Category Archives: Uncategorized


Sometimes, a simple solution to a problem takes ages to appear. I’ve been using a couple of cameras that rely on zone focusing for many years and the depth of field scale on them has been vague and difficult to work out. I have got used to them now, but the other day it suddenly occurred to me that I should look up the actual depth of field for these lenses online and find out what they were capable of when stopped right down.

I went to the website; ‘Depth of Field Master’ and put in the various settings until I had worked out maximum depth of field for these two cameras and my 24mm lens. The brainwave came when I realised that I only had to colour code five aperture markings; f5.6, f8, f11, f16 and f22 and I could establish a quick and easy way to set the lens for depth of field without any calculations or messing about.

Zeiss and Rollie with dots

I decided to mark f5.6 as dark green, f8 as light blue, f11 as red, f16 as light green and f22 as yellow. If I put the colours next to the apertures, and also at the point on the lens where the hyperfocal distance was, I could get away not worrying about focus.

Rollei dots

I used Humbrol enamel paint which is sold for model painting and I applied it with a fine brush (stir well first).


I’m not bothered about the resale value of these cameras, I expect to use them for the rest of my life, so why not make that job simpler?

If you have enjoyed this post and the information here and elsewhere on my blog, would you consider a small donation via Ko-fi please? You can send as little as £3.00, or more if you are feeling generous. This money goes towards materials used for the tests and printing for these articles. The link is;

Intensifying thin negatives

We try our best as film photographers to get a correct exposure every time, but occasionally there are times when we inadvertently cock it up.
It may be because we have forgotten to add extra exposure for bellows extension or a filter factor, or the fact that long exposures need a calculation for reciprocity failure. Sometimes light meters may be set to the wrong ISO/ASA. Then of course there might be a problem in processing with temperature drop, out of date chemicals or just bad luck.
Whatever the reason, we have a thin neg and it is a problem to get the tones that we require in the print.

There is a way to rescue these negatives though, they can be chemically enhanced to increase density and this is most easily done by toning the negative, giving a brown colour to the negative image. The brown image blocks more light for blue/green sensitive papers so the negative is effectively darker and denser and this prints lighter.

To illustrate this technique, I took a second rate 10×8 negative and chopped it in half. I Bleached one half in the standard sepia toner bleach bath (formula at the bottom of the article) until all the silver had gone, this left me with a pale pink negative.


After a ten to fifteen minute wash, I immersed the bleached negative in the toning solution and In less than a minute it had gone a deep brown.


I then washed it for twenty minutes and hung it from one corner to dry. I contact printed the two halves on one sheet of 10×8 paper to see the comparison and this was the result;

Toned split neg

Split print

You can see quite clearly that the right hand side is much improved.

Some darkroom workers tone their negatives using Selenium rather than sepia, and this works just as well (when using Selenium, the bleach does not need to be employed).

The bleach is made up of two chemicals; Potassium Ferricyanide and Potassium Bromide. Measure 100 grams of the Ferricyanide and stir into 1 Litre of water. When it is all dissolved, add 50 grams of Potassium Bromide to the solution and stir until that is also completely dissolved. The bleach is ready to use immediately and works quite quickly.

The toner I used was a Thiocarbamide toner, though a Sulphide toner works just as well. This is made as two stock solutions which are mixed together before use.

Stock A. Water 1000 ml, Thiocarbamide 100 grams.

Stock 2. Water 1000 ml, Sodium Hydroxide 100 grams.

Take 200 ml of each and mix together, immerse the bleached print and gently agitate. The print will be toned within a minute.

Wash negatives for 20 minutes and hang up to dry. The mixed solution can be kept for months if tightly stoppered and stored in the dark.

If toning prints, wash for 20 minutes (RC), or 40 minutes (FB).



If you have enjoyed this post and the information here and elsewhere on my blog, would you consider a small donation via Ko-fi please? You can send as little as £3.00, or more if you are feeling generous. This money goes towards materials used for the tests and printing for these articles. The link is;

Demystifying photography

  Today’s blog post is taken from my book ‘Home Photography’ Published By Argentum in 2003.

The quality of photography that you produce is dependent on the amount of time that you are willing to devote to it. So the obvious question is: are you shooting enough? A possible reason for not producing many good pictures is that you are probably not taking enough — the more you do it, the better you get. I don’t mean pick up the camera once a month and run off a number of films at a sporting event or whatever. Shoot every day, think about pictures every day, use the camera every day.


The ability to see pictures comes from exercising that part of your mind as much as possible; any period of abstinence causes you to become ‘rusty’. It is definitely not like riding a bike, the ability does not stay with you unless you use it. One way to keep it functioning well is to look at the work of good and great photographers. Avoid looking at the work of poor photographers, as this will also influence your vision. Seek out high quality photography and think carefully about how it was done. Many times there are big clues in the picture. For instance, ask yourself where the light is coming from, are there two or more sources of light? If so, then how has that been achieved, by the use of artificial light, or reflectors? Is there a hard edged shadow or a very soft one, is it midday sun or late/early in the day when the sun is lower? Can you estimate the focal length of the lens used? Is it a wide angle shot or standard? Perhaps a longer lens? Has it been shot on 35mm or a larger format?


Look closely and see if there is plenty of depth of field throughout the photograph, indicating a small aperture. Perhaps the picture shows very little evidence of depth of field, indicating a wide aperture and probably a fast shutter speed. If there is subject movement in a shot displaying shallow focus, then this would suggest low light or a very slow film. There are many more ways to extract the information from photographs, but to list them would get boring. You must work it out for yourself. This is a useful exercise which helps to demystify photography. Asking these questions puts you next to the photographer at the moment of exposure. The important thing to bear in mind after the technical information has been extracted is: it is essential that you ask yourself whether this picture would have worked if any of these details had been different. Would the picture have been poorer had a larger or smaller format been chosen? And so on. Once the essential points have been established, you have a valuable reference point for creating strong images in a similar situation. This kind of detective work saves a lot of wasted film and can be a fascinating exercise which can be enjoyed whilst reading a magazine or watching a film. Old black and white films are rich in such details.

If you have enjoyed this post and the information here and elsewhere on my blog, would you consider a small donation via Ko-fi please? You can send as little as £3.00, or more if you are feeling generous. This money goes towards materials used for the tests and printing for these articles. The link is;

Stand development with Ilfotec DD-X

Since mentioning stand development in an earlier post last year (about devising a stand development time for some of the films I was testing for Ilford), I have had a few requests to share the information. Before I do so, I must just say that my results are limited to less than ten films, and I didn’t use the technique with all of the Ilford film types.

The developer I was provided with for the job was the excellent Ilfotec DD-X. This dilutes at 1+4 and produces excellent results with Delta 400,  Kentmere 100, Kentmere 400, HP5, FP4 and SFX. I found that Pan F was very good, but could do with perhaps 15% shaving off the recommended time though I’ve not properly tested this yet (more about Pan F in a later post).
The problem I had mainly, was that Delta 100 has a time given as 12 minutes, but I found it much too dense and contrasty, and I found it to be better at 8 minutes (all of these times are for 20ºC).

Delta 3200 though, was too thin at the time given of 9.5 minutes. With this film, I was getting nowhere near the shadow density I needed to get a decent print. This is when I thought I would experiment with a stand development and roughly estimated a 1 + 9 mix, one full minute of agitation and then leave it standing for the next 45 minutes. The results were excellent and I found that I had printable negatives rated at 800, 1600 and 3200 all on the same film. The best results were for a speed between 1600 and 3200, and I was very pleased with how it performed. The negatives are easy to print and have a very prominent, though pleasing grain with 35mm film. I will be trying this with the roll film version and I expect it will produce very good negatives. The emulsion is the same for both sizes, so the only possible problem I can foresee is perhaps some streaky, or unevenly developed areas in flat areas of tone.

Delta 3200, rated 3200 ISO. Stand development in Ilfotec DD-X developer.

Delta 3200, rated 3200 ISO. Stand development in Ilfotec DD-X developer.

The stand development technique is a useful method to employ for a few reasons; 1. The dilution is weaker, making the process cheaper per film. 2. The negatives have a better range of tones, and there is a bit more leeway for slight over or under exposure. 3. The process can be left to do it’s thing whilst you get on with other jobs, such as loading up other developing tanks, or making prints.

Delta 3200, rated 3200 ISO. Stand development in Ilfotec DD-X developer.

Delta 3200, rated 3200 ISO. Stand development in Ilfotec DD-X developer.

One of the reasons I got back into stand development was because I’d seen something online which claimed that all monochrome films, whatever speed, could be developed for the same time in Rodinal 1-100 for an hour. I tried it with a couple of different films and found it to be untrue. Whoever had been propagating the idea had not tried to print the negs in a darkroom, so had no real idea if the density was correct or not.

The dilution and time I gave my tests was as follows;

Dilute Ilfotec DD-X 1+9 and get temperature to 20ºC.  Pour in developer, agitate continuously, but not too vigorously for one minute, then leave to stand for 45 minutes. Stop and fix as usual.

This should give you a good tonal range and some speed increase, so alter your exposures a bit for your first film and make notes. Choose the negative frames which give you the look you prefer and adopt the film speed that the chosen images were shot at.

If you have enjoyed this post and the information here and elsewhere on my blog, would you consider a small donation via Ko-fi please? You can send as little as £3.00, or more if you are feeling generous. This money goes towards materials used for the tests and printing for these articles. The link is;

It’s been a while

Sorry it has been quite a while since my last post. I am aware that I don’t write often enough, though I am resolved to do more about it. Apart from the usual excuse about not having enough time to do it, another reason is that I’ve always wanted to be able to give something of use, and to keep the posts as high a quality as I can. If I’m unsure as to whether my current project is going to be good enough, or interesting enough, I don’t sit down and write about it (Self doubt is a bloody nuisance and gets in the way of many a plan). Another thing is, I’ve always wanted to write about what I’m currently doing, but often I’m doing more of the day to day stuff, or jobs for other people and not enough creative or experimental work, so I don’t have anything current to post. Now and then I can have a week of intense activity and shoot a lot of stuff, but the processing and printing of those images can often be weeks or months after. I don’t want to write a post and not have the images to hand.

A friend of mine runs a very similar blog and he is doing regular posts and getting a lot of followers and views, so I emailed him to ask his advice. He was very helpful and suggested that I post some sections from my books and write about individual images from my portfolio. That was a very good suggestion, I’ve got a very large range of work which spans the last thirty five years and I should make use of it. So after reading his advice, I’ve decided to write more regularly with a mixture of technical writings on particular films and developers etc, interspersed with posts on individual images and how they came about, excerpts from my books, updates on new discoveries, breakdowns of printing sessions and problem solving, unusual developing techniques for individual images and anything else I think of.

I would be very happy to hear from any readers on ideas for future posts, so if there is anything I can help with please get in touch.


  1. That Hairy Canadian

Posted 11/11/2014 at 8:29 am

I look forward to reading what you have to say about your experiences at producing some of the wonderful results you have achieved. That same “self-doubt” you mention is slowing my hand at producing a digital portfolio style book of my better portraits and recent Caffenol prints. I have used 40yr old expired papers as well as having recently found a preference for Ilford MG-IV RC Deluxe Pearl. I have been practicing “Geurrilla Photography” and any advice you may have about cutting corners, or basic rules of thumb which guide your work, would be indispensable.

  1. Thomas Binsfeld

Posted 14/11/2014 at 5:28 pm

Ideas for future posts:
-impact of toning, showing untoned and toned photo with explanation how it is made
-post about composition showing a series of shots of one scene/subject explaining why one is
better than the other
-contrast reduction techniques

Kind regards,

  1. wayne

Posted 04/01/2015 at 11:20 am

Dear Andrew, have you done any work with silver gelatin emulsion, if so would like to hear your ideas. Many thanks Wayne.

  1. Andrew Sanderson

Posted 08/01/2015 at 10:46 pm

Dear Wayne, I’m hoping to get back to liquid emulsions this year, it has been quite a while since I used the process, but I really like it. I shall post something about it when I have the results.
Regards, Andrew.

Anyone out there?

I have been writing this blog for a number of years and the number of comments has, on the whole, been rather low. It could be that my blog posts are singularly dull and uninteresting to anyone who happens to read them, or it could be that it is not very easy to see how to comment. I don’t have a ‘follow’ button because this is an old version of wordpress, and as it is privately hosted (by my web designer), I have been informed that it can’t easily be updated. I might go to the trouble of moving it all over to Blogger, but I need to know if I actually have a readership which would make that worthwhile.

So I would be very grateful if anyone reading this could take the time to let me know if is actually being read. At the bottom of each post, hidden in the small print, is a bit asking if you would like to comment. Please give it a go and let me know if anyone is out there,…


  1. Gary Rowlands

Posted 19/02/2014 at 3:39 pm

Hello Sandy,
I do read your blog and have for several years. It’s on RSS and I view everything you publish.

Some of it is too extreme for me, especially since my Ebony 45SU was sold and this year I needed to dissemble my darkroom, sold my DV 504 and sink, to recover the room as I prepared my house for the market. That seems to have failed, but I’ve almost decided to sell all my darkroom stuff.

So, if that’s any comfort to you, I’m glad to oblige.


  1. Glenn C. Riffey

Posted 19/02/2014 at 4:59 pm

Hi Andrew,

Funny, I was just thinking about you the other day. I had gotten your book down off of the shelf (again) – Home Photography – to go through for some ideas (again) and got to thinking about how you are and what you might be doing these days. Now I know. I may not be the kind of person you are looking for to read your blog, even though I do, as I shoot only digital but coming from an analog background I do like reading about the process. Not to mention the results. Sometimes I like trying to create, in my digital darkroom, the kind of look that you create through your darkroom process. Haven’t been successful but I’ve been close a couple of times. Below is a link to a sample. Anyway I would be one of, I hope will be, many to follow your new blog. So, take care. Good to hear you are still in the game, and I look forward to seeing more of your posts, photos and how you achieved the final image…

Your American Friend,

  1. Steve G

Posted 19/02/2014 at 7:26 pm

Love the blog. A ruby in the desert of photography

  1. Rick

Posted 20/02/2014 at 6:37 am

Hi Andrew,

Yes! Here and enjoying your site. I shoot 35 mm to 8 x 20 ULF. Keep at it.


  1. Dave Burrows

Posted 20/02/2014 at 9:15 am

Hi Andrew how are you doing even though I shoot digital I still like to read about the traditional processes and always read your articles
Thanks Dave

  1. James

Posted 20/02/2014 at 9:53 am

I returned to photography and my film camera about a years ago. I’m enjoying the experience enormously. I started by picking up my old Pentax S1a again, then 120 for the first time, and now 5×4. Printing of all types is on the agenda too.

Yours is one of a handful of blogs that I follow with content of interest to an analogue type like me. You are reaching someone even if I’m not too talkative

  1. Oscar

Posted 20/02/2014 at 8:11 pm

Found my way here fairly recently, I really like your work here. Keep it up if possible, and remember that 1 visitor in a 1000 comments

  1. Dave Burrows

Posted 20/02/2014 at 10:12 pm

Hi Andrew
Just had another look at your book Home reminds me of what I would like to do
Cheers mate Dave u taught me a lot

  1. Richard

Posted 21/02/2014 at 1:39 am

Mr Sanderson

Definitely read the blog and also been reading the AP articles and even the Black and White Photography ones that I still have. Given the constraints that I have your images taken within your locality still life or otherwise are food for thought….

  1. David A lockwood

Posted 21/02/2014 at 9:46 am

Hello Andrew,
Add my vote – you have interesting posts, all be it with long (ish) gaps between.
I do enjoy reading them and it would be a loss if you stopped.


  1. Alex

Posted 21/02/2014 at 4:16 pm
Greetings from the New World.
For a few years now I am a dedicated reader of your blog. In fact, when I found it, I went to the archives and read everything you have written from 2009 onward.
My only wish is that you would do it more often. Sometimes several months pass between the posts, and you have so much to share!
Please do not stop.

Thank you,

  1. Mofotoman

Posted 22/02/2014 at 3:49 am

Keep on writing and people will keep on reading.

  1. David McCormack

Posted 23/02/2014 at 7:07 pm

Yes, please keep posting Andrew. I enjoy reading your blog and I’m very inspired by your photography.
Through your blog I’ve also found my way to Boxes & Bellows and The Online Darkroom.

  1. Andrew

Posted 24/02/2014 at 6:10 pm

Hi Andrew,

Yes, I check your blog every few days, and read all that you post. (I also have and am inspired by most of your books!)

Andrew (another one)

  1. Keith

Posted 28/02/2014 at 7:29 am

It has nothing to do with your articles being dull or uninteresting, far from it.

I think that if you visited the main analogue forums more frequently such as apug and fadu, you could post a link there to your latest articles and encourage some feedback about them.

A wider audience is what you need.

Warmest regards,


  1. Michael Stevens

Posted 28/02/2014 at 1:50 pm

Hi Andrew,

I’ve been following your site for a couple of years and check back every week or so for new content.

  1. Robin jones

Posted 01/03/2014 at 9:43 am

Andrew,I did a 2 day workshop with you a few years ago on starting large format . I catch up with your site regularly. I mix digital,54 and pinhole as my hobby and would count you a major influence. please keep up the column.

  1. Kenny Wood

Posted 08/03/2014 at 10:08 pm

Hi Andrew, I’ve been following your blog for sometime now, it’s very informative and enjoyable to read! It’s great to read something about film photography in the seemingly endless sea of digital on the web and in print. Certainly it would be better if the ‘Leave a comment’ link was more obvious. Perhaps we’re all a wee bit shy that’s all:)

  1. Crissi

Posted 10/03/2014 at 4:11 pm

I stumbled upon your blog a few months ago, and after several months of not shooting anything at all, reading about your work sparked a bit of creativity in me and got the wheels turning again. I’ve since made a point to spend at least a little bit of time each week working on something photo related. I thank you and your blog for that. I would be a little sad if there was nothing more to read about, so I say keep it up!

  1. Chris

Posted 13/03/2014 at 3:43 pm

Yes I read your blog. One of the few that I do. You have fans out here. Thanks for taking the time to post your blog.

  1. Clive Vincent

Posted 14/03/2014 at 11:35 pm

Hi Andrew, just want to say that I’m out here and I do read and enjoy your blog having only discovered it a couple of weeks ago. Very interesting articles and very informative. I too am a diehard analouge photographer of 35years with no interest in digital, I work in 35mm,6×6,6×7 and x-pan. Will spread word of your site among my handful of fellow photo friends. Keep up the good work, you are appreciated!

  1. Aidan Abernethy

Posted 21/03/2014 at 12:24 am

I really appreciate that you share your considerable knowledge with such generousity. My own work has been on hold for a while but the energy and ideas of people like you really helps me to stay in touch with a creative world I value enormously. Thank you, Aidan

  1. David Anderson

Posted 21/03/2014 at 10:19 am


I just discovered your blog and I read it via Feedly. I haven’t gone back through your archives but plan to soon.


  1. Matt Chappell

Posted 03/04/2014 at 12:24 pm

Hello Andrew,

I discovered you and your work at college whilst doing a project on night photography (several years back!) and have followed you ever since. Your night photography book is a regular read and you’ve been the biggest inspiration in setting up a home darkroom. Keep up the great work!

All the best,

  1. wayne

Posted 26/04/2014 at 11:02 am

Dear mr sanderson, yes we are out here reading your blog ,books and all the info you provide us with. Your work has inspired me to go back to film only and drag my old darkroom stuff out of the loft ,and have a proper go photography again. Many thanks wayne

  1. Paul

Posted 29/04/2014 at 12:26 pm

Hi Andrew,
I am in Australia and really enjoy your blogs as I have never fully left analog photography, and am in the process of getting back into it seriously. I have enjoyed your books over the years and have used them to inspire my photography students in the past. I have recently retired and now concentrating on my own work. Needless to say I have found your work and ideas thought-provoking, and have given many of your techniques a try over the years. Keep up the great work, and all the best in your future endeavours.

  1. Frank

Posted 15/06/2014 at 1:33 am

Regarding the question of readership… I can assure you I’m reading it. Because I no longer have access to a real darkroom, I’ve been reviewing other options to keep my large format cameras operating. I tried blueprint paper but it won’t work. I’m over 50 and the exposure times are so long [f4.5 @ 1.5hrs in bright desert light], I could keel over dead before completing a portfolio. So, I’m turning to paper negatives. I like your work in this area and look forward to trying it out. Not only is it cheap, it makes beautiful images as well. As an additional incentive, at Iso 6 it is blazingly fast-compared to Diazo paper anyway. So, keep up the good work, and I’ll keep reading….

  1. René Sterental

Posted 21/06/2014 at 10:03 pm

I just discovered your blog and enjoy it very much. I just went back to film after 25+ years plus the last 5 of just exploring digital.

  1. Juha Halmu

Posted 17/07/2014 at 8:41 pm

Hi, I just started to follow your blog via Bloglovin and I will also start to read older post. I’, started photoing 2009 and moved to film about one and half year ago. And this nice road I will be.

  1. Ceferino Gancedo

Posted 30/07/2014 at 1:48 pm

I have just discovered this blog. Interesting reading, useful information. Nice work; keep it up

  1. Ian Phillips-McLaren

Posted 03/08/2014 at 10:44 am

Hi Andrew

I’ve only just discovered your blog this morning, while searching for info on paper negs, as its something I want to try for a project with my new old half plate camera.

I have your book Home Photography and have been aware of your work for years – Great work it is too by the way : )

I’ve been toying with the idea of going back to shooting film for a good couple of years, for my own work ( the hasselblads have been taken out of the loft and dusted down ) and keep the digital stuff for clients, so I’ll definitely be clocking in from now on in, to see what you’ve been up to.

all the best

  1. That Hairy Canadian

Posted 11/11/2014 at 7:56 am

I’ve been making paper negatives and other analogue alternative photo methods for a while. I also use a lot of film. Caffenol concoctions are my preferred developers (coffee, tea, fennel, grass, red beet, etc.). Most of my equipment is improvised, using average household materials. I have just discovered your work via the Ilford Photo paper negative article. I am pleasantly surprised to find you and your work. Thank you for providing the information I really need and couldn’t find elsewhere! I hope to follow along with this blog and learn as much as possible.

Winter light

I love the low sun and long shadows that are a feature of winter days. Shadows have been a fascination of mine for many years and will continue to be I expect. Every sunny winter morning the light shines directly into our kitchen and on this occasion I placed a piece of driftwood on the table to explore the distorted and extended shadows.

Long shadows

Process, enlarging and simple lenses

I have been using large format cameras alongside other smaller formats for many years. Large format cameras have traditionally been associated with the master photographers, or with high end commercial work, so when I began, I worried about getting ‘perfect’ negatives like the experts. It took me many years to understand that they could be used in a much more relaxed way too.

I have 5×4, 5×7, and 10×8 cameras which all produce very detailed negatives. I can get high quality images from any of them if I need to, but sometimes I really enjoy using them purely for the fun of working in a different way. I often put unusual materials in the camera, such as X-Ray film, graphic Arts film, or Photographic Paper. These materials do not produce technically high quality negatives, but they do produce exciting and interesting images.

All of the light sensitive materials mentioned above are rather slow, that is to say, they need much more light to produce an image. This is actually an advantage, as it means that I can do without a shutter to control the light.  I simply expose by uncovering the lens for a period of time. This can be as little as a second, or much longer, -sometimes minutes.


Choosing lenses without the need for a  shutter opens up all sorts of possibilities. A high quality lens without a shutter is known as a Process Lens. These can be found on Ebay much more cheaply than the type with shutters built in.

I have used process lenses, enlarger lenses, photocopier lenses and also simple optics such as a magnifying glass. All produce something unique and I find this really exciting.

If you are shooting on slow, or unusual materials and not too concerned about having a really sharp, well corrected lens, then you have an enormous range to choose from.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 19.45.35


Process lenses.

For the uninitiated, a general description of a process lens is; A lens without a shutter which gives a flat field of focus. These lenses have been made for copying and reproduction and are made for a particular application. Using them in a way that they were not designed for gives interesting results.

They were designed to be flat field and were optimised for 1-1 reproduction (which makes them great for close up work). These lenses were used in the graphic arts industry for making printing plates and many of these lenses will give excellent quality if stopped down. Some are fixed at one aperture, so are only any use in low light or with very slow emulsions.

Enlarger lenses.

Similar to a process lens, in that they are flat field, but with the advantage of having a variable aperture.

Basically, they are process lenses mounted in reverse. Any enlarger lens can be used on a 5×4 camera, but most will give only a small image on the film unless they are over 150mm focal length (5×4 camera). Some interesting results can be obtained using a lens which is too small, the most obvious being a totally circular image in the centre of the film.

Photocopier lenses.

Again, these are process lenses, but they do not have a controllable aperture. They must be used wide open, this limits the situations in which they can be used.

Projector lenses.

These are amongst my favourites, they are usually very bright lenses and give really lovely out of focus areas. In the picture above you can see an 89mm f1.9 Rosslyte projector lens attached to an Olympus OM10.

Magnifying glass.

An uncorrected (very soft focus), very fast lens with no aperture. The amount of light coming into the camera is often too much even for these slow emulsions. A makeshift aperture could be fashioned out of black card which would reduce the light and also give a clearer, sharper image, though this would still be soft in comparison with proper optics.

Using Process, enlarging and simple lenses on a camera will give your images a different look from those taken using conventional optics. I am grouping these all together because I use all of them at various times to produce some of the work I am interested in. Each type has different characteristics, methods of use and drawbacks. Sometimes those characteristics and drawbacks cause problems out in the field, but they also are capable of beautiful results and that’s why I still think they are worth the effort.

Obtaining these types of lenses is easy. Process lenses appear on Ebay regularly and do not generally cost much, -certainly nowhere near the original cost that they would have been when in proper use. Enlarging lenses usually go for less than £25.00. Camera fairs and antique / junk fairs occasionally have something of interest, -I found a 240mm f4.5 photocopier lens a few months ago which will cover 10×8. It only cost me £4.00.

Anything you can get hold of is going to give you something different than the ‘normal’ optics that are supposed to be used on these cameras. Try it, see what sort of shot suits your unusual lens. Some things will be unsatisfactory, but other shots will be magical.

Screen Shot 2015-01-17 at 18.47.31


  1. Richard

Posted 16/10/2012 at 12:37 pm

I agree that these lenses are great to play with, especially on 4×5 and 10×8. Glad I found these pages and I wish you the best.

I don’t quite agree with your definition of “process lens” however. Process lenses are usually optimised for 1:1 (as you say) but are optimised for low distortions, not flat field. Obviously low distortion is what you want when copying a map, for example. Most are not flat field but get very close to flat field when stopped down. The Apo Ronar, for example, is an excellent process lens that is often used pictorially (I have a couple), but is not adequately flat until stopped to about f/22. Enlarger lenses are however (at least supposed to be) flat field and are often better in terms of contrast, though perhaps not as sharp.

  1. sandy

Posted 16/10/2012 at 9:09 pm

Dear Richard, thank you for your clarification. i didn’t want to get into a big discussion about the finer details of what is and and what is not flat field, or process, I just wanted to inspire a few photographers who might not have considered these lenses for large format use.


Print exposure using a metronome

First posted 11 July 2012

I recently gave a printing masterclass at Warwick College here in the UK. I do these quite regularly on behalf of Ilford / Harman technology and one of the things that I talked about, gave me the idea for this blog post. I was explaining how I prefer my students not to set their darkroom timers to exposures of less than five seconds when making a test strip. I insist on this because I have seen too many situations where a student’s test does not match their print.

When an enlarger is switched on it doesn’t give full illumination immediately, there is a build up of brightness -which although short in duration, can be a problem. Similarly, at the end of the exposure there is a tailing off of illumination from maximum to nil. When longer exposures are given these slight differences are not important, but if a student was to do a test strip in one second exposures and then decide that ten seconds was the correct exposure, a ten second burst of light would be quite different from ten times one second exposures. For this reason, as I already stated, I don’t like to see my students setting darkroom timers for less than five seconds.

Another method to overcome this problem and the method I prefer for my own printing, is to switch the enlarger on for a few seconds to warm up (with a piece of black card under the lens to block the light path), then uncover the lens to begin the exposure, timing the exposure with a metronome. This way, the light intensity is constant even for very short exposures. With cold cathode enlargers I leave them switched on all through the printing session, as they take longer to reach full, and consisitent brightness.

Using a metronome allows for an even, consistent light source, no matter how long, or short, the exposure is. The important thing to remember is to move the card exactly on the second. This is obviously most important when short exposures are being used, such as when burning in. For this situation, -say when a number of different exposures are needed within the one image, I don’t have to stop and re set the timer between each exposure. I just cover the lens, then uncover when I’m ready and count the appropriate time.

I have used a hand held digital metronome for a long time, but recently it gave up the ghost and refused to work. I had been promising myself for years that I would buy an old mechanical one, as I much prefer the old ticking sound to a digital beep. Instead, I asked my brother to record an old metronome and I now have the sound on my phone. I can use it in any darkroom, I have it to hand at all times and I can hear it through an earphone if I’m working in a busy teaching situation.

For those of you interested in trying this method, I have a 35 minute recording available for download;


  1. Posted 12/07/2012 at 6:13 am

    Andrew ,
    Just wanted to say thank you for your continuous sharing of your expertise with the rest of us.
    I stumbled on your blog by chance about a year ago and since then have pretty much read it from cover to cover. What you do, your teaching and your art is very much needed this day and age.
    Looking forward for more articles from you.
    Thank you.

  2. Posted 12/07/2012 at 8:33 am

    Brilliant post. I have used a metronone for a few years now. Since I came to your day of teaching I moved up here and the damp sea air [the sea is only a few hundred yards away] played havoc with my electronic timers so I got a metronome and no more probs!

  3. Posted 16/10/2012 at 4:02 pm

    I’ve had an old fashioned mechanical metronome in my darkroom for years! I never reaslised anyone else would be timing their exposures by the same method!

A return to paper negative

First posted 23 January 2012

Firstly, let me apologise for the late update of my blog. I have had much to think about for the last few months and feel like a different person now. Circumstances have forced upon me a new perspective. Consequently, I have been unable to pursue my usual interests in life and work for a number of months.

For many years I have cycled through all kinds of photography and printing methods, trying to increase my skills and abilities in each incrementally. There is so much that one can do in photography and so many styles to follow. I have been fascinated by virtually every aspect of photography that I have seen, and tried my hand at most of them. All of this takes many years, and I have woken up to the fact that I cannot do everything that I want to.

I have found that time is not as abundant as it once was, so I have to let some things drop. I have decided to concentrate more on my paper negative work, my portraiture, my darkroom workshops and if I still have time I’ll do some more gum printing. If anyone comes to me for a workshop I will of course cover whatever subject or style I have knowledge of, but my personal work has to be narrowed down or it will not grow. The paper negative work is going to be my main focus though, so expect some coverage in the photographic press over the next year or so,…

Workshop enquiries;

Screen Shot 10

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 10.45.49


  1. Posted 24/01/2012 at 3:05 pm

    Good to hear you’ll be doing more paper neg work. Love that side of your work. Would love to see how you might approach something along the lines of ParkeHarrison’s – The Architec’s Brother

    Take very good care

  2. Carl Radford
    Posted 24/01/2012 at 9:18 pm

    Nice to have you back Andrew.

  3. Gary Liggett
    Posted 24/01/2012 at 10:44 pm

    I know exactly what you mean. Sometimes the array of photographic processes can make me feel like a ‘kid in a candy store’ in wanting to try them all. I soon discovered the dangers of spreading myself too thinly! You are a very talented artist, Andrew, and it’s good to see you back. Not only that, but setting a very high standard with these lovely and timeless photographs.

  4. Posted 09/03/2012 at 9:22 am

    Have been thinking about you lots and hoping your internet hiatus was more ennui with all the faff than an actual missing Sandy, and like everyone else I’m very glad to see you back.

    Have a little packet of Harman +ive paper but currently no darkroom. Would love to take you up on that offer you made last year, but take it easy, and please keep in touch.

  5. Posted 15/05/2012 at 1:40 pm

    Hi Andrew, hope all’s well with y’all.
    Interesting that we think occasionally in similar ways, and to me it makes great sense that you should play to your strengths, putting your paper neg stuff first.
    Any how we need a chat.