I’m not intending this blog to be too driven by politics but no longer venting my spleen on Twitter or Facebook means I occasionally have to write an opinion piece. During the 2014 Scottish independence referendum campaigns people on the unionist side of the debate would occasionally let slip that independence would be a bad…Read More Why do so many liberals not like foreigners?
The trouble with open data is that you can find yourself wasting a weekend answering a question that is bugging you. I spent Saturday night and Sunday morning producing this.Read More There is nothing so dangerous as unmediated facts
Over the weekend I thought of starting a podcast in the style of Alistair Cooke’s Letter from America – A Letter from Edinburgh. To explore the possibility I wrote a pilot episode. And the conclusion of that pilot? I won’t do it. Producing a five minute recording each week would wipe me out and I’m…Read More Devolution: The invisible disaster
Camerabase is an old fashioned camera shop just around the corner from me with Cameratiks repair department out the back. Both are endangered species these days.Read More Camerabase
Work makes it hard to get outside while it is still light but I’ve been itching to test out using Ilford PQ Universal developer on my dry plates. Last night I set up a simple still life. I didn’t really have the energy to do more than pick an object. I’m please with the image…Read More Developer Test
Using dry plate technology from the 1880s I feel drawn to anything from the Victorian era. Living in Edinburgh we are blessed with such subjects which is good because the current Covid-19 restrictions mean I can’t leave the city. Today I photographed the Forth Rail Bridge (opened 1890) and the result is convincingly late 19th…Read More My time machine is functioning well
I wrote an article for Emulsive magazine website back in August and it has just been published. You can see it here:Read More My Emulsive “5 Frames” article is out
I was back in Grange Cemetery in my lunch break this time with my 8×10 to see if I can do 8×10 dry plates or not. The first attempt was a disaster because I didn’t push my DIY plate holder all the way home and there was a light leak. My second and third were…Read More My first 8×10 dry plates
We learn by making mistakes. The third photographic emulsion I made was great. It was clean and contrasty and just worked. So I thought I’d jazz it up a bit for the fourth emulsion by adding ten drops of 1% Erythrosine (that’s pink food colouring E127) to increase the green response. It didn’t work. Right…Read More Throwing out Emulsion #4 … but #5 looks good!
Last week I headed off to explore Deeside some more and photograph with my freshly made glass plates. I got about ten miles before the brakes on the van started playing up and I had to abandon the trip. This week I tried again and made it all the way to Marr Lodge and Glen…Read More Another abandoned trip North
A week off the day job has given me time to work on my silver gelatine glass plate negatives. I’ve learnt a big lesson and results are much improved. For emulsions #1 & #2 I had downsized a larger recipe and got to a Potassium Iodide content of about 0.2g. My scales really don’t go…Read More Emulsion #3 – Graveyard test
I realised I had all the chemistry, apart from gelatin, to make dry plates. So I bought some cooks gelatin from Waitrose and gave it a go. This is the first attempt. I think I am hooked!Read More My first dry plate emulsion
The combined image above shows three photographs I made over the course of an afternoon and evening. I had my wet-plate collodion set up running and wanted to refine how I made glass plate negatives specifically for scanning. Once I had what I felt was a successful wet-plate negative it occured to me that I…Read More Is analogue photography worth it?
Fun this afternoon playing with my adapted Voigtländer Avus and three month old Poe Boy collodion. I’m using quarter plate glass from some old glass plate negatives I found in a junk shop. I scrub the plates down and re-using them when the fail. I intensify successful ones for a couple of minutes with Ilford…Read More Voigtländer Avus wet plate again
The mechanical shutters found in many analogue cameras, especially those before the 1980s, are amazing pieces of engineering. Many still work accurately but alas many others do not. One solution is to pay to have them professionally serviced but often the camera simply isn’t worth the expense. Also a shutter will sometimes be inaccurate but…Read More BBC micro:bit Shutter Timer
Twenty minutes walk from home the Hermitage of Braid is a wooded valley beside the volcanic plug that is Blackford Hill. Scattered across the whole area are these lumps of igneous rock that withstood the retreat of the glacier fifteen thousand years ago. This is one of my favourites. I’m enjoying photographing digitally for the…Read More Everest in the woods
My three month old iodising collodion finally got to me. Today I mounted an expedition to the bottom of the garden to make some collodion negatives. I’ve often wondered whether it would be feasible to do backpack collodion – to head for the hills with all that I need to make a few plates and…Read More Backpack Collodion: Expedition to the end of the … garden
Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. Abraham Lincoln (attributed to at least) Even if being in lockdown doesn’t enable too much creative photography it allows for some axe sharpening ready for when we are free again. Today I took a picture of…Read More How big can you print?
Are you bored during lockdown? Are you speaking to neighbours more than you did before? Would you like to be part of an art project capturing a little piece of this unique time? In January my very special 8×10 inch Intrepid view camera arrived. It is new but of a kind that has been used…Read More Marchmont from 2 metres
The Argyrotype print process is a “modern” nineteeth century way of making silver prints on paper. It was created by Mike Ware in the early 1990’s [British Journal of Photography, 139, (6824), 17-19 (13 June 1991)]. Back in 1842, right at the start of photography, Sir John Herschel created a process based on iron and silver…Read More Argyrotype: First tests
Stills Gallery and photography centre in Edinburgh was planning to run a project called Elementary Blueprint where they sent out cyanotype papers for people to expose to the elements around Edinburgh and sent them back to make a single exhibit – like a blueprint of the city I guess. Then Covid-19 happened which put a…Read More Elementary Blueprint
During the Covid-19 lock down I’m messing with cyanotypes and want to have a go at Argyrotypes. These processes use contact negatives the same size as the finished print. The negatives need to have a long tonal range – be very contrasty. Many people produce such negatives using an inkjet printer and transparency film. This…Read More Negatives for alternative processes
With the family at home for the Covid-19 lock down there is no space to set up the darkroom and so little hope of analogue photography beyond developing film in the bath – but fortunately we still have cyanotype printing! Coating papers can be done on the kitchen table and developing in plain water in…Read More Cyanotype: A lockdown friendly print process.
Working with the wet plate collodion technique is something of a “lifestyle choice” in that it isn’t an activity you can just choose to do when you fancy it. For starters acquiring the equipment and minimal skills to get the process going can take months. Once you are up and running the chemistry starts to…Read More Virus Stops Play
I turned 55 on 28th February and we used that as an excuse to invite friends around on Sunday 1st March for an open house. This is something we only do once every five years or so. This time I set up what is basically a Victorian photo booth. I really wanted to practice making…Read More Wet Plate Party 2020
The winter months have been tough in terms of colds and flu-like illness that have kept me from walking all the days I’d wanted. Nothing particularly bad but enough that I’ve had to take care of my body and get the bus one way or the other across town. I continue to walk in the…Read More Marathon Monk: To 23rd March 2020 – 441 days & 2,646 mindful miles & into Covid-19 Lockdown
I attempted to make it to Braemar today to photograph the pinewoods – possibly in the snow. It was forecast to rain later but the rain came sooner and as snow. After two attempts I had to turn back. Ho hum. Try again another time.Read More Snow Stops Play
Very inspiring. Shintoism/animism is important to me but so lost in our Scottish culture where gods of nature seem to have been shrunk to faery folk. Somewhat disappointed by Nobuyuki’s desire for posterity. For me the power of the analogue image today is that it is potentially ephemeral. Also the fact that he has a…Read More Inspiration: Nobuyuki Kobayashi – Myriads of Gods
This is a really quick post about the new Stearman SP-810 developing tank because someone asked me my opinion. I must be one of the first to own it. I’m not going to talk through the tank as you can see what it is and what it does in this video. I’ve been using the…Read More Stearman SP-810: First Impressions