Photonews - The Lockdown Diaries Vol 7

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Photonews Celebrating the Postal Photographic Club and its Members

The Lockdown Diaries - Vol 7

Lockdown Diaries - Volume 7 Welcome to the seventh extra edition of Photonews to commemorate what PPC members have been doing in Lockdown. This one is on the surface slightly self-indulgent as it features me and my film photography from Lockdown. In my defence however it has been produced at the request of a long-standing member so that’s my excuse. He did request a mono-only edition but I’ve snuck in a few colour too! Let me start though by addressing the elephant in the room. I appreciate that I am one of a very small minority within the club who still use film. For the record I also shoot digitally and indeed, especially where colour film is concerned, I also use a hybrid approach whereby colour negatives are scanned for finishing on the computer. I do not think that any one approach is superior - they are all valid ways to create photographs and I enjoy both film, digital and the hybrid approach. They are to me tbut hree parts of the photographic whole and I am cocnscious that there are other aspects to explore in the future - cyanotypes anyone? Finally, these specials are only made possible by the support of members so as always my grateful thanks to all those who’ve allowed us a peek inside their Lockdown World. There’s another 80-plus members out there however so surely a few more of you have been making photographs during Lockdown? I have templates ready for the next issue … they just need some content … yours? All the best - stay safe!

Dave Whenham Editor email:

ON THE COVER: “Ethereal” Shot in my front yard! Bronica SQ-A 150mm lens Rollei infrared 400 film 720nm filter 1/4sec f16. 120 negative scanned with an Epson V550 and post-processed in Photoshop. I have also printed this negative in the darkroom, see page 4.


Into the dark … Now, one thing I have done during Lockdown is move my darkroom. Having had to close my previous darkroom on the top floor of the house so that one of the older grandsons could have a bedroom I went without for a while before setting up again in the corner of the cellar. This was at the start of last year and whilst I had some good sessions down there it was never a place I was overly keen to go. The last time I used it was February and that had been the maiden session for 2020. Once I received the instruction to isolate I thought that I might at least get some darkroom time but eleven weeks in and I had not been down there once. The major drawback to my cellar darkroom was the need to set up and then pack everything away; the cellar is in daily use and just recently there have been more things to store as we have been doing one large shop every fortnight rather than smaller shops three or four times a week. It’s amazing how much extra space is needed for two weeks worth of groceries for seven people rather than the two or three days worth we usually have on hand - we were definitely not stockpilers! It’s also uncomfortable. As some of you know I’m over six foot tall but what you won’t know is that the ceiling is barely half an inch from the top of my head. The floor joists jut downwards and are level with my forehead and the light fitting attacks my nose if I forget to duck. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve nearly knocked myself out! Add to the physical constraints there is also the difficulty of keeping developer at twenty degrees when the ambient temperature is a constant fourteen and the picture hopefully becomes clearer. Washing prints meant a walk up some old, steep, very worn stone steps to the kitchen or if that is in use up to the first floor to use the bathroom. I’ve also lost count of the number of times someone has opened the cellar door forgetting I’m down there – fortunately only two prints have been spoilt this way.



Both are scans of darkroom prints and represent two extremes of Lockdown photography. A stylised and highly technical image to the left and a family snapshot with a point and shoot (albeit a decent, if underated, one). My Lockdown photography has primarily been film-based and I’ve shot over 50 rolls since the 18th March. Opposite: Above:

Bronica SQ-A 150mm lens Rollei infrared 400 film 720nm filter 1/4sec f16 (medium format) Nikon L35AF Kodak Tri-X @ 400ISO (35mm)


Whilst I’m more at-home shooting black & white, Lockdown saw me try my hand at colour film processing for the very first time and so I have made quite a few colour images with my film cameras during this period. Bronica SQ-A. Negative scanned with Epson V550 and processed using Negative Lab Pro and Photoshop

So, after eleven weeks of endless opportunities and not having once been down those stone steps with a bucket of water (for holding prints until washing) I decided that it was time to take some action. One option would be to mothball the darkroom equipment again but given the number of rolls of film I’ve developed this year so far (over 50 B&W and 25 colour) that wasn’t very appealing. I have nothing against scanning, the so-called hybrid approach, but much prefer darkroom printing largely because of the sense of satisfaction it gives me. Well, that and being able to get away from the family for a while. Selling the 6

gear was not even an option but where was I going to put a darkroom in a house with very little spare space? My study is small but has two desks and computers (his and his – mine and Zac’s, another of my Grandson’s) along with four bookcases and the printers so no space there.

Unless … A surprisingly quick negotiation with Senior Management and I had permission to move Zac’s desk and computer into the spare bedroom. He’s been doing his schoolwork there during Lockdown, ironically on my original darkroom table from upstairs, so, I argued, it made sense to put his computer and all his bits and pieces together with his “school” books. Permission was given over dinner one evening and by ten am the next day I’d moved everything before she changed her mind. The next job was to create a black-out. Usually a simple job – visit to the DIY store, pick up what I need and home to sort the job out. But I’m “shielded” so that wasn’t going to happen even if I wanted to queue for hours to get into a DIY store. Wickes home delivery to the rescue and amazingly I managed to get delivery within 48 hours too. The materials arrived at two pm on the allotted day and by four-thirty that afternoon I was testing how successful the job had been and making a few tweaks. Our house is over one hundred and fifty years old and there is not a right angle in the place. Windows are almost rectangular, door and window frames are only vaguely rectangular, well, you get the picture I’m sure. I’ve still got a few niggly bits to sort out but to all intents and purposes I have a functioning space. So, I now have my darkroom in the corner of my study and I’m sat here feeling very smug because less than a week after first starting the train of thought I have prints hanging to dry and I’ve just resolved a couple of teething problems with my new set-up so am ready for my first “proper” session. The beauty is that it takes five minutes to set up and five to return the study to normal so I can print whenever I want - and I have been!

Zac: Olympus Pen EE3 (half-frame, 35mm), out of date Rollei Retro 100 developed in Rodinal (1+100) using semi-stand for one hour. 9th April 2020


Bronica SQ-A 150mm lens with +10 close-up filter. 2 secs f22 Fuji Reala 100 shot at 50 ISO. The film was 8 years or more out of date which has resulted in a slight colour shift, however, I liked the effect here so have not corrected it).


Bronica ETRS 75mm lens plus 4x close-up lens filter, f5.6 1/50th sec handheld. Out of date Fujicolor Pro 160NS shot at 100ISO


Into the dark (contd) The one big compromise I’ve had to make is in the way I process the prints. Since I first started printing I’ve always used open trays. Watching the image appear in the developer was what hooked me back in the 1970s and even now it’s not lost any of its impact. But, there is simply not enough space in my study for a proper wet-side. So, I’ve had to use the slot processor I impulse bought last year but have never used for various reasons. It was this that caused teething problems but they were quickly resolved and I’m now looking forward to being able to print a negative without having to schedule it up front and then spending forty-five minutes getting everything set-up and put away afterwards. There is enough space for occasional dish development (but still stop and fix in the “slotty thing”) so a bottle of warm tone developer and a packet of warm tone film are on their way. Anyway, I hope that this has been of some interest to members. The images here are a mixture of digital scans and scans of darkroom prints and much of the written pieces have been adapted from my blog.

366 - a picture a day Over the weeks I’ve been incarcerated I’ve been determined to keep my picture-a-day project going. I will hit the 1,000th consecutive daily image in late July so after all the hard work I am determined not to let a pandemic get in the way. This project is largely digital of course, with the occasional film image for good measure, and my trusty Fuji X100T has been in the vanguard of the daily activity. I’ve always used it a lot but since my isolation (shielding at the time of writing) I have used it almost daily and actually know and understand it better now than ever. It is certainly a tick for the “use one camera and lens and get to know it inside out” approach to improving your photography. A certain degree of lattitude has been allowed by Senior Management too and the coffee table, and the floor beneath, have slowly accumulated more and more cameras over the weeks. One day back in April there were five cameras and assorted bits and pieces on the table alone (see above) and a large bag of assorted gear underneath. I have this morning returned everything thing to its alloted space upstairs but I suspect that by the time you read this we will be back to having cameras dotted about downstairs.


Sprocket Power! When you‘ve got an itch – you’ve gotta scratch it! Sometimes an idea pops into the head and the only way to get it out again is to stop what you are doing and attend to it. It happened to me at 7pm recently, just as I was about to settle down with a book for the evening. So, I grabbed my Bronica ETRS, a 220 film back and a roll of expired 35mm film and headed into the garden. By 7.30pm I was mixing chemicals and by 8pm the still-wet negatives were hanging in my bathroom to dry. So, what got me so motivated? And surely that’s a typo – 220 back and 35mm film? The idea of putting 35mm film through a 120 film camera is hardly new or innovative but it’s been niggling away at the back of my mind for a while now. Loaded carefully it is possible to shoot images that extend across the sprocket holes of the 35mm film and with my ETRS back you get 45x33mm negatives, including the sprocket holes. If I was to do the same with my SQ-A then the negatives would be around 60x33mm although I’ve yet to try this. Spoiler alert: this experiment with the ETRS worked and I’ve already loaded the 220 back with a roll of 35mm colour negative film for a more “serious” session. I chose the 220 film back as it was designed for larger rolls of 120 film which allowed for nn shots on the ETRS so I would not be advancing the film past the number of shots the 35mm film would provide. There is however a lot of wasted film at the start of the roll due to the way the Bronica winds on the 120 film at the start of a roll, basically pulling sufficient backing paper through to reveal the film buried inside the roll. I could try sticking a length of old backing paper to the start of the 35mm film I guess to minimise this wastage; an idea for another day. 11

The view from my back door. The nearest I got to the hills! Bronica ETRS. Negative scanned with Epson V550 and processed using Photoshop


So, having scratched the itch, I also successfully tried the 35mm-in-120 project with the 6×6 Bronica SQ-A which gave a negative 1.5cm longer than the ETRS. I was still forgetting on occasion though that horizontal and vertical are reversed because of the way the film is loaded onto the Bronica back, resulting in some odd compositions. Then I had another thought (awful habit, must stop doing this thinking malarkey) the film back of the Mamiya RB67 runs in the conventional 35mm manner, lengthways, and the film back itself can be rotated to shoot the 6×7 frames in vertical format. The itch flared up again!

Sprocket Power!

So, despite saying that this was to be a project that I picked up very occasionally, I found myself loading 35mm film into the somewhat larger film back of my Mamiya RB67. One thing to note however. The RB67 film back did not detect the presence of a film and so the first time I tried this I ended up winding the entire 35mm roll onto the 120 spool without shooting a frame. So, out with the changing bag and I removed the now unwound film from the back and rewound it into the original cassette. The solution was the multi-exposure mode of the RB67. In normal use this enables the shutter to be cocked without winding on the film thus allowing multiple exposures on a single frame but I found that by leaving the camera in multi-exposure mode I could still wind the film through without a problem. The longer throw of the 6×7 mechanism means a bigger gap between frames and potentially more waste but I still managed ten shots by attaching the leader of the 35mm film to an eleven inch strip of 120 backing paper to reduce wastage at the start of the film. The film still needs to be removed in a changing bag (I transfer it straight onto a reel and store it in the developing tank) but that is still only a minor issue especially when shooting at home! The first thing I noticed however when removing the processed film from the tank was the bigger spacing, but then the length of each negative struck me. It’s only 1cm longer, but that is an increase of 1/6, almost 17% longer than the 6×6 negatives and over 50% longer than those from the 6×4.5 film back in the Bronica ETRS. The negatives were scanned using my old Epson V550 flatbed scanner and the Vuescan software. Here’s to the next itch – I’m off to load a roll of colour 35mm into a RB67 film back! Both: Mamiya RB67


This page: 120 film negatives scanned with an Epson V550 and images produced in Photoshop. Top left: Bronica ETRS, 75mm lens and +4 close-up filter. f5.6 1/60th sec Kosmo Foto100 developed in Xtol (1+1) Top right: Bronica ETRS, 75mm lens and +4 close-up filter. Ilford PanF+ f11 1 second. Film developed in Perceptol (stock). See page 23 for darkroom print Bottom left: Bronica SQ-A. 150mm lens yellow filter Pan F+ f8 1/8th sec. Developed in Perceptol (stock)

Opposite: darkroom print of the image bottom left. Scan of a darkroom print (negative and print both produced during Lockdown). Printed on variable contrast paper at grade 2. Print scanned with Epson V550 and processed using Negative Lab Pro and Photoshop



Location, location Everything here has been shot between 18th March and the 5th June and of necessity has either been taken in my house, our tiny front yard or in the slightly larger back yard (see left). With the exception of the image left and the one on page 2, they have all been shot on a variety of film cameras and I’ve used everything from pinhole, through half-frame 35mm, full-frame 35mm, 6x4.5, 6x6, 6x9 and even 6x12 medium format cameras. Back in March I was concerned that I would run out of things for my 366 project (page 10) but I have managed to adapt quite readily in the event. Indeed, a side-project entitled Random Images from Isolation has been running on Flickr alongside my 366 project and as at 5th June has almost 200 images which are in addition to the 70+ from the 366 project.

I wrote at the start that I’ve just moved my darkroom and started to print some of the large number of images. Amongst them are quite a few of the terrace of houses opposite my back door (page 12 for example) and also the flats at the end of the street which I can photograph from my front yard with the aid of a medium telephoto lens. It was one of these images that I chose to use to test the new darkroom facilities so the print opposite is the first completed print from this maiden session together with test strip. It is also the first time I used f-stop printing but that’s a topic for another time.


Location, location ‌ A random selection shot with Bronica (ETRS and SQ-A) , Zero Image Pinhole and an Olympus EE3. All film cameras, all scans of the negatives.


The Grandsons Without a doubt having two of our eight grandsons living with us has been a huge bonus during Lockdown. Being able to spend time with them has perhaps emphasised how much we miss the others but they have provided us with countless hours of distraction. I’ve also been home-schooling Zac, full-time whilst his Mum was working and part-time whilst she’s been furloughed. Photographing the boys with old, manual-everything cameras has been both challenging and rewarding. Below Harry (2) and Zac (8) with Harry providing the double dose.

Nikon FM2n with out of date Rollei Retro 100 shot at box speed and developed in Rodinal (1+50) 18

Left: Bronica ETRS with 250mm – a family-snapper point and shoot? Again, something for another day perhaps.

Above: Nikon FM2n with out of date Rollei Retro 100 shot at box speed and developed in Rodinal (1+50) 19

Rocking the Rollei Back in January when I was stocking up with film for the Spring/ Summer months I picked up a few single films of different stocks to my usual to try out as the opportunity arose. I think that in the back of my mind was that these would be used for something “special” or a specific project that took into account each film stocks particular properties or quirks. As an enthusiastic (digital) infrared photographer, I have an IRconverted Fuji X-T1, and so I picked up a couple of rolls of 120 Rollei Infrared 400 intending to use it whilst in Devon for a family wedding this July. Well, I’m consigned to barracks and in any event the wedding is postponed until 2021. So, the first roll, which I bought to test before using the second in “anger”, has now been exposed within the confines of my back yard. Now before any one shouts, I realise that Rollei INFRARED 400 is not a ‘true’ infrared film, but one with near-infrared sensitivity to about 820nm. I’m not going to quibble though and in any case this was about experimentation My weapon of choice for this experiment was a Bronica SQ-A, for no reason other than I like using it, plus the mirror lock-up would be useful. The film was rated at 400 ISO per the box and I shot a couple of frames without any filtration at this speed. I then attached a 720nm infrared filter and based on what I had been reading metered the scene at 12 ISO, an increase in exposure of five stops. Finally, I developed the film in Rodinal (1+25) at 20°C. Contrary to some reports I’ve seen elsewhere on the web, the film went onto the reel very easily with no obvious curl to the acetate. So, to the pictures. My first impression on hanging the roll of negatives to dry was how sharp and crisp they were. Some were clearly over-exposed but as I kept detailed notes that will enable me to learn from these. Popping the dry negatives on the light pad was an exciting moment as it was then I saw just how successful the experiment had been. 20

Recognise the image? Bronica SQ-A, 150mm lens f16 Rollei Infrared 400

The first three frames (see previous page) had been taken with no filter, a polarising filter and lastly a 720nm infrared filter that I use with my full-spectrum Fuji X-T1. Just looking at the negatives I could see the dramatic differences between the first and third negative; even the negative has an ethereal feel. The third of these frames is shown, as a darkroom print on page 4 and as adigitally scanned and modified image on the cover. So, what did I make of this quirky film? Well, I have to admit that I was predisposed to the idea as I’ve shot a lot of infrared on my digital cameras as can be seen on my FLICKR account. What I wasn’t prepared for was how much I liked these simple front/back yard images. They add a whole new dimension to the portfolio of images I’m creating during the Lockdown, although the image top right is proving a toughie to print in the darkroom because of the high contrast negative (hybrid image here therefore). The day I chose was cloudy with sunny intervals and not the full-on sunny day with blue skies I had hoped for but I love the feel of these images nevertheless. So, what special project will the other roll be saved for? Well, pragmatically It is simply being saved for the next sunny day here in my back yard. I want to see what effect blue skies will have and am also looking forward to trying this on scenes I’ve shot digitally in IR before. Never fear though as I’ve ordered another five rolls to keep on hand for when I do get back out with the camera!

Top: A typical IR scene – green foliage turning white whereas the table and other fittings are rendered more “normally” Below: Great definition in the clouds from the infrared film. Bronica SQ-A 150mm lens Rollei infrared 400 film 720nm filter 1/4 sec f16. Developed in Rodinal (1+25) 21

Apple (19th April 2020) Bronica ETRS , 75mm lens and E14 extension tube, Pan F+ f16 1 second. Developed in Perceptol 15minutes at 20C. Printed on Ilford VC paper at Grade 2 and developed in Ilford Multigrade Scan of darkroom print


Pears (19th April 2020) Bronica ETRS , 75mm lens and 4+ close-up filter, Pan F+ f11 1 second. Developed in Perceptol 15minutes at 20C. Printed on Ilford VC paper at Grade 2 and developed in Ilford Multigrade Scan of darkroom print


This page and opposite: Zac and Bronica (25th May 2020) Nikon L35 AF Kodak Tri-X Developed in Rodinal (1+25)Printed on Ilford VC paper at Grade 2 and developed in Ilford Multigrade Scan of darkroom prints



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Bronica ETRS, 75mm lens and +4 close-up filter. f5.6 1/60th sec Kosmo Foto100 developed in Xtol (1+1) Printed on Ilford MGIV RC Deluxe and developed in Ilford Multigrade See page 14 for scanned negative version, this is a scan of the darkroom print


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Mamiya RB67 PanF+ developed in Perceptol (1+3) Printed on Ilford MGIV RC Deluxe and developed in Ilford Multigrade Scan of the darkroom print


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Photonews Celebrating the Postal Photographic Club and its Members

Photonews is published four times per year. All rights reserved. All materials copyright The Postal Photographic Club and/or their respective authors. Any opinion or statement expressed by the author of any article published in this magazine does not necessarily reflect the views of The Postal Photographic Club, the editor or its members.

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