Simon Hendy Photography Sun, 25 Feb 2018 17:45:26 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 Going Back to Film Sun, 25 Feb 2018 17:45:26 +0000 Long and a bit image heavy…

I was about to post something about getting back into taking and developing my own black and white film when I realised that I haven’t actually posted anything at all about starting off with large format photography, which was where the whole film thing started – so this is going to be a long post with quite a few photos.

This dates back to late 2014 when I heard about a Kickstarter project that was launching an affordable 5×4 large format camera, the Intrepid Camera Company. That’s something I’ve thought about a few times over the last 20 years, but it’s always been way out of my league – far too expensive. But suddenly this made it affordable, so I signed up. It took them quite a while to get production sorted and I didn’t get my camera until mid-2016, and it’s been a slow process getting used to it. I started with some cheap film, which I didn’t get on with too well – it wasn’t until I put some Ilford film into it that things got better – for a start, the higher quality base made it easier to load the dark slides.

These are the first photos I took with it, during 2016 and the first half of 2017 – not too bad for a beginner, and I only butchered 1 or 2 shots. The shot of the leaf is by far the best I’ve taken with it so far.

  • Two shots from my first outing with the camera at Cumberland Basin in Bristol
  • Four from Goonhilly, Porthcurno and Mullion in Cornwall
  • A couple from the Portway and Shirehampton in Bristol
  • Two from Bristol University Botanic Garden
  • Two from the Catholic Cathedral in Bristol

When we were in France last summer, I took quite a lot more with the large format. These were taken at the gite, around Fumel and at Arromanches on the Normandy coast. Some reasonable results, but work needed on exposure I think.


There’s one other set of photos I’ve taken with the large format – Not long before we went to France, I heard about Direct Positive Paper – expose like film, process like paper and it comes out with a positive image. I tried a few shots in France but didn’t get round to developing them until after I’d taken some more at Purton in Gloucestershire, home of the Purton Hulks – boats used to reinforce the band between the Severn and the Sharpness/Gloucester canal. When I developed them, I had an “a-ha!” moment as the results were lovely, there’s a real sheen to the paper that works very well. I shall be doing more with this.

One thing I haven’t done yet with the large format is colour – I’m not that fussed about colour negative but would love to try some transparencies, but with 20 sheets of Fuji Provia costing £90 and with processing on top, I want to be very sure about what I’m doing. 


Having bought some chemicals and trays for developing the Direct Positive Paper (I tried the Imago paper btw, but also have some of the Harman stuff – that’s apparently a bit harder to work with), it got me thinking about developing some 35mm film again. So I ended up buying the kit and chemicals and I’ve been quite enjoying it. When I started with the large format, I swore I wasn’t going to develop it myself – but then I saw a Paterson Orbital Processor going cheap and that means I can develop 5×4 film really quite easily. I’ve not tried it yet – it’ll be interesting to see how that goes.

So in the last month, I’ve taken 3 rolls of 35mm black & white and 3 rolls of 120 medium format – all of then have been Fuji Acros. Well, I’ve taken 4 rolls of 120 but the first one got completely trashed as I tried to load it into the spiral – my mistake was trying to use a changing bag I think, as there’s not much room to move and my hands got sweaty. I also realised it was the first roll of 120 I’d ever tried to do!
Things have got better since then, with a dark garage meaning I can load the spirals in some comfort and the rest of the films have gone in with no problems at all.

The three rolls of 120 have all been taken on my Lubitel 166 – the first set were awful but the second and third batches were much better, meaning that the problems were with the idiot in control of the camera, not the camera itself. But I think it’s fundamentally not a sharp lens so I’m on the lookout for a replacement.

The first batch – Bristol Harbourside – you’ll see a lot of this in the rest of this post as it’s very close to work and has plenty of scope for photos.

The second batch – Around the M-Shed Museum in Bristol. Much better.

The third batch – The Downs, and Aust just outside Bristol. Getting there.


The 35mm films have all been taken on different cameras.

The first film was taken with my Olympus OM1N, bought back when I also bought my first digital camera – these are from the Harbourside and around City Hall. A lovely camera, and great lenses – again, some work needed on exposure.

The second film was taken on what was my dad’s Contax G2 – this is a lovely camera, an autofocus rangefinder with brilliant lenses. It also has the advantage of auto-exposure, so these were better exposed than any of the others. These were taken around City Hall, Millennium Square and the M-Shed.

The third film was taken on my dad’s 1950s Kodak Retina I, which I had refurbished a few years ago as it was his first camera. Focus is difficult as you have to guess at the distances, and my exposure control is still in need of refinement. It’s also not massively sharp, especially when compared to the OM1N and Contax. These were taken on The Downs in Bristol and at Aust just outside Bristol.


There’s one other set of photos to mention – just before I used the OM1N, I realised that there was still a film in it. I eventually worked out that it was a roll of Kodak HIE infra-red film, and it wasn’t until after I developed it and saw what was on there that I realised it had been in the camera since April 2011! I had no idea it was there. Developing it was a bit of guesswork as no websites gave a development time for that film and the only developer I’ve got (Ilford Ilfosol 3) – I decided on something, gave it a bit extra to allow for 7 years of degredation of the latent image, and was slightly amazed that some images came out! They were taken on the Grand Union Canal just outside Northampton, at Buscot Park in Oxfordshire and in our next-door neighbour’s garden.


So I’m quite enjoying using film and look forward to doing some more of it. Developing them has been fine – I never enjoyed it in the past, but can’t really see why at the moment.

There’s quite a good online community around film and I’ve started following several people on Twitter – this has led to buying several “zines”, small self-published releases, somewhere between magazines and books. The production quality, as well as the content, has been excellent considering they’ve only been £4 or so each.

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France 2017 Sun, 29 Oct 2017 16:14:43 +0000 We went back to France for our summery holiday, after a slight aberration last year when we spent a few days in a caravan in Cornwall – any mention of that holiday now gets us both whistling the theme tune to Peter Kaye’s Phoenix Nights, given the quality of the evening entertainment the caravan park laid on…

We went back to a gite we’ve been to a couple of times before – it’s nice, it’s a good size for the two of us, it’s quiet, it’s very close to the local wine producer and it’s got very clear views of the night sky.

So here’s a few different sets:


On the way down through France, we stopped off at Giverny to visit the Monet gardens – we’d been a couple of times about 15 years ago now and thought it time for another visit.

The last image is a little different – not taken at Giverny but fairly close by. Slightly inspired by the Bechers…


These were taken in the town of Fumel, not far from where we were staying. I noticed these two weir systems as we went through the town and went back for a closer look. Some nice gritty black and white industrial stuff!


Sunsets and Stars

As I mentioned above, the gite gave us a really good view of the night sky and I had several opportunities to get out and take photos of the stars – we pretty much had an horizon-to-horizon view of the Milky Way. I wouldn’t have thought it possible, but by the end of the holiday I was starting to run out of ways to photograph the stars!

And as always, there was the odd good sunset. No lightning this year though.


Arromanches and Longues

At the end of the holiday, we stayed up on the Normandy coast, close to the D-Day beaches. It’s always worth a visit to Arromanches to look at the remains of the Mulberry Harbour, an amazing feat of engineering. We also visited the German gun emplacement at Longues-sur-Mer,


Odds and Sods

These are a few miscellaneous shots – a fantastic cheesboard from our first hotel, some from around the gite and the surrounding area, including the obligatory flowers and bees, some interesting art in Le Havre, and finally shots of HMS Victory and the new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth  in Portsmouth.

A summer of photos, and a new camera Sun, 29 Oct 2017 15:23:46 +0000 Right, a bit of catching up to do – this post contains several sets of photos from the last few months – this is a re-post of several posts I put up earlier as I thought it better to lump them together into one.

St Mary Redcliffe

Back in April I bought a new camera – a Fuji X-T20, and this was the first trip out with it. Given that my office at the time was pretty much next door to St Mary Redcliffe, it was nice and simple to drop in one lunchtime. I’d worked there for over 10 years and this was the first time I’d been in to take photos…

The main reason for looking at the Fuji was practicality – when we went to Cornwall last year, I found I was leaving some of the Nikon kit behind because it was so damn heavy and it’s just daft to have kit and not use it. I’d been looking at the Fujis for a while, and had had a play with an X-T2, but it didn’t sit right in my hand – and it’s also expensive! When the X-T20 came out, I had a look at one and pretty much bought it on the spot. It’s a seriously good camera and actually has a lot of the internals of the X-T2, including the sensor. On top of that, the lenses have a great reputation – I bought the 18mm f2 and 35mm f2 Fuji lenses (28mm and 50mm equivalents), and have since added the manual focus Samyang 12mm.

I haven’t done it yet, but the Nikon kit will be going – a real shame to be waving goodbye to the Nikon 24-70 and 70-200 f2.8 lenses as they are so good, proper pro quality lenses – but they are big lumps of glass, the 70-200 in particular is very heavy.

Anyway, back to the photos – a nice set of pics as I got to know the camera.


Redcliffe and Surrounding Area

May 2017: Following on from the initial trip out with the new camera, I took a couple of lunchtime trips out to get to grips with it – not venturing far from Redcliffe, only as far as Castle Park and the new footbridge.

The main “highlight” was a car driver shouting “stop effing taking photos” at me as I took a shot in the street that he happened to drive through. Lovely.


Portway Whales

May 2017: I’m not sure how long they’ve been there but it wasn’t until I started a period of driving to work that I noticed the wickerwork whales in the disused sports ground on the A4 Portway in Bristol. So obviously I had to go and take some photos.


Bristol University Botanic Garden

June 2017: I had a bit of spare time in June as I was in the process of being made redundant – all worked out OK, I had a new job sorted before I left so went straight from one to the other – so I had a few opportunities to get out and take photos.

These are from a visit to the Bristol University Botanic Garden. This was the first time I had the Samyang 12mm lens for the Fuji, and despite being manual focus it’s lovely to use and plenty sharp.
The shots of the dragonfly are worthy of picking out – these are serious crops on the originals as the longest lens I’ve got on the Fuji is equivalent to a 50mm, which isn’t particularly telephoto. They show how good the Fuji sensor and lenses are.

The last photo is also worth mentioning as it’s the first one I’ve taken with my large format 5×4 camera where I’ve thought “wow”. Properly pleased with the shot.


Bristol Harbourside

June 2017: I took a wander along the southern side of Bristol’s Floating Harbour for pretty much the first time – I’ve only been in Bristol for 21 years now – and also took a boat trip round the harbour for the first time! As always, I ended up taking photos of tatty bits.

I’ve been finding that the Fuji works very well for black & white images, particularly with its film simulation modes – Fuji Acros is excellent. I’ve also picked up some Lightroom presets which have been working well.


Clifton Cathedral

June 2017: One place I’ve been meaning to go and have a look at for a long time is the modern Clifton Catholic Cathedral, and seeing it on a TV programme prompted me to finally go along.

It’s a really interesting building, if you like that sort of thing – it’s verging on brutalist concrete, but really interesting especially in black and white.

Instagram Sat, 28 Oct 2017 15:24:59 +0000 Since I moved to my current phone (an LG G4) I started taking a lot more photos with it – mainly as I walked to and from work, and posting to Instagram. This is a selection from the year to date.

If you’re interested, I’m @shendy42 on there.

Dance Sat, 28 Oct 2017 15:20:58 +0000 Earlier in the year I saw an advert for an outdoor dance photography workshop in central Bristol in July – that sounded really good so I signed up, thinking how nice it could look on a warm summer evening as the sun set.

So of course, when it came to time for the event, the weather was awful. I really felt for the dancer, who worked really hard for all of the photographers, 6-7 of us, in the pouring rain.

Quennington Fresh Air Sculpture Sat, 28 Oct 2017 15:07:35 +0000 A tip from a friend led us to the Fresh Air sculpture exhibition at Quennington in Gloucestershire – a bi-annual outdoor exhibition of contemporary sculpture – and what a tip it was. A huge garden, full of really interesting sculpture – we could have spent an absolute fortune!

Well worth a look, the next one opens in June 2019.

Avebury Sat, 28 Oct 2017 14:46:13 +0000 I’ve only been to Avebury once before, back in 2006 – to be honest, the standing stones haven’t changed much! Having said that, the manor house wasn’t open last time so there was something new to see, and the kitchen had some particularly good subjects.

Street Photography Workshop Sun, 19 Feb 2017 20:34:10 +0000 Yesterday I attended a street photography workshop, hosted by former Amateur Photographer editor Damien Demolder (in association with Jessops and Panasonic).

Damien spoke for some time about his street photography, showing some cracking examples, and encouraged us to take more than just candid snaps – look at the interchange between light and shadow and how and where the light falls onto people. There are some great examples on his website. He’s a very good engaging speaker and obviously knows what he’s on about.

We then picked out the Panasonic hardware we wanted to try out (I used a GX-8, which seemed a pretty good piece of kit, with a 25mm lens – equivalent to 50mm in 35mm terms) and headed out for a tutorial about how to use the light. What was fascinating was how his recommendation to crank the camera down to about -3/-4 stops of exposure compensation really worked – changing the photos from a plain bright representation of the scene into something altogether darker and more interesting. We experimented briefly on each other, which is where the really dark low-key portraits below come from – I’m very pleased with those.

Finally, Damien let us loose on the walkway outside the Watershed – nice and busy on the first decent Saturday of the year, so plenty of people passing by to be snapped by 8 people trying hard to be inconspicuous. Looking through the photos I took, you can see them improving – I gradually cranked down the exposure compensation and got closer in to people. Processing the photos, yet again I found that I prefer the B&W conversions to the colour images, and I’ve also darkened them to try and lead the eye into the faces. It’s not about looking for beautiful people – you very quickly start looking for character.

A really enjoyable day – it’s well worth attending one of Damien’s workshops if you get the chance, assuming you fancy street photography!

Shrouds of the Somme Wed, 28 Dec 2016 12:13:05 +0000 Back in November, there was a week-long art installation on College Green – Shrouds of the Somme, a very moving representation of the 19,240 people killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme in July 1916. As the display was right by where I catch the bus every day, I was able to take photos at various times, but was unfortunately unable to get there with the SLR and a tripod – these were all taken on my phone and compact camera.

Autumn on the Downs Wed, 28 Dec 2016 12:05:04 +0000 For some reason, I particularly noticed some beautiful weather on the Downs in Bristol this autumn, to the extent that I had to get off the bus and take photos – this happened on 3 occasions, once for mist, once for fog and finally for a heavy hoar frost.

It may well be that I’ve actually got a phone with a decent camera (LG G4), so impromptu photography is much more possible than it was – although I was prepared for the third set and took my compact camera with me. For much the same reason, I’ve been a lot more active on Instagram this year.