shooting film

What happened there? The last thing I knew I was writing a post, then 5 months shoot by! And some pretty big (ish) stuff has happened.

Firstly, I have been accepted to study Architecture at University next year! It’s so exciting and I just can’t wait. I have been doing a lot of Architectural Projects over the last couple of months and have just loved it all. I am currently doing my Final Major Project for my Art Foundation, designing a sustainable house, so it is all very exciting.

But the main event: I bought a film camera. And not just any film camera, but the daddy of analogue – the Nikon F3! It is wonderful. And I’m not just saying that. The build quality of this thing is second to none, and it is just beautifully designed. More importantly, however, are the pictures I’m taking.

There really is nothing more satisfying than going to the darkroom with a tube of metal and coming out with 36 photographs. I started with black and white photography, using Ilford HP5 400. The grain is an effect unimaginable to the digital world we live in today, and the vintage quality of the prints are very aesthetically pleasing. I have since moved on to have a play with some colour film, but have not had the chance to get that developed yet. I’ve got my eye on some Kodak Portra 400, but feel I have to budget quite wisely with this new hobby – I can definitely feel my pockets getting lighter… The whole process is very expensive, where a roll of film tends to cost about £6 or £7, and the paper is about £40 for a pack of 100. But I am enjoying every moment of it, and there really is nothing like the excited anticipation when waiting to see the results. I also feel like I am being much more considerate with my shooting, and savouring each frame, rather than being as trigger-happy as I was with digital.

Also, the adaptor mount for the Hoya 135mm f/2 lens came, and it works really well. The quality of the photos are not incredibly sharp, and when shooting colour the chromatic aberration is almost unbearable in high contrast situations. But it’s fantastic to have a play around with a fully manual telephoto prime, which I never have had the chance to use before.

That’s about all for now, but I’ll leave a few of my film photos which I scanned in for you to have a look at.

P.S. Please do leave a comment to let me know if any of you are in any way interested in my ramblings :)

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20 months | 602 days | 14448 hours

So, I lied. I most definitely haven’t kept up to date. However, I have kept experimenting – so that’s one thing. I have been fairly busy though, so here’s the rundown of what I’ve been up to and where I am now:

I bought a new lens (more about that later)

I designed the second Sixth Form Magazine

I got a job in a library

I made some films

I went to Nice

I took headshots for a website

I photographed a service at Christchurch Cathedral

I went to Devon

I turned 18

I did work experience at a London creative consultancy

The London photo book got published

I went to Bologna

I did an experimental drawing course

I finished my A-levels

I went to Bologna again

I went to Corfu

I went to The Isles of Scilly

I went to Cornwall

I photographed content for the website of a local Solicitor firm

I designed an advert for the firm

I went to Devon

I turned 19

I designed a Christmas card for 750 copies

I found an old lens.

 

And that brings me up to date. It’s been almost 2 years, and I can’t believe how much has happened. I love to travel about, and I think that it’s so important to experience and see different places and cultures, and it’s this change of scene which keeps my photographic intrigue firing on all cylinders. Admittedly, the most exciting part of the last 602 days must have been splashing out on my new lens, the Tamron 24 – 70 mm f/2.8. What a corker. It’s no longer just my nifty fifty and I anymore, but I’m thrilled to be building a collection of lenses suitable for any occasion. I also found an old Hoya 135mm f/2.8 Minolta MC mount lens at home. After lots of research, I’m excitedly awaiting the delivery of an adapter for my Nikon F mount and can’t wait to use it. I am also keen to start some film photography. It’s nothing I’ve ever done before, but I love the process of analogue photography; the unpredictability, the idea that every frame is so much more precious than digital. I am currently looking between the Minolta XE7 (XE-11) and the Nikon F3 – any thoughts?

Now, I’m on a fantastic Art Foundation course here in Oxford and absolutely loving it. It has given me the chance to experiment with such a wide range of media, techniques and areas of art, and really helped me to make my choices for a degree course next year.

And here I am now. It is the run-up to Christmas and I feel more on track than ever before. It feels so great to have found my artistic direction, and I can’t wait to begin the next step in my adventure.

long time, no blog

Three seasons, a new year and many adventures later, I’m ready for my next post.

It may have been a long time, but that’s not to say I haven’t been busy with my camera. In fact, I don’t think I’ve experimented quite so much! Despite my A-levels taking up so much time, studying art has inspired me to keep trying new techniques, practicing methods and exploring new ones, if not becoming obsessed with photographing water. So here goes, a brief update…

 

Autumn – crisp leaves, vivid skies.

I found myself designing and publishing my Sixth Form magazine in a fantastically creative team. This was a totally new experience for me and despite the hectic deadlines and stressful organisation I loved every second of it. There really is nothing like seeing your hard work coming hot off the press, and would love to be a part of it again. Autumn brought an abundance of stunning natural beauty, the natural softbox of the reddening skies highlighting beautifully the details of the landscape. There really is nothing like it, and the pattern of the evening clouds never fail to mesmerise me.

 

Winter – bitter chill, festive warmth.

If not the most depressing month, Winter does offer the chance to drape the house liberally in light, colour and scent. This was the perfect setting for some beautiful bokehlicious photos of decoration. It also enticed me towards the macro side of those frosted mornings. Yet, as Spring approaches, with frost turning to dew, we are relieved from the deep gloom of the endless darkness and step out to a spot of sunshine.

 

Spring – fresh start, new life.

The greenery blooms, longer days and a funny bright light appears in the sky. The white of the snowdrops is replaced by the pop of yellow offered by the daffodils, and soon after everything comes alive. Lighter, longer, warmer: I spend endless hours cycling and taking photos when the evenings begin stretch out.

 

Which brings my story up to date, with just enough time to let you know what my latest project has been.

 

I started with a deep, round glass container of water and an assortment of coloured inks. I then set up with a softbox backdrop and softboxes either side of the water: with my camera on a tripod I was ready.

I dropped the inks in the water and photographed the movement of the colours. It was very interesting to see the way the liquids moved and spread out in the water, and I continued to add different colours at different times for varied effects. It was hard because after each shoot the water would turn murky and opaque, so I had to set up fresh water each time. However, after a while I was starting to get some interesting shots with fantastic pattern.

 

I love experimenting with new methods and yes, I will keep more up to date next time…

 

getting experimental

Oh how time flies when you start school again: A level life has really kicked off, and as its almost two months since my last post I thought I’d better keep you up to date… the company’s brochure has been published with my pictures in, the ‘mega storm’ has hit Oxford and my blog reached 1000 views! So with the rain hammering outside, I thought I’d better keep myself busy.

I remember a couple of years ago seeing an article in a magazine about a water droplet photographer who captured the split second beauty of a bead of water in an instantaneous splash. I have no idea how he managed to capture such incredible shapes, but I thought I’d give it a go myself.

First, I knew a fast shutter speed was essential, but this meant I needed more light, my fastest aperture and needed to pump up the ISO. So I did a couple of practise shots. These turned out worse than I could have imagined; the image was dark, grainy. I didn’t even factor in the timing of the splash or even how I would drop the water. I had to go back to the drawing board.

So after some more practice, more lights and more water on my bedroom floor, I managed to get a well exposed framing for my image. I was using a shallow glass dish filled with water and a white paper backdrop with my camera on a tripod. I then came across an eye dropper somewhere in my house, which was perfect to use for the droplet to fall on the water. Only my next issue was capturing the splash at both the right time and in focus! I manually focussed the lens to a point on the water where I placed a pencil and hoped to drop the water on this spot. There were so many things to factor in, but after about 300 frames I was starting to get some rather interesting and surprising results.

My shots, well about 1 in 50, were looking rather good! This called for some experimentation…  without an external flash unit I had to improvise with my phone torch, bike lights and various lamps to illuminate the water. Then I got creative: off cuts of coloured cellophane covered the light sources. I also tried dropping various liquids in the dish such as oil, wine, milk and food colouring and I played around with releasing multiple drops on the water and trying to make them collide. I even blew bubbles on the surface and dropped the water on the bubble.

By the end of this, I had thousands of photos to sort through, most of them out of focus or with no splash at all. But there were some really fantastic shots. I love being inspired and trying new techniques, so it just goes to show- even without the most high tech or expensive kit, you can still achieve stunning photographs.

take two

It has been over a month since my last post and I can’t believe just how busy I’ve been! Sicily was culinarily and artistically inspirational, preparations for life in sixth form have been non-stop and yes, I achieved my second photographic commission!

This next step in my photographic adventure took place closer to home, here in Oxford. I was asked to take photographs of buildings for a local building surveyor who needed images for his brand new website.

This commission required about two days of work; fewer pictures needed than for my first job in London. Similarly, this commission was highly architectural and I was inspired when taking photographs of what I knew so well but in a completely different way. The architecture in Oxford fascinates me and I love having the chance to photograph it for a wider audience.

However it wasn’t just architectural shots I needed, but portraiture too. For these portrait shots I used my 50mm lens wide open at f/1.8 to achieve beautiful bokeh in the background by using the sunburst through the trees as a backdrop. These shots turned out great despite my nerves as I had never done this type of photography commercially before.

I brought with me my Nikon D7000 with my trusty 50mm f/1.8 and my old 18-55mm kit lens – making me realise that I really do need a new zoom lens, like a 24-70mm f/2.8, but dream on boy! I think I’ll need a few more jobs before I can even think about getting a new piece of glass…

But having completed another assignment, there really is nothing like the satisfaction you get when you can see the finished article and be truly proud of the work you’ve done.

I loved every little bit of it – roll on number three!

it was a long shot

Yesterday it rained. Heavily. When stuck in the house like this whats better to do than a bit of a clear out…

When doing this I came across some things of interest: photos, a pair of binoculars and a large, heavy leather case. In this case I discovered what appeared to be an old telephoto lens. I took it out of it’s casing and found a hunk of black metal with a piece of glass on the front. Ok, not the most high tech but I was excited and keen to use it!

However, it wasn’t that straightforward. The lens was made in Russia and has CCCP stamped on the barrel. It had a thread mount, and was once the 2 kilogram counterpart to a Zenit film SLR. Obviously it wouldn’t fit on my Nikon, so I had to improvise.

I set up the monster on my tripod and aimed it cluelessly out my bedroom window. Then I took the lens off my D7000 and aligned the body up with the lens. As I wavered the body to align it I was genuinely surprised at what I saw. It worked! After fiddling with focus and manually setting my camera, I could snap away at pigeons and sparrows from my bedroom!

This was the first time I had used a telephoto lens and how fun it was! Of course, it would be completely impractical for frequent use because it doesn’t attach to my camera, the images aren’t sharp and its truly colossal. Bear in mind these pictures aren’t great, but it was fun and now I really want my own…

a glimpse of the west country

Last week I went on a camping trip with my friends to Devon, and my camera had it’s first proper holiday. We all had a great time – and one without heavy downpours, miserable board games and woollen jumpers!

Here’s a few of the shots I got when I was down there, when the sun was shining and the waves calmly lapping. When I got home, when the real British summer weather starts (an abundance of rain, wind and cloud), that you actually begin to appreciate the sunshine.

After that, every time I picked up my camera it would result in a light sprinkling of sand from every nook and cranny. Hopefully I captured these small aspects of my Devon holiday while taking full advantage of the fantastic weather we had!