Jul 312014

I always feel a bit guilty whenever I take pictures of these statues – it’s hardly the most original thing to photograph locally but it’s within cycling distance at lunchtime and when I’ve got a new camera to play with I have to admit that originality isn’t high on the agenda (not that it is the rest of the time either).

The camera in question wasn’t strictly a new camera, but a 590nm infrared conversion of an old camera, carried out by Protech Photographic.

The 590nm filter is mainly used to create “false colour” images – red and blue channels are swapped in Photoshop which results in the red/pink tone of the sky becoming blue, leaving the rest of the image looking somewhat surreal.

Whatever these statues are made from reflects a lot of IR light, leaving them bright white rather than the mucky grey/cream/yellow colour that they appear in normal light. I think they look a lot more striking like this, especially surrounded by the mid-blue of the rest of the image.

An infrared image of the statues on King Lear's Lake, Watermead Park

An infrared image of the statues on King Lear's Lake, Watermead Park

Two false colour 590nm infrared images of the statues on King Lear’s Lake at Watermead Park, Birstall.

 Posted by at 7:13 pm
Jul 302014

Middle Peak Quarry is located in the parish of Wirksworth in Derbyshire. The site is still owned by Tarmac but doesn’t seem to have been operating since the early 1990s (according to the briefest of internet searches).

An Infrared image of sunlight on the cliff face of Middle Peak Quarry

A patch of sun breaks through the clouds and illuminates the quarry face and the trees perched at the quarry edge. (Image from a 650nm IR converted camera, converted to black and white).

Middle Peak Quarry in shadow

The lagoon area of the quarry showing the size of some of the trees that are now established (in the bottom right of the image). The mirror became detached in my Canon 5D a few minutes after this was taken – a dusty quarry isn’t the best place to be dealing with such things.

People swimming in the water here has been a problem in the past and a large fence is in place to stop all but the hardiest of mountain goats from getting down to the waters edge. The water has since been dyed black to make it less inviting.

Sunlight catching the leaves of young trees in Middle Peak Quarry

Sunlight catching the leaves of saplings.

 Posted by at 5:10 pm
Jun 062013

Allotment, Fomapan 100, 5x4 film

Cossington South Lakes, Fomapan 100, 5x4 filmFlooded Field, Fomapan 100, 5x4 film

Cossington South Lakes, Fomapan 100, 5x4 film

Fomapan 100 was the first film I purchased to use with the Graflex Pacemaker Speed Graphic. I chose it for one reason – cost – it worked out at about 50p a sheet, which was roughly half the cost of the next cheapest film I could find (which happened to be Rollei IR400).

Prior to that I’d tried using paper negatives to get a feel for using the camera (and because I’d been given a lot of old photographic paper) but the results were a little unpredictable. Some of the paper was quite old and it was difficult to find the precise ISO to base meter readings on. Photographic paper is normally around ISO 3 – 6 but it slowly loses its sensitivity to light after its expiration date, with the speed of this degradation depending on how it has been kept.

After spending some time thinking about how I was going to process sheet film I picked up a Paterson 3 reel tank along with a MOD54 insert. This method uses 1L of fluid to process up to 6 sheets at a time so it’s perhaps not the cheapest in terms of processing costs but it seemed to offer the lowest set up costs.

I didn’t find the MOD54 the easiest thing to use for a couple of reasons:-
1/ It took me some time to get used to loading the film. I practiced in daylight with some test sheets, I practiced with my eyes closed, but still when it came to doing it for real in the change bag it was a shambles. I’m a lot more comfortable loading it now but it has taken me some time to get used to it.
2/ Uneven development. I noticed something that other people had reported, denser negatives (resulting in brighter areas) around where the fins held the film in place. This was more noticeable in areas of continuous tone, like skies/snow.

The difficulty I had loading this film on to the MOD54 for developing led me to discover what is probably the biggest issue with Fomapan 100 – the emulsion does appear to be quite fragile. I had scratches on quite a few of the first sheets I used which looked like they were made by the fins of the MOD54. Additionally I spent so long loading the MOD54 that it become slightly humid inside the change bag and I had a couple of instances of sheets of film touching and patches of emulsion coming off.

Out of the first fifteen or so sheets I probably had one that I’d consider ok so I decided a different approach was in order and processed the next couple of batches by hand using dev and fix in takeaway containers inside my change bag. The bottom three of the images above were processed using this method, with Rodinal 1:40 for 7 mins 30 seconds.

By now I was starting to think that large format wasn’t worth the extra stress. I didn’t want to process sheets by hand and I needed to overcome the scratching and uneven processing issues I was having using the MOD54

I shot four more sheets and loaded them – loading four sheets (two each side) was a lot easier than loading the full quota of six. I’d run out of Rodinal by this point and only had Ilfotech HC which, according the data sheet for the film is not a recommended developer. The Massive Dev Chart had no time for the Fomanpan 100/HC combination so I used the Fomapan 100/HC-110 dilution F time which was 12 mins when rating the film @ ISO100.

Some extra research about the uneven development revealed that my agitation technique had been causing the development issues and possibly some of the scratching. There seemed to be more advice/videos available since I had purchased the MOD54, including this video showing the agitation technique recommended by the inventor. This had to be worth a go so I opted for slow inversion of the tank followed by a twist, doing this for first minute of development and then again for 10s at the start of each minute. This next batch came out absolutely fine and I was starting to think that maybe this film is alright after all. The top image above was shot @ ISO100 and developed in Ilfotech HC 1+47 for 12 minutes @ 20C.

I decided to experiment with the remaining sheets to see how well Fomaoan 100 coped with being pushed, first one, then two stops, mainly because I wanted to explore using the Graflex without a tripod. The development times for these were as follows:-

Fomapan 100 shot at EI200, 18 minutes in Ilfotech HC 1+47 @ 20C
Fomapan 100 shot at EI400, 24 minutes in Ilfotech HC 1+47 @ 20C

These times were based on these general guidelines for push processing and also this excellent resource page for Kodak HC-110 (Ok, so I know Ilfoech HC and HC-110 are different developers but they do seem to be very similar)

Both sets of tests came out really well – there was a slight increase in contrast but I couldn’t discern a great deal of difference in the grain.

Foma’s own product text states that Fomapan 100 Classic “gives good results even when over-exposed by 1 stop (asa 50/18) or under-exposed by 2 (asa 400/27), without any great impact on processing, that is without having to change the developing time or the bath temperature” but I’ve yet to test these claims.

I’ve used all 50 sheets now but I’ll be getting some more – if you’re wanting to shoot large format and trying to minimize costs, two things that don’t often go together, then I can recommend Fomapan 100. Maybe it needs treating with extra care as it lacks the some of the durability of modern emulsions but it’s more than capable of producing quality results.

May 302013

Intake Quarry, Middleton

Intake Quarry, Middleton

I spend far too much time being distracted by various film cameras, trying to learn new development techniques or printing in the darkroom to really concentrate on any one thing at the moment. I realised that I’m actually missing out on opportunities that I should be making the most of when I take more than two cameras out with me – if the digital isn’t close to hand, so that it can be in and out of my Messenger bag quickly between rain showers, then I just leave it in my backpack and miss out on the best light.

I should have made more images on the day that I took these at Intake Quarry near Middleton, but the images that I missed later in the day when I was happy just to experience the changes in light and weather reminded me that I need to be a bit more disciplined about my bag packing and slim down my camera choices.

May 242013

Intake Quarry, MiddletonIntake Quarry, Middleton

Intake Quarry, Middleton

Intake Quarry, MiddletonIntake Quarry, Middleton

Intake Quarry is one of a vast number of quarries scattered around the Middleton/Cromford/Via Gellia area and was operational between 1853 and 1968. Access to the quarry, which is owned by Tarmac, is prohibited and it’s easy to see why – there is evidence of numerous rockfalls and paths close to the walls of the quarry are scattered with boulders. It has been popular with climbers in the past but its use for climbing is now strongly discouraged. Numerous trees have taken root, more so in the western section of the quarry, and few structures remain.

The images were made with a Yashica Mat 124G, shot on Ilford FP4+ film and processed at home in Ilfotech HC 1+47 for 12 minutes.

May 212013

Taylor's Bell Foundry, Loughborough, Tools

Taylor's Bell Foundry, Loughborough, Bells

Taylor's Bell Foundry, Loughborough, StackTaylor's Bell Foundry, Loughborough, Tools

Taylor's Bell Foundry, Loughborough, Cheryl

Taylor's Bell Foundry, Loughborough, Bells

Taylor's Bell Foundry, Loughborough, Bell WheelsTaylor's Bell Foundry, Loughborough, Bell Wheels

Taylor's Bell Foundry, Loughborough, Chairs

Taylor's Bell Foundry, Loughborough, Metal

Taylor's Bell Foundry, Loughborough, Bells

If I had a bit more gumption I’d have sorted these images out sooner but I never quite finished them. Some were hastily scanned, some I couldn’t scan initially as the Rollei 5×4 film I used was slightly too big for the Epson film holders and others had some dust on that I was just too lazy to clone out. Then I spent a day or so printing them in the darkroom, first for the Leicester Lo-Fi exhibition at FORMAT13 and later for Handmade Festival, so I just got a bit sick of them.

These images were made on various equipment/film types during a Leicester Lo-Fi trip to John Taylor & Co in Loughborough:-

Canon EOS 5, Ilford DELTA 3200
Graflex Pacemaker Speed Graphic, Rollei IR400
Bronica ETRSi, Rollei Retro 400S

The people at Taylor’s were kind enough to give us access to the workshops and let us watch a couple of bells being cast.

Taylor’s Bell Foundry is the largest working bell foundry in the world and is one of the few Victorian purpose built manufacturing sites still being used for its original purpose.

John Taylor & Co on Wikipedia

 Posted by at 7:28 pm
May 202013

Taylor's Bell Foundry, Handmade Festival, Bells

Taylor's Bell Foundry, Handmade Festival, Tools

Taylor's Bell Foundry, Handmade Festival, Cheryl

Four of my images (three of which are above) feature in Leicester Lo-Fi’s John Taylor & Co Bellfoundry exhibition that’s being shown upstairs at The Crumblin’ Cookie in Leicester as part of Handmade Festival.

The 14 images, shot on film and hand printed in the darkroom, are on show between 20th May – 1st June.

My other images from Taylor’s can be found here – http://www.andystafford.co.uk/taylors-bell-foundry-loughborough


Jan 112013

Bare Trees Reflected In Flood Water

Sometimes I find looking back at old images a bit painful – it’s an odd type of after-the-fact disappointment when you realise that something you used to quite like, or used to be proud of, is actually not that good. It also causes me slight embarrassment when people react favourably to such images.

Of course looking back at your work and feeling like that is perhaps better than wondering where it all went wrong (but naturally I have my fair share of that too).

This image (above, from March 2011) is one that I’ve made similar versions of since, with different cameras and film types – it’s also currently one of the oldest ones that I can go back to and feel 100% happy with.

 Posted by at 7:19 pm
Jan 102013

The Iron Giant

Ok, so it’s not really THE Iron Giant, but it will always be that to me.

This is one of my first infrared images, taken on my second trip out with the IR converted Canon 350D, but it’s still one of my favourites.

Normally with images taken with this frequency of IR filter (650nm) there are two conversion options:- black & white or false colour (which is done by flipping the red and blue channels in Photoshop). This image however really grabbed me in its raw state, with the off-world colours matching the science fiction look of the structure, which is in fact part of an abandoned bridge.

Another reason for my liking of this is that, more than any of my other images, it reminds me of the importance of continuing to look for new images in familiar places. I must have seen this dozens of times, both as a child and on my numerous photo trips to this location but I only ever saw it as an old bit of bridge, now I find it impossible not to see its robotic features.

Prints, posters, cards available from photo4me or ArtFlakes.