My mate Tom Lehne is putting together a Caffenol film development workshop. If you’re around Hamburg, Germany, it’d be well worth looking into. He’s working with Larry of Lazarus fame, who, having 40+ years of professional printing experience, is inspiring to watch at work.
You can see the amazing results Tom is getting with instant coffee and a dash of special sauce on his website. This most definitely isn’t a case of “those who can’t, teach!”
[One of the alternatives i've been considering as my stock of Presto runs out is finding one of these old emulsions sold under brands like Fomapan or Efke and moving to Caffenol for development. It would be perfect if there was a decent, non-toxic replacement for fixer, but i've not seen much mention of that... perhaps it's not that important, the fix is always going to contain the un-oxidised silver, and that's never going to be good in the grey water. All that said, the Rodinal habit is hard to kick and i can see myself going Tri-X / Rodinal!]
It happens. I’d got into my head there there was a shot here somewhere. All that was required was to bring all the elements together. First it was just the shape of the monitors and the perspective down the platform, then it need a train, then both trains, then people in the monitors, then rain, then the guard… and motion… you don’t want to know how many evenings i spent there hoping all the pieces to come together.
And, these aren’t even my favourite trains!
[sing along if you know the words...]
One of the themes that runs through a great deal of my Tokyo shots is this ’tilt’. To me it has always about the geometry – if the lines / curves running through a frame are strong the shot works. My theory is that by tilting the world off it’s normal axis these lines / curves stand out more because the viewer is thrown off by the angle, and it requires effort to take in the scene. The first glance might not immediately reveal the reality of the shot, and at that point the geometry is more obvious.
There are a couple of obvious problems: the explanation sounds like a bunch of “art wank”; it’s very easy to overuse or abuse.
Still, i’d always imagined it would be fun to do a gallery show with only these shots and see how many people gave up and just tilted heads to compensate!
[This one doesn't really work for me - there is too much dead space in the top right of the frame. If the effect in the bottom left was repeated top right... but there was no light.]
Another early Izu shot. Just look at the pin-sharp focus on that rock bisected by bottom of the frame! You could cut yourself on that. Slicing up eyeballs, i want you to know!
My guess is that this from a roll of Tri-X that i developed in Superprodol (my go to push developer over the years…) Superprodol, it turns out, is some pretty strong soup, and all the shots on the roll were at least a stop over by the time i was finished. Consequently this shot has a “high-key” look that i’m no naturally inclined to take.
Five (plus) years after it was taken, and with a little postprocessing, i rather like it. Somethings just take a while.
This was taken around Shuzenji, just after i’d first bought the Hasselblad. It’s the sort of shot that you can imagine yourself taking with a big medium format camera – nobody around to distract you, an idyllic scene, allowing yourself to get lost in the viewfinder.
And, ah, that viewfinder! I remember being entirely enchanted with the distinct 3D effect that you experience when you simply waggle the camera about a little. Things see to stand off the glass… quite distracting. Also quite disappointing when you look at the negatives, where you are left in no doubt that this is a 2D medium.
That’s Mt. Fuji hiding behind the smoke drifting in the valley.
Posting this probably signifies that i’ve reached the limits of my ability to post an old shot everyday.
That said, the little gnome in the top left is nice… and look how ‘straight on’ it is!
A slightly off kilter Infrared 代々木 (Yoyogi) crossing shot from 2009. Rails on the busy lines (this is yamanote or saikyo-sen… maybe) are a lot more curved than you might imagine. If i can find this negative it’s one of the ones that would be nice to hang in the house. Düster!
Starting to think that 2009 was a very creative year. Quite where the time came from to shoot and develop all this film remains a mystery.