Surely it is a nasty, dirty, smelly procedure best consigned to the bucket of history? Surely digital is cheaper, easier, faster, more modern? And worst of all, film is analogue—well that’s just not right.
I took most of these pictures at Ethie Woods near Arbroath in Angus Scotland in 2001. Some were taken in our home in Arbroath. The camera was a Russian ‘Horizont’. this was a panoramic camera that used a swinging 28mm lens on 35mm film. The images were interesting but not really sharp. This was partly because the 28mm lens was not that sharp anyway, but also because the film had to be held in a curve so that it registered with the focal plane of the rotating lens. This was somewhat beyond the Russian technology of the day and since the lens could not be stopped down to reduce the consequences of this, the images suffered.
I sold the camera after a short while, but looking back, the somewhat soft-focus effect was really attractive in its own right.
On the 25th of February, we went to Malolos, the capital of Bulacan, to see a ladyboy parade; but it never appeared. Ladyboy levels of disorganisation are, of course, legendary, in addition to which, they were probably working on Filipino time, which makes ‘manana’ sound urgent. Still, a couple of nice cold Red Horses and some good pictures.
All Pix: Rod Fleming
Street photography, long established as an art and a specialist form of photojournalism, requires very similar techniques to those needed to photograph field sports, notably football (soccer, not that American nonsense). You need sharp reactions, complete confidence in technique and total reliance on reflex. As soon as you see an image, it’s gone, so you just have to go with it.
Markets everywhere are wonderful for this sort of thing. They’re very colourful and people are concentrating on selling, not watching the photographer. I was using a DSLR for most of these, with no issues. As usual with digital, you have to watch the exposure. I find using the old tranny technique of underexposing by 2/3 of a stop is useful in holding highlight detail.
Gallery 1: Malolos
Gallery 2: Malolos Palenke
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This was my fifth visit to the Philippines and again, I arrived before Christmas, on the 8th of December. I had rented an apartment in Plaridel, Bulacan, which was to be my base for the next four months.
Plaridel is a market and manufacturing town about 30 miles north of Manila. In 2015 it had a population of 107,000. It has an airport.
I’ll let the pictures and captions speak for themselves in this photo diary of the trip. This section goes from my arrival up to New Year. I’ll do another section for the latter part.
To view the gallery, please click the ‘Read More’ link below
I photographed Kirsten as a part of the Gaia series, taken in 2009
The location was The PlashMill, in Friockheim, Scotland, where I then lived. It was August, and quite warm. I ended up standing in the lade — the stream you can see — in order to get better pictures. This seemed to amuse everyone greatly. Kirsten brought a chaperone — something I encourage strongly — who photographed me at work.
If you’re photographing the nude, there are two things you should do. The first is to obtain a signed Model Release form. This is not a legal requirement in the UK but it is the the US and you will have no end of problems trying to sell work to that territory without one.
The second is the chaperone. You will be working with a young woman who will be in a vulnerable position since, after all, nude photography usually takes place in private. The presence of the chaperone will set the model at ease, especially if she is not a professional model (Kirsten was a student.)
The chaperone performs another, crucial role, however. She protects the photographer against accusation of improper behaviour — accusations which in the current climate could have very serious consequences. Also useful for making cups of tea and photographing the photographer!
These images were made using an MPP MK IV 5×4 technical camera with 150mm Schneider and a Bronica ETRS. Film stock was Ilford and Kodak.
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The Philippines has become very important to me over the last four years. It’s now the focus of much of my life and I want to spend more time there. The winters in France are just too cold for me now.
When you visit a country for longer periods, months at a time, as I do, you can’t do quite what the holiday tourist does. It’s partly to do with budgets but also with burnout. You have to learn to chill and take it easy.
Flying out to the Philippines
Before the start is always the bit that has me in a fankle. I get travel stress a week before The Flight. No matter how long I give myself for preparation the last few days are a nightmare — and I always forget something. (This time it was the sandwiches for the train — but I had time to go back.)
Because I live in rural France, just getting to the airport is a journey. I take the train from Chagny to Charles de Gaulle airport. You can either go direct to Paris Gare de Lyon and then get the RER across to Roissy, or take a direct train. I do the latter. And after nearly missing the flight on a previous trip to the Philippines — because of a train delay — I always leave a lot of time now.
When I find myself on the platform at Chagny, it’s OK. The pressure goes away. I’m in the pipe now, and at the other end of it is the Philippines. All I have to do is get on the right trains and planes and I’ll get there.
I began with this picture because it representated a departure for me, and a point when I began a long journey of investigation, which is ongoing. I had become fascinated by the effects of sunlight passing through foliage, and it gave me a completely new direction in terms of landscape photography. Instead of the broad, I began to focus on the intimate, and instead of the general, the particular.
I had walked past this scene many times and was waiting for the foliage to really wake up as it does in early summer, and before it becomes tired-looking. One day I realised that the moment had come and I went back to the car to get my gear. I used an MPP MkVIII folding 5×4 technical camera, which is a very similar beast to the German Linhof Teknica, but made by a company in London. These are really nice machines, and usually pretty cheap to acquire, much less than a Tek, anyway.
We have looked at the ways we can regulate our cameras to get the right exposure, but until now we haven’t discussed exposure itself. Correct exposure is simply setting the camera so that the subject is rendered with an appropriate range of tones in the image.
If the camera allows too much light in, or over-exposes, then the image will be too light, appear washed out, and particularly in digital, highlights will ‘blow out’, that is, be rendered as solid, featureless white. If there is not enough light, or under-exposure, the image will be too dark and the shadows will appear jet black with no detail.
All modern digital and film SLRs have very sophisticated systems of measuring the light coming from the subject and setting the camera automatically and this is exactly what a lot of photographers do. I do it myself, if there are no lighting complications or other factors to worry about. However, as soon as you begin to play with aperture and shutter speed, it really helps to know what you are actually doing. Continue reading “Photo Technique 5: Brightness and Exposure”
Four key factors in photography are linked: aperture, shutter speed, film or sensor sensitivity and subject brightness. These are linked in such a way that if any one is changed, then one or more of the others must also be changed to compensate. The first two, aperture and shutter speed, are easily controlled on camera, and now we will look at the third factor, which is also under the photographer’s control: film or sensor sensitivity.
In pre-digital days this was always referred to as ‘film speed’ and this is convenient; we continue to use it to describe digital sensor sensitivity — sensor speed. A number of indices or scales were established to measure film speed, but the one that became the most widely used was the American Standards Association, or ASA, scale, which was eventually adopted by the International Standards Organisation or ISO. This is an arithmetical scale, so that a doubling of the ISO value indicates a doubling of sensitivity or speed, and a halving the opposite. (This is as opposed to the more complex DIN scale which was logarithmic.) Because the ISO values are arranged in this way, they conform exactly to the conventions we have already met for aperture and shutter speeds, where each stop or step is a doubling or halving of the one before. So it is easy to apply the same logic to film/sensor speed.