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January 2020.

After returning from a posting in Germany, my father ended up at a pretty boring RAF camp in Norfolk. This was RAF Feltwell, once a wartime bomber base that now had no aircraft, just three enormous Thor Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles.
The Thor’s…just sat there. Well when in ‘firing position’ they did, otherwise they lay down in their enormous concrete housings, masking their fearsome nuclear capabilities.
We moved from an RAF quarter at Feltwell and bought a bungalow at a nearby village, Weeting and I started at Thetford Boys Grammar School, a somewhat long bus ride away.

It was at this time, when I was 12 going on 13, in early 1960 that I fell in love with ‘planes’. Alas with none immediately nearby, I started cycling to visit the US base at Lakenheath and subsequently continued on the few more miles to Mildenhall.

I say that I fell in love with planes. I found a beauty in these machines and therefore begged my father to borrow his pretty old Agfa camera that took 120 film. At Lakenheath the superb Super Sabre jets were often too far away to get decent photos however but very occasionally I’d find one parked up near the boundary fencing.

Here’s the first picture that I took that I seem to have finally managed to get in focus and without camera shake or getting some of the fence in the shot!

48th TFW F-100D Super Sabre 63221 getting some ‘line-maintenance’ on a Lakenheath dispersal.

I’m very partial to some ‘action’ in my aviation images. This one works because there’s a mechanic fixing something and the sky and the sunlight makes the image worthwhile.

Cycling on to Mildenhall in those days meant passing through the USAF housing, bungalows with a mix of large late 50’s American cars and also some European ‘compacts’ parked outside them…this was the great gas guzzling days of the late 50’s and early ’60’s.

I used to arrrive on my bike at the end of Mildenhall’s runway, up near ‘the town’ and then cycle down towards the old RAF hangars which were left over from it’s wartime bomber days. Both bases were pretty big so I could cover a fair distance.

Here’s probably the best shot I managed at Mildenhall:

C-133A Cargomaster 40142 of 1607th Air Transport Wing (Heavy) from Dover Air Force Base, Delaware.

In the background that’s a giant gantry for lifting one of the big Pratt and Whitney T34 turbo-prop engines off the C-133.
The 1607th Air Transport Wing (Heavy) was the unit that supplied C-133’s to transport into Mildenhall the large American Thor Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles for the RAF. A total of 60 Thors and their equipment were delivered for the RAF which took 60 flights by C-124’s and 77 by C-133’s. The missiles were based at former RAF airfields, each converted to take 3 of the Thor’s in the enormous concrete housings, the first arriving at Feltwell in September 1958 and they lasted until August 1963. The Thors were moved from Mildenhall by road with transporters capable of front and rear steering, quite a sight to see along the East Anglian country roads.

Waiting around the end of Mildenhall’s runway could however produce images like these…if the Agfa camera would let me.

Douglas C-133A Cargomaster 62011 about to touchdown at Mildenhall in mid 1960.

The Lakenheath runway was harder work alas as the Super Sabres were a bit further away and with no long lens they were always pretty small on the negatives.
It was a great day out to visit both American bases at the beginning of the ’60s and set up my enthusiasm for planes which I ‘fully exploited’ in my next few years at RAF Changi in Singapore.



November 2019

I’m a film photographer again….having been through the ‘digital phase’ …and come out the other side. I love shooting film in my 30 year old Hasselblads. But V Series Hasselblads come with wonderful interchangeable film backs of course…and they can use digital backs instead of film and yes I do now also have a digital back. Not a Hasselblad CFV-50C or a Phase One, but very old Leaf Aptus 22MP model from way back in 2005. Even I know there are many advantages to digital…as sometimes I want to see or use an image immediately and it’s great for portrait work.
So lets see what was required to change the old dead internal battery in my Leaf Aptus 22.

The back wouldn’t keep it’s date when switched off and the menus selected by the touch screen were often shaky to change (yes even in 2005 it had a somewhat crude touchscreen!)

To do this…and I will confess that I wouldn’t be doing it if that digital back was a Phase One worth the price of a luxury car…you need to set yourself up very carefully. I’ve taken circuit boards out of things before and you can soon find you’ve drop the screws or forgotten the assembly order. So do get prepared.

I have a little kit of screwdriver bits that fit on a special driver. It is called the ‘Gocheer 115-in-1 Screwdriver set’ that I see is being sold for under £20 from that internet site named after a large river…although I do try not to buy from them because they just aren’t ethical are they! I mean, not paying their proper taxes and tracking everything you do. Oh well perhaps I bought it somewhere else after all.
You’ll need a few different screwdrivers, hex drivers and sockets for doing work like this so a kit like this is useful from time to time and this has everything you are likely to need.

Lets start, having laid out our work area, set up a good working light and prepared some little plastic pots to store our removed circuits boards and all the screws we take off. I remembered to remove the CF memory card, in case it got in the way…and I had looked up the replacement battery I would need, a 3 volt CR1220. Not the most common ‘watch battery’ these days.

Here is the Leaf Aptus 22 with the protective cover off, looking at the sensor…..I know you don’t really want to be poking around a digital camera sensor do you. Well luckily, after you have removed the 4 x 2.5mm Torx bolts, that are on the sides, reasonably far from the sensor housing, you can slip the protective cover plate back on over the sensor and know that it’s safe.

The Leaf Aptus 22 sensor exposed, showing the 4 TORX bolts that connect it to the back assembly.

Now you can pivot the sensor housing assembly to the right and revealed are the first set of connections to work on, a ribbon cable, 2x grey cables fitted with very small co-ax plugs and an IDE type plug.

First circuit board exposed when sensor assembly is rotated revealing connections.

Support the sensor housing so that it won’t put stress on the cabling and start with either the the ribbon cable or the small co-ax cables. As I was mulling over how to pull the ribbon out one of the co-ax plugs came out of it’s socket. I then noticed there were two of these grey co-ax cables, one above the other. I stuck a small tape label ‘1’ on the first cable and tried to work out how to ease the second off.

First circuit board in close-up. One of the two small co-ax plugs had popped off the socket when I took this.

It turned out that in order to ease it up without bending I needed to use my small plastic tool to pry it up near the cable sheath as it entered into the little co-ax plug. Gentle force should prise it up without causing it to tilt or bend as it comes up. You really musn’t bend small sockets like these out of shape.
So I gave that grey cable a small taped ‘2’ label and I noted it’s location in a small drawing.
The ribbon cable is of the type that has ‘bare ends’. These sometimes ease out after the top of it’s matting socket has been ‘flipped up’.

I tried this but it didn’t happen, so I guessed the small black plugs on each end of the connector probably ‘did something’ and I eased these very small black lugs up…well sideways actually, as they move away from the socket towards the side walls. I used a small scewdriver blade to ease them towards the right, as seen in the picture above.
The ribbon cable then slid out…I just hoped getting it back in was going to be easy.

The little ‘IDE type’ plug and socket (remember them from computer hard drives?) had also to be teased out with a pair of plastic ‘spatulas’ (as found in the ‘Gocheer’ tool kit). Gently does it.
I marked it on both plug and socket to make sure it was returned the correct way.

We haven’t actually done with the connectors on this board as there are 4 more carrying ‘little cable plugs’. 3 of these can be seen on the left of the picture below, with the 4th on the right side. I called these ‘A’ to ‘D’ in my drawing when I removed them and noted all the cable colours on each connector as well. I wanted them back correctly afterwards.

The first circuit board removed…but it is rotated in this image…the ribbon cable socket is under my top finger here. Facing left are 3 of the 4 small sockets that take ‘little cable plugs’, with the 4th on the right opposite side of the board.

OK the ‘circuit board 1’ is now free of connectors and 3×2.0mm screws can be removed on it’s edges to get it out. Alas these 3 screws weren’t magnetic, so wouldn’t ‘stick’ to my screwdriver. Take great care not to drop them inside! The photo above shows it out of course, but when you start to lift it upwards you discover it is also held by a long board mounted plug and socket underneath it. Gently prise it up, the picture below of circuit board 2 in place shows the long connector.

It gets easier now as we move on to removing circuit board 2. This only has the same connector, a fairly long plug on it’s underside that mates it to circuit board 3 underneath it. Board 2 is held in by 3 threaded hex bolts that will need a 4mm socket head, Luckily these 3 were magnetic so my 4mm socket driver lifted them cleanly out. Into one of my storage pots they went.

Here is circuit board two, the long connector and the 3x4mm socket bolts can bee seen. The dangling cables are the ones removed from circuit board 1.

After circuit board 2 is out, no 3 is exposed. It has the battery on it! But alas you can’t get it out. Circuit board 3 will have to be removed.
Below the 3rd circuit board, at the bottom of the picture above, is a long black flat metal plate (opposite side of the board to the ‘fan’). It is a protective grill to stop ingress of ‘grot’ and I removed it by unscrewing the 2×1.0mm screws and lifting it out. You may not need to but I thought it gave me more space .

Circuit board 3 has the same 4mm hex bolts holding it …and it has another long plug connector assembly (as held the earlier boards, but this is on the opposite side. Ease up circuit board 3 and rejoice….now the battery is ‘get-at-able’!

3rd circuit board lifted out, although the battery is a bit hard to see in this picture…it’s on the right side of the board here, in the centre.

Easing the battery out of it’s housing is a little difficult but a small screwdriver pushed it out enough for me to pull it all the way.

As I had found out earlier, it’s a 3 volt CR1220 replacement. I found a Panasonic one on eBay. Push it in with the ‘+’ showing upwards and start the reassembly. Do make sure those long plug and socket connectors on each board are carefully pushed in. No broken pins thanks.
That ribbon cable on board 1 is rather close to the aluminium sides of the housing and it may work to put the ribbon back into it’s connector before you screw down circuit board 1. But done that way you have to know that the sensor housing unit can be supported OK whilst you put circuit board 1 back in.
I won’t go through all the re-assembly…after all you made notes, took photos or drawings and had the correct tools didn’t you!

The digital back powered up right away, satisfactorily giving a bleep. The menus on mine now selected very easily, although a re-alignment of the touch screen helped. This was under ‘Set Up’, then ‘Display’, to ‘Align Touch Screen’.
You’ll obviously want to re-set the ‘Date and Time’ also in the ‘Display’ menus…and if you’re like me will sneak back to check after awhile that it is in fact keeping time!
Nice to know the EXIF info will now make sense.

My Aptus is the old ’22’. I now see there’s a mention on the ‘’ forum ( ) about doing this battery change on other Aptus models and I can tell they weren’t quite like the insides of mine. However with a small kit of tools you should find you can tackle any version, if handled with care.

I always find great pleasure it tackling something like this…and now my Aptus may get used rather more.



November 2019

For a few years I have been scanning film, originally my old negatives and more recently my new Hasselblad film images.
I started with an Epson 4870 flat bed and soon learned that it wasn’t giving me the quality of scan that I knew my negatives deserved. There was a trouble with a flat bed like that, it didn’t have any accurate focusing instead relying on a pre-set focus. That required the negative to be at the exact focus point the manufacturer had pre-set. Alas the Epson holders weren’t engineered accurately enough and my images were not ‘grain’ sharp. Just as in the old dark-room printing days I judged the sharpness by the film grain.

I purchased other negative holders, the ‘Better Scanning’ ones but still didn’t get consistent results across the whole negative so went looking for another way. This brought me to using a digital camera to photograph the negatives when illuminated by an LED lightbox. This was much better and if the camera was focused accurately I could shoot a ‘full-frame’ of a 35mm negative using a Canon 5D2 camera with a macro lens. I could also shoot 2 or 4 shots of a medium format negative to get a big ‘scan’, although they had to be ‘stitched together’ in Photoshop.

The LED lightbox was however a bit too dim so I decided to start using flash as the light source but it was quite hard to engineer that. This led me to getting an old Bowens Illumitran Slide Duplicator for a only £5 on eBay. I only wanted it for it’s built in flash tube and didn’t need the camera mounting, preferring to use the vertical camera stand mount I already had. Shortly after obtaining the Illumitran though I decided that stitching negatives was really a pain and I decided to go and find a ‘proper scanner’.

Now the professional ‘big boys’ use drum scanners…..but I would never have to money for one of them, the cost of a luxury car, but the next best was the now defunct Nikon LS-8000 and LS-9000 film scanners.
I bought a ‘mint’ LS-9000 for £2000….still a big sum…but getting a great scan of my images had become very important to me.

Well the Nikon could and did produce really great 4000dpi scans for negatives from, in my case 35mm up to 6×9 and it had really accurate automatic focusing of the negs. Nikon’s software was no longer supported but old machines like the Nikon are saved by Ed Hamricks VueScan programme. It’s really good scanning software that covers hundreds of different otherwise ‘dead’ scanners. The Nikon only had a Firewire 400 interface but my Windows 10 was capable of that.

Switch on the scanner, load VueScan and away I went….and the scans were pin sharp…ahh but only in the centre of the image! The Nikon holders just didn’t hold the negs flat enough.
So more research and I bought Focal Point’s ‘anti-Newton Ring’ glasses for both the 35mm and MF negative holders to make my negs flat. The 35mm ones worked very well and I got totally flat scans and the medium format 645 negatives usually worked OK as well but my 6×6 negatives still often had those damned ‘Newton-Rings’….and both versions had problems with dust. That was because there was now a negative plus 2 sheets of glass…that’s a total of 6 surfaces to clean of dust
. Vuescan was good at removing dust with the ‘infra-red mode’, but monochrome negs had to be carefully cloned free of dust with Photoshop.

Now I decided I needed to do ‘wet-mounting’ for the 6×6 negatives at least. This is the method used in those super expensive drum scanners. The ‘platter’ is given a coat of an oily film and the negative laid on it. Another covering of the oily film is put on the negative and then a sheet of opaque acetate is then laid on top of form a sandwich, which is ‘squeeged’ of air so the negative sits bonded to the ‘platter’, which does indeed hold it dead flat.
After scanning the neg is removed and the oil allowed to ‘air dry’…hopefully without marks.

Translating the wet scan technique into use on a flat bed scanner like the Epson is pretty straight forward and I will continue to do this for 4×5 negatives. However a film scanner like the Nikon 9000 which loads the holder into the machine has to be handled carefully to be adapted to wet scanning. The negative holder has to have a sheet of glass for the bottom plate which is then treated with the oily film onto which the negative is laid. Acetate sheet then forms the top surface after a further oily film treatment on the top surface of the negative of course.
After modifying my old Nikon holders to allow glass plates, this did work really well…providing I had a whole evening to spare for just a couple of negatives…it was so, so time consuming, I could see I was just never going to get through the mountain of old negatives I had. I would have to keep wet scanning for my best images.

FINALLY though ….I was saved by a German photographer/engineer in Hamburg called Stephan Scharf. I spotted an eBay video in which Stephan showed a 3D printed negative holder he had developed for the Nikon 8000 and 9000’s. He had taken the basis of the Nikon holder and totally re-engineered it so that it closely and tightly gripped the negative using a strong magnetic force within the holder. Brilliant!

Stephan promised that his holder would produce a flat negative and therefore I would get the overall sharp scans that I desired. Alas 3D printing is slow, definitely not mass production and I did have to wait a few months before his beautifully holder arrived, complete with negative masks for my range of old negatives, 35mm, 645.6×6 and 6×9. Stephan doesn’t overcharge but a one off 3D printed holder will never be super cheap either…but hey this holder is so superb that I’ve sold my old Nikon holders on eBay and recovered the cost and his service throughout was just great.

Stephan Scharf’s 3D printed holder with my selection of neg carriers-35mm, 645, 6×6 and 6×9.

The new 3D holder uses the ‘mode’ that the original Nikon FH-869GR holder uses. That’s the holder that Nikon produced with a ‘rotating glass’ carrier. It expects one negative at a time and does therefore require you to eject the holder between each scan and re-position to the next negative. This is required so each negative can be very tightly clamped for each scan, so the negative is truly flat overall.
I don’t find this a problem since I get great scans, as good as the Nikon 9000 will allow and can also shift along a set of 35mm negatives pretty quickly since Stephan produced a little ‘holding plate’ that allows this

At last therefore the Nikon 9000 has become my perfect scanner and I can start tackling the negative mountain….thanks to Ed Hamrick’s VueScan software and Stephan Scharf’s amazing 3D negative holder system.
So it’s become possible for the ‘little guys’ to transform existing products and give them years of life, often even better than the were before. Thanks so much!



September 2019

Driving past Chichester on Wednesday last week, I couldn’t help dropping in to see more of Michael Kenna’s prints at the superb Bosham Gallery.

In my previous post I talked about my delight at the ‘Michael Kenna – 45 Retrospective Exhibition’ that was showing through the summer. They had followed it up with another featuring his work called ‘New and Rare Works’ running from 2nd to 28th September…so just a few days left to see it as I write this.

I was able to chat with the owner Luke Whittaker, who had obviously set up a very good relationship with Michael to get more prints personally produced by him to show. There were indeed some ‘New’ ones but also some that had ‘sold out’ of the artists 45 print editions. For these Michael had released ‘Artist Proofs’ from his archives.

I was bold over by one of his images taken in Hokkaido back in 2002. A picture I had never seen before.

Tree portrait-study 1 Wokato Hokkaido 2002

So simple but that faint dark line against the snow on the trunk made it a memorable a image and of course it was a really wonderful print. Alas the rarity of being an Artist Proof from a now completed Edition made it carry a £17750 price tag!

I look forward to more exhibitions in the future of Michael’s work at this delightful gallery. It’s a wonderful place to photograph as well…I was trotting around the Quay at 4 in the morning under a nice moon a couple of days later with my camera!




I’ve finally made it to the wonderful 45 year retrospective exhibition of Michael Kenna’s work at the lovely little gallery at Bosham, near Chichester.

Picture from Bosham Gallery website:

It was pleasing to see the care with which the owner Luke Whitaker and manager Angus Heywood had put into choosing and hanging the 42 prints from Michael’s years of image making since the 1970’s through to this year.

Michael has always been the most intelligent and thoughtful of photographers and you can’t help but notice how consistent his photographic style has been since his earliest days. Quite remarkable in fact to have distilled your ‘vision’ into something so long ago and not feel the need to change it, only to refine it.

As you can see from the Bosham Galleries picture above, the prints were mainly hung as a double row and all were framed in what I’m sure is Michael’s preferred manner, in 20″x16″ black frames. This provides ample ‘white space’ as the images are always printed fairly small at around 8″x8″ and that sizing certainly draws the viewer in.

Six Godolas, Giardini Ex Reali,Venice 1980

This is how a Michael Kenna print looks when framed. A pure white matt is used and the prints are dry mounted with a narrow border that carries the edition number and Michael’s signature. Sepia or Selenium toning is used though I don’t envy him having to handle the chemicals every day in the darkroom.
He uses Ilford Multigrade photographic paper which is modified through filters in the enlarger and understandably allows considerable contrast adjustment when in the darkroom but personally I’ve never been in love with that papers slight sheen. The printing technique is totally beyond criticism, he’s just a wonderful printer and the time spent in the darkroom and undertaking spotting must be immense. The prints are ‘little gems’.
As my own old ‘wet darkroom prints’ remind me, film grain is reduced by cold cathode enlargers and yet images appear wonderfully sharp.

The gallery must have been over the moon with capturing one of the great living photographers and so far had managed to sell over 30 prints at prices from £2500 to £7400. So it was particularly pleasing to see that Fine Art Photography can survive in the UK away from ‘Mayfair’ and good of his longstanding London dealer Giles Huxley to let Bosham have an exhibition.

The day before the opening in June, Michael had a book signing at The Photographer’s Gallery and I was able to get a signed copy of his new book ‘A 45 Year Odyssey’. This was also the name of an exhibition in Tokyo at the beginning of the year.
Luke and Angus at Bosham hadn’t felt the need at all to follow the choices from the book and Tokyo exhibition and had scoured Michael’s vast archive for their own selections. So this was really a unique exhibition.
Wonderful also to find that there was even a brand new ‘unseen print’. It was ‘Red Crown Crane Feeding’ in the the snow of Hokkaido, which although it dated from 2005, Michael had brought over in his luggage as it hadn’t been printed or shown before . It was just a simple beautiful image.

Driving home to Dorset I began to think of my own favourite Kenna images. The ones I would buy for my ‘Kenna Wall’.
There would be’ Four Birds’…such a simple stylish image…just look at the birds positioning:

Four Birds, St.Nazaire, France 2000

I love Corridor of Leaves:

Corridor of Leaves, Gustalla, Emile Romagna, Italy 2006

I’ve already shown two of Michael’s other tree images in an earlier blog back in April, the ‘Stone Pine Tunnel, Pineto, Abruzzo 2016’ and my favourite of the many Kussharo Lake Tree images which is ‘Kussharo Lake Study 6 Hokkaido 2007’. So here’s another tree from Hokkaido…how perfect is that fence:

Tree and Fence, Nakafurano, Hokkaido, Japan. 2012

Keeping it simple again, like one of those ‘Harry Callaghan’ images I suppose, but perhaps even better:

Twelve Winter Stalks, Furano, Hokkaido, Japan. 2012

Michael Kenna absorbed many ideas from others but went and made them his own. ‘Influenced by’ but never ‘copying’. Lots of photographers now mimicking Kenna should learn from this.

Yet another from Hokkaido:

Inclined Posts, Lake Akan, Hokkaido, Japan. 2015

He’s made many fence posts images in the snow, taken mainly in Japan. They are all stunning.
I’d really need to have one of the Huangshan mountain pictures, perhaps this one with it’s mist and ‘layers’ of mountains:

Huangshan Mountains, Study 12, Anhui, China. 2008

And the first ‘Moonrise’ that triggered my interest in capturing the passage of the moon in very very long exposures:

Full Moonrise, Chausey Islands, France, 2007

And something from the French countryside, how about moonlight and lightning?:

Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Study 6, Bordeaux, France. 2012

And a Holga image from Paris of a perfectly captured ‘peace symbol’:

White Bird Flying, Paris, France. 2007

Spain? This one’s got a wonderful dark sky to offset the windmills:

Quixote’s Giants, Study 2, Campo de Criptana, La Mancha, Spain. 1996

Michael has never been frightened by ‘less picturesque’ industrial subjects. He followed in the footsteps of Charles Sheeler who had spent 6 weeks photographing the giant Ford plant at Dearborn in Michigan in 1927. Michael undertook his project every year between 1992 and 1995 and produced photographs far exceeding Sheeler’s work. I’d choose this one, used on the book cover of ‘Rouge’. It’s perhaps not a typical Kenna image at all, but he’s printed it so there are lots of silhouettes:

The Rouge, Study 87, Dearborn, Michigan, USA. 1996

Mist has often played a part in making his pictures special and I love this long lens shot which uses clouds to produce the same effect :

Plane and Sugar Loaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 2006

And one from his early years, this from his arrival in the US, a quiet, satisfying against the light composition in mist:

Swings, Catskill Mountains, New York, New York, USA. 1977

So many that I would pick but those would get me started I guess!
Michael Kenna is a truly prolific photographer who has just got the ability to go right to the soul of almost any subject and make a meaningful image.

Long may he keep it up.



JULY 2019

I’ve been shooting long exposures of the moon ‘rising and setting’ ever since I went back to using a film camera, a few years ago now. I was taken with an image by, once again, Michael Kenna, of the moon rising over the Chausey Islands off the French coast. I realised that over the years I had photographed the moon many times, but never as a really, really long exposure. The magic that happens during an excessively long exposure is quite wonderful and Kenna had started a whole ‘minimalism movement’ in monochrome photography with his ‘frozen water’ and also his many images by moonlight. Others had done long exposures before but Kenna did lots of it and made some outstanding pictures…as he still does.

So my first attempt was an exposure over a couple of hours or so a Corfe Castle. I stood around for a few hours, whilst the full moon rose up behind the castle…and my images were rubbish! First lesson, the moon only lights what it can shine on so find something in the frame that will get illuminated….a silhouette of a dark castle isn’t very interesting!

On then to attempt number two. This was perfect…the moon rising behind the wooden ‘Low’ lighthouse that stands on the beach at Burnham. I had to find a night of the full moon when the tide would stay off the part of the beach long enough to capture a very long image. Moon tables and tide tables…planning always comes into this sort of photography.

3 hour 15 min moonrise | ‘Burnham Low’ lighthouse Burnham-On-Sea | 2016

I feared my tripod would move during the 3 hours and 15 minutes that this exposure took as the beach was soft as you can see….but I got away with it.
The magic that happens is partly to do with the reflections from the moon ‘spreading’ across the image to give a much bigger illuminated area than is observed by the human eye. Plus of course you don’t actually know where the moon will ‘travel to’ during the exposure…although you soon learn to judge it pretty well. There is no ‘live view’ screen on my Hasseblad film camera alas.

Here’s a slightly different one, of the moon ‘setting’ over misty water and mountains.

Trail of the fullmoon setting behind Blake Rigg and illuminating a mist covered Blea Tarn 9th May 2017.

That’s a 2 and a half hour exposure. I set up two cameras, the Hasselblad SWC/M with it’s 38mm wide lens and another 501CM camera with a 50mm widish lens. If I’m lucky with my location I can wander back to my campervan and make myself a coffee…as I did here. The mist arose as I was away and I hadn’t put anything on the camera to keep the condensation off but the images were OK.

I’m aware that I’ve mainly been shooting the moon ‘rising’ so I now have to find locations for more of the ‘setting’ moon images. It’s less easy to find interesting ‘west looking locations’, particularly in my home area on the Dorset coast. The lens I choose obviously determines the size of the moon in the image. Those like the Blea Tarn one above have a pretty small moon, whilst in this Southampton River Test image, shot with the 250mm lens the moon is really big.
Some passing clouds also do ‘nice things’, as they add texture to the moon, even better then than a totally clear sky. Over such long exposure times, most moving clouds won’t even register, just the ones that get brightly lit my being close to the moon.

Moonbeam over the River Test | Southampton | 2017

Here’s my latest image from the full moon earlier this month. I haven’t yet had the full ‘rising moon’ monochrome image (that I took over 2 and a half hours) processed as it’s still sitting on a roll of Acros in one of my camera film backs. However here’s my first colour ‘moonbeam’, although the moon obviously is still bright white. This was taken over 15 minutes at the Durdle Door arch, here in Dorset. Shot on Portra film. I’m still deciding if I like the image in colour, even if it is pretty ‘monochrome’, ie one colour!

15 minutes of moonrise at Durdle Door.



JUNE 2019

My last post was about the recent Hasselblad product announcements and particularly about the slim little ‘body’, that Hasselblad is calling the 907X.

That’s the 907X….the little bit in the middle, mated to the new CFV-II 50C and a XCD lens. (Hasselblad’s product photo)

The Hasselblad press announcement stated that it would be able to take, in addition to the obvious XCD lenses from the X-1D camera, the H Series lenses and also the ancient V Series.

Here’s a look at what I think that means.
Hasselblad, along with others like FotoDiox, Klipon and Cambo, have all been making Hasselblad lens adapters for sometime. But let’s start with the Hasselblad adapters currently for the X-1D camera.

This is the Hasselblad X to H lens converter, currently available for the X-1D camera.

Hasselblad’s XH lens adapter.

This guy’s going to let you use the HC and HCD lenses from the big H Series cameras. That is the range of cameras that ran from the original H1 and H2 film cameras, which became H1D and H2D digital versions and then into the H3D model which has continued on to the latest H6D. I think there are 12 lenses available that fit those cameras. These have all been built by Fuji as the Hasselblad association with Zeiss ended with the V Series.

The adapter is fairly big and when mounted on that little waif of a 907X body plus the CFV digital back, it’ll almost be as big as any other ‘normal camera’ in your hand.
With this adapter you will have control of the HC/HCD lenses built-in leaf shutter, aperture and auto focusing…all from the buttons on the back I guess although the new side grip looks like adding ‘more buttons’.

Hasselblad also stated the 907X would be able to use the old Zeiss V Series lenses.
Now they produce an adapter to do that currently for the X-1D camera as well.

Hasselblad XV lens adapter.

The film plane was some distance away because of the V series mirror, so this adapter moves the lens well away and is pretty big. However it adds the ability to mount all those Zeiss Distagon, Planar, Tessar and Sonnar lenses on the 907X, which will be very interesting to behold.
The XV adaptor shown here is currently available to get your V Series lenses onto an X-1D. Sadly in doing that you have to give up the leaf shutter built into each of the Zeiss V lenses and you have to enable the use of the electronic shutter built in the in the X-1D body.
Oh dear…that’s not great as the electronic shutter takes about 300mSecs to sweep over the sensor, thus making it useless for moving objects. You also don’t get any other ‘auto’ facilities, so manual focusing, exposure etc but that was to be expected with V Series manual lenses. The full range of flash sync speeds that a leaf shutter also gave are also gone…
But hey…I’m a manual sort of guy…I’d get by.

It’s difficult though to see how this XV adapter would work with that little 907X at all unless the 907X was getting an electronic shutter…or maybe even the CFV-II 50C would get the electronic shutter? I believe that Phase One have incorporated one into a digital back already.

Well suprisingly things weren’t always this crude….Hasselblad had already built a ‘better’ adapter for mounting V Series lenses…this time is was for the H Series bodies. This one was an even more serious device as it had the ability to use the leaf shutter in the V lens and also control of the aperture.

The rather more complex Hasselblad CF adapter…V Series lenses to H series cameras.

They called this the CF adapter. This is what Hasselblad said: “The automatic focusing system in the H Camera can be used to guide the manual setting of focus through the use of the focus confirmation signal displayed in the viewfinder. Light is measured at full aperture with all lenses, which produces an aperture and shutter speed data display in the camera for the manual setting of the exposure. Owners of CFE version lenses receive an additional benefit as the preset aperture setting is automatically transferred to the camera. Shutter cocking is performed manually with all lenses and is quickly accomplished by an easily accessible lever on the side of the adapter.”
So users of this earlier H Series adapter get the following with their V Series lenses:
Normal use of the built in leaf shutter, which they can cock with a lever…along with those higher flash sync speeds which are still manually set on lens from 1s–1/500s including B and T mode
and no use of a laggy electronic shutter. There’s light metering at full aperture and electronic focus confirmation on the viewfinder display .
The databus connection with the late CFE lenses operates and is past through to the camera.

I wonder therefore if this more complex adapter could comeback in a new form to be used on the 907?



JUNE 2019

Hasselblad just made a set of surprise announcements. They are going to be selling a Mark 2 version of their most beautiful looking digital camera to date, the X-1D. It has a better touch screen and I do hope it will fix some of the things they omitted when the original X-1D came out. I hope they’ve remembered that photographers need a proper ‘remote release’…you can’t rely on being tethered to remotely fire a camera. Also they must fix the small built in delay the camera suffers from. Pressing a shutter must be instant!

I think this is the most beautiful looking camera…ever! Well done Hasselblad!
Now in addition to updating it…..perhaps you’ve fixed somethings…oh and cut the price!

Although staying with the 50Meg pixel resolution, the X-1D also gets another new lens…fine, but the best news for ‘old dinosaurs’ like me who love their old V Series film cameras is that we haven’t been forgotten.
The long standing CFV range of Hasselblad digital backs were brought up to date a few years ago when the CFV-50C model appeared giving us the 50Meg pixel CMOS detachable back. An expensive option at the time, although it was dropped in price…. but then it was discontinued when all of the Sony 50Meg chips went to the new X-1D production. I thought it had ‘gone forever’!

Now the CFV-50C detachable back returns and gets an big update, with bigger, brighter flip screen and a better set of controls that mimic the X-1D functions.
All Medium Format backs are ‘cropped’ as no manufacturer will make a 6×6 cm square back. So compromises give us at best a nearly ‘645 format’ or something well under it
It’s not easy to turn a square format designed V Series camera, even with a prism on it, so will they make the new back ‘rotatable’? It doesn’t look like it. I can shoot in either ‘landscape or portrait’ with the very old Leaf Aptus digital back I have but the Hasselblad CFV-50’s were always stuck in ‘landscape’.

Now I usually use a 1997 Hasselblad 501CM or an even older 1970’s 500CM and also love the very odd camera that Hasselblad originally called the ‘Supreme Wide’ or ‘Super Wide’. The model I have is the SWC/M CF version from 1982. The development of this camera came from Victor Hasselblad’s desire in 1954 to have a really wide angle camera, but wanting to use the Zeiss 38mm Biogon lens. It’s an outstanding true wide-angle design and not a retro-focus. This lens has almost no barrel distortion and ‘back in the day’ it was indeed a ‘supreme wide angle’. Now though it’s perhaps equivalent to a ‘full frame’ 21 or 24 mm lens I guess.
Alas it requires a very short distance between the film plane and the back of the lens and could not accommodate the usual Hasselblad reflex mirror. It also came with no viewfinder and relied on an external finder to approximate the cameras view and even had no rangefinder…all very crude, even then!

My SWC/M is like this, pictured by Richard Nordin in his seminal book ‘The Hasselblad System Compendium’…which along with the Fifth Edition of Ernst Wildi’s book ‘The Hasselblad Manual’, every V Series user should own.

My love for the images this SWC camera makes is why the last announcement really intrigues me! They’ve announced something called the Hasselblad 907X. This firmly ties it to the ‘Super Wide C’ line…as the last models ever built of those were designated 903 and 905.

That’s the 907X in the picture below. The ‘sliver of a body’ just squeezing in between the new detachable CFV II 50C back and one of the existing line of XCD, or even HC lenses. The XCD’s are from the X-1D cameras and the HCD and the HC lenses are from the current ‘big Hassy’ digital cameras…The ‘H Series’.

Now that’s really beautiful too. Hasselblad’s own picture of a pre-production 907X with CVF II 50C back and a 45mm HCD lens.
Have Hasselblad ‘gone and lost the plot’ with their model naming! All these ‘II’ versions are stupid…you can’t even type Roman numerals easily! Why not CVF-50D and X-1E?

So the 907X is similar in concept to Victor Hasselblad’s original 1954 ‘SWC’ design…but in a digital form…and now with a removable lens. An ‘old dinosaur’ like me hasn’t been able to get a true wide angle when using a digital back on the V Series as the crop factor meant the widest 40mm Zeiss on a V camera was somewhat cut off. The 907X will take the 21 and 35mm XCD wide angle lenses now of course and you use the tilt screen and buttons on the new CFV II 50C back to control it. The ring around the shutter button allows exposure changes I believe.

There was also no fun in putting a CFV-50C back on the SWC camera, as the ‘microlenses’ used within the back caused fringing at the edges of the image….although to be honest the ‘microlenses’ problem only came about well into the development of Medium Format digital backs. My 12 year old Leaf Aptus does work well on my SWC/M camera, although it’s still cropped of course.

The press release also mentions old V Series lenses as being adaptable to the new 907X, but they’d have to improve the current software correction for it to be for all the V Series lenses to make that really good I think.

The 907X is so ‘basic’ that it’ll come with an external viewfinder…just like the SWC did and also with a handgrip giving ‘more buttons’. I’m dying to see it….particularly since Hasselblad have apparently dropped prices.


PIEZOGRAPHY…why I use a monochrome converted printer

A few years back after I had bought an Epson photo printer, a R2880 model, I started printing my monochrome images and found them rather disappointing. This Epson model had 8 inks, but it only used 3 for monochrome as far as I understood it. It had an ‘Advanced Black and White’ mode that I used but sometimes I was aware of a slight colour cast and I didn’t think the darkest tones were ‘black enough’.

However I was still learning how to adjust my images in Photoshop and I hadn’t got a calibrated monitor for my PC.

I looked around and discovered the system devised by American Jon Cone called Piezography. Their ink system fits a wide range of Epson printers from desktop to the large free standing roll paper models. Many of the best ones being outdated but they have worked hard to overcome Epson’s ‘protectionist marketing’ and you can now run the inks on some new models as well, but I believe that only Epson models can be converted.
Jon Cone requires you to refit your printer with a set of strictly monochrome inks, all shades of grey and in the case of the Epson R2880 I had it was 7 inks, plus an 8th filled with his ‘flush’ fluid. I was no longer able to print colour, so a step into the unknown.
Although the Piezography system did allow either matt or gloss printing, it required a change of the darkest black ink bottle and a further ‘overcoat’ of gloss to each print.
I however only wanted to print on matt photo paper and was looking to match the images I got in the darkroom with say Agfa Brovira paper, which had a distinctive warm tone to the finished image. I always found ‘pure greys’ a bit dull and had played a lot with selenium toning in my darkroom days.

Piezography was available in a selection of toned inks such as Neutral, Warm Neutral, Carbon and Special Edition. The later being a ‘split toned’ version. Jon Cone produced a set of prints to judge the possible results of each ink, although this of course would also matter which paper you used. These prints were about postcard size, so a bit difficult to judge accurately but I opted for the Warm Neutral as possibly giving me the finish I was after.

Running the R2880 printer with even Epson inks was expensive as after all ink was what printer manufacturers make lots of their money from. Cones inks weren’t cheap either but seemed to be well worth a try.

He’s pulled all his documentation it into one document recently, that I link to below, but you still have to know a few of the concepts of printer management.

The results once I’d changed over my printer to all monochrome inks using the Warm Neutral I chose was a revelation. The smoothness in the image from black to white was wonderful and a good print exceeds anything I could get in the old darkroom….and using Photoshop exceeds anything I could do in the darkroom as well…a double win!

I had settled on Hahnemuhle Photo Rag paper, which I’ve stayed with. The whites aren’t the brightest available because the paper doesn’t use ‘brighteners’ like some and being a matt paper I get the beautiful tones I was after…but I do have to fight a bit to get them. The fight being between getting a good print match to what I edited on my PC and also getting a newly refilled set of ink cartridges to actually let the ink flow..machines do have ‘personalities’ I believe and my R2880 fights me at every refill!

It’s made difficult because Piezography requires the use of special software to produce the mixing of the 7 inks I use in the correct amounts. It’s a 3rd party thing called QuadTone RIP that was put together by Roy Harrington, a shareware $50 download. I’ve never needed to update this and it is the tool you open to print instead of say Epson Print. It comes with a set of curves that map your ink to the paper, however these only drive the software to spray out the ink correctly…proper ‘soft proofing’ to see the image as it will print is somewhat more tricky.

Computer screens are always high contrast devices…they are ‘back lit’ where as your printed paper image is decidedly ‘front lit’!
QTR Rip and the Piezography method doesn’t allow the sort of ‘soft proofing’ that I would expect, well not easily. Soft Proofing, as available in Lightroom and Photoshop relies on an ICC Profile that matches your ink and paper, so ‘on screen’ you see a representation of what you’ll actually get when you print, provided your computer monitor is accurately set of course. I now have a BenQ monitor that has it’s own inbuilt software to give a full AdobeRGB match, or in the case of Piezography monochrome, an Gamma 2.2 image. However the downloaded ICC profiles for my Warm Neutral ink and Hahnemuhle paper don’t always match quite what I’m going to get. So I have to judge my prints by eye and then ‘tweak the numbers’ in Photoshop to get my preferred result.

All sounding rather off putting! No …. don’t think that, the results really are wonderful (after all the hardwork)!
Piezography and the QuadTone RIP software does exceed the graduation of tones and detail that even the latest Epson K3 inks will produce.

To make things even more complicated…but hopefully better still, Jon Cone has now brought out a Pro version of Piezography that has an extremely black, black inkset…. the darkest ‘DMax’ that is possible on matt paper he believes. Other things have changed and now you can mix your own split toned prints, using the facilities inside QuadToneRIP and you can get very technical and make your own ICC curves, although this requires a very expensive spectrophotometer and only works on a Mac. I will gravitate to this new inkset when I’ve used a bit more of my existing precious ink up though, probably via just adding the new black ink to my existing Warm Neutral for awhile.

Considering that it’s such a great idea to adapt a printer to be a specialist monochromatic device and squeeze more out the grey scale pallet, there isn’t that much on the web about Piezography, but Brian Stewart wrote a series of posts that are interesting if you wish to explore more:

Jon Cones’ world is divided into his workshops and print teaching base in Vermont called Cone Editions Press: and his web based shop which sells the Piezography inks and his colour replacement ink system ‘Cone Color’.

The tome he wrote, ‘The Piezography Community Edition’, giving details of the system and various other information is downloadable from his Piezography web site:

There isn’t a UK dealer selling the inks but there is a French one Taos Photo:
We just need to stay in the EU (No Brexit here please) and avoid anymore import charges!

Taos Photo sell both the Piezography and the Cone Color inks.

If you want to talk about Piezography at anytime do send me an email.

Images I’d hang on my wall No2 – John Blakemore ‘Friog Wales’ 1977

APRIL 2019

‘Back in the day’…well back in the late 1970’s, there wasn’t that much landscape photography around. You could see some in the extremely poorly printed books that appeared or else in the pretty rare exhibition.

The books were truly awful…I still have a few. Monochrome images were printed with no deep blacks at all. A sort of muddy dark grey was the usual. Exhibitions though were where you would need to go to see some high quality prints. These would be ‘silver prints’ of course done in ‘proper’ darkrooms.

However not many art galleries would show ‘mere photographs’, so London had the Photographers Gallery and elsewhere a few major cities like Bristol, Liverpool and Cardiff might have a gallery that was worth visiting.

We were living in North Wales for awhile in 1982-3 and became friends with a couple that had a small gallery nearby, and they sold photographs. They had an exhibition of pictures by John Blakemore and I was knocked out by these.

Here’s the standout image that still haunts me:

John Blakemore: From ‘The Sound Of The Sea’ sequence Friog Wales 1977

Blakemore used a view camera and I think this was the first time I was aware of what transformation a very long exposure could do to capturing the sea in movement. I will confess that at first I thought this was mist!

The image above wasn’t available to purchase I think…anyway I bought another from this sequence, but it has never resonated like this large black rock picture did.

Here’s the one I have:

John Blakemore: Friog Wales 1977

Alas my print was never signed by John and even has white dust spots on it showing it needed the ‘spotting brush’ and it has ‘yellowed’ slightly which I guess means it wasn’t as ‘archival’ as we’d like nowadays. But hey, photographs weren’t ‘art’ were they and photographers didn’t do things like ‘Limited Editions’.

Perhaps one day I’ll get a copy of ‘the large black rock’ image for my wall. I realised that I pulled it out of my memory when I stood on Uttakleiv Beach in Lofoten and saw this rock:

David Taylor: Dark rocks and frozen beach | Uttakleiv Lofoten Islands Norway | January 2014

No lapping waves to render as a ‘mist’, just a frozen beach…the power of the big black rock in an image that came back to me.

Alas my image lacks something that Blakemore’s has…mystery.
The large rock in both images has nothing to give any scale and my long exposure rendered the sea without texture but there is no sea around the rock whereas Blakemore’s has those mysterious lapping waves that he’s turned into mist. Wonderful! I like the light reflecting off the foreground ice in my image but it’s Blakemore’s I’d want to keep.