I'd like to say a big thank you to all who came to the Twentysix gallery, in Hebden Bridge, before Christmas and showed an interest in my work. It was lovely to meet you all and to have a chat. I always find it extremely interesting to see my work through the eyes of others and I definitely came away feeling I'd learnt something. I hope all those that bought prints will enjoy them for years to come.
I'd like to say a big thank you to Sue and Nicola, who run the gallery, for being so kind and such great fun and to fellow photographer Simon Wood who's work also graces the walls of the gallery with whom I had many a good photography chat and a laugh with.
Finally, if you visited and are interested in purchasing a print, I have now added them to my website. Drop me a line if there's anything you are interested in.
After having fun with my little IR converted Nikon I decided there were a few things that would distinctly improve my shooting experience. One was higher resolution files, the second was better focus accuracy, and the third was being able to see exactly what I was shooting. This is why I hit upon the rather risky idea of converting my Sony a7 to a full spectrum camera.
I went for full spectrum as opposed to dedicated infrared as I had hopes of still being able to use the camera for normal light shooting and maybe trying ultra violet light shooting too. To do this I dipped into the realms of astrophotography and got myself a - hard to find - Nikon F to Sony FE lens mount adaptor that incorporated a slot-in filter holder. Which simply meant I could use any of My Nikon lenses and only have to buy one filter to shoot infra red. The same for visible light just slot in a UV/IR cut filter ad shoot away. this system also makes it quicker to change lenses as you don't have to screw and unscrew filters.
So, onto converting the camera. To do this you simply remove the UV/IR filters (also called a hot mirror) from the front of the sensor. Not too tricky you may think - and it isn't - apart from the fact that Sony seem to have built the entire camera around the sensor. Meaning you start disassembling from the back and keep stripping away the layers and circuit boards until you end up at the sensor (which is at the front!).
Here's a time lapse vid of the two hour mission to strip and rebuild it.
Anyhow, with the operation successful, I took it out to Cumbria to shoot a few test shots.
In conclusion I have to say I am very pleased with it. I always liked the Sony a7 as a high-quality, flexible, do everything camera that is ideal for travel. Now it can shoot infra red too it really does make it a do-everything camera. Sure enough the external UV/IR cut filter leaves a slight colour cast, that needs to be corrected in post-processing, but I don't generally shoot in colour much so it doesn't really bother me. Being able to see the infra red image in the electronic viewfinder is absolutely fabulous as is being able to reliably nail focus.
Does stripping the filters from the sensor have a detrimental effect on the images? Well nothing obvious to me. I know that changing the sensor stack height changes the way the light hits the sensor (less refraction probably) and can lead to image smearing, however I've shot so far with my Nikon mount 20mm Voigtlander lens and the Nikon 50mm AF-D and have no noticeable issues. I'm no pixel peeper, and if you are you'd probably never take a screwdriver to your camera anyway. However I did - and it's fun!
As a long time lover of shooting with my Rolleiflex I decided to see how it would fare shooting infrared after I managed to find a filter that would fit it on ebay.
Theoretically it should be good for infrared given it has a separate viewing lens so faming would be much more accurate than with my Zeiss Ikonta with it's little viewfinder. Focusing should be better too infrared focusing issues aside.
Although the infrared film I use film is rated at ISO 400 the infrared filter costs you four stops (you can hardly see anything through it with the naked eye) which means you're actually shooting at ISO 25 and getting exposure times of about 1 second. So I had the idea Ito try pushing the film so I could shoot it hand held. I couldn't really find any info on pushing the Rollei 400 IR film so I just took a guess on adjusting the development time to push it 3 stops, meaning I could expose and meter it at ISO 100.
Anyway, I couldn't believe my luck, the test worked great. The exposures looked good and surprisingly the film, which is normally a bit grainy anyway, took to pushing really well and actually came out easily as smooth as normal Ilford HP5+. In fact better if anything.
The other bonus seemed to be that the Rollei focused really accurately. Which is astonishing given infrared causes focus shift in almost everything meaning taking shots of anything but landscapes very tricky. I can only put this down to the Rollei lenses being simple and having less elements the modern lenses and perhaps the glass having a fairly unique refractive index at infrared wavelengths.
Anyway here's some pictures from that test roll.
Whilst on the subject of Infrared. Here's a few shots from my infrared Nirkon (see earlier post) which I took on an outing to Bolton Abbey recently.
You may recall from a previous post that I made myself a little Infrared film set-up, to experiment with, which I christened The Dalek. I've found infrared photography to be an interesting little adventure and so decided to make The Dalek a little digital buddy.
To do this I took an old Nikon D80, which I stripped and removed the infrared cut filter, from in front of the sensor, and replaced it with a780nm infrared pass filter which I had cut from a piece of polycarbonate filter material. I then had to reassemble it and remember where all the screws came from!
And so the Nirkon was born! (For those wondering Nikon+Infra Red=NIRKON )
I've given it a little test and results seem pretty decent. It probably needs a few tweaks to get it perfect but I'm pretty pleased with the initial results.
I recently took the little Zeiss up to local monument, Stoodley Pike, to get a Dalek's eye view of what it would look like in infrared.
I was very pleased with the results. I don't usually like shooting under bright blue skies, so I'm really enjoying turning them black at infrared wavelengths. In fact I liked this picture so much I decided to make a pretty big platinum print of it.
And yes, that's me reflected in it. I don't get it right every time!
Just for fun I recently thought I'd explore shooting infrared film. I was interested to see what the world looked like at the further reaches of the spectrum. to do this I decided to kick off with Rollei Infrared 400 medium format film.
Given the difficulties in shooting Infrared film - essentially lens filters too dark to see through and the fact it is notoriously hard to focus - I decided that little vintage Zeiss Ikonta, kindly given to me by a friend, would be the ideal medium format IR landscape camera as it was small, light and had a viewfinder for framing that wouldn't be blacked out by the infrared filter. Also, whist having no focusing system (apart from distances marked on the lens) is a pain in most situations it would be just fine for landscapes.
The main job was to loosen up the sticky shutter and find a way of attaching a IR filter. This I did with the help of a vintage lens hood.
I then christened it the Dalek (for obvious reasons).
For it's first outing I decided to take the little Zeiss out to Hare Hill House to see what it could do.
As you'll see from the main pic above it did a good job for an old timer. The Rollei film worked well and whilst it is very high contrast, and a little grainy, it still made a very nice wet-print.
So all-in-all I'm very pleased with what my Zeiss Dalek can do. I think we'll take a few more trips together soon.
I've been a little quiet of late, partially because it's been winter (BOOO!) and also because my negative printer has died (double BOOO!) but also because an opportunity came my way.
I've had the chance to move my studio to the floor above where it is currently, to a space that can be fully sealed off. A light-fast room gives me the option of experimenting with many more photographic processes. That is once I'd built a wall, a ceiling, plumbed in water and have electric installed. It's not been a small job but I'm pleased to say it's nearly complete.
I'm going back to my roots for the first process I'm going to experiment with - good old wet printing - something I've not done since college. Fortunately I already had an enlarger and various bits still in my loft but I have also benefitted from the generosity of friends who have donated pretty much everything else I need.
Well anyone in fashion retail will know what that title signifies. Spring - Summer 2017.
Which means i've been helping my pals at Violet flamingo shoot their new range for the new season. It's a departure for both of us as we generally prefer a more 'muted' pallet to say the least, but we really enjoyed this splash of colour. I hope you do too.
I was fortunate enough to have my photography featured in the pages of Femme Rebelle Magazine, which in it's own words 'showcases the best in alternative fashion photography from the UK and abroad'.
This was all made possible thanks to a collaboration between Linsey James of Violet Flamingo, Martha Lyons Haywood - Model, Louise Riley - Hair and Chloe Louse Gorton - Makeup who were all simply brilliant and as always a joy to work with.
Christmas is coming and I'm trying to get into the studio to make a few more prints before the Ebor Studio Christmas show on the 3rd December. Today I was working in 6.5ºC temperatures, but you don't feel the cold when your engrossed in what you're doing.
This is my first large platinum print of my Trees in Mist image. This one was printed on Arches Platine paper and will be available in the Christmas show.
The Ballad Of British Folklore Exhibition at Christie's, South Kensington, London.
Well it finally happened. My platinum prints are now on display at Christie's auctoin house in London. They form part of The Museum Of British Folklore's exhibition 'The Ballad Of British Folklore'. The prints, which are from my Rushbearers series (and can be found on this site here and here), feature amongst a great many folklore artefacts and the work of fellow photographers including the excellent Homer Sykes and Sarah Hannant.
On the night of the private viewing we had attendance figures of around the 1,000 mark and were treated to a number of talks, live demonstrations and performances and I had the pleasure of discussing my work with a good number of people. It was superb fun and absolutely lovely to see the work in situ.
The exhibition runs from 25 July – 1 September 2016 at Christie's Auction House, South Kensington, London.
www.christies.com/exhibitions/2016/the-ballad-of-british-...If anyone should find themselves in London over the summer please try to pop by and give the museum (and me!) their support.
Talking of support I'd like to give thanks to the excellent Hahnemühle UK for allowing me to use its new Platinum Rag paper for the project. It produced excellent results and if your interested in trying it yourself then that's another good reason to visit Christie's to check it out. :)
Anyway here's some pictures from the official opening to give a little flavour of what went on.
My good friend and fellow Ebor Studio inhabitant, Lindsey James of Violet Flamingo clothing brand, liked my panorama of Hare Hill House and asked if I could do it again but this time as a brand-shoot for Violet Flamingo. So I did, but this time using added multiple exposures to include Martha the model in various locations. Always hard trying to replicate something you'd done previously but great fun.
I have a shiny (literally - it's silver) pack of the new Platinum Rag paper from those lovely people at Hahnemühle UK. I've been doing a little tweaking to fine-tune my workflow and ensure works optimally with this interesting new paper.
Ihope to have something to show very soon. Watch this space!
In the meantime yo can always take read up on it a little on the Hahnemühle Platinum Rag website here.
A little while ago my friend Mick came to visit me in the studio. We had a good old natter, drank a few cups of tea and did a little portrait session.
Now those who know me will know I consider portraits to be a tricky thing - and to be totally frank - I've never fully come to terms with the concept of a portrait. What is one supposed to achieve? Why are they so popular? A common belief seems to be that it can in some way reveal the inner nature of a person. Me I'm not entirely sure about that, but it intrigues me, which is why I keep doing portrait projects. You could say it's an itch I keep trying to scratch.
Never-the-less, and despite this dilemma, I was determined to deliver a picture that was true to Mick as I know him. However when it came to choosing a picture I thought summed Mick up I struggled. There were many good images but to me each was simply a frozen moment in time and conveyed little more. Then amongst all these images I spotted a sequence of images that seemed just right together. And so I decided, rather than a single image, my portrait of Mick should be a triptych. Sure it still doesn't convey the complexities of the human condition but I feel it gave a broader slice of Mick's personality - and what's more triptychs are fun!
I'm slowly scaling up my operation. Something you don't just leap into when you're dealing with platinum as mistakes can be costly. However now I have a lovely new batch of Arches Platine paper to play with I thought it was time. This print is about nine inches square on a sheet that is roughly 12" x 16".
The image itself was taken on the Streets of Manchester (England) with a Rolleiflex 3.5F, medium format camera, scanned and enlarged onto a digital negative.
A handful of you out there may recognise the Captain Beefheart reference in the title.
I'm now avidly trying to get a picture of a squid eating dough in a polyethylene bag but you don't get many of those in the north west of England. ;o)
In my quest for studio perfection I decided I should like to upgrade my ultra violet exposure unit.
Those familiar with alternative photographic processes will be aware that a UV light box is a pretty common tool. It is used to expose whatever you're printing onto/with to UV light which when passed through a negative onto a pre-prepared light sensitive surface can produce an image.
My own UV box was okay. I built it myself and it had been slowly upgraded and tweaked over the last six months and did a decent enough job. It had a vacuum driven contact frame which I was very proud of and could hold a sheet of paper up to 600mm square. the only thing I wasn't happy with was the exposure times, which were a very lazy 25minutes that impacted upon my work-flow and rather stressed my vacuum pump.
With this in mind I began looking into how to improvements. My initial idea was to increase the amount of UV florescent tubes from 6 to 14 and increase power and efficiency by over-driving the tubes and using modern high efficiency ballasts. However before I did this a fairly new technological advance, namely ultraviolet LEDs caught my eye. Having found that you can buy them, ready-to-go, on a 5m long ribbon I decided to buy a length and jury-rig a test. The results from this rough test were surprising - a very good and even exposure in less than ten minutes. Hearted by this I shelved my UV tube ideas and set out to build an LED based unit.
I purchased an extra 5m of the LED ribbon and and set about cutting it and attaching it to a white foamex board.
Once finished I had a UV array consisting of in excess of 640 LEDsWhilst housing the new LED panel I took the opportunity to improve my existing UV unit box, slimming it down and generally tidying it up. I fitted out the inside with white foamex to more effectively reflect the light and moved the vacuum pump so it could be mounted externally to prevent heat soak into the vacuum frame and stop it blowing dust around inside the box.
For added ease of use I also integrated a timer unit, which allowed me to pre-select a time, hit the start button and let it go.
So how is it? ...
All in all I'm very pleased. It's a much neater set-up and a dream to use. It runs cool and uses less power. The only issue I've found is that the LEDs seem to be producing a slightly lower contrast image. I assume this is due to the longer wavelength of emitted by the LEDs compared to the UV tubes (405nm against 375nm), though I'm not sure of the physics involved, but I should be able to compensate for that.
Here's a little vid of it running.
UPDATE. Surprisingly the move from tubes to LED has meant that I have had to produce new Photoshop adjustment curves for the printing of my digital negatives. I can only put this down to the manner in which the longer wavelength UV light emmitted by the LEDs penetrates the film and ink of the printed negs. However once the adjustment has been made it is all working great.