December archive picture of the month

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This one is from early on in my career, 1996. I was lucky enough to work for an editor who loved
to see pictures which were not setup, and captured the atmosphere of an event.
The girl pictured, who was about to perform at a music festival in Macclesfield, shows a mixture of
nerves and concentration.

Picture published in today’s Guardian newspaper.

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Portrait used in today’s Guardian to accompany a story about Birmingham City Council winning a national public service award.

PR image used by the BBC

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A large part of my work is PR photography. Today the NHS had a story they wanted to send
out to the media, about 2 hospital employees who had lost weight, due to walking around the new QE hospital in Birmingham. Image was sent out shortly after I took it and published today on the BBC website.

Ratcliffe on Soar power station Nottingham

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I was a bit early for today’s commercial photography job, so had time to take this image of Ratcliffe on Soar power station, just outside of Nottingham.
(Ilford FP4+, Toyo 5×4, Fuji 250mm)

Black and white film development tips

This isn’t meant as a step by step guide, all that information is available from Ilford or Kodak.
Just thought I’d share a few tips I’ve picked up over the years.
Feel free to cross post this entry using the permalink option below.

1. Stick with one type of film and one type of developer.
Get to know the characteristics of each and only change if you are curious, or feel you can do better with another combination. I used ID11 for years and have only recently changed to XTOL, mainly due it’s better storage properties and it’s kinder to the environment.
2. Dilute developer with distilled water.
Don’t trust the water out of your tap, it may contain minerals which can affect development. Using tap water for stop and fix is usually fine.
3. Never use washing up liquid instead of wetting agent. (Although it can be used.)
A few drops of wetting agent in the final wash costs pence, so why risk coating your negatives in perfumed soap.
4. Final step before drying the negatives, use a sprayer filled with distilled water and spray the negatives (works best with sheet film.)
I’ve never had once streak using this method.
5. Manufacturers development times are an excellent place to start.
But do experiment. I find with Tri-X using a Jobo expert drum, and a Jobo CPP 2, Kodak’s times are fine whilst Ilford’s are a touch generous. (This is to produce negatives which are easy to scan, make your own tests when using an enlarger.)
6. I don’t shoot black and white 35mm film anymore, but when I did the best agitation method using a tank, was to agitate in a figure of 8. Twisting gently as well as turning the tank.Taking around 5 seconds for one agitation.
A bang afterwards on the surface followed by a couple of sharp taps on the side ensure no bubbles are left on the film.
7. Try if you can, use the film developer as one shot, and discard after each use.
That way you will be 100% consistent between each development session, and any problems are easier to track down.
8. A washing up bowl filled with water slightly warmer than your developer should keep the developer at the correct temperature throughout development.
Stop and fix temperatures are less critical but still need to be within a few degrees.
9. Try bulk loading your black and white films.
I used this method for years and never had a problem with fogging or scratching the film.
10. If you can, try and pick up a film squeegee made by C W Scientific.
Brilliant design and never had one scratch on any 120 or 35mm films.
11. When loading 120 film onto spirals use a bulldog clip on the end of the film to stop it bending as you load it onto the spiral.
After the first few turns you should be able to take it off and continue as normal.
12. If the film sticks on the spiral when you are loading it (and it’s dry) run a pencil around the grooves.
The lead should provide enough lubrication to stop it sticking.

I’ll add to this list if I think of anything else.

Updated 11th November 2011

NHS Photography

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Recent image published on the front of Trust in the future.
A magazine printed for members of University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.