London nights

Late last week I went back to London as part of my work, which was quite nice as it was our Christmas lunch. Seemed early to me, but afterwards I noticed we were not the only ones doing work do’s in November as there were a fair few people wearing antlers, Santa hats and such like in various restaurants dotted around town.

After we finished for the afternoon, I took a meandering walk back to the train station. This usually gives me an hour or two for doing some street photography. This time, I also took some video clips whilst I wandering around.

To be honest, I don’t really know what I am doing with video at the moment – it’s very new to me. I set the camera up to record in a couple of different formats: 4K (24fps), 1080p (24 and 120fps). I also set it up to record in black and white. I am just trying to get my head around it all at the moment!

I reasoned that as I do much of my night street photography in monochrome, I would do the video that way too. I probably should have shot it in colour and converted it to monochrome later, as well as flattened the picture profile. Neither my Canon or Sony have log formats (yet, for the canon), so I need to do the workaround that other people do to get a flatter profile for later grading. The footage looks quite murky and grainy, so I need to set the camera up better – and use a faster lens to reduce the ISO rating.

YouTube has been great for working out what to do here, especially the Travel Feels and Peter McKinnon channels. I will post up some videos once I know what I am doing. But, this is still someway off at the moment. It should add an extra dimension to the website, let alone my practice. I like the idea of taking street photography into another place as well as the more usual photography.

I also used some of the time to take some street shots. I have recently had a significant camera kit sell off. Stuff that I don’t use or don’t need has gone. What remains is a more streamlined kit that better suits my needs for street, family and landscape photography. As part of the move, I bought a Sony A9. It’s mainly for street photography, due to the silent shutter, excellent electronic viewfinder (EVF) and very wide area fast autofocus (AF). I am finding that with this camera it’s very responsive, much more than the Fuji’s I had. I tend to shoot much more from the hip with this camera, and I can totally trust it to wake up, lock on, and get a sharp picture on most occasions.

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The darkroom returns

After some 15 years of my darkroom sitting in various attics quietly hoping for the day it would return to use – that day has finally come. A couple of nights ago, I printed a couple of basic photos on 10″x8″ and 12″x16″ Ilford Multigrade IV RC paper. I was really rusty, but I took my time and everything turned out okay. Even though it’s been a very long time, the process still feels quite natural to me – including the dodging and burning.

I printed sample images from Ilford HP5+, Adox Silvermax and Kodak Tr-X. All the films looked good on the photographic paper. As expected the Tri-X gave fantastic rich blacks, Silvermax a great tonal range and HP5+ the classic slightly flat look it is famous for. What I mostly noticed was that grain is much less apparent in an actual darkroom print than a digital scan. The image posted here does very little justice to the original print. I had read that scanners tend to enlarge grain on film, and this seems to be the case from my very limited experience here.

In terms of the photographs I printed, HP5+ has been my favourite to print. The images have a classic photojournalistic look – because the film is, of course, a classic photojournalists’ film!

Over the coming months I will use it some more, but not often as time is limited. A single decent final print can take several hours (test print; straight print; adjustments to grade and dodging and burning, etc.). However, the process for me is about enjoyment and taking photography back to basics.

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Waiting for the bus

I just love some of the expressions that are going on in this image (click on it to view large). Shot from the hip on the go, whilst pushing my little lad in a pushchair!