Resolutions 2014

Happy New Year to everyone, I hope 2014 is a good one for you all. We had a wonderful Christmas and New Year with our son and shared his first festivities with family.


Another year and another set of resolutions. I've been making them since 2010 when I resolved to get back into a form of art, something that I had left behind in the late nineties. That was when photography raised it's head again. Since then I have made resolutions that tie into photography to direct what I'm doing, except for last year when becoming a Father seemed like a big enough challenge to set myself. 2014 is here now and I've been thinking lots about what I want to achieve in photography.


Looking at 2013, my first resolution has to be to shoot more - it might seem like a simple resolution but, outside of my DSLR, I really didn't shoot much at all. I made a large format pinhole camera but never really experimented with it, I was out in the field with the Bronica medium format camera but the majority of those rolls still lie undeveloped, and I made cameras to create solargraphs which I have just had the results back from. I need to get these cameras out and working, and make sure the film is developed.

What I never shot a lot of last year was 35mm. I was put off after using my Nikon F60 last Christmas and then again during our trip to London. This demand has now passed since I have a DSLR so I'm going to take my favourite 35mm camera - the Pentax SP500 - and my favourite film stock - Ilford Delta 100 - and start carrying it around in my bag as well as capturing my family.


Next up, I want to print more. Nearly two years ago I searched Gumtree looking for an enlarger that I could use to print at home. Eventually I found what I was looking for and after a 150 mile roadtrip to north of Aberdeen, I had what I wanted and lots, lots more. For the small sum of £40 I had a 75% of a darkroom and a plethora of photography books. Scouting eBay got me the rest of what I needed and I was ready to go. What I soon found was that setting up a temporary darkroom is quite a task and it took me a few attempts to get it down to a reasonable time. The truth is, it was a hassle to do and maybe one day I will be able set it all up permanently in my house.

At Christmas I decided to make a print for my wife and used my local darkroom, Stills, instead. This proved to be a quicker and far more productive time in the darkroom and I would like to do more of it.

So those are my resolutions for 2014 - shoot and print. As I said, they may seem like simple resolutions but I really want to get back into the flow of creating images and that doesn't need to be complicated

Let me know your resolutions.



Infrared Photography

I've watched a lot of people try out infrared photography recently and decided that I would quite like to give it a go myself. I had the location in mind and had bought the accessories I needed so headed out one Sunday morning to give it a try.

The day started off very promising but by the time I had reached Princes Street Gardens in the centre of the city the sun had disappeared and I was left with a very overcast day. I shot my film regardless to see what I could get but there just wasn't enough sun. Determined to try again, I set out the next morning back to Princes Street Gardens with much more success.

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I got a couple of photographs that I really liked. This one above was one of my favourites with the dark and looming Castle in the background and the bright trees and grass. I also love how few people there are in this photograph which is quite common in my other work.

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With a few shots left on the roll, I headed back out the following weekend. The meadows in the south of Edinburgh has one of my favourite stretches of path - Coronation Walk - so I set up my camera and took a couple of shots. I am very happy with this one - the grass as white as snow, the dark path with sun patches from the trees, and dark tree bark - it's all there in equal measure.

If you're interested in the technical aspects then I used Ilford's SFX200 medium format film, which really isn't an infrared film but behaves like one. Coupled with a R72 filter and the results are far better than I had ever imagined getting. I was using my Bronica S2A with the film which is a temperamental camera to use but only adds to it's charm.

Let me know what you think. The one of Coronation Walk will be printed later this month for my exhibition in October so I'm looking forward to seeing it in it's full glory.

The Forth Railway Bridge

On Saturday night I set to take a few long exposures of the Forth Railway Bridge. I had tried a few weeks before during the day but it was ruled out with heavy fog so, keen to try again, I headed out with the Bronica at around midnight and spent a couple of hours shooting.

Forth Rail Bridge Shoot

Forth Rail Bridge Shoot

Night shooting is quite relaxing - no one is around so there is a silence in places that you wouldn't normally have it. South Queensferry is a great example of this - it's on the outskirts of Edinburgh and during the day it is a tourist hotspot to see the bridges, but at midnight it was silent apart from the water lapping on the shore and the odd train passing overhead.

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In this particular scene the buildings to the left were causing terrible light  pollution and the boat was moving with the water. If you look next to the boat you will see white lines where a couple of swans were moving about.

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I moved closer to the bridge, away from the buildings to see how that worked, and that has come out better. There was a slight cloud cover which has given the lighting a nice effect projecting upwards.

I jumped back in the car and went to Dalmeny railway station, the last railway station before the bridge and composed a beautiful shot of the station lit up and the track entering the bridge in the distance. Just as I was about to push the shutter all the lights went out at the station so I abandoned it and drove over the road bridge to North Queensferry. Here you can get really close to the bridge which I thought would help.

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When I arrived in North Queensferry I was amazed at the moon - unlike a lot of night shooters on Twitter and Flickr, I was actually unaware of the "Super Moon" that night and it was nice added bonus. To capture it and the bridge I needed to get underneath it so I moved the car and mounted the tripod to the roof. Unable to see the viewfinder, I pointed in the general direction and took the shot. Sadly the light pollution was too great here for this photo to work but the added moon was welcome.

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Back where I initially wanted to be, the moon was a little out of shot for the railway bridge with square format so I decided to take in the road bridge instead.

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Back onto the main subject and I much preferred this view, I was up close and personal. During this exposure a small tug appeared from under the bridge and exited stage right - in the silence it was the last thing I expected.

Working with pinhole photography earlier this year sealed my love for long exposures - I enjoy the set up, the calculation and then the waiting. I enjoyed the peace and quiet too - if a little creepy at times - so I will do a lot more of it when I can.