Birds – double exposure

I don’t normally do single image blog posts but, this double exposure I took with the fujipet toy camera is hard to ignore.


“The photographer is always trying to colonize new experiences or find new ways to look at familiar subjects – to fight against boredom. For boredom is just the reverse side of fascination: both depend on being outside rather than inside a situation, and one leads to the other.” Sontag, on photography, page 42

Birds – double exposure

Stuff I saw around Lincoln in June part 2 (Shooting ferrania film, again)

I use to shoot ferrania film quite a bit when it was still readily available in, of all places, the pound shop. ‘Solaris 200’ use to sit along side ‘agfa vista 200’, while gainer than the latter it was better for colours with deep blues that ‘popped’ out. It was, at one time, my favourite colour film, even coming with me on trips.

Keeping this short, this new film is the black and white p30, they have recently produced and sold. It was delayed a little, much to the annoyance of many. I got 5, and gave 3 away to friends. Share the wealth.

Here are a few snapshots using the film. First thoughts are that it isn’t as forgiving as most films, lot of blown highlights. Using a yellow filter the contrast is high. Its a distinctive look.

The film was developed in rodinal APH 09 1 + 50 for 8 minutes. One minute agitation at start then 1 per minute thereafter.



Castle walls
Tombstone in the castle
Lincoln Knight
Lincoln Knight
Stuff I saw around Lincoln in June part 2 (Shooting ferrania film, again)

Noon 6×6 pinhole camera (expired ektar & exhausted c41 developer)

Last week I revisited an old favourite spot for landscape photography. I have made many photos on this field/hill ¹ ² ³. I wanted to finally try my noon pinhole camera while the weather was nice and bright enough for pinhole photography.

This isn’t a review, but here are some thoughts on the camera. The craftsmanship and finish of the wooden camera is nice, but could be better by polishing all four sides of the camera the same colour. That said, it looks good on a shelf. It would make a nice gift for a photographer. Appearances and build quality aside, and with practicality in mind, its a little bulky. A spirit level is absent (I taped one on) and the body doesn’t have composition aids, things you find on the excellent reality so subtle cameras. The shutter, a simple sliding piece of felted wood, is okay in that it works but once or twice while walking it would slide open by itself despite being relatively tight against the wood. The pinhole itself looks efficient and clean with no defects. The back of the camera features a hole for frame numbers which I taped up, not trusting it on a very bright day.

The images the camera produces are sharp enough, not to a reality so subtle standard, but fine in pinhole terms. The images also have vignetting issues, commonly found in most pinhole cameras that don’t curve. The vignetting seems very pronounced at the top of the frame, rather than the usually balanced subtle drop off towards the centre which is often the case for pinhole photography.

Here are a few images taken on expired kodak ektar and souped in, what I didn’t know at the time, exhausted c41 developer. Lots of funky colours which I tried to sort out on scanning the film.

noon pinhole rjcalow-1
Cat 1 – handheld
noon pinhole rjcalow-2
Cat 2 – handheld
noon pinhole rjcalow-5
 Daises – the shutter came loose as I walked creating a weird double exposure
noon pinhole rjcalow-3
Field 1 – Tripod 11 secs
noon pinhole rjcalow-4
Field 2 – Tripod 11 secs

Noon do not make this particular model anymore, instead they make a more refined version which appears to resolve some of the negative aspects such as size and weight. I should also note as this is more a hand made item, rather than manufactured. Logically each camera and it’s results will be a little different from one to the next.

I don’t think the camera is practical, it lacks composition aids and seems overly bulky making it awkward to use. It is however a solid working camera with simple moving parts and no electronics, that will out live most film cameras. 

Noon 6×6 pinhole camera (expired ektar & exhausted c41 developer)

Pushing Vista 200 with BelliniFoto Monopart C41 Kit

I haven’t posted in almost a month. Up until recently, my spare time had been cut short. The irony of a photography degree is that most of the time you are researching and writing rather than taking pictures. I have been putting the final touches to my FMP, in which I used a Holga for a documentary project.

Between coursework and college I have been shooting acros 100 for #NEOPANtastic, which I’ll post on share week, and some poundland colour film for kicks. I am definitely a black and white photographer, however I have the c41 kit and the film is a pound a roll. To make it interesting I decided to push the film a stop, shooting it at 400.

The oly mju ii, like most compact film cameras, automatically sets the ISO via contacts inside the camera which read the chunky black and silver encoding on the side of the film canister known as the dx code. These electrical contacts can fooled by modifying a canisters dx code by scratching the black paint to reveal the metallic surface and by covering the metallic surface with black tape. Its better explained here, on the amazing site.

Ghetto hacked afga 200

The c41 kit I use is the BelliniFoto Monopart C41 Kit. It seems to develop expired agfa vista 200 (poundland film) with some success and its easy enough to use. I couldn’t find any guide lines about pushing film with the developer kit, but I read others had added 30′ seconds to 1 minute per each stop for other kits. I went with 1 minute extra to be on the safe side, changing the standard c41 development time of 3:15 to 4:15, and developed normally from then on.

The images look surprisingly fine with no crazy colour shifts, which contradicts images I have seen on lomography. The greens are muted, the yellows are fleeting but saturated, and the magenta is dominant. Pretty much the same as at box speed but with an increased amount of grain.

The pictures are not great, they were took for fun and mostly of family, and like I said I’m more of a black and white photographer. I am sharing these purely to show the outcome. The images were scanned with vuescan, with no edits.

Zoo – overcast. Very dull greens.
Hays – overcast. Very bright yellows and pink-green shadows.
Chilly – Indoors / flash. Red tones from the sofa, the cat and the brickwork in the background
Lincolns Glory hole – Sunny. Showing the red tones
Flower bed – sunny. A vibrant colour palette showing the warm colour tendency.
Chilly again, not looking at the camera – sunny/shade. A more balanced fuji-esk tone

It’s difficult to judge the results as I have not developed a fresh roll of the film at box speed with the BelliniFoto kit. However, the results are better than my expired examples and film lab developed examples from my flickr archive. All of this, plus an extra stop to help in varying lighting conditions. If anything, this just shows what modern film, a decent chemical kit and scanner can do. I would like to see what it looks like at el 800.

If you are interested in similar posts about abusing agfa vista 200 then you might like this post, which is on my main website, whereby I developed the film in Ilford Ilfosol 3. Another example of abusing cheap film is by Mr Irving, stand developing Kodacolor in rodinal.

Normal programming will commence from now till the end of summer with the usual “stuff I saw” series. Also hoping to show some different types of film too.

Pushing Vista 200 with BelliniFoto Monopart C41 Kit

Printing my holga work

I spent a few hours in the college darkroom today, making just two prints from my holga negatives. I am trying to get better at it, so I took my time.

I used a medium format colour enlarger, starting off with no filters creating a very flat muddy print:

I then applied a magenta filter creating a better contrast and longer exposure, making this:

I was also able to burn in the holga vignetting and dodge some of the shadows like below:

Having the filters built into the enlarger takes some getting use to, but it is useful to create better prints on varrible contrast paper. 

I’m still working on getting the paper straight and framing but the sloppyness seems to look good for images from a holga. Practice, practice, practice.

Printing my holga work

Things I learnt in 2016

Social media and photography are two different things, the latter is always more important.

This year, social media wise, has been different for me. During the spring I found I was fed up of chasing likes. I cut down sharing images on Instagram, one of two social media platforms I use (the other being twitter, and even then I don’t use it enough). The singularity of the platform too, means it is difficult to group together images of value, like I can with a blog like this one. It’s also the increasing number of memes, spam bots and irrelevant content, I find myself not browsing Instagram. I am unsure what to do with it, perhaps I will start to use the dreaded phone camera for a visual diary.

Cutting down and separating social media from actual photography has allowed me to think more about photography. Ultimately, what is more important getting likes and posting the same stuff, or progression and experimentation?

According to Instagram’s yearly best nine, these are my “best” photos. They are not.

However, this roll, or grouping, may well be my best. What a roll it was! This sort of grouping is more effective, getting my name and my work out there, rather than Instagram’s singular focused images which are forgotten in 2 days, tops.

Electronic compacts are a fickle bitch, mechanical is the way to go

Compact film cameras with prime lenses are my kryptonite. I like having my tiny mju II in my shirt pocket ready to go, the amazing carl ziess lens of the contax t2, and the cult status plastic brick nikon l35af “Pikaichi” with its punchy sonnar like lens. They are all quirky, convenient, and produce effective images that are more interesting than a digital or phone camera. This is all well and good, however these cameras are dying a slow death with no way to get the tiny complex electronics inside them repaired. Owning a compact, you should be prepared for the day it goes crunk. This happened to me with a ricoh gr1. I ran one roll then poof, nothing. I am now using my small but all mechanical rangefinder, Olympus 35RC, as my everyday film camera.

My one GR1 shot worth showing

The Fujifilm x series and the xpro1 is the digital work system for me

When I had a canon SLR, I did various jobs with it. Though, I never felt inspired with it. It was clunky, plastic, and uninspiring unlike my film cameras at the time. Acquiring the xpro1 was a game changer. It’s small,  unobtrusive, and requires a different and slower way of working. Rather than burst through a job, I take my time by finding a subject, take two sometimes three shots, changing aperture to make sure depth of field covers subject(s) and move on in a confident manner without looking down at the LCD screen. This sort of confidence is needed. Rather than turning up to a job with a big SLR, which everyone from grandma to granddaughter thinks is professional, you have to show it and let the work speak for itself afterwards.

Tom getting his tie done / outtake from a christening I covered

Medium format, 6×17 is as good as it gets

Going from 6×12 to 6×17 for my panoramic pinhole work made a massive difference from wide to damn right wiiide. For example here is my favourite to 6×12 wide pinhole holga image:


And here is a 6×17 wiiide reality so subtle image of the peak district:


Experimenting with the reality so subtle, I found the extra 5cm of negative sucks in everything in front of the camera, making landscapes almost endless. It’s also fun to pull out 4 large negative images out of the developing tank. The fact that the images are from a pinhole camera too; I’m unashamed that out doing photographers with the latest most expensive kit with a simple box with a hole in it adds to the level of enjoyment.

Things I learnt in 2016

Clumber park waterfall

Today I experimented with an nd filter. Got my shoes wet in the lake as I stood in the shallows, but ultimately, the whole shoot was a failure. It was far too windy for nd filters. I dislike movement of trees, unless that’s the subject, it’s distracting when it’s in the background.

Also the waterfall had been attacked by green algae, so what looks like green slop is idly ruining every shot. I dont think it will make the flickr/instagram feed, but it was a good way to spend time.

Clumber park waterfall

Thoughts on Holga

The Holga is a well known plastic toy camera that film photographers either love or hate. I have had 3 different models, and I personally hate them at times. It’s not the plastic body with its light leaks from every nook and ridge, or the simple meniscus (one element) plastic lens, or the useless viewfinder that gives no indication of frame lines or focal length perspective (the equivalent idiom that might explain it – “might as well be talking to a brick wall”, in that the viewfinder tells you nothing).

No, I don’t mind all that. It’s when I take film from a standard holga 120 and try to spool it. I can’t explain it, but something about the holga for me makes film unwieldy and awkward. Normally I can spool film, especially 120, straight away. Perhaps it doesn’t keep the film tight enough when I roll on. Hell, I don’t know. All I know is I get frustrated, scratch the film a bit, and move from the changing bag to a closet, fighting for space with a shelf unit stacked with hammers and tools.

I struggle with both Holga 120n and Holga 120 GFN, but funny enough I have not had a problem with film out of the wide pinhole model. I swear at times I’ll go digital and be boring, and then I see the results. And more often than not, after all the trouble of taping up a holga and the awkward film that comes out of it, the results are worth it.

Here are a few frames for holga week:

FernsPushing DaisiesTemple and Graffiti double exposureRJCalow_HolgaWeek-1-2RJCalow_HolgaWeek-2-2

Another good thing about the holga is the ability to modify them easily, which I did by making a pinhole camera. But that’s for another post.

Sidenote – heres a top tip for holga cameras



Thoughts on Holga