Tag Archives: General

Walker Titan Pinhole 5×4

Using the Walker Titan pinhole 5×4.

I have been using the Walker pinhole camera for a few months now, though not exclusively because I’ve been busy with a lot of paper negative stuff. Having shot with it in a few different locations, I have really grown to love it.

When I’ve shot pinhole stuff before, I’ve always enjoyed making the cameras, -and for me this has been an important part of the satisfaction at the end result. I thought at first that using an ‘off the shelf’ camera would be less likely to satisfy and wouldn’t have the quirks of a home made one. I have been surprised to find that this simple plastic box is actually one of my favourite pinhole cameras of all time, -and I’ve been making them since 1978!

Angle of view. I prefer wide and super wide pinhole cameras over ones that mimic a standard lens, mainly because I enjoy the distortions that occur when objects are placed close to the camera. The Walker has an equivalent angle of view to a 70mm lens on a 5×4 camera and considering that 90mm is a pretty wide lens on this format, it would seem that this was in the realm of super wide. It is roughly equivalent to an 18mm lens on a 35mm camera, so that gives you some idea. Previous to using this, I had been using a home made 10×8 pinhole camera which had an angle of view equivalent to an 11mm lens on 35mm. This really did distort and had quite dark vignetting in the corners. Mike seems to have got the angle of view exactly right with this camera, as there is sufficient distortion (yes, I know it’s rectilinear, -no pedantry please), but virtually no vignetting.

Using it is simplicity itself. A standard 5×4 dark slide fits in with a pleasing click and you are ready to expose by removing the tethered plastic cap. With home made pinholes, especially if made from tins or cardboard boxes, there is always the problem of positioning and stability. Unless you go to the trouble of gluing a threaded nut to the base of your tin (no point doing it with cardboard), you are limited to shooting from the ground or any place you can rest it, -this severely limits your compositional options. With a properly made camera you are provided with a tripod bush -two in fact on the Walker Titan, so shooting from a tripod becomes the normal method and opens up all sorts of image making possibilities.

All of the shots I have shown here, were done on Ilford Ortho film. It is great for this kind of thing because long exposures give nicer results (Ortho is 25 ISO -or less, if you want more tonality out of it). I like long exposures for pinhole, because things happen during the exposure which you hadn’t planned for, and provide unexpected and interesting results.

All exposures were all 90 seconds, and during that time people have stood in the scene for a while and then wandered off, leaving a ghost (beach scene) and the boats sitting in the corner of the harbour were bobbing about violently, as the sea was quite rough and have become very indistinct on the pinhole shot.

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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; andrewsandersonphoto@googlemail.com

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5 Comments

  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
    http://www.geh.org/parkeharrison/index.htm

    Take very good care
    Andrea

  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.
    Rich

Using light meters intelligently

First posted 21 April 2011

Looking at an analogue or digital hand meter for the first time can be very confusing, there are many options and often an overload of information. There are multi metering modes on advanced modern digital types which I find confusing even after using meters for thirty years, so I thought I might write a little about how to simplify matters and ensure consistent results.
Firstly, whatever you point a light meter at is read by the meter as a mid grey. It does this so that the whites are white and the blacks are black and to do that, it puts the exposure in the middle. To make this work, there must either be a range of brightness in the scene, or something which is already a mid grey.

Any and all light meters do this, and this is why when shooting in snow the hurried metering method often gives grey and underexposed areas where white should be the predominant tone. Another common mistake amongst beginners is to take shots looking up at trees or buildings without thinking of how bright the sky is. This causes the meter to read far too much brightness in the scene and the subjects end up as silhouettes against a grey sky. Even when a hand meter is used, false readings can arise from simple mistakes, such as having your shadow over the meter.

So let’s look at the different ways of metering; Reflected, Incident, Spot and Average.

Reflected is simply pointing a meter at something and seeing how bright it is, how much light is reflected from it. The problem though, is that if you point it at something rather dark, you will get an overexposed shot and pointing it at something light will give an underexposed shot.

Incident is a method which reads how much light is falling ON THE METER. This avoids the problems above. When using a hand meter, taking an incident reading will produce an excellent negative 99% of the time (it’s not much good with backlit subjects).
An incident reading is when a white plastic cone is fitted over the light cell allowing the meter to read light falling on the meter, rather than light reflected off the subject. The important thing is that the meter should be pointed towards the camera from the position of the subject, not pointed at the light source. If you are unable to stand in the position of the subject then simply point the meter in the same direction, but from a manageable position. As long as the direction of the light is the same where you take the reading and in the scene, the exposure will be the same.

One of the most reliable methods is spot metering. Not for taking a number of readings to average out the exposure as some meters permit you to do, as this can often lead to an incorrect reading (Because the important brightness is always two stops up from deep shadow, not half way between deep shadow and bright white). Finding the all important deep shadow tone, ( Zone III ) takes practice. If you can identify this tone in a scene and read it, you then underexpose that reading by two stops, which gives you zone V – which is two zones along. This may seem confusing, as the explanation is more complicated than the doing.

A simpler method is to set the spot meter to a film speed two stops higher than you are actually using, take a reading from deep shadow, set the camera accordingly and shoot. The film rating is not actually changed, so no alteration of dev time is necessary.

Because the meter is set two stops higher, it reads the shadows brighter than they are, the meter then suggests a faster shutter speed/smaller aperture. Shooting at this exposure causes the deep shadows to be two stops underexposed (from mid grey) which is exactly where you want them.

The explanation as I say often seems complicated, but in practice it is quite easy. give all methods a go and see which works best for you.

5 Comments

  1. Posted 02/05/2011 at 7:03 pm

    Thanks for this explanation. Although I’ve been using an old-fashioned hand-held meter for years, I did not really understand all the implications of this, and I guess I’ve just been lucky with my shots (though it does explain a few overexposed anomalies now), or fortunate to have been using film with a wide exposure latitude. My recent move into shooting slide film will probably be more telling!
    As my meter is so old, I’m guessing it’s measuring reflected light rather than incidental light – it doesn’t have one of those cones. Maybe I’ll have to start thinking about an upgrade to my kit.

  2. mark lacey
    Posted 06/07/2011 at 12:49 am

    For black and white your technique of spot meter deep shadow and open two stops is dead right, I’ve been doing that for 30 years and my negs have always been really easy to print, which to me is the point of the exercise. Don’t know anout colour, I don’t use the stuff! All good advice, it’s nice to see it expressed simply, some people turn the zone system into rocket science and I suspect in the process forget to take a good photograph.

  3. Posted 07/10/2011 at 9:35 pm

    I read Mark’s comment, and I had to stop and think about it for a moment. You wouldn’t OPEN two stops from the meter reading if you’re metering a deep shadow. The meter would look at that shadow and (as you explain so succinctly) give a reading to render it a middle gray – which would require either a slower shutter speed or wider aperture. Either way, in order to properly render the deep shadows properly using the spot meter technique described, you would STOP DOWN two stops – not open up… Your explanation of “underexpose that reading by two stops” is the same way of looking at the situation.

    I just wanted to clear it up because I put up a link to this great article, and then some questions as to whether the proper thing to do is OPEN the aperture – or stop down…

  4. Posted 05/04/2012 at 5:34 pm

    Thank you. These are some good insights.

  5. Philp Toal
    Posted 15/08/2012 at 5:29 pm

    I usually take a spot reading of the shadow area and over expose by 1-2 stops and develop N-1/-2 (depending upon the shadow area I want to show up), and then print down to Z3 because Z´s 1 – 3 expose as black on any paper unlike the the wider Zone range of say 1-18 of all films. Paper in general, barely goes beyond Z10 and with N development Z3 would render only black as well.

Long lasting

First posted 1 June 2010

Have you amassed a large collection of negatives since you began photography? how about transparencies, prints, your camera collection? What is going to happen to all this stuff when you die?

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I have amassed a very large collection of all of the above, plus a collection of other photographers prints, glass negatives, books and ephemera. I have my fathers negatives and those of an elderly gentleman who died about ten years ago and who’s equipment I was buying off a relative. I took the negatives because the family had already burned all of his medium format transparencies and were considering doing the same with the negs.

A lot of my junk is of no importance to anyone but me, but I’d like to think that my negatives would be valued and preserved. How does one go about ensuring that a lifetimes work is treated with respect?

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I can visualise with horrible clarity a situation where my negative pages and prints are sold off for a pound each on a junk stall as some ancient old curio, as many old photos are these days.

Should I leave them to my kids in my will? None of them know how to print, so what will they do with them? I can either leave them a valuable archive or a storage/disposal nightmare.

Should I make top quality prints from all my favourite negatives and destroy the rest so that nobody can print my work badly? How can I know which ones are going to be of value in the future?

All of this has been buzzing round my head for quite a while and I don’t have a simple answer for it.

I would be interested to hear other photographers comments.

12 Comments

  1. Michael

Posted 01/06/2010 at 6:28 pm

Interesting thoughts. I went through that a year or so ago. I have a terminal illness and wanted to make sure my grandchildren and possibly their children could get an idea of who I was. One of my sons stepped up and offered to take the negatives when I pass and organize them and try to find some organization that will preserve them.

  1. Carl Radford

Posted 01/06/2010 at 6:45 pm

If none of your children are able to print well then you have failed The recent program on Brian Duffy springs to mind – his lad making images from his negs. There is plenty of time for the work that you are creating to gain the recognition it deserves and then it should be an issue.

  1. Carl Radford

Posted 01/06/2010 at 6:47 pm

The fact that I am sitting scanning in images of our niece escaped me – doh. I am making a project of her first year – all the selected images will end up as digital negs and out as plt/pd prints and given to her parents in trust as a first year birthday present – I will also give them all the negs as hopefully they might be important to her in the future.

  1. Slabby-J

Posted 01/06/2010 at 7:19 pm

I have thought about this for a while myself and am in exactly the same boat: thousands of negatives, slides, prints and family snapshots going back nearly 100 years. Sadly, I have to assume that it will mean nothing to others (we have no kids of our own) and have come to odd terms with continuing to photograph for myself while acknowledging that little of what I am doing will survive my death. I plan on asking the next generation if any of them care, but if not, I’m not sure what plans to make for it all.

  1. daiv guest

Posted 01/06/2010 at 9:51 pm

you could bequeath them to the museums dept and hope that they got the respect we gave to the equivellent some years ago, (even if it was for only a couple of years). or you could leave them to me and know the headache was passed on for a few years with the off chance that there may be a print or two made with care and attention, although, probably to a slightly different recipe.

  1. Wiesmier

Posted 02/06/2010 at 10:01 pm Ah the dilemma.
My feelings are that if anyone can make sense of my negs – or even find them, they are happy to them. Otherwise, I shall leave them to someone I don’t like with instructions to take great care of them.

For you Sir, I suggest leaving them to the kids.

  1. David Ellwand

Posted 03/06/2010 at 1:13 am

Bret Weston celebrated his 80th birthday by burning all but 12 negatives which he donated to the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson. Brian Duffy also had a good old blaze. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8287779.stm

  1. Les Dix

Posted 03/06/2010 at 2:51 pm

I think this is where having your best work carefully presented in a series of portfolios or even blurb books makes it easier to have it preserved for posterity. I think that if all my work was a pile of loose prints and negatives they would eventually end up in landfill.

Les

  1. Richard Littlewood

Posted 14/06/2010 at 5:43 pm

Fancy a joint back garden bonfire?

Rich

  1. Chris Finch

Posted 21/06/2010 at 3:59 pm

Hi Andy,

One suggestion I might have is to ask for a massive coffin when you pass on,
and as to be buried with all the images that you didn’t manage to pass on to
a reliable source before you die… slightly eccentric of an idea perhaps .

The only thing I could think of seriously, is trying to either sell them or give them
to galleries, collectors, young (trust worthy) photographers, whom you know will
take good care of them and will make the best use for them in your name.

It is worth noting that a lot of the most well recognized and admired photographic
practitioners have all become acclaimed with their work after they died, which is
quite sad when you think about it. Though even then, it shows that if your work is
good enough and if you are a lucky dearly departed, then someone will discover your
work and it will become highly acclaimed. Usually it does so because of a recurring element with the work that is unique to itself, a recipe instigated only by the skills,
craft and the uniqueness of the photographer him/herself.

  1. terrorkitten

Posted 05/12/2010 at 12:41 pm

I shall leave them to the person that means the most to me at the time in the hope that they will do the same when their time comes.

I guess being bought for a quid in a car boot is some level of success and anything that brings enjoyment is fine by me

  1. Rolo

Posted 16/02/2012 at 11:36 am

I suppose we all think about this from time to time.

Start on the premise that negatives are worthless and of of no interest to anyone. They will be a burden to the next generation. What on earth would they do with them ? They are yours, a record of your activity in a raw form. If you’re a Magnum photographer, or a frequently hung artist that can compete with Ansel Adams in a commercial sense, or a collection at the V&A, that’s different.

On the other hand, the finished work we’ve created can live on. Prints and books have a future, so frame a few of the most interesting, create a high quality portfolio in a book/s and give them to anyone you think might look at them in 10 years time. Realistically, it should contain the history of your life with many portraits of you and your family. What a drystone wall looked like on a winters morning is not of interest to family, sorry.

My best friend of 25 years died suddenly and his family couldn’t bear to throw his work away. They didn’t want it, had no room for his equipment and no desire to develop the skills to process them . So, the negs came to me and I cut the 23 binders down to 4. Now after 10 years of never being required, it’s going to the rubbish tip on the next clear out.

Photography is a hobby; a pastime; a profession and the satisfaction belongs to the creator. If one’s images are not in demand during your life, they won’t be after. Even Flickr will only accept a 2 year subscription. Make some books.