Medium Format Adventures 7

Clee Hill

Time for a progress report on the project with the RB67. I realise I have been a bit remiss in not providing an update on the saga of Clee Hill. Eventually on the Saturday following the aborted attempt I did succeed in getting to Clee Hill and taking some photos.

Remains of quarry works – looking towards mid-Wales

The weather was still an issue. The wind had abated to merely gale force, with wind speeds around 30-35 mph with stronger gusts. There were some breaks in the cloud. I would have preferred stronger sunlight to create better shadows. You have to go with what you’ve got, so I started working on taking some photos.

I usually would regard myself as moderately well organised. I’d included things like a small towel in my camera bag in case I needed to dry camera bodies or lenses. Unfortunately, I’d assumed that everything from the aborted trip was in the camera bag: that was a mistake as somewhere along the line I had taken my light meter out of the bag.

Exposure was always going to be an issue on this shoot. With film you need to aim for more exposure to get the density in the shadow detail. Other complicating factors: I would be shooting with small apertures – f/32 with the 180mm lens and f/45 with the 50mmm lens (for those worried about diffraction effects, the prints will be 20cm square, so not large enough for any softening to show up). I was using a yellow-green filter to improve contrast and to brighten grassy areas. That impacts exposure time by 1.5 stops. If exposure times exceeded 0.5s I would have to factor in reciprocity failure as well (the responsiveness of film falls away with longer exposures).

The workaround in the absence of the light meter was to assess the scene with the Nikon Z6. Its lowest ISO is 100 and the lowest aperture was f/22 with the 24-70mm f/4 Nikkor S lens. This involved some mental arithmetic as I was working on a net ISO of 80 after factoring in the 1.5 stops for the filter when using the ISO 200 film.

I shot 4 rolls of film – 3 Ilford HP5+ (ISO 400) and one Fomapan. First thing the following Wednesday at college I was in the darkroom processing. I used a triple reel tank for the HP5 and a single reel one for the Fomapan. Within the hour the films were in the drying cabinet.

I made a first attempt at scanning the negatives in the afternoon. That was tricky as the mask was really awkward to use. I found this weird as the kit was specifically designed for the task – yet it was poor at doing it.

Eventually in a second session the following week I got everything scanned and into Lightroom.

In the next exciting episode of Medium Format Adventures I will talk about processing the images in LR, split toning and the joys of printing…     


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