Tag Archives: time

1923, 1988, 2014

Alongside my eclectic collection of cameras which have built up over the last 35 years, I have been acquiring negatives and prints wherever I find them. Much of the collection sits in boxes that have not been opened for twenty years or so, but last week I rediscovered a box of them whilst looking for something else. I lifted a few out and held them up to the window to see what was on them and of the first two I looked at, one looked rather familiar. After contact printing it I realised that it was of a farmhouse which I had photographed in the late eighties, when it was very dilapidated. I found the negative and did a print off it too, noticing that I had stood almost in the same position as the first shot, taken 65 years previously.
I remembered that the house was renovated a few years after I had photographed it, so I revisited it this week to get another shot from the same viewpoint. I think the three images make an interesting set.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 22.45.45

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 22.46.51

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 22.48.02

 

2 Comments

  1. Dave Burrows

Posted 17/11/2014 at 10:01 pm | Permalink | Edit

Hi Andrew
I really like the comparison between the images as a piece of history, you where lucky to find the 1923 negative, how did you find it.
Glad you are back and writing.
Wish I had interesting projects to work on such as this one.
I posted a link to your website the other day on my face book page telling people. they should check you out as a fine artist and master printer I hope you don’t mind.
Regards Dave
Regards Dave

2. Paul Blanchard

Posted 05/12/2014 at 8:48 pm | Permalink | Edit

Have just found your site, Superb comparison of the Farmhouse in the spirit of ‘How Buildings Learn’ I am working my way through the wealth of posts and shall leave any comments, when worthwhile, as I know from personal experience that it is hard to get them!/Paul

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.

4 Comments

  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,
Thomas

  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.

Spürsinn two bath developer

I was recently asked to give my professional opinion of one of a range of developers made by a company called Spürsinn. These are well known in Germany where they are produced, but I had not heard of them. Looking at the accompanying literature for the two bath developer I had been sent, known as HCD-S and HCD-2, I could see that they had done extensive testing. There were development times and detailed dilutions for 38 films and some of those had a long list of possible ratings and dilutions, -for instance there were 22 for Efke 50 alone.

They claim good results rating many of the films at a wide range of ISO settings. HP5 for instance can be rated between 25 and 25600 ISO. They also claim that these developers have excellent edge sharpness, good tonality and low chemical fog at all ratings. AND they have excellent keeping properties.  My first thoughts were that these were amazing and possibly exaggerated claims, so I began my tests hoping to be astounded, -but at the same time prepared for a disappointed thump of reality. These developers couldn’t be as good as they claim, could they? I needed to find out for myself.

I began my tests with the best film in the Ilford stable for sharpness and fine grain: Delta 100 and I shot 35mm because I wanted to use maximum enlargement to evaluate the quality. The first couple of films were very dense and I thought I had done something wrong. I checked my times and dilutions, shot another couple of test films, and after processing found exactly the same results. I contacted Spürsinn and they were extremely helpful, they looked into it and let me know pretty quickly that I had been working to a misprint (which apparently, 500 previous customers had not noticed!), and they supplied me with corrected time/dilutions, which worked better. The test prints from some of these negatives looked very crisp and the mid tones were punchy –what some refer to as micro-contrast and I found that the crisp detail that this developer produced showed one of my lenses to be not as sharp as I had previously thought!

I set about processing a few other films that I had in my darkroom. Next was FP4, this too turned out with punchy tonality, -ideal for low contrast subjects, but perhaps a bit too punchy for scenes of high contrast, or overexposed frames. This punchy quality is great for showing texture in low contrast subjects, like the mid to dark areas of a scene where you have similar shades, for instance: in weathered wood , like this old block.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 21.14.15

Having processed a few films with the HCD-S / HCD-2 combination, I can see that these developers do produce clean shadow areas and enhanced sharpness, but with the enhanced grain that this micro contrast brings. Personally, I think this is a nice quality in 35mm photographs and one of the reasons why I shoot 35mm. In medium format negatives the grain would be much less noticeable and with even greater sharpness, so that is probably where this developer would really come into its own. I don’t know if you can see from this crop of the 35mm image above, but the detail is very good.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 21.14.51

Density and contrast.

I am of the belief that what is considered correct tonality in a monochrome print is not absolute, but varies from region to region. In Eastern Europe for example, there seems to be a preference for higher contrast in their images. I think that this developer is designed for that kind of approach, but for the British photographer who, I think prefers a longer, smoother tonal range, it might be a little harsh. If you are getting negatives which are of a higher contrast than you are used to, the normal technique is to reduce the development time by 20%. If your negatives are still of a higher contrast than you would prefer, try a reduction of 25%. The instructions for the two bath process here, should, if it were a conventional two bath, need adjusting only in the second bath, but the instructions say to alter both. What they recommend is that you alter your dilution (both baths) but keep the time the same. So calculating 20% off a 1-24 dilution gives roughly 1-30.

Reducing the time should bring the density in the highlights down, with very little effect on shadow detail and would produce a negative with the same sharpness, but with a longer tonal range. I put my theory to the ever helpful Michael Weyl at Spursinn and he was interested in the idea, suggesting that he is going to start work on finding different dilutions for ‘British’ tastes soon.

When I printed from the Delta 100, Delta 400 and FP4 negatives I had processed for this test and review, I found the contrast was requiring pre flash and split grade printing to get a full range out of the negative. The FP4 being the most dense. I then calculated a new dilution with a reduction of 18%, keeping all other factors unaltered. The results were much better, but they were still more dense than the sort of negatives I am used to. The next test will be with a greater reduction.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 21.17.53

It is important to note that this developer, and the others that Spurrsin make, are quite sensitive to dilution and agitation, so once you have established the correct time and dilution for your tastes, good processing technique is important. Working with a quality developer like this requires accuracy in exposure readings, focus and careful control of measurement/dilution/temperature and agitation in processing. Variations in local water hardness can have an effect on outcome, but methods to get around this are explained clearly in the extensive instructions. To reduce the possibility of this happening I would suggest using de-ionised water to make up your developers.

I have not had time to test a lot of films in this developer, but I shall continue to experiment with it. With the huge range of ISO ratings for so many films, there are possibilities for some quite interesting styles of photography. From (I would expect, but I’ve not tested yet) Ilford Pan F rated at 320 ISO for high contrast effects, through to Ilford HP5 rated at 25 ISO for a long, smooth tonal range. I am also interested to see if Ilford Delta 3200 rated at ISO 12800 will produce an exaggerated grain effect. I will be testing these ideas soon and will post my findings here when I have my results.

A friend of mine, Bruce Robbins writes a blog on film based photography which is very informative and has tested the Acurol-N developer from Spur. He can be found at: http://www.theonlinedarkroom.com

Currently, The Spursinn developers can be bought from:

Keyphoto –  http://www.keyphoto.com/latest-news.html?article=109

MacoDirect – http://www.macodirect.de/spur-acurol-250ml-p-2510.html?language=en&osCsid=782e362bc991eab30a270f24c72cd642 ,

Photoimpex – http://www.fotoimpex.de/shopen/chemistry/spur-acurol-n-250ml.html

and Spurrsin themselves in Europe – http://www.spuersinn-shop.de/index.php?page=product&info=681

3 Comments

  1. Andrea Ingram

Posted 05/07/2013 at 2:53 pm

Looks like something worth trying I must say

  1. Thomas Binsfeld

Posted 05/03/2014 at 2:42 pm

In the past I have tested several negative developers and always returned to ID-11 which I use since 35 years and know best. (Which is in opinion the most important thing in using negative developers.)
Regards,
Thomas

2. Andrew Sanderson

Posted 06/03/2014 at 11:36 pm

Dear Thomas, I think I am beginning to come to the same conclusion. I was trying out some other developers last week (Pyrocat, Microphen, Ilfotec DD-X) and my results were not consistent.

Reciprocity failure

Recently I have been doing a lot of pinhole photography, and due to that I have had to explain to a number of people (unfamiliar with the more technical parts of photography) what reciprocity failure is.

Reciprocity is the relationship between shutter speeds and apertures, which means that as you reduce exposure with a change in, lets say the shutter speed by one stop, then increase the exposure by one stop with the aperture, you will have exactly the same exposure. Each one-stop adjustment of the shutter speed, is equivalent to a one-stop adjustment of the aperture. This holds true throughout the normal use of the camera in most lighting situations.

This linked relationship begins to slip away with exposures longer than one second, and the longer the indicated exposure, the more of a difference there is between the indicated exposure and what is actually needed. Many years ago I included in my book on night photography, a chart for working out the amount of exposure correction you might need in situations where exposures were between 1 second and 17 minutes. I have been referring to this chart for my extended pinhole exposures, and I include a link to a word document here which shows the full chart:

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/88621650/Reciprocity%20chart.doc

Words are the enemy

First posted 19 August 2011

In my opinion, there has been far too much written about photography throughout it’s history. The intensity is increasing and unfortunately I’m going to add another few hundred words here;
As a practicing photographer I am concerned with staying as ‘visual’ as I can be, for as much of the day as is possible. Modern life dictates that we deal with many distractions, and much of this involves paperwork or computers.
In my job as head of analogue photography at a University in the UK, I have quite a lot of this stuff to deal with and let me tell you -it totally scrambles my brain.
Whenever I have to write a report, read an essay on this or that, I am a million miles away from being visual.

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 10.36.05

Now I believe that to be fully visual you must empty your head of words. Words are the enemy, and they will distract you and smother your creativity. Reading/writing uses a totally different area of the brain from seeing photographically and you must switch off the voices to be able to make full use of your eyes.
For many years I was able to indulge myself in a world dominated by the visual, but as life has got faster and busier the visual has got pushed further and further back.

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 10.39.00

Because I can’t think that way every hour of the day, I set myself a little task to think about everything around me as a possible picture ten times a day. So whenever the little reminder pops into my head I switch off from what I’m thinking about and look for a composition. Often, it is not possible to actually take the picture, because I may be driving or in the bath, but it is still a useful exercise to keep the visual part of my mind alive to picture opportunities.

 

3 Comments

  1. Posted 19/08/2011 at 10:05 am

    I couldn’t agree more Andrew. The world is full of distractions and it is so easy to get caught up in daily life and forget to look around you. One of my new resolutions is to look up towards the sky more.

  2. Jen
    Posted 19/08/2011 at 4:09 pm

    Couldn’t agree more Andrew. That was my problem in 2nd year, too much reading/writing about photography and not doing the kind of work i enjoy. All change in 3rd year though!

  3. Gary Liggett
    Posted 28/09/2011 at 12:04 pm

    Bang on! For me, the rot started when Art Colleges – which were entirely focussed on the creative, were subsumed into effing universities. Whoever learned how to be creative by writing about it? Did the success of Van Gough or Monet depend on a 2000 word essay? I bet some of the greatest artists in history couldn’t even write, but they could paint a 1000 words, and then some.

    When I was at art college, I was fortunate to be taught by a master, who taught me how to visualise a scene… to think in pictures…think about the way I should compose image to the best creative effect. The camera was only brought in at the last moment to record what I saw and wanted to portray. None this ‘looking through the viewfinder and shooting away’ like an American tourist in the hope that one of the frames ‘turned out right’. In that respect, on of my heroes is Thomas Joshua Cooper. He travels to the farthest corners of the planet and makes just on photograph. All of this stood me in good stead when I was making films – I had to think is moving images, which fell continuously one after the other 1/25th of a second at a time.

    Likewise, I spend weeks planning and thinking visually about a photograph: when the light will do its thing for me; when the landscape will look how I want it. On the right day, at the right time, I make sure I am there with my trusty old Thornton Pickard half-plate or my Houghton Ensign 6×9 to allow the beautiful light to fall onto the emulsion.

Too much to do, not enough time

First posted 23 November 2010

I’ve been conscious, that for a while my blog posts have not been as frequent as I would like. I have so many things taking up my time and I am pulled in so many directions, -something has to give.
Well, quite a few things have to give actually, I’ve got about forty films sitting in my darkroom waiting to be processed, a box of exposed 5×4 sheets (no idea how many) a few 10×8 sheets and a lot of tidying and sorting of the darkroom and studio. A LOT.
I also have ten years worth of negatives which have never been printed which I’m dying to delve into.
I don’t seem to have the time to contribute to photography forums or even keep up with emails.
I don’t have a television to distract me and I survive quite well on five hours sleep a night, so where is the time going?

I’m not going to bore you all with a list of the things I have to do, I just wanted to say that life often gets in the way of what is important and I feel that I perhaps need to put my own work ahead of other responsibilities sometimes.
When I’m on my deathbed, will I be proud of my output? or will I be glad I kept the lawn neat?

2218 lost duckling

4 Comments

  1. Posted 23/11/2010 at 12:46 pm

    My list is longer than your list ;)

    At the moment (and for the next couple of years) my time is family intense with kids exams etc then hopefully there will be space for all the projects I want to do, if I’m lucky.
    I guess being out of the whole loop of what’s going on in the art world doesn’t really matter, it’ll still be there when I try to pick up again.

  2. Posted 23/11/2010 at 2:06 pm

    That sounds so familiar! Life has this annoying habit of getting in the way of things. I finally came around to processing my films today (still not all of them) which have been sitting in my darkroom for months so I understand where you’re coming from. Good luck with all that!

    Best,
    Indra

  3. Dayn
    Posted 23/11/2010 at 2:13 pm

    “Here lies Andrew Sanderson.
    Erstwhile photographer.
    He kept a tidy lawn”

    Sounds good to me. ;-)

  4. mark lacey
    Posted 25/11/2010 at 11:54 pm

    What was that famous quote, “life is what happens while your planning what to do with your life” or something like that. I have a big family at home and everything takes at least three times longer than I ever planned it to.
    I never ever let films hang around, I can’t wait to see if they’ve turned out ok, but printing is quite another thing, I don’t think I’ll ever catch up.
    I even tried doing nothing but 8×10 contact printed and I still could not keep up, perhaps one has to be like a monk and focus on this to the exclusion of everything else, only trouble is bills still have to be paid and that bloody grass keeps growing!

    May the light stay good for you, Mark.