Tag Archives: medium format

Intentional Film Movement

No, the Intentional Film Movement is not a radical revolutionary brigade, forcing all digital camera users to move to film…! It’s just my play on words in relation to the current trend for ‘intentional camera movement’ (I think ICM – a bit like HDR – is interesting the first few times you see it and then it just gets tedious, mostly because it’s rarely done well, and is often done just for the sake of being able to do it, with little underlying narrative).

Anyway, rant over.  Holidays at home are wonderful: I have been tidying up this week, and came across 19 rolls of film (14 rolls of 35mm and 5 rolls of 120) that I had had developed but then never really looked at. I knew there were some portraits in amongst them that I was somewhat concerned at having lost, but also some experimental images.

Un-Intentional Film Movement - a typical 'accident'

Un-Intentional Film Movement – a typical ‘accident’

My old Rolleiflex, with six decades behind it, works really well. Except for those times it doesn’t. In particular, the film transport mechanism can be a bit dodgy: the film doesn’t always quite engage the way it should, and then the winding mechanism fails: it becomes possible to wind through the whole film without making a single image, as it doesn’t ‘lock’ for each exposure, even though the shutter can be cocked. That has resulted in some rather strange double (triple?!) exposures, in part covering the bottom or top of an image, but I found that when the film fails to engage properly (and in the meantime I can tell when this happens with the first winding of the film to get to the first frame), it also becomes possible to wind the film on whilst having the shutter open. Some of the ‘problem’ images I was getting were like this one here (oops – some of my wife’s family at a celebration last year!).

Intentional Film Movement

Intentional Film Movement

However, this also offers some interesting opportunities. Rather than being annoyed about the film mechanism, I began to experiment, whilst also still making ‘proper’ images in between the experiments (after all, this can easily be done, if you guess how far to wind the film on – does cock the shutter, it just doesn’t move the film on evenly). I tend to used Ilford FP4+ in this camera, which has such a wide latitude that exposure doesn’t really matter – and that makes it ideal for things such as this. I began to try doing two or three things simultaneously to create new images:

  1. using a small aperture, open the shutter
  2. turn the film crank whilst the shutter is open
  3. at the same time, also move the camera.

I was using a tripod (I find that easiest with the Rolleiflex – I struggle to keep the image even vaguely straight without a tripod, and so if it’s important to keep straight, then I need a tripod!), but even doing the first two of these three actions requires a degree of coordination that I struggle with – and moving the camera at the same time becomes much harder! However, the images do then become more interesting.

I tried several experiments with these techniques, using several films, all of them in this pile of unexamined films that I found this week.

Only having seen the negatives, I have been aware of the effect I was generating, and did see how moving the camera also played a role (I didn’t do so for the first roll, and, of course, just ended up with a blur). So here are some of the attempts that have resulted in more interesting shapes.

Intentional Film Movement

Intentional Film Movement

This one, which has a floaty lightness to it, is perhaps my favourite of this group of photographs – it involved a longer exposure, a smaller aperture, and slow consistent movement of the film (I think the darker line is when I stopped winding consistently). I was actually seeking to make a portrait of a friend, but I’ll not give her name here – suffice it to say that the subsequent images of her worked really rather well, even if this one doesn’t actually look anything like her!

Intentional Film Movement - a landscape

Intentional Film Movement – a landscape

I think this last image is interesting for a different reason. I intended to create a ‘cloud’, but this worked exceptionally well: what I am including here is not just the image on the film, but the jagged edge where it has been cut, and the straight line from the scanner’s film-tray. It may be quite hard to see on smaller devices (and perhaps I should have processed this a little more to bring out this contrast – all of these are simply straight from the scanner with no adjustments of any kind), but on a larger screen, I can quite clearly see a night landscape here. The jagged edge is a curved hill, and the lighter areas further up the image are (strange-looking) clouds. Of course, it is not just landscapes that can represent more abstract concepts – abstract concepts can also represent landscapes!

There is a pleasant mix here of images. Creating them involves an element of randomness, but I have tried to create certain kinds of shapes and patterns too, even if I don’t see if they’ve worked until the film has been developed.

Do I think this is going to be something I do more of? Probably not, unless there is a motif that I think might be made more interesting with this technique – AND I happen to have the Rolleiflex with me AND the film hasn’t loaded properly! The one thing I can’t predict is when the Rollleiflex will work properly and when it won’t, so there is a further element of randomness in these kinds of images – most of the time I don’t know when I might (have the opportunity to) create more!


On the beach with the Rolleiflex


What is there not to like about winter? I fell out of bed at 7:15 and was on the beach at the bottom of the road twenty minutes later – marvellous! In the summer, I’d have to be up at some horrific time to do the same thing (and the light isn’t so good…).

It was lovely to watch and photograph (sort of) the sunrise, seeing the light change and transform the shapes on the beach. I wasn’t too interested in the sun itself, of course, but the patterns of the beach and the water on black and white film will hopefully work.

I wasn’t the only one out there: apart from the perennial dog-walkers, two other folks with cameras and tripods were on the beach. Of course, I felt terribly superior: they had some new-fangled digital camera-thingy, whereas I was using my 60-year old Rolleiflex TLR… and now I’m off home to breakfast (whisper it: and to my digital camera for some family photos later on!).

Tomorrow morning… beachscapes with the Rolleiflex

The weather is looking good for early tomorrow morning, and so I think I’ll take the old Rolleiflex down to the beach and try out some monochrome beachscapes (I have Ilford 125 film in it just now).

Tomorrow's forecast!

Tomorrow's forecast!

And I must start getting my film developed – I have rolls from October 2011 and perhaps even earlier waiting here! I know that I should, of course, start developing my film myself… that will come…

Alan Ross’ photography and his #PostAPhotoFriday idea

To my considerable astonishment, Alan Ross recently started following me on Twitter.  Although I had come across his images before, I didn’t know he was on Twitter until then; I am (of course!) following him now too.  I really like the subtlety of his images, which for me are not ‘in your face’ ‘wow’ photographs – excuse the crudity of this description: it relates to debates in the Great British Landscapes magazine (see especially here and here) – but are long drawn out intakes of breath in appreciation at the compositions, tones and textures.  Even in small sizes on a computer screen, I can look at his photographs for ages, and I encourage you to take some time to explore his gallery.  I’d love to see some of his printed work sometime.

Alan posts new images regularly, sometimes daily, but there is no way I can keep up with that, given that I have a full-time job that has nothing to do with my photography.  But he also suggests a challenge, that he tags as ‘#PostAPhotoFriday‘ – the idea being that sharing a photograph with this tag every Friday enables others to see your efforts (of course, he posts his own images too).  For example, here is his message from last week:

I think this is an inspired idea: a weekly post should usually be a manageable time frame for me, even with a full time job, and because I think I need the discipline of a time frame to make sure I regularly put images out there for people to see and critique, I’m going to try and follow Alan’s suggestion.  So, below is my first of these Friday photos, on the beach at the bottom of my road.  This was taken whilst out walking with Alastair Cook at the beginning of October, with autumnal skies and tones.  It’s on Kodak T-Max 400 (that expired in July 2009), using my medium format Mamiya and an 80mm lens.  To me it looks a bit like a drunk has staggered along the beach before us (I assure you these prints are not Alastair’s – nor mine!).

Finally, I heartily recommend following Alan on Twitter and taking time for studying the images on his website!

Portobello beach - but not my footprints!

Portobello beach - but not my footprints!

Of course, I’m always open to comments – but if they’re about this image, can I request that you comment in the gallery location instead (clicking on the image also takes you to the gallery image).  Comments on this blog posting can be made below as usual.  Thank you!


A couple of new images (continued)

Regarding the second image in my blog posting from earlier today, I here have a black and white version of the image.  The crop is almost 3×2, which I felt didn’t work too well in the colour version, but oddly enough does seem to be ok here (I think): it has the advantage that it cuts out the stray out-of-focus grass in the bottom right corner, but has the disadvantage that the curve of the lake has almost completely gone.  One of the other things that the conversion to black and white has enabled is the application (in Photoshop) of a colour filter that takes away the rich green from all the vegetation and leaves: this richness was a bit distracting compared to the tree as the main focus, and the relatively long exposure needed in the early morning light meant that the ever-so-gentle breeze moved them.  That is almost imperceptible in the monochrome version, and makes it better, I think.

Interestingly, I realise I’ve just there argued a case for the monochrome version, which I had created at the same time as editing the colour one!

Ratzeburg, lakeside tree, summer 2011

Ratzeburg, lakeside tree, summer 2011

Comments, as always, are welcome!

A couple of new images

I have not posted any landscape images for a while.  I’m aware that some of what I am doing in the landscape is changing and that has made me reluctant to put anything up.  There will be more considered reflection on that another time, but here are a couple of new images that I identify as part of this process.  Both were taken on Fuji Velvia 50 film using my medium format camera and the 150mm lens.  Click on an image to see it a little larger (800 pixels across).  Comments are most welcome, either below or by email – thanks.

A early morning view onto one of the lakes in Ratzeburg, Schleswig-Holstein, in northern Germany:

Ratzeburg Lake, summer 2011

Ratzeburg Lake, summer 2011

This next image is from the same lake:

Ratzeburg, lakeside tree, summer 2011

Ratzeburg, lakeside tree, summer 2011

I look forward to hearing what you think – thanks!

[Added later: following the comments from Rob Hudson below, I created another blog posting with a monochrome version of the second image.]

First results from the Rolleiflex

I’m currently in Germany, but before I went away I scanned some of the film I had taken with the Rolleiflex and the Mamiya, and I have spent some of my time away editing of these images.  Here are two from the first couple of rolls of black and white film that I used in the Rolleiflex.  I intend to put a couple of the colour images up here sometime soon too.  I can tell that there are some issues with how my scanning is going (relating to issues such as exposure, ICE etc.), but I need to get back to my scanner to have another go at some of these things.

The first photograph is one of the very first images I took with the Rolleiflex, one evening on ‘my’ local beach.

Walkers on the beach

Walkers on the beach

The second is of a friend who agreed to be photographed for my 1953 project; more information about this image will appear on the 1953 pages in due course.

The 1953 Project: Chloe

The 1953 Project: Chloe