Lost and Found?

It’s strange sometimes what you pick up and put in your pocket when your out in the hills, almost a year ago while  walking near Cross Fell with my friend Paul Denham I came across this camera, and incredible as it may sound this is what the film contained…..

 

Nahhh…. not really, I’ve just been playing with my Lomokino again filming Paul and me wandering about in the moors!! One day I’ll get round to creating a really short film in the mean time I hoped you liked this clip!

 

Cheers

 

Graham

A trip to Inkerman

Inkerman isn’t the kind of name you would normally associate with the small town of Tow Law high up above Weardale in County Durham, but the connections are there. In 1854 the Durham Light Infantry, known then as 68th Regiment of Foot nicknamed The Faithful Durhams, fought in one of the most important battles of the Crimean War. It took place on a freezing cold foggy day in November, and it was said that the Durhams where the only regiment to have fought in their red jackets, since they alone took off their greatcoats during this winter battle. Since that day the anniversary of 5th of November was celebrated by the regiment as Inkerman Day, so it makes sense to find the name of this distant battle here on the edge of the Durham coal fields.  

It wasn’t until Charles Atwood built his Iron works in 1840’s that Tow Law started to grow from  a tiny farmstead to town with a population of 5000 people. Six blast furnaces were built and they were fuelled by coal from the nearby collieries, such as Black Prince, Royal George and West Edward. The coal was not burned in its raw farm. Instead it was first turned into coke, by baking it in an oven to drive off the impurities. At the beginning of the industrial revolution this was done in beehive shaped brick ovens. Thousands of these were built across County Durham but very few of them survive today, and some of the last few stand beside the Inkerman Road.  

The morning I chose to visit the remains of the Inkerman Coke Ovens was cold and foggy which felt like the right kind of weather to visit this place. Now standing beside a coal yard, these strange conical structures look more like something that belongs to a Scottish Broch or ancient burial tomb than heavy industry. But as you peer inside one of collapsed ovens it’s clear to see the charred bricks, fused together by the extreme heat used during the oven’s firing. Maybe the coke made in these ovens produced the iron and steel rifles and bayonets used by the 68th on that day? The 1840’s also saw the birth of photography with Fox Tolbot announcing his discovery of the Calotype process, and it was during the Crimean War the new art form was used to document the conflict. So it seemed fitting to use some of Tolbot’s techniques to create my prints.

Inkerman Oven

Inkerman Oven.

90mm Schneider Angulon lens, F8. Fomapan 100 developed in Prescysol. Salt Print.

Inside Coke Oven

Charred Bricks.

90mm Schneider Angulon lens, F8. Fomapan 100 developed in Prescysol. Salt Print.

I used Randall Webb’s formula to create my salt prints taken from his book Spirit of Salt, if you see a copy get it, it’s a superb book!! As I was leaving the site I noticed an inscription carved into a wooden post

“For many hearts with cool ore chorred and few remember”

W. Owen

The words of the war poet Wilfred Owen seemed appropriate for this place.

Thanks

Graham

Merry Christmas!!

Copely Chimney Xmas Card

Hello I would just like to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy new year, and to thank you all for following my blog and for all the great comments you have made, it’s really made it all worth while. I’ve already got loads of places in mind to visit and ideas for new posts in the new year, can’t wait!!

Cheers

Graham

Behind the scenes.

Recently I’ve been asked for more details about how I create my photographs in the darkroom, and struck me that lately my blog has mostly been concentrating on my trips out and about taking pictures. But this is only really a small portion of the work that goes into making my final prints for sale in the gallery. In fact when I first started this blog this was one of the elements I really wanted to include, so in the future I’m going to try to show a little more behind the scenes, and try to explain some of the techniques and processes I use.

Photo for Gallerina 009

Setting up my 6×6 enlarger for a print destined for the gallery.

I am really lucky to be represented by Gallerina, a contemporary fine art gallery in Darlington so to get the ball rolling I thought I would post the trailer from the fantastic documentary they filmed about my work called Infinity!!

 

What I really love about this film is it gives a great snap shot of all the different steps I make to get to the completed photograph. Ok this bit may sound a bit of  a blatant plug but if  you are interested in seeing the full length film they may still have some copies of the DVD left at the gallery, please get in touch at www.gallerina.com

Cheers

Graham

 

 

 

 

 

The Missing Roll!

Just a quick post this time. A few weeks ago me and my girlfriend were woken up by an almighty bang!! It was 2 o clock in the morning and the large wood book-case that I thought was safely fixed to the wall, had decided to give in to gravity and collapse onto our bed just missing us both as we slept. Next morning me and Helen set about putting the book-case back up (this time with much bigger screws and lots of them) and tidying up all the books which had been scattered across the bedroom floor, in the midst of all this destruction I found a roll of exposed 120 film? I’m not the most organised of people, and like usual I hadn’t bothered to write anything on the film to tell me what it had been used for so I hadn’t a clue what it contained, so I decided the only way to figure out what was on it was to develop it. I had a couple of other films to process so I added the extra film into the mix.  And I was so pleased I did!!

ArticTurn

Tern, Inner Farne, Northumberland.

Rolleicord TLR, Fomapan 400 in Caffenol CL for 70mins.

For ages I had been wondering where one of the films from our holiday to Northumberland had gone. Though we had a superb time it hadn’t been the most successful in regards to photography. Everything from my old MPP 5×4 bellows leaking light to a sticky shutter on my Rolleicord, but every time I looked through the negs there was something missing? Some shots I swore I had taken but couldn’t find them, and here they where! Printing this photo really brought back a lots of great memories of a wonderful trip!!

Thanks for reading!!!

Graham

Off to the Great Outdoors!!!

Well things have moved on with the DIY 10×8 camera, Ihave  glued a large piece of wood to the bottom to create a stable base for mounting the camera on a tripod, and in an attempt to give the camera body a little more weather protection I covered it in a rather attractive black ash sticky black plastic (handily left over from when I built some speakers for my old vintage Land Rover )

Fishing on the Lune+ 012

The camera back was also pretty fragile and had a habit of falling apart, but a little remodeling seems to have solved the problem.

Fishing on the Lune+ 014

The next step was to find some photographic paper  to create my negs. After a search through my darkroom I discovered a box of old Ilford Multigrade paper I bought secondhand years ago. One of the reasons I never  used it because even though it is a FB paper it only had a 135G base which is pretty thin, but luckily for me this will make it perfect to make printerable negs.

Fishing on the Lune+ 008

First I decided to try it out close to home in the back garden to find out how user friendly it was. First impressions were pretty good, the ground glass works well and I was really impressed by the focal length, it was even able to focus on objects only a few feet away.  The camera seemed really stable and solid considering it was only made from foam core board and hot glue!!

Sheep skull

The 215mm lens is pretty wide on the 10×8 format, this was taken about 3ft away from the subject. I exposed it for 10secs at f16 with a speed rating of ISO 6.

Sheep creep1

The next shot I took a little further from home out on Cockfield Fell. I was drawn to all the sheep wool caught on the barbed wire fences. The exposure was 10th sec at f8 and again the speed rating was ISO 6. I think this one could really do with a bit more work. With paper negatives you have to avoid bright contrasty days and full sun light. Even with a graduated filtre the sky of the second photograph was really over exposed, but I still like the waving fleece moving in the breeze, makes me think of summer in the hills!!

My 10X8 camera!!

For ages now I have wanted a 10×8 camera, the larger neg size would be great for alternative processes such a Salt Prints and Van Dyke prints and also for my new love wet plate collodion, but here in the UK they seem to be few and far between or at least way beyond my small budget. So inspired by fellow photographic blogger Cary Norton I decided to build one myself on a shoe string using some very basic materials. 10x8 camera 047

I already had a lens which would just cover 10×8 so a quick shop on fleabay for some sheets of A2 5mm foam core board and I was away. I had a good idea what I wanted to build but thought it would be best to get something down on paper first.

10x8 camera 048

Basically the camera is made out of three intersliding boxes, the first box forms the main body, the second holds the lens and is designed to slide back and forth to focus the picture and the third is there to make the camera light tight. To stick the foam core board together I simply used my partner’s (Helen) hot glue gun and some book binding tape.

10x8 camera 052

Here’s a picture before the lens panel is glues on and slid together. Though I started with everything planned out pretty soon I was having to make it up as I went along but I was pretty happy with the construction.

10x8 camera 056

I made a simple back based on universal dark slides.

10x8 camera 057

My camera was almost finished, but I was worried I had made the body of the camera a little too deep for the 215mm lens and I wasn’t sure I would be able to focus to infinity, so I recessed the lens panel by about 5mm, bit of a bodge but it seems to have done the trick!

10x8 camera 065

A few hours work with some valve grinding paste and an old piece of glass from an unused picture frame and I had a focusing screen. I was so keen to try the camera out I couldn’t wait till I fitted the tripod mount so I balanced it on a pile of books and took a quick exposure through the living room window of the garden.

10x8 camera 095

To test the camera and put it through its paces I decided to use Ilford Multigrade RC paper to make negatives rather than waste expensive film. I exposed the first picture at ISO 6 for 5 secs at F16, the developed the paper in Fotospeed Varigrade print developer mixed 1:9 for 1min. The results were a little over exposed but for first go I was really pleased. It was pretty sharp the lens had good coverage and there was no light leaks!!

Porch 1

Next job is to make the tripod mount and take the camera out on its first real field test. So there will be more to follow!!

Cheers

Graham

Experimentation

Well it’s been a long time since my last post so I thought I would show you what I’ve been working on.  I was hoping to have a few new photographs from a recent trip to Swaledale, but I had to divert my attention at the last minute when a large commission came in from Gallerina. The client wanted photographs to reflect the period features of their new boutique hotel, they also wanted the images to have a warmth. I needed to create a few test prints and after a search through my darkroom cupboards I managed to find what I was looking for. A two bath Fotospeed Sepia kit and a very ancient bottle of Agfa Viradon Brown toner, here is what I came up with.

I selected a  5×4 neg I taken on a trip to Belsay Castle in Northumberland a few years a go and coated some paper with SE1 liquid emulsion diluted 50/50 with water.

 

belsay test strip

Untoned Test strip.

 

belsay sepia

Sepia toner.

 

belsay brown

Agfa Viradon Brown Toner.

Se1 is great to split tone and each of the prints turned out really well, but both had their draw backs. The sepia being two baths, one a bleach the other the toner means getting consistent even results on large prints is tricky, the Viradon is made with polysulfide and stinks to high heaven!! Also Viradon is no longer in production and I probably have about 40ml left at most, which is enough to make 1 to 1.5 ltrs of working solution. Out of the two I prefered the Vardon. I love its depth and warmth, and thankfully so did the client. Fingers crossed I’ll have enough.

This looks like this is going to be a huge comission and I can’t wait to get out and start taking pictures!!

 

Cheers

Graham.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roseberry Topping

Hi

Just completed this comission and I’m really pleased with the way it turned out! I’ve never taken a picture of Roseberry Topping before and was worried what I could bring to such a popular and well photographed part of the Cleveland landscape, hopefully I have successfully managed to put my mark on it and create something fresh.

Roseberry Topping

For this one I wanted to use my old 5×4 M.P.P Mark II Technical camera. The lens was a 270mm Schneider Tele-Xenar I picked up for £65 last year (thrift is a important part of my photography haha) . I developed the Fomapan 100 film with Prescysol and then printed it on watercolour paper coated with liquid silver emulsion.

Thanks

Graham