarger.

Here is a contact sheet I originally developed back in July with some negatives that unfortunately had a light leak (please refer to my previous blog post about this).

The negatives were taken on my Pentax K1000 using Kodak Tmax 400 black and white film:

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On this particular contact sheet I placed the negatives over the photographic paper and placed some glass on top to keep them nice and straight. My first rookie mistake was not placing the negatives in number order and also the first row of negatives are upside down.

However, I had learnt from this mistake and was ready to do better in my current course. What was even better was my tutor introduced me to a really handy piece of darkroom photography equipment called a 35mm contact proof printer which is made by Paterson:

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The reason he had suggested I use this was because the negatives I was trying to develop into a contact sheet were really curly and it was proving impossible to get them straight under a piece of glass.

In this current course I initially wanted to develop some black and white half frame negatives I had taken on my Olympus Pen FT camera using Cinestill BWXX film.

However, after doing the test strip and then using this device, to my disappointment I found the contact sheet came out really blurry:

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After chatting to my tutor, I’d found I’d made yet another stupid mistake……I hadn’t shut the door of the contact proof printer properly, hence the blurry images.

I had to wait until the following week of my course to develop a couple more of the above contact sheets until I got the exposure I was happy with (as the first one was under exposed):

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I absolutely love the Paterson Contact Proof Printer and for me, it’s the best and quickest way of developing my black and white negatives into a contact sheet.

I developed a further contact sheet from my black and white negatives I had taken on my Pentax K1000 camera using Kosmo Foto Mono 100 film and the Paterson Contact Proof Printer:

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I’m hoping to develop another contact sheet in my lesson next week from another set of black and white negatives.

 

My Olympus Pen FT Camera and Cinestill BwXX film

I’ve been a fan of the Cinestill film ever since I tried the Cinestill 50D colour film using my Olympus Pen FT and got some great photos at a car show.

I’d also used the Cinestill 800 colour film with my Pentax K1000 and had managed to take some nice evening shots.

In a nutshell Cinestill film is a motion picture film for still photographers.

I’m fortunate enough to have a shop in Brighton called Zoing Image which stock Cinestill 50D and Cinestill 800 colour film.

However, when I discovered the Cinestill BwXX black and white film, they unfortunately didn’t have any in stock for me to buy. I therefore had to look online and bought the film through Analogue Wonderland  as there were a couple of other creative style films I wanted to try that they sold so I bought them altogether.

I already knew that I wanted to use my Olympus Pen FT camera for this film because I love the high quality lenses this camera has and I also knew I mainly wanted to take architectural style shots. Also, the size of the photo taken on a half frame camera is very similar to cinematic style photos.

The Cinestill BwXX is a high speed, classic black and white film emulsion with a recommended ISO 250 under daylight.

What I also love about this film is the fact it’s a classic black and white film stock left relatively unchanged since it’s release in 1959 for still and motion picture use so this really adds to that vintage film feel of a photo.

I’ve read that it’s a classic film stock to fill the void left by the discontinuation of it’s sister films, Kodak Plus-X (which was discontinued in 2010) and TXP320.

The film produces 36 exposures (or 72 on a half frame camera) and is a 35mm film format. It’s not the cheapest of films and retails at around £10 per roll.

Here are some photos I took whilst out and about in Brighton

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Since I had architectural photo’s in mind for this film I also visited the Barbican in London and took some photos:

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I got the film developed at my local lab and I scanned the images using my Epson V600 scanner.

One thing I did notice when the negatives were developed was the high quality negatives produced. They were really thick and not flimsy and the images on the negative were very bright and clear to the naked eye.

As I expected, the photos have a real grainy, cinematic look about them which I do think has worked well with the architectural shots.

Going forward I would definitely use this film again if I had a black and white vintage style photography project in mind as i think the film would work well with that.

The Sprocket Rocket Camera and Street Candy ATM400 Film

I had been looking for interesting black and white films to shoot with my Sprocket Rocket camera which had an ISO of 400 as that is what is recommended for this camera to get the best exposure since this camera doesn’t have an ISO range to choose from.

Whilst visiting the Analogue Wonderland website I came across the Street Candy ATM400 film.

This black and white film initially came out in 2017. It’s a 35mm film which was originally used in surveillance cameras. The film was described as having high contrast and high sensitivity so would work well in dramatic light conditions. The film brand said it works well in street photography and the logo is very striking on the film.

The film retails at around £8.00 per roll (although Analogue Wonderland currently have a sale on so they have reduced the price to £7.00 a roll).

It therefore isn’t the cheapest film in the world but one of my love’s of film photography is trying out the different types of films for my camera’s so I was happy to pay this. Also at the time of purchasing, Analogue Wonderland had an offer on where you got a free colour film with any purchase so that was good in my opinion.

Here are some pictures I took with the Sprocket Rocket camera using this film which I got developed at my local lab and scanned myself using my Epson V600 scanner:

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These photos were taken whilst I was on a boat cruise along the River Thames in London. It was a bright sunny day so was the perfect weather for a boat cruise and taking photos with this style film.

I do feel the photos have a grittiness about them which would make sense if the film was originally used for surveillance and I can see how this film would work great in street photography (although street photography isn’t really my thing).

The film brings out some really interesting cloud detail in the sky. I also like how the last few pictures have interesting light detail around the sprocket holes which makes the photos more interesting and I’m not sure if that’s due to the film or if it’s possibly where the sun has just caught that part of the film?

I’m glad I tried this film and if I have a photography project in mind where I require a gritty style of black and white photography then I would definitely use it again.

 

 

 

Dark Room Photography Part 4

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.

Dark Room Photography Part 2

Following on from Part 1 of my Dark Room blog, I had my second lesson on Thursday.

For my homework last week I was asked to take some pictures using my SLR camera and black and white film.

I decided to use my Pentax K1000 camera and Kodak 400TX black and white film for this assignment.

Once I had taken 36 pictures, I unloaded the film from my camera ready for my next lesson.

In this lesson we were taught how to take the film out of its outer case and transfer it onto a plastic reel which winds the film into a circle which is then put in a container which is locked so light cannot get into it. I am telling it in basic terms here (as I know there is plenty of information on various websites that gives good technical information about this).

This all has to be done inside a black light proof bag which has two arm sleeves on the bottom of the outer edges so you can put your arms inside the bag and then you ultimately have to do this process blind.

The reason for this is so that the film won’t get exposed to the daylight before it’s been developed and you won’t lose the images.

We initially had some ‘practice film’ to try on and did it in the daylight without the bag to see what we were doing. Once we felt comfortable with the process, we then used the practice film in the bag before moving onto our actual film.

We were recommended to have 2 x reels in the bag just in case for some reason one of them was faulty. We also had a pair of scissors (for cutting the film from the plastic tube) and a device which is a little like a bottle opener which allows you to prise open the plastic round film case once it’s inside the bag.

I was surprised at how easily I was able to do this process, considering I couldn’t see anything.

Once our film was safely locked in the black plastic container we then had our 3 x chemical process which was timed and measured according to the film we were developing (my development time was around 3 minutes). This was slightly reduced because the developing chemical needs to be around 20 degrees in temperature but it was a warm evening so it went up to around 21-22 degrees, hence the reduction in development time which would normally have been nearly 4 minutes. There are ways to cool down the developer chemical but we didn’t have any ice to hand.

Once we had put the film through the chemical process and rinsed our film, it was time to take it out of the plastic container.

We unrolled the film from the plastic reel and removed the excess moisture by running our fingers down the film. We then hung our film up to dry using a peg at the top and also one at the bottom of the film to weigh it down.

On initial inspection I was pleased to see images had been developed on my film which was a relief. However, my tutor quickly discovered areas on certain images which seemed to be over exposed due to a light leak (shock horror!).

I knew it wasn’t a light leak from my camera since the light seals had been recently replaced and other films I had got developed from my Pentax at the local film lab came out fine.

We then discovered another woman on my course had the same problem and I instantly knew what had happened. What both me and the other lady have physically in common is that we have slender arms!

I could have kicked myself because I already knew as soon as I put my arms into the sleeves of the black bag and started to work on winding my film onto the reel that the sleeves were quite loose on me and I thought to myself at the time ‘I wonder whether light is leaking in?’ but I stupidly didn’t do anything about it or comment to my tutor and just carried on because I was so focused on getting the film wound onto the reel and correctly locked into the plastic container.

The lady also felt the same problem with her sleeves. Our tutor agreed this was most likely the cause of the light leak.

Whilst I’m frustrated at myself about this, I’m also a firm believer of learning from your mistakes and I certainly would never let this happen again!

I’m also positive in the fact that I still learnt the process of unloading the film inside a bag.

Next week we’ll be making a contact sheet / test shots and looking at developing our most strongest shots.

I’m really hoping that not all the images got damaged by the light leak but if they did, perhaps there may be some that might look effective/arty with the light leak (I can but hope!).

This is what I do love about film photography. It’s all about trial and error and I still think it’s great fun. I learnt a long time ago in film photography (pre-digital when I used to shoot film) not to get too precious about my photos (which I know can be hard to do) as there were times years ago where my camera may have not quite wound a film back (if there was a fault with the auto winder of a 90s camera I had and I lost pictures for instance).

There was also an occasion back in the 90s where my family and I had recently returned from a holiday and my mother had left the camera in the car as she was going to get the film developed when next in town but before she was able to do this, her car was broken into and the camera was stolen along with all our precious family photos on the film still in the camera! We were all more disappointed at the time about losing the photos than the actual camera and the car stereo which had also been stolen. Again, it taught me a lesson that I just have to move on and not dwell on it. Besides, it gave us an excuse to book another holiday and take more photos (and not leave the camera in the car)!