Analogue film, alternative, hybrid and darkroom
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Contents 7 The canal
Clifford Morris FRPS Waterways around the West Midlands, U.K. proved the inspiration for a pictorial study.
11 Lith printing
Christopher Osborne An unexpected discovery led to experiences in using this printing technique.
17 The journey to a photography degree Steve Le Grys ARPS
Obtaining a modern education by getting hands-on with a Victorian process.
23 Artist’s lenses: spatial mapping across photographic formats Renato Uccellini
Can new technology assist the analogue photographer? An app for the smart phone is explored.
Analogue Group Chair David Healey ARPS E: email@example.com Treasurer Peter Young LRPS E: firstname.lastname@example.org Programme Secretary Steven Godfrey E: email@example.com Hon. Secretary Richard Bradford ARPS E: analoguesecretary @rps.org Editor Richard Bradford ARPS E: firstname.lastname@example.org Designer Simon W Miles Web Content Manager Amy-Fern Nuttall ARPS E: email@example.com
cover: Atmosphere created just as the ice is melting on the canal in Smethwick by Clifford Morris. ← left: Emma by Steve Le Grys. ← ← far left: Badass Rider by Steve Le Grys. ➤ Analogue Magazine ➤ 7
Kay Reeve FRPS Owen Andrew Charles Binns
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Editorial Welcome to this, the 7th edition of Analogue.. Chris Osborne shares his discovery of ‘lith printing’, one of his prints featured left, to which I have added a note of clarification. Combining all stages of the photographic process, from preparing plates to exposing and developing Steve Le Grys recounts his adventure with wet collodion. Somewhat in contrast, Renato Uccellini reviews a modern take on an age-old problem – how to visualise a scene before setting up a camera. Also out in the field was Clifford Morris. He follows a more ‘applied’ route with his photography of the early canals in the post-industrial landscape and their subsequent archiving. You will not be surprised to hear my usual plea to keep the supply of articles and images coming. I have been delighted by the offers I have been receiving and do not want to dampen anyone’s enthusiasm to contribute. As several of the authors would (I hope) testify, I am very willing to help those who are hesitant or unsure about their abilities. Please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am hoping to get another issue out next spring, so receiving your work early in the New Year would make this possible. Richard Bradford ARPS, Editor
Copyright: The copyright of individual articles and images belongs to the contributor, unless otherwise stated. Copyright of the Analogue newsletter belongs to The Royal Photographic Society © 2018. Disclaimer: The views expressed in the Analogue newsletter are, unless otherwise noted, those of the individual contributors. They are not necessarily those of the Analogue Group or of The Royal Photographic Society. This includes articles from a contributor who is also a committee member or Society employee. ➤ Analogue Magazine ➤ 7
The Royal Photographic Society was founded in 1853 to “promote the art and science of photography”. The Analogue Group was formed in 2015. Membership of the Group is open to all Society members at an additional subscription of £15.00 per annum. This includes the Analogue magazine which is published during the year. Back issues are available for viewing and download on the Issuu website. The Royal Photographic Society, Fenton House, 122 Wells Rd, Bath BA2 3AH T: +44 (0)1225 325733 E: email@example.com W: www.rps.org Website & Social Media E: firstname.lastname@example.org ➤ NOVEMBER 2018 ➤ 5
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The canal Clifford Morris FRPS
Background I started photography with a camera as a 21st birthday present, joined a local club and then the RPS. Eventually, I progressed to an Associateship in 1971 and the Fellowship in 1974. I was Midland Regional Organizer for 16 years and ran the Joint Entry Scheme for 8 years, sending over 5,000 prints by members to overseas exhibitions and was awarded the 1981 Fenton Medal. Now in my late seventies, the darkroom has sadly gone as sloshing about big dishes of chemicals didn’t seem a sensible thing to do after my heart by-pass.
Inspiration for canal images In 2002 I had a touring exhibition of my pictures of canals called O nly the tide of timeand since then it has been held in archival storage at Walsall History Centre which is shortly to close. I therefore donated all of this work to the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port and, much to my surprise, part of the exhibition was on show again until the 15th July this year. The museum is closed on Mondays but opens Tuesday to Sunday 10.00 till 4.00. The museum is well signposted and is on South Pier Road in Ellesmere Port.
I looked directly at the canals and their surroundings without people or boats, wishing to show how the effects of time had transformed them from a cargo-carrying industry to the leisure industry they are today. This approach has led to rather stark and melancholy images. They were all taken on a Nikon 35mm camera on Ilford FP4 film and printed on Ilford Gallerie paper, and Ilford kindly gave me some sponsorship toward the production of the exhibition. The photographs were taken in the 1990s and the exhibition toured in the early years of this century; hence my surprise to see them on show again. However to me they still look just as fresh. Contact email@example.com
← left: The juxtaposition of these garages and the roving bridge in Netherton intrigued me.
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↑↑ top: Arrowheads amongst industrial reflections in Walsall. ↑ above: A black country tethered pony near Deepfields Junction was looking for food on a desperately cold winter’s day. ← left: A storm valve by the canal in Smethwick. → right: Winson Green Bridge, Birmingham.
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Lith printing Christopher Osborne I came across some Lith Printed images while researching my degree, and was intrigued by the contrast, and also the peachy tones that this process can create in the highlight areas. In the end, it took just over a year to find the inclination, time and a suitable project.
Ironically, I began my journey into lith printing not looking for extreme contrast, but rather wishing to use the peachy highlight tones that this process can create.
For those folk who have not come across lith printing before – this isn’t the same thing as lithography used in the printing industry. Lith printing is a silver gelatin based darkroom process which produces high contrast images, and on some photographic papers causes the highlights to turn yellow, peach or orange. In modern parlance, one could accurately describe this technique as an extreme darkroom hack! Still life scenes are possibly the most common genre in lith printing, probably because the high contrast can be employed to strengthen the image through contrast manipulation. I have included a before and after comparison to show what lith printing does. The image was shot by Roy Gardner in the early 1970’s (on FP3!). The first is a scan which is a tonally accurate reflection of a print he made of a grey autumn day. The second is a reprint I made with lith printing.
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I am still in the process of creating a body of work in which I wish to jolt the viewer into interpreting a series of landscapes as a series of metaphors exploring the political changes in our time by adding a surreal tone to the series. (see http://image.photography/1/heartlands/).
↖ above left: Roy Gardener, before. ↑ above: Roy Gardener. after.
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Lith printing turns conventional darkroom practice upside down. Instead of varying print darkness by exposure, and developing for a standard time, in lith printing one exposes for the highlights, and develops until the shadows are judged by eye to be almost there. I found typical exposures to have the enlarger lens 2 stops further open and exposure times 4-5 times the duration of my normal range. This process uses a very weak developer – a tray containing 1 litre of mixed Fotospeed L20 is good for just three 8x10inch sheets. This extreme dilution also means that development times are long – in my case somewhere between 5 and 7 minutes. Nothing visibly happens for the first 3-4 minutes. The image then faintly appears and grows darker at an exponential rate. Lith printers call this ‘infectious development’. Just as one sees the image reaching the right density by safelight, print development is rapidly stopped by quickly dropping the paper in a stop bath. I did accidentally drop one sheet back in the developer – it must have had 5 seconds more in the developer, and this small period was enough to send the paper almost black! Once three sheets have been used 1/3 of the developer is discarded and replenished with freshly mixed developer. ➤ Analogue Magazine ➤ 7
If you are doing this for the first time, the discarded developer is kept to mature the next printing session’s batch – lith printers refer to this as “Old Brown”. Lith printing is widely regarded as being highly unpredictable, and can, therefore, be a frustrating process. Before starting, I thoroughly recommend Tim Rudman’s The Master Photographer’s Lith Printing Course: A Definitive Guide to Creative Lith Printing, which is easy to read, and provides enough information to make predictable prints from the off. Not all photographic papers can be lith printed. The process generally works better on chloro-bromide papers rather than normal silver bromide papers – so warmtone papers are good for lith printing. Much of the research on which papers work that is in the public domain is now quite dated, with many of the manufacturers having either ceased production or improved their product so that it no longer ‘liths’. Research indicated that Ilford Warmtone paper does not lith in the traditional sense, but that Foma and Slavich papers do work well. I used Foma warmtone for these images and was able to make consistent results straight away.
Further information Fotospeed LD20 Lith Developer (Part A & B) https://www. fotospeed.com/LD20Lith-Developer-Part-Aamp;-B/products/1264/ Rudman, Tim (1998) The Master Photographer’s Lith Printing Course: A Definitive Guide to Creative Lith Printing. Amphoto (Now part of Penguin Random House - see http:// crownpublishing. com/archives/imprint/ amphoto-books)
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Normally, it takes two or three prints to mature brand new developer in order to colour the highlights. I found this colouration to be far more consistent and faster to achieve when the developer was made with distilled water rather than water from the town supply.
I tend to find myself selecting the processes that I will use near the beginning of each body of work, and right now I am in the world of cyanotype and gum bichromate. Did I like lith printing enough to come back to it? Well, there is a fresh kit sitting in my store cupboard! Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor’s note Some readers may be intrigued or confused by the term ‘lith printing’ so here is a brief explanation. As Chris says, ‘lith’ takes its name from ‘lithography’ or ‘lithographic’. Nowadays this is the most common (ink-)printing method for books, magazines and newspapers. If you look closely at such material, you will see that the image is formed from a solid, unbroken, layer of ink. This is delivered by a plate in the printing press. Producing ink / no ink is straightforward for text but posed a problem for images with a tonal range. The solution is to break up the image into dots of various sizes. This creates an illusion at normal viewing distances where the individual dots become invisible and merge with the colour of the background (typically white) base material.
Nowadays the preparation of the plates used on the printing presses is controlled digitally but in the past required very highcontrast photographic materials, often in several stages. Not surprisingly, these became known as ‘lith’ materials whose handling was a highly-specialised task, largely invisible and therefore unknown to those outside the industry. Nevertheless it was fairly common for the average professional photographer’s darkroom to have a box of lith film and bottle of developer for the occasional production of high-contrast photographic images. To get the highest contrast, lith film required a hydroquinone developer. This had a higher pH than normal for other developers which shortened its life. In development, nothing would appear to happen for a while, then suddenly the image would appear. At this
stage it was tempting to pull the film out of the tray but unless development was allowed to continue, the resulting image would be full of ‘pinholes’ (small undeveloped spots) which required blocking- / masking-out before the film could be used - a tedious task and a lesson quickly learned. It is fair to say that lith materials and their processing needed regular handling for the user to become familiar with their characteristics in order to produce reliable results. Inexperienced hands could find them very frustrating. Returning to the present, an internet search only shows Ultrafine supplying lith films. However, ‘lith’ (i.e. hydroquinone-based) developers are still available and have been ‘re-purposed’ for use with ordinary photographic materials to give the effect which Chris describes.
Further information Ultrafine Imaging Products: http://www.ultrafineonline.com/ulhicoorlifi.html Bibliography Jacobson, R.E. (1976) The manual of photography London: Focal Press, p353. Neblette, C.B. (1962) Photography its materials and processes, 6th edition New Jersey: D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc. pp231-9. ➤ Analogue Magazine ➤ 7
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↑ above: Liz.
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↑ above: Thelma.
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The journey to a photography degree Steve Le Grys ARPS My journey started with an unplanned chance visit to the exhibition of the Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron at the Science Museum. This visit as a second-year photography degree undergraduate led to a profound change in my studies and photographic perception. After that day, I changed, and my photography changed with it.
afterwards. Finding someone to teach me the wet collodion process was a problem, none of my tutors knew how it was done. I eventually found someone who did the occasional workshop. Apart from a short workshop one Sunday afternoon I did not research any books, films, YouTube videos or computer databases for information into how to do wet collodion photography. This lack of research information was important to replicate what a Victorian would have had to endure on the road to becoming a photographer. If this project idea was to work I had to be self-taught.
This exhibition raised the question, how did the Victorians learn how to photograph, who taught them? Up to that fateful day I had been mulling over various ideas for my final year degree project, I now had a question which could be worthy for my project.
Now, what do I need?
The basic concept was how to become a photographer using only the means available to a person circa 1860. What problems would a Victorian face to become a photographer? My project idea was met with a mixed response. Some tutors were very against, others were very supportive. I believe my project created a lot of discussion amongst my tutors and at my university in general.
I had some knowledge of the chemicals needed from past darkroom experience and knew that some chemicals such as silver nitrate are dangerous. A chance discussion led me to an internet company able to supply these chemicals ready mixed. So, the problem to source chemicals and mix them was solved. Talking to people, which I did a lot of, was my way of gaining information, again replicating the progress of a would-be Victorian photographer.
The photographic process used circa 1860 was called Wet Collodion. This is the process of hand coating a glass or metal plate with a photographic emulsion, photographing your subject and prompt development
I now needed a camera, a big problem. A Victorian would not have been able to stroll down to the high street to buy a sophisticated, precision made, computer controlled digital camera.
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A tutor suggested using the university’s laser cutter to make my own camera using one of the many CAD plans available on the internet. This did not feel the right course to go down. Another chance discussion (chance played a massive part in this project) led me to a company producing a very crude 10x8 camera kit. This kit required much modification and many additional parts, but I now had the basic parts to build a camera. The camera was constructed over a 2-month period. The lens was a second-hand Fuji 300mm F5.6 bought on eBay. The modern
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lens purchase did bring criticism but with time running out to final project submission, it was ignored. I had to un-learn so much of what I knew. I had to
re-learn how to handle, compose and use a large 10x8 camera. Composing your photograph when it’s upside down and back to front on a ground glass screen under a black cloth was another learning experience. I had been shown how to handle a light-weight 5x4, but this did not compare to the bulk of a 10x8. A darkroom was built, chemicals were purchased, and my first subject or victim was my mother in law. The camera, the chemicals, the darkroom it all worked. A great moment.
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Whys and wherefores…
With my light meter set to ISO 3, its lowest setting, then a rough exposure would be 5 stops slower than my light meter readout. This method unfortunately did not work well in midwinter. At this time of year there is little UV light available and wet plate is sensitive to the blue end of the spectrum.
Over the next few months my photography progressed. All the highs and lows of my endeavours were recorded. I changed chemicals often and noted the changes. I changed my darkroom practice to what I felt was a better method. I changed from using glass as a carrier to plastic. All the time constantly looking for a different way to achieve a better result.
This lack of sensitivity to red and yellow, the brightest light of powerful halogen lamps, was a particular problem indoors where I also wanted to be able to photograph. At this point I deviated from being a wet collodion purist as I had a project to complete and time was running out. My lighting problem was solved by purchasing 2 powerful daylight LED lights producing 6000 Lumen at 5500ºK.
The biggest hurdle that I faced in all my self-taught learning experience was lighting – and this process needs a lot of it. A basic exposure method was established, but it was dependent on many variables. If I could keep all my chemicals at 20ºC (not easy in either summer or winter) and that my collodion solution had not suddenly degraded, or that my silver nitrate solution was not depleted of silver, then I could with some certainty use a light meter to determine a correct exposure.
Wet collodion photography must be conducted whilst the plate is wet. Once the plate has been coated with the photographic emulsion, you have about 5 minutes to complete the process. This requires a nearby darkroom. ↑ above: Gill.
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The purchase of a small darkroom tent allowed photography on location. The setup of a darkroom with water and chemicals in the middle of nowhere was also a logistical problem to overcome. This would have been a similar problem for a Victorian, but I had the use of a car with trailer and not limited to horse drawn transport. This process is very slow and if you make a mistake, you end up wasting a great deal of time. I have had to learn to stop and think carefully: What is it that I am doing? Why am I doing this? What do I want to achieve? This thoughtful questioning was something that I never did using a point and press digital camera. All these thoughts and changes to method and practice I recorded in my degree research journal. It was a big project and an even bigger voyage of photographic discovery.
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I’m glad that I decided not to be a wet collodion purist, I wanted to learn to use an old process but the use of a few 21st century additions such as plastic, a modern lens and LED lights made the whole process easier and more enjoyable to do.
Final thoughts… Wet Collodion is a logistical nightmare to organise especially for location work. I would not want to put anyone off if they would like to shoot wet plates but they need to understand what they are getting in to. The process is very simple to execute but there are so many things that do go wrong. This is not a process for anyone who is not of a practical nature. I would like to stress another point regarding anyone thinking about taking up wet collodion, get public liability
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insurance. Silver nitrate is not a nice chemical and collodion is flammable. A chemical spill kit is also a must. My degree project was a vast and complicated affair which consumed all my waking hours for 12 months. To become competent in the use of wet collodion photography was only one half of my degree project, the other half was to create a portfolio of 15 image to be submitted for marking. This is a story for another time, perhaps. Contact email@example.com I have had some interest in running workshops myself and I have explored working in partnership with a local art and craft group near to where I live in Suffolk.
→ right: Rose Garden, Hyde Hall. ← left: Kentwell Hall.
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Further information Almudena Romero: Ran the wet plate workshop that I attended. She is or was a lecturer at one of the London universities, specialising in alternative forms of photography. I have met her a few times now at different events. I believe Almudena has run workshops and worked for the V&A National Portrait and Tate Galleries, and is part of the London Alternative Photography Collective , her contact details are: Studio C. 287, Royal Victoria Dock, London E16 3BY https://www.almudenaromero. co.uk.
Camera: The basic parts that made up the camera that I made came from a company called Custom Bellows Ltd., a specialist camera bellows manufacturer. Unit 26, Camphill Industrial Estate, Highgate, Birmingham. B12 OHU http://www.custombellows.co.uk
The rest of the parts came from various hardware shops such as B&Q. The camera kit was basic and much modification was needed. I am not sure if they still make these kits as I had the last one. Plastic: The plastic that I use comes from a local sheet plastic company called Amari Plastics. Again I am
glad that I use plastic as glass is a pain to cut, clean and prepare. Chemicals: All my chemicals come from Wet plate Supplies: http://www.wetplatesupplies. com/wetplate-collodion.html I am glad that this website exists as I have little desire to handle some of these chemicals in their raw state.
← left: Kentwell Hall.
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Artists viewfinder Renato Uccellini
Artist’s lenses: spatial mapping across photographic formats
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Artist’s lenses: spatial mapping across photographic formats Renato Uccellini Wide angle lenses were a revelation. However, it was not until I was able to visualise the effect that a wide-angle lens could wield upon a subject, that I would fully begin to realise and appreciate their creative potential. After becoming a Society member in 2017, I started developing my understanding of some of the physics behind photographic lenses, wide-angle lenses in particular, with the view to developing and refining my 35mm composition and visual framing creative skills. The tool which helped to bring some light to this emerged from an independent software house called DIRE Studio, who develop and maintain a unique piece of software for iOS devices called Artist’s Viewfinder. They were kind enough to issue a review copy for ➤ Analogue Magazine ➤ 7
Analogue and to answer some questions. Artist’s Viewfinder requires an iOS device with a built-in camera running iOS 9 or higher. The version downloaded for this article was 5.2.1 (build 949) for the iPhone 6s, although an older version (4.3) continues to be available to support the iPhone 4.
35mm film cameras from Canon, Contax, Leica and Nikon are each
supported and a generic 35mm is also available. Multiple fixed focal length lenses
A central concept in Artist’s Viewfinder is the ‘virtual camera’. This is used to simulate a camera set-up - body (format to simulate), back for medium- and large format cameras, lens focal length, and other options. Camera bodies are grouped by manufacturer by an alphabetical thumbnail index on the right-side of the ‘camera body’ screen to quickly navigate to a specific manufacturer. The app comprises a comprehensive database of camera equipment featuring over 500 different cameras from various manufacturers that are available to choose from; ➤ NOVEMBER 2018 ➤ 24
may be added to each virtual camera that is created and even zoom lenses are usefully accommodated. Zooming-in and -out on the main viewfinder screen is supported using familiar touch-screen gestures: ‘Pinching outwards’ will zoom in by up to 10x to see how the look of longer focal lengths, while ‘pinching in’ will zoom out to 0.6x to help visualise focal lengths just outside of the iPhone camera’s capabilities. There is also a useful detent to help guide the user back to the default 1x zoom level, although this is quite subtly implemented. Zooming is further accommodated within the ‘edit virtual camera’ screen where there is an additional toggle switch labelled ‘Zoom Frame’; this mode supports zoom lenses by optionally displaying a numerical focal length parameter in the top right corner of the viewfinder display which increments and ➤ Analogue Magazine ➤ 7
decrements in accordance with the simulated zooming-in and zooming-out. Artists Viewfinder classifies its lenses into two groups (i) real lenses and (ii) generic focal lengths. The distinction between these two groups is fundamental to the accuracy of the simulated live view; more on this later. Perhaps the most important icon found within the ‘lenses screen’ is the ‘wide required’ badgedicon, signalling that additional third-party hardware – a wideangle converter – is required to accurately simulate frame-lines for that focal length. Since the current iPhones are equipped with a medium-wide focal length lens, equating to around 3134mm in 135 format (depending on iPhone model), simulating wider-angle lenses is deemed to require an additional wide-angle converter. Laszlo Pusztai (Artists
Viewfinder’s software developer) confirmed the focal-length of my iPhone 6s to be 32mm in 135 format, with a 60 degree horizontal angle of view. Because the Artists Viewfinder app must run on so many
different iOS devices, each with their own focal length, I asked Laszlo specifically about the iOS device-profiling techniques they employ and how they provide built-in profiles for the wide converter lenses they choose to natively adopt and support.(1)
“Regarding the profiles for each device-converter combination, we make one for each combination by hand. The profiling is done by shooting a special target and running the image through a piece of software to calculate the distortion correction part of the profile. Then we measure the new angle of view of the combination. It is a tedious job, and it’s quite hard to keep up with the breakneck speed at which Apple introduces new devices. We have to purchase every device, and every wide converter we intend to make a profile for (with the exception of the Alpa stuff, since Alpa sends us a copy of lenses and cases for measurement purposes automatically as they become available). We also measure the angle of view of the phone alone - the angle the devices report tend to significantly differ from reality.” (1)
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The wide-angle converter I purchased for this review was the ACAM Super Wide Converter (SWC) from Alpa of Switzerland. It attaches to the iPhone via a custom-moulded case containing a recessed screw-thread for the adapter to be mounted flush against the iPhones’ camera lens. (Surprisingly, the lens adapter survived delivery by Royal Mail Special Delivery unboxed from ALPA’s UK distributor in rudimentary bubble wrap). I was pleased that both lens caps were included in the supplied package. A total of four cases were supplied with the ACAM SWC to support a wide-range of
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One immediate improvement would be a secure lanyard attachment; in the field I frequently found myself wishing I could release the iPhone from my hand to quickly make various positional and functional adjustments to my tripodmounted Nikon F6 camera in order to better match the visual feedback I was seeing in Artists Viewfinder, especially since the Artists Viewfinder app is a modern descendent of the optical viewfinders seen hanging round the necks of motionpicture film directors. I also felt
that excessive care needed to be taken when inserting and removing the iPhone from its supplied case. Its design seemed unnecessarily thin and quite fragile in contrast to more robust and protective folio style iPhone cases currently available. Case design and engineering material improvements are particularly needed here; presently they do not resonate with much higher user expectations. After creating and saving the virtual camera and lens combination, Artists Viewfinder
presents the user with its realtime Retina-based simulated live-view display of the selected lens(es) and their various angles of view, complete with overlaid frame-lines. It is striking to see these augmented frame-lines, in contrast to the purely theoretical knowledge I had assimilated from various texts, research papers, and some detailed e-mail exchanges with the RPS and Zeiss Germany. In use the compositional- and pre-visualisation applications of the app are immediate and it is a very engaging experience to observe the effect of different focal lengths. There are, however, some engineering factors working against full accuracy of each simulated lens. Firstly, the ISO 517:2008 allows lens manufacturers a 5% deviation between the advertised and effective focal length. For example, a ‘50mm’ lens could lie anywhere between 47.5mm and 52.5mm, thereby affecting the angle-of-view. Secondly, the ‘50mm’ only refers to the distance between the lens and ➤ NOVEMBER 2018 ➤ 26
the focal plane for a subject at infinity. Artists Viewfinder deals with the first problem by using the manufacturer’s accurately measured real focal length, which gets incorporated into ‘real lenses’ catalogue and selected under the ‘lens selector’ screen. This is a smart caveat for users who may need the overlaid frame-lines to show absolutely critical simulations of their preferred lenses.
To deepen the problem, a lens focusing on a nearer-than-infinity subject moves away from the focal plane, thereby narrowing the angle-of-view and increasing the magnification. I asked Laszlo whether or not Viewfinder compensated for this.(2) Luckily, the Artist’s Viewfinder lens catalogue included real-lens data for one of my own preferred
“It’s not possible to compensate for [this]. Lens manufacturers do not provide . . . data except [for] top-end cinema lenses. Moreover, iPhone / iPad cameras do not provide focusing distance information. So everything in our database applies from infinity to longish normal working distances. What I usually recommend people doing closeup work is to set up a virtual camera with the lens they’ll use (a 105 macro for example), measure the angle of view for regular working distances using the Zoom Frame tool (for example at 0.5m, 1m focusing distances), and add the measured values as custom focal lengths. This will result in a custom camera configuration for one lens indicating image size changes for different focusing distances.” (2)
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wide-angle lenses, the Zeiss Classic Distagon T* 18mm f/3.5. The Distagon is a retro-focus prime lens originally designed in the 1950s and is a pleasure to use. However, it can also be quite a daunting lens because it requires so much space in the frame to be carefully filled. Artists Viewfinder serves as a helpful pre-visualisation aid here to help evaluate and survey the scene. Interestingly, choosing both the generic- and the Zeiss real-lens data produced two sets of framelines with a small difference in their respective area sizes, although it was not immediately clear which set of frame-lines belonged to which group. Perhaps one of the most useful features of Artist’s Viewfinder for traditional film photographers is the black and white mode. Introduced since version 5.0, this feature has received careful
implementation and deserves some detailed explanation. It uses LAB colour space, which is closely related to the human-perception of colour, is device-independent with an extended gamut, and is often used in critical colour management systems to predictably transform between colour spaces. It comprises three components: (L) luminance, (A) red-green channel, and (B) blue-yellow channel. The app uses the LAB colour model to simulate monochrome by disabling the colour information in both its (A) and (B) channels, leaving just the (L) luminance channel displayed, resulting in an accurate monochrome preview of a given scene. For large format users, Artist’s Viewfinder offers a feature called ‘custom backs’. Largeformat users will recognise that many size differences ➤ NOVEMBER 2018 ➤ 27
exist between different film holder manufacturers owing to differences in the masked area of their dark-slides. For example, a ‘5x4-inch’ (127x103mm) dark-slide may actually produce an image measuring 120x95mm). In order to resolve this problem DIRE Studio recommends measuring the exposed area of a sheet of film, and associating this with a custom back used by the app to accurately augment its displayed frame-lines. This is an area that I hope to explore in the future as I progress from 135 format through medium format and up to 5 x 4-inch; that large format support is already included within the app is an incentive to do so, although Artist’s Viewfinder is incapable of simulating view camera movements. My experience of using Artist’s Viewfinder in the field has shown it to be invaluable as a visual framing tool when simulating and evaluating changes in composition and perspective across super-wide, medium-wide and standard fixed focal length lenses. Where the app really shines, though, is when ➤ Analogue Magazine ➤ 7
it is pared-down to its essence and used as a simple ‘Polaroid’ device in conjunction with a 35mm film camera. This enables the user to digitally pre-visualise and accurately evaluate framed shots of simulated real-lenses prior to committing exposures to film - instant feedback in order to improve the calibre of monochrome or colour photography. Held in landscape orientation, the volumeup button on the iPhone 6s also doubles as a shutter release which makes it as simple to use as any compact camera. My only significant criticism relates to the design of Artist’s Viewfinder’s screen icons, specifically the developer’s choice to use acronym abbreviations instead of (arguably) more intuitive graphic icons on the ‘main screen’, and its slightly confusing choice of graphic icons found within the recently introduced ‘quick control screen’. There is also some confusion caused by the customisable Function key on the ‘main screen’ (default: black and white mode toggle button - labelled with the
acronym ‘BW’) being different to the equivalent icon used to control the same function within the ‘quick control screen’. Better icon choices would not only help to catalyse the learning experience for new users, they would also help to support a more uniform and coherent userinterface. Hopefully this may be addressed in an update. The app is supported by a well produced technical user manual containing a good balance of introductory walkthrough and more in-depth features, as well as helpful background information. Nevertheless, there were some slightly conflicting instructions with regard to saving JPEG preview images (supported using AirDrop) which the developer has been quick to acknowledge and rectify. Strangely, a minor software bug also revealed itself during testing. This affected Canon EOS film camera simulations and resulted in the incorrect orientation of viewfinder frame-lines being displayed. However, this has since been corrected and will
be made available in the next software update. Artist’s Viewfinder is a sophisticated piece of software that is immersive and very well supported. It is clear that a great deal of thought, co-operative development work and userfeedback has already gone into its present form. It has many discrete applications such as evaluating and enhancing photographic composition, exploring sceneframing options, GPS-based location scouting and filmphotography based previsualisation. In my experience, it has also served as a highly effective educational tool for becoming more visually fluent in the photographic language of using various fixed focal length lenses. Mark II Artist’s Viewfinder is available now from the Apple App Store priced at £26.99. Unfortunately, there is no Android version of the app planned. Various third party wideangle adapters are available - this website has a PDF to download detailing currently-supported ➤ NOVEMBER 2018 ➤ 28
iOS devices: http://www. artistsviewfinder.com/tech-specs/. The Alpa ACAM SWC used in this review is available from Alpa’s UK distributor, Linhofstudio Ltd. Contact Renato Uccellini: firstname.lastname@example.org Further information DIRE Studio Kft., Szentendrei út 95., 1033 Budapest, Hungary. http://www.artistsviewfinder.com/ tech-specs/ E-mail: email@example.com Linhofstudio Ltd: http://linhofstudio.com
→ right: Matthew’s pumpkin, Hyde Hall by Steve Le Grys. → → back cover: This partly hidden yard behind the canal in the potteries has a sense of mystery by Clifford Morris. ➤ Analogue Magazine ➤ 7
➤ NOVEMBER 2018 ➤ 29
Magazine of the RPS Analogue Special Interest Group