My first roll of film on my Hasselblad 500 C/M Camera

From my previous blog I explained that the Camera Museum in London provided me with a free roll of film when I purchased my Hasselblad camera from them.

The film they provided me with was the Ilford Delta 400 black and white film, which I had never used before.

I also explained in my previous blog that I didn’t have time to try out the camera in London and had to wait until I got back home to Brighton.

I was keen to try out the camera asap so the first photo I took was of one of my cats in my living room:

I balanced the camera on a foot stool to take this image and I was still getting used to the focusing screen so it’s the corner of the blanket which is really in focus. However, I still quite like the image and the way the corner of the blanket is nice and crisp. The exposure could be improved since my cat is really dark in this image.

The actual negative itself is marked and I’m not sure if that was because it was my first time loading film into the camera and perhaps I accidentally marked the beginning of the negative whilst loading since the rest of the negatives are absolutely fine.

I decided for the remainder of the film that I would go to Hove Cemetery since it’s nice and quiet there, which meant I could really concentrate and focus on how to use the Hasselblad.

I personally think it’s essential to use an external light meter when using the Hasselblad and I used one for most of the photos I took. I’m going to blog about the light meter I used separately.

When I took the camera outside and started to use it, I was extremely impressed by the bright viewfinder:

I’ve personally never owned a camera with an amazing viewfinder like this before. I also felt it really helped me in composing my shots.

Here are the photos I took:

This was the first time I had used an external light meter and I was extremely impressed with the results from using one.

I scanned all my images using an Epson V600 scanner and I didn’t have to ‘tweak’ any of the photos for the exposure.

For my first roll, I’m very happy with the results. I handheld the camera when taking the photos rather than using a tripod and I’m impressed with how crisp the images are. The lens is amazing.

I found the camera really easy to hold and use. It still felt fairly light to me and with the strap it just felt like I had a handbag over my shoulder.

I am so happy I purchased this camera, I definitely have no regrets and I’m really excited about shooting some more images with it. I can’t wait!

Printing Contact Sheets in the Darkroom using the Paterson 6 x 6 Proof Printer

In one of my previous blogs I mentioned my obsession with printing contact sheets which I had been doing for 35mm negatives and I had a Paterson Proof Printer specially for this.

Since I’ve recently been getting more into medium format photography and when I knew I was going to continue to do prints in a darkroom, I decided to invest in a 120mm Proof Printer from Paterson.

I bought mine brand new on eBay since I struggled to find any second hand ones at a cheaper price in this particular format.

I decided to try it out on my first session in the Brighton Community Darkroom.

However, I made a couple of mistakes. First of all I’m not sure if the mistakes were due to me concentrating so much on mixing up the chemicals and getting used to the enlarger but I’ll explain what I did.

Here is a picture of the first contact sheet I did:

I did the usual test strips first to check the exposure times etc. These photos were taken at Brighton Marina using my Lubitel 166B camera and JCH Streetpan 400 black and white 120mm film. The film is naturally high in contrast which I love.

The first mistake I made was not matching the negatives the correct way round in the proof printer. In my haste to get a contact sheet printed and check I was using the enlarger correctly, I had just put the negatives into the proof printer without really thinking about the direction etc which resulted in this print.

Also, I noticed that the end photo hadn’t quite printed fully. I was perplexed as to why this was and thought perhaps there was something wrong with the proof printer?

I re-read the instructions of how to use the proof printer (which quite honestly, is pretty self explanatory) but I thought I must be doing something wrong. I still couldn’t figure out what I had done wrong. I then read the instructions again and saw the key sentence that I originally must have kept skimming over when reading them originally and here is the mistake I made:

When I print the contact sheet, I was putting the 8 x 10 inch photo paper directly onto the grey sponge area then shutting down the top screen which contained the negatives and subsequently taking an enlargement:

What was happening was that the border where the hinge is on the front screen, was blocking part of the negative from transferring onto the paper, hence why I wasn’t getting the full photo.

Finally I realised from the instructions that I should have been placing the photo paper into the slot of the where the hinge is directly onto the negatives on the glass front:

I’m sure to most people this would seem really obvious, even without reading the instructions, and I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit I did this mistake, but I do tend to lack common sense sometimes!

Once I realised my mistakes, I decided to re-print these negatives again during another session in the darkroom.

I used a No 2 Contrast Filter and did a test strip using exposure times of 30 seconds:

From the test strip I decided on an exposure time of 2 1/2 minutes. Before I printed the whole contact sheet again, I did another test strip at the full 2 1/2 minutes exposure to check I was happy with that:

You’ll see that the last photo was much lighter but I have to make some compromises when doing a contact print so was happy with this and here is the final result:

First of all, I’m pleased I managed to get all the images the right way round! You’ll see that a couple of the photos are under exposed but at least I get an overview of the photos and can then choose which ones I’d possibly like to work on for enlarging into prints.

I’m very happy that I now know how to use the contact proof printer correctly and will be using it for all my black and white medium format negatives when I need to do a contact sheet.

Developing Prints in the Darkroom

I have now visited the Brighton Community Darkroom a couple of times since I joined and am slowly getting more familiar with the Durst DA 900 enlarger every time I use it.

Currently I’m managing to get there once a week and am spending approximately 4 hours there per session.

I was there yesterday afternoon and wanted to work on developing some prints from my 120mm black and white negatives that I took on my Lubitel 166B Camera.

There was a really nice beach shot I recently took on a stormy day in Brighton and the waves were crashing against the sea defence wall and there were some clouds in the sky.

I’m still very much at the learning/experimental stage of my darkroom work so accept the fact that without a tutor on hand (like during my black and white photography course) I’m going to probably make many mistakes and waste a lot of paper.

Yesterday was my first time enlarging a 120mm negative print on the Durst DA 900 enlarger as in previous sessions I had been making contact sheets.

I was slightly nervous if I was actually going to do it correctly. I had an initial introduction to the enlarger by one of the helpful members of the community darkroom but that was a few weeks back so I wasn’t sure what I’d remember.

Thankfully, as well as an actual manual on the enlarger, there were some helpful notes provided to me by Paul who is one of the community members and in the notes he provided his recommended combination of condenser and lens that he feels work best depending on the size negative I’m doing an enlargement from.

Rather than going by the manual recommendation, I used Paul’s guidelines since he has experience of using this particular enlarger.

I therefore used a Unicon 105 Condenser lens and 105mm enlarger lens for the 120mm (6cm by 6cm) negatives.

After doing an initial test strip, here is the print I did with the aperture moved down a couple of stops from the brightest aperture to f/8:

You’ll see that its quite dark and doesn’t have much contrast. I also was annoyed at the fact there were dust/hair marks on the photo, which I hadn’t noticed on the negative. I currently use a cheap plastic air blower but I’m seriously considering investing in the more powerful aerosol type of blower as I think that will do a better job of getting rid of unwanted hair/dust as I don’t think my current one works very well.

I decided from this initial print that I wanted more contrast in the photo and also to be lighter.

I had learnt about contrast filters at my college course and thankfully the community darkroom has the Ilford Multigrade filters that I can add to the condenser lens.

I decided to try a No 3 contrast filter and again, did a test strip. I also removed best I could with the equipment I currently have, any unwanted hair/dust on the negative.

Here is the print I did with an exposure of 40 seconds:

This photo is much brighter than the original one I did but I’ve also lost all the cloud detail.

I looked at my test strip again and decided to do another print with the same No 3 contrast filter and a slightly longer exposure time of 50 seconds:

This resulted in a slightly darker photo (as you would expect) but there still wasn’t much cloud definition.

I decided at this point that I perhaps didn’t want so much contrast so changed the contrast filter to No 2 and did another test strip. I did the following photo with an exposure of 80 seconds:

I was much happier with this photo in the fact it was lighter than the original one I did and that it had the cloud definition.

I wanted to next experiment with a No 2.5 contrast filter just to see the difference but I unfortunately ran out of time in my darkroom session so will have to try that next time.

Although the photos aren’t perfect yet, I’m really enjoying the whole process of experimenting and the trial and error.

I noticed on this final photo that more dust had managed to somehow get onto the negative which shows in certain areas of the photo so I really do need to find a way of making sure I can fully clean the negative. I do also wear white fabric gloves when handling the negatives to avoid finger marks.

I look forward to blogging more about my darkroom sessions as I learn more.

Brighton Community Darkroom

In some of my previous blog posts I talked about taking a darkroom photography course at Varndean College in Brighton where I had an introduction to Black and White photography and developing my own contact sheets and prints etc.

I took the initial course in the Summer 2018 and ended up enjoying it so much that I signed up to do the course again in September 2018.

After I finished the second course at the beginning of November, I wasn’t quite sure whether I would want to do any more developing of my own prints and wondered if I could settle for digital prints instead.

However, by the end of December I realised I was really missing the darkroom process and the buzz I got from developing my own black and white prints.

I knew in Brighton that there is a community darkroom that I could join so I could continue developing my own prints without having to do any further courses at Vardean college and I wouldn’t have the initial expense of having to set up my own darkroom at home.

Also, the college only caters for 35mm film photography and I have recently been working more with medium format photography (120mm negatives) so require an enlarger that will work with both 35mm and 120mm negatives.

Thankfully the community darkroom was able to meet these requirements with their enlarger.

The community darkroom I joined currently has availability for new members. Here is a link to their website: http://coachwerks.org/the-darkroom/

They use a Durst DA 900 Enlarger and have the equipment I require to develop my own prints such as the developing chemicals, a place to hang prints to dry, masking frames etc., although you need to bring your own photographic paper.

They charge £25 per month for use of the darkroom which is open 24 hours and I plan to use it at least 1-2 times per week for a minimum of 4 hours at a time so for me, I think its great value for money.

I look forward to blogging further about using the darkroom over the next few months and how I’m finding it.