Nike ads that help inspire us to get off the couch and run…and it’s true that ads like this help. All you need do is lace up a pair of running shoes and the outdoors awaits.
Link to artist’s page: Eilis O’Connell
Taken in the early 1990s when the steam function still worked, now it’s long gone. Situated on one of the busiest roads into Cardiff Bay, the site was ideal for boosting the image of the new Cardiff Bay development that began in the late 1980s and continued throughout the 1990s. It was commissioned by Cardiff Bay Arts Trust in 1992.
I took the picture as part of a Black and White Landscape course at Ffotogallery, the national development agency for photography in Wales. In the space of a couple of years, I’d done several City & Guild courses that also included darkroom printing. Using a darkroom was something I’d never done before, and the thrill of watching your print appear in the chemical trays captured me from the off. Doing these courses helped me gain access to the Ffotogallery darkroom, and I did another class at a college in Copenhagen a couple of years later while living there. An opportunity presented itself when I moved back to the UK in 2006, and I built a darkroom in my house. My home darkroom lasted a couple of years before I switched to digital. If money and space were no object, I’d go back to a darkroom today in a heartbeat. But, you can’t deny the attractions of digital and being able to make images so quickly and cheaply.
This image of Secret Station was taken on a Hasselblad 501c and an 80mm lens. The film, a favourite, was Ilford Delta 100asa, which was great for long exposures as I could usually get a couple of seconds for an exposure even during the day. I used to expose at 80asa and extend the development in ID11…those where the days!
A black and white picture of my wife and eldest walking through one of the main parks in Lisbon, Portugal. My eldest was having issues walking and didn’t want to walk any further, not that the walk we’d been for was incredibly long. She was probably about 4 or 5 at the time and was making her feelings known!
In case I ever get in the fortunate position of being able to getting back into a darkroom with a roll of film, then these are the settings that I used for a number of years.
Years ago when I shot film, and after studying a couple of City & Guild courses in Landscape and Darkroom photography, I learnt the craft in more detail of taking and then making a great photograph. I studied the Zone System developed by Ansel Adams, which in a nutshell about trying to faithfully reproduce the whites and blacks in an image, instead of ending up with a series of dull greys.
A shortcut to learning the Zone System is to expose for the shadow areas and then process for the highlights and slightly over expose your film but then hold back development. To do this, I’d shoot with Ilford Delta 100 ASA, I would set the light meter at 80ASA and expose the film 1 (N+1) stop more, and then when I processed the film in ID11 in the darkroom, I would reduce the development time N-1 to 7 minutes 30 seconds. Normal development for stock solution, (straight out of the tin) was 8 minutes 30 seconds.
The effort was worthwhile, because I found that it was a natural way to photograph and get results that had good level of strong contrast. My photographs of St David’s Hotel, and the Norwegian Church and also Penarth Pier are a couple of examples.
For years this Ilford Film Development chart was on my wall, a poster from Ilford, on it every film type with suggested development times at differing strengths from stock to 1:1 to 1:3, all at a temperature of 20 centigrade.
Looking at film prices earlier on the Ilford website, I doubt as though I’ll ever return to it, at £6 per roll of 120 film, it’s just too expensive. Though I enjoyed the workflow of developing first a contact sheet, then choosing the pictures from there that I would enlarge, was a satisfying process. This hasn’t necessarily translated to shooting digitally.
I will post more on this, and put up some of the images of the darkroom that I put together at home.
Taken at first light, from memory around 2007 on film, Ilford Delta 100asa, and probably at 6 am. I remember well because I must have set up my tripod and camera at 5.30 am or something like that and by the time I’d finished taking pictures the lights on the pier suddenly went out. I think that it was 6 am, and it felt as though it was great timing. The starlight from the lampost would have been missing if I’d arrived later than I did. I wouldn’t have known either..! and for me, it helps make the picture. The mist from the waves rolling in was also something I hoped to photograph. It is why I used an exposure of about 2 minutes at f22. I’ve not been back to Penarth to re-shoot this on digital, but looking at it again tonight as I write this, I’d like to get out and re-shoot it. I need to make sure I look up the tide times and arrive early knowing that the tide is out and that it needs to be at low tide around an hour before sunrise. So there are quite a few ducks you need to get into a row before you can be sure that you can bag a great picture. This visit though was pure luck. I got lucky, but sometimes that’s how it goes. :o)
Taken with a Hasselblad 501c with a 50mm wide angle lens.
Edit: I’ve dropped in a picture of the pier that I took a few years before, this time though it was on Fuji Velvia 50ASA, and again was captured at sunrise in the summer, from memory this was about 4:30 to 5am. Also, this was taken with the standard 80mm lens, which is why you can only see the end of the pier.