With my large format camera in the Pentland Hills

The Pentland Hills south of Edinburgh are gentle Scottish hills, certainly when compared to the bigger and more spectacular mountains further north.  But they are my local hills, and I do like spending time in them.  When fellow photographer and Twitter-user Mike Colechin visited Edinburgh for work in September, he brought his camera with him, and on his last day here we went into the hills in the morning before he took the train home again.

Mike is a large format photographer, who very generously gave me some film and lent me some of his equipment so I could take my new large format camera out.  I made three images that morning – the first one by accident!  I didn’t manage to put the dark slide into the camera properly and so half the image is basically white, as light leaked in from the side.  This is the successful version of that scene (slightly underexposed, but as it was on my favourite black and white film, Ilford FP4+,  that’s irrelevant and easily recoverable with a little adjustment of levels and curves in Photoshop):

Castlelaw Hill Fort, Pentland Hills (with a Nikkor-W 150mm lens, f16, 1/4s)

Castlelaw Hill Fort, Pentland Hills (with a Nikkor-W 150mm lens, f16, 1/4s)

It’s not a fabulous image, but I do like the valley and the lines on the hillsides that are apparent here.  Perhaps I could have worked on these a little more in Photoshop, but I don’t quite see the point – at the time, we both agreed that this was going to be difficult to work at, and I’d rather leave it to be a little more subtle and hard to follow.  For me, this is what the Pentlands are like: deceptively simple little hills that don’t require very much effort to get up (at least, not when compared to some of the afore-mentioned more northern hills!), but they have something intriguing about them.  This particular area, past Castlelaw Hill Fort heading northwards, is deceptively bland at times, but there is actually so much to see, if only one can be bothered to look.

The third image is not quite what I wanted: I was trying to photograph some grasses, but somehow my focussing didn’t… er… quite work out.  The grasses in the foreground are in focus, but the context is not – it is basically an image that is ok, but could have been made on a medium format or 35mm camera, and not what I intended.

My large format adventures are about to move up a gear: I expect to take delivery of a lens (180mm f5.6 Fujinon-W) this week, as well as some double-dark-slides and a changing bag.  I have some Velvia on order (who knows when that will come!), but what I will buy next is a large batch of FP4+, partly because I feel I need the forgiving nature of exposure errors that this film allows, and partly because I think my composition skills will improve using black and white.  It is all very exciting – if only I didn’t have a day job to distract me! 🙂

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One thought on “With my large format camera in the Pentland Hills

  1. guyaubertin

    Glad to see the journey you are making. Keep going! “Day jobs” : bah! Who invented them?! 😉

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