Still Photography

Posted on by

Back to Still Photography...

BYWAYS - Focal Lengths and Darkroom (4 replies and 6 comments)

joedonohoe22
2 months ago
joedonohoe22 2 months ago

Hi Roger,

I received my copy of BYWAYS yesterday and so far I’ve really enjoyed having time to study examples of your stills work.

It appears that most of your stills were shot with a moderately wide lens, but there are some examples that look a bit longer/telephoto. The Beaford images on pages 26, 34 and 37, for example. Did you experiment at this early stage with different focal lengths? I know it wasn't uncommon for photojournalists at the time to carry two camera bodies, one with a wide lens and the other with a telephoto.

Also curious to know whether you developed your own negatives and whether you ever mastered the art of making your own prints?

Roger Deakins
2 months ago
Roger Deakins 2 months ago

I could only afford a simple Pentax when I was working at Beaford. One camera and two prime lenses. Though I seem to remember I had stretched my budget to a 65mm when I shot the fairground. I was earning 13 pounds a week at the time.

Yes, I have always developed my own negatives and that may be why so many of my negatives are really grainy! I have always printed everything myself as well. At Beaford I converted a bathroom the size of a phone booth to process and print. I still have a darkroom at home but I hardly ever use it.

MiguelMas
2 months ago

I used a Spotmatic - screw mount - for years. Great cameras. Great glass. The grain my be due to your film/dev combo... will send some links on the topic if you like. I owned a pro lab once upon a time, long ling ago...

Mike
2 months ago

For the Purists, I think it was a Pentax S1 or S1A with Takumar lens, not cheap!
This was actually discussed 6 months ago. This was a ‘classy’ camera even in the early 1970’s. David Bailey took one to New York to photograph Jean Shrimpton for “Young idea Goes West“ article ‘Vogue’ magazine. ‘Shrimpton’ still lives in her hotel in Cornwall, she invested her money, clever girl!

Roger Deakins
2 months ago
Roger Deakins 2 months ago

I misspoke as I started out at Beaford with a Praktica camera and a Solinger wide lens. I did buy a second hand Pentax but dropped it on some rocks. I later bought a Nikon F3 and finally a Leica M6, which is my favorite.

Seriously, the grain in my photos is down to forced development combined with the high fog level in the Ilford 400 stock.

Mike
2 months ago

“Dropped it on some rocks” I think I am going to faint! How could you be so beastly!

MiguelMas
2 months ago

A friend of mine is a wizard of concocting film developers, especially the Pyro formulas... here is a page on one of his brews... and it is good for semi-stand...
http://www.pictorialplanet.com/advanced_photography/510_pyro.html»

Roger Deakins
2 months ago
Roger Deakins 2 months ago

I am digital now!

MiguelMas
2 months ago

Me too... my latest toy is a Fuji X-30... got some Canon gear as well to hold my long telefotos...

joedonohoe22
2 months ago
joedonohoe22 2 months ago

That's all really interesting, Roger. Great to have a bit more background to your early days in photography. I didn't think there was too much grain at all. There might be a slight bump in grain in the night fairground shots, but I presume that you push processed for that?

I seem to be on a reverse trajectory to you - I started in digital and now exclusively use 35mm film (apart from the occasional iPhone shot). Using a Pentax ME-Super with a few primes: 35, 50 and the occasional 135 for McCullin style headshots.

As you know, it's a real labour of love getting the shots, particularly with all the variables in the development process. But the feeling of accomplishment when all goes well. Can't beat it. Working my way up to a makeshift darkroom and making prints as we speak.

Mike
2 months ago

I am surprised the ME Super is still working, very few are now being electronic.
The body is very good though, will work better with Zeiss glass with adapter.
The curtain shutter is very reliable.

Back to Still Photography...