Ready When You Are Mr. DeMille

This image is a scan of a shot I took some years ago on a Sunday morning in Manchester. It was the weekend of the Gay Pride celebrations and the streets around the Gay Village area on Canal Street were littered with the survivors of the night before’s celebrations,  all in various stages of consciousness.  This trio were more than up for having their photo taken, in fact they called me over to take it. The camera I was using on the day was the wonderfully oddball Mamiya Press, if ever there was a camera which looked as if it was designed by a committee it is the Press. For all it’s looks it is quite a hi-spec piece of equipment, interchangeable film backs, extensive lens range and bellows extensions on the back for perspective corrections. I really wish I still owned it.  The film I used was Ilford’s HP 400 in the 6×7  rollfilm back. I’d settled on HP5 after  a bit of fussing around trying to find a film I could produce consistent results with. I found the best effect for me was to rate it at 200 ASA and amend the developing time accordingly, this gave me beautiful shadow details, when I got it right that is……….

Another rainy day project is to work through the neg files and produce a portfolio of shots from them and archive them onto disc, I’ve no wet darkroom now but I have an A3 printer which gives me really good results and I have been experimenting with various types of watercolour paper from local arts suppliers just to see what turns out. Somewhere on my cluttered desk is a notebook with jotted down notes about which papers are working best with a particular image.   I have digital shots from Findhorn Bay in Scotland which have given me very pleasing results both in the original colour and in desaturated form. 

Digitising a selection of negatives will also give me the opportunity to try and rescue some of the near miss images, I have one in particular which was taken in a hurry at the Clive House museum in Shrewsbury. It’s of a flower arrangement in an eighteenth century bowl. the flowers were on a wide window ledge on a half landing with the house’s gardens behind and the imperfections in the  old window glass broke up the light  beautifully. The museum was busy and the staircase was full of people going up and down so there wasn’t much time to set anything up so I grabbed a couple of shots when a gap appeared in the queues of people and hoped for the best. The camera I used was a 6×6 format  Mamiya 220, so shutter shake was nil and I at least had something to work with. The negatives are printable with a little dodging and burning, the glazing bars on the window panes are really fine and don’t come through effectively without some effort which and lead to the foreground disappearing into shadow. So it will be a scanner and photoshop session to correct those issues.

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