Monthly Archives: June 2013

Exploring lines and shadows

Today, instead of heading out I thought I would try and find something of interest in the home to photograph.  Looking around whilst wondering what in the house I could snap that would at least provide for something bordering on reasonable I noticed  that lines and shadows on my kitchen floor made an interesting pattern.  Moreover if I took the photo from an elevated position I could at least look artistic in the vein of Laszlo Moholy Nagy.

After twenty shots, necessary because I could not see the view finder, I finally found a photo that picked up the shadow lines and chair orientations in manner that appealed to me. I converted to B&W because the study is all about lines and shadows.


There is a hidden intersection between the lines of the table and the shadow from the window which is intriguing and perhaps in todays modern view of composition would be frowned upon because it has the potential to take the viewers eyes out of the frame.  However for me so called rules of composition are perhaps the least important.  It is more about as I have previously discussed about balance.  In this case I have not deliberately sought balance as this image is more in the abstract.  Certainly the triangulation of the image by the table and the shadows is providing balance of a sort.  The near vertical view just provides a different view point to the image and adds its own interest.


Hope you like it, let me know what you think.



A walk at dusk in Melbourne Docklands

Went for a photo walk with Leanne Cole and her friend Teri.  Leanne is a very accomplished photographer, you can see her work here:

One of the things I look for in evening photo walks is the deep blues one finds after the sun has set.  There is a small time period before the sky becomes black and the glorious blue is available.  Too early and it is a soft blue to late and it is black. Additionally one has to over expose by quite a large amount when photographing city lights against the blue otherwise the deep blue will be missing.  Get it right and it looks like this.

Exposure of 6 seconds at ISO 160 F/5.6.


The other thing to keep the eye on is what is happening back towards the sunset.  In this case a bridge very nicely lit against a deepening sunset, nearly into black.  In this case I have converted to black and white because it then becomes a study of the bridge and not a fight between colours.  After all the main subject is the bridge.

20130626_6956Hope you enjoy these two. Let me know what you think.

Field camera work

As those that are following my blog,  thank you for that, I have built a field camera.  After a few try out shots I thought it was time to go for a more difficult shot.  Therefore it was time to head  of into Melbourne CBD and try the field camera out on the organ pipes in St Paul’s.

Now if you live in Melbourne and  are a keen photographer you may know that they are now charging for taking photo’s inside the cathedral, $5 for hand held and $15 for tripod.  Knowing this and knowing how beautiful the organ pipes are I was prepared for a one off to pay the tripod fee.

Permit sticker attached to my jumper it was time to set up.  That was not to difficult, however the light inside is atrocious for photography.  Using my DSLR light meter and setting it for ISO 160,  the ISO I use for the Tri-max 320 film I needed 20 seconds exposure at /f16.  As film has problems with reciprocity  failure,  where the reciprocal relationship between focal length and time fails meant that I had to expose for 75 seconds for the organ and twenty seconds for the two other shots.

With the camera arrangements I also had to increase the rise, that is lift the front lens up whilst  keeping the back parallel.  This of course keeps the verticals perpendicular instead of pointing to the vertical vanishing point so often found with DSLR’s unless one has a tilt shift lens.

With every thing as I would like it a focussed as best as I could under the very low light it was time to expose.  This is the result after development and printing on photographic paper, my first go at this in thirty years.  Still very much to learn as this I think is quite muddy with its contrasts.


Hope you enjoy it, let me know what you think.


Frosty morning

Today in Melbourne was cold and frosty.  Having seen a potential early morning photo a few days ago I decided that today would be an ok day to go try it out.  So it was off to the local golf course.

I took a number of shots most of which I did not think were that good when reviewing for processing.  However there were four that are ok.  The first is really fits in a street genre as it has an actor portraying a story.  In this case there is one person holding the flag with the other golfers out of shot.


The other three are landscapes,  the first being a long distance shot of a foggy valley with power lines and smokestacks protruding out of the fog.  The second is a colour shot of trees and frosty grass at the golf course and the third is a few trees backlight in black and white.




Finding a street photo that conveys meaning

If one looks at the works of the great street photographers like Cartier-Bresson it is clear that they were masters at analysing a scene and understanding how the components fit together.  Many of Cartier-Bresson’s work clearly show how he waited until the actors completed the scene.  Whether it is the iconic man jumping a puddle or the child looking at a picture whilst a sculpture of a woman looks over her shoulder at the child the same shows: careful planning and waiting for the completion.  Then it was capture time.  This is of course what Cartier-Bresson means by his decisive moment.

Is this easy to do, I think not.

For instance one has to find the scene which with todays much busier street is clearly more difficult.  However I have seen photographs where in the most crowded street superb moments have been captured.

Occasionally one can stumble across a scene that is already complete and tells a story.  It is then just up to the photographer to be ready and competent with the camera controls to capture the scene before it changes.  Then there are the scenes where there is plenty of time such as this one.

give-me-spaceOne actor and not going anywhere in a hurry.   Easier than others I think.

However for shots like this one:

yes-darlingThe scene was there with the very photographed water wall at the NGV in Melbourne it was just wait for the players to do the thing that worked for me.  In this case I waited until the daughters curiosity enticed the mother while the father deep in conversation looked on.

This shot captures for me all that family dynamics are about.  Care and support,  the father more removed but still watching and enjoying not only his conversation but the delicate beauty of the mother-child interaction.  For me this was a decisive moment.

Now don’t get me wrong I know that I am no where near the calibre of Cartier-Bresson and his peers.  However occasionally we mere mortals can find scenes where we to can have our decisive moments.  Just keep looking for them.


The continuing 4×5 story

This morning I took the 4×5 field camera out to a local park to further my skills in its use and that of film developing.  It was in essence a simple scene, however I choose to focus on a particular tree trunk more for its character than anything else.

The sun is from the left and there is a bit of flare from that in the photo,  no lens hood with this beast.  Setting up was not to bad, focus a bit harder with cold hands.  Tilt on the camera bed was used to bring the top of the tree or close to the top into view.

A few things still need practise,  clearly camera set up needs more work in particular the use of the tilt, swing and rise functions along with a tilt on the back.  Needed a warmer time of the day to take more time in learning what works and what does not.  The greatest problem was fogging of the loupe I use to assist focus,  wouldn’t stay clear so that made it very difficult to work out if things needed to be shifted a bit.  Add in the fact that the  knobs etc on the camera needed a bit of fine tuning,  which I have now completed.

The processing was a success especially after reading Bruce Barnbaum’s “The Art of Photography”.  Development went for 14 minutes and the negative ended up with a good tonal range.

I am very impressed with the detail in the tree bark under magnification, (looking at the negative).  Sharp even with 10 time magnification.   That would mean a 40inch by 50inch print would be ok.

Scanning the image is tricky as I don’t have a high quality scanner,  I use my 5D Mark 2 with a 100mm macro and take about four images of the negative,  different views of course.  THen I blend in Photoshop.  Tried it with 15 images at 1:1 as the 4×5 is 15 times bigger than a 35mm.  Ended up with a file that was 2Gbytes and not very useable at all.  The blending was hopeless due to the inaccuracies in aligning the images.  The file you are about to see is 27Mbytes much larger than normal images  from the 5D.  Of course it has been adjusted to suit the web so it will not have the detailed resolution of the large file but here it is.


Hope you like it.



The camera is complete and the first photo has been taken

Today I took the first photo with my home made Field Camera.  This is some exercise to do but oh so much fun.

Visited Vanbar, they sell film and developers etc, here in Melbourne.  Bought a developing tank,  so measuring jugs, some chemicals, a changing bag, for film not me, and of course some film.

I was going to take a photo of St Patricks but it was raining and that meant with a non waterproof camera it was a no go.  So I came home loaded some film into the holder went out to the front yard set everything up.  Focussed the camera took a light meter reading with the little iPhone app and set the lens for f/22, 1/30th of a second at the film ISO is 320.  Loaded the film holder, made sure that the lens shutter was closed, took the cover off of the holder cocked the shutter and pushed the release.

Result one exposure.

Now for the processing.  Back to the changing bag, loaded the developing tank with the film, one shot only.  Then realised I needed a thermometer.  Went to the chemist and bought one only to find that anything below 32c is just a l on the display, lucky it was only $7.00.  Had to go to an electronics store to buy a probe thermometer that would read the water temperature,  just $10, not bad.  Mixed my chemicals and set up to develop the film.

Read the fluid levels stamped on the tank,  no mention of 4×5 so assumed that 500ml would be enough.  Poured in the developer set the timer running, another iPhone app, where would we be without them.  Agitated the solution for four minutes  and then emptied out the container and added the stop solution, just some vinegar in water.  Agitated that for a few minutes and then poured that out and added the fixer.  Four minutes later it was done.  Washed and had a look.

Clearly the 500ml was not enough developer, needed about 700ml to cover the film,  still it did develop all of the negative, just some is under developed and there is a clear line across the film that shows the fluid level.  Also the fixer was not deep enough as well so part of the film has a purple tinge.

Drying time,  it fell of the peg holder and ended up with a few small specks of dirt that did not wash off.  Still that does not matter as this was a test photo anyway.  After a wait it was dry enough to scan.  Now bear in mind that the scanner is a very cheap flatbed scanner that came with a $90 printer so the quality is very poor.  The quality shows,  scan lines and other artefacts   clearly present in the scan.  However it enables me to see how the shot turned out.

Here it is warts and all.

oneWhat it does show is that the camera does not have any light leaks,  fantastic.  So now it is just improve the chemistry and find scenes that warrant the time and effort to capture.