Many of you may not know but photography is not my only passion, I have another which has sometimes kept me away from the darkroom when I should have been working and sometimes away from my bed when I should have been sleeping, and that is the gentle art of fishing. So I was over the moon when I was given the opportunity to combine my two passions and create an article for the wonderful fishing journal Fallon’s Angler. I had a fantastic time exploring some of my favourite rivers with my 5×4 camera and a fishing rod while trying to capture some of the essence of being on the bankside and fond memories of fishing with my grandfather.
If you want to find out more and maybe purchase a copy to read for yourself please follow this link
A day off work and for once the weather looked like it was going to turn my way, a perfect excuse to head out up the dale to take some pictures. Over the last few weeks I’ve spent most of my time either working in the darkroom creating prints for my gallery Gallerina or sad to say desperately trying to catch a salmon before the fishing season ended, thankfully I was pretty successful with the first one but not so much with the fish. Anyway it was a great feeling to be heading out again with my camera and though there were a few days in which I could flog the river into a foam in the pursuit of a silver tourist I think I made the right choice. Although pretty soon it was obvious that the weather was not going to be as kind as I’d hoped when gusts of wind started to rock the car as I drove along the moor road. With the higher tops pretty much out of the question I needed a plan B, somewhere a little more sheltered from the elements. A quick change in direction saw me heading South towards the village of Bowes. Beneath the village and it’s dramatic ruined castle sat in the corner of the Roman Fort of Lavatris. It’s pretty hard to find a place with more history than Bowes and and in a more dramatic position stood beside the old Roman roads that crossed Stainmore something that wasn’t lost on artists and writers over the centuries such as Sir Walter Scott who in 1832 created his poem Bowes Tower which was illustrated in watercolour by William Turner. It has to be said that it’s very hard to find a better place to spend an autumn morning than on the banks of a wooded moorland stream and the Greta must be one of the best. A short walk along it’s banks and I could hear the wind whistling through the upper branches of the trees but around me was still and quiet apart from the sound of the stream which was rattling around it’s boulders, I soon came to my destination the picturesque waterfall of Mill Force, which takes it’s name from a mill that once stood beside it. There are still some substantial remains left to explore, one of the most dramatic is the two concrete pillars that must have carried a walkway or sluice gates to control the flow, they now stand like standing stones, scarred from the battles with years of savage winter spates, slowly being eaten away by the river.
Mill Force Piers, HP5+ taken with Shen-Hao 5×4 and 90mm Schneider Angulon with MPP 6×9 120 back.
I had one last treat as I was taking down my camera gear, suddenly a few salmon and sea trout started to leap up the falls, one after the other making their way upstream towards their spawning grounds. The Greta is a tributary of the River Tees, a river who’s estuary was so polluted by heavy instustry that it’s once prolific runs of salmon were reduced to nill and it’s only in recent years that they have started to return, so to see them running is always a privilege, and I didn’t miss my fishing rod once….honest!!
Well I’m all for adventure and searching out the new, but sometimes it’s good to go with what you know, and not to overlook what is really just on your own doorstep. I must admit though most people aren’t so fortunate as to live on the edge of Teesdale, an area of outstanding natural beauty and England’s last wilderness so I guess I’m a bit spoilt when it comes to places to go out and take photographs. Same goes for my photography equipment, at times it’s better to go with the devil you know and stick to proven materials, that way if you’re out in the hills and lucky enough to stumble upon the perfect vista you can have some confidence that you may have a decent image at the end of it. Having said that, sometimes you just can’t help yourself and a new black and white film (a very rare thing these days in the digital age) comes on the market you just had to give it a try. So with a with a day of stormy weather forcasted a 20 minute drive to the other side of the dale and I was parking up on the slopes below the rocky gritstone outcrop of Goldsborough, with a couple of darkslides loaded with the new Adox CHS 100 II film.
Hanging Crag, Goldsborough, 90mm Schneider Angulon, Adox CHS 100 II.
The views from the top of the crag were stunning and made even more dramatic by encroaching heavy showers and storm clouds. I managed a few exposures until the wind started to pick up bringing with it a sweeping curtain of rain. Back home with a good brew in hand I started developing the films, and just incase anyone is interested here is what I did… I decided to use Tanol, a fine grain staining developer made by Moersch Photochemie. Because this is a new film I got in touch with Wolfgang Moersch and he recommended I develop the film for 10 mins at 20 degrees agitating constantly first full minute and then 4 times every 30 secs thereafter, this was all after a 3 min pre-soak in water. For a stop bath I simply used plain water and then fixed with a non aggressive alkali fixer. The results were great, sharp smooth grain with a good balance between highlights and shadows, I couldn’t ask for better!! Well that’s about it, a bit of a dry and techy post but I hope someone may find it some help.
Sorry for the lack of recent activity on my blog. I’m pleased to say I haven’t just been setting here idly waiting for the autumn leaves to change before I took any new photographs, I have in fact been on a trip to distant lands. At the beginning of August I was lucky to take my family all the way across the sea to the Isles of Orkney. This dramatic group of islands lie off the northern most point of Scotland and are steeped in history, so much so the islanders say “if you cut the surface of the land, it will bleed archaeology!” Everywhere you look you can see the remnants of its past, from standing stones and ancient burial tombs all the way through time to the ship wrecks and coastal defences of the Second World War. Its incredible to be in such a landscape with so many layers of history, some hidden just beneath the surface while others like the Ring Of Brodgar which even after 4000 years still dominate the landscape! It was a magical trip and even better because I was able to share it with my family.
Dwarfie Stane, Isle of Hoy.
Block Ship, Scapa Flow.
The Birsay Whale, Orkney Mainland.
Waiting for the return, Birsay.
The lonely Grave of Betty Corrigall, Hoy.
Cotton Grass, Ring Of Brodgar, Orkney Mainland.
Because this was a family holiday when it came to my camera gear I needed to travel as light as possible. I wanted to keep in simple so packed my Shen-Hoa TFC45 IIB Field Camera, a couple of lenses including my much-loved 90mm Schneider Angulon (which to be honest was the only lens I used the whole trip) and a good old reliable Schneider Solida II 6×6 folder. The 5×4 darkslides were loaded with Fomapan 100, and for role film I took Kodak TriX 400. When we got home and it came to developing the films I decided to try something a bit different. Over the last few months I’ve been researching about the incredible potential of instant coffee and black and white film i.e Caffenol, more about that to come!!
Once again I have been fortunate to be given another commission from the gallery, this time to take a photograph of Bamburgh Castle on the Northumbrian coast, and of course it would have been rude not to have a little look at a few other places while I was up there.
Shen- Hoa 5×4 with Schneider 90mm Angulon f6,8 lens, at f32 for 5th sec with red+ND+Grey Grad filters.
The client wanted me to capture the atmosphere of Bamburgh Castle and its beach. On the day this was to be a bit tricky, because for once the north of England was blessed with blue skies and glorious sunshine. I had to work quickly before all the cloud was burnt away by the sun.
The White Stag, Shen- Hoa 5×4 with Schneider 90mm Angulon f6,8 lens
I wanted to see how my new Shen-Hoa 5×4 camera would work with some of my antique lenses. This was taken with my brass Bausch And Lomb Rapid Rectilinear, and I was really pleased with the results. By the late afternoon the clouds had pretty much gone but the tide had dropped enough for me to cross the causeway to the beautiful island of Lindisfarne also know as Holy Island because of it’s ancient Priory and connections to St Cuthbert. The lack of clouds ruled out long and distant views but I did manage to capture a great picture of one of the incredible fisherman’s hut, built from ancient upturned boats pulled up onto the shore.
Shen- Hoa 5×4 with Schneider 90mm Angulon f6,8 lens, at f16 for 5sec with red+ND+Grey Grad filters.
All and all a pretty successful trip and I think the gallery will be really pleased with what I managed to get for the client! All these photographs where taken with Fomapan 100 film and then contact printed at grade 3 on Foma Chamois paper.