lørdag 25. mai 2019

Testing some Slavich darkroom paper, finally

Looking into my darkroom shelves you would think there should be more than enough paper to keep me going for quite a while. The short answer to that is of course yes absolutely, as long as you're not too picky about the final look on the print that is. 
If you think there's a great difference in between film types and qualities, well then go ahead and try a few different papers and check out the differences on the final prints which is enormous compared to different film types. 

You have of course seen this shot a few times before if you've been through this blog a few times, but I've never lith printed it before. I think this phone photo of the print should give you a pretty good idea of the look of the print. It's rough as heck, but I like it a lot for this sort of look.

I have wanted to get my hands on some Slavich paper for quite a while now, but for some reason it has just never happened that I have put the order in. My usual suppliers of paper do not stock it, so the solution for me was to get it from Slavich's distribution company Geola, over in Lithuania. No problems whatsoever to get what I wanted from them, but the shipping and tax cost was a bit high from what I remember. 
Their Baryta based "Unibrom" paper comes in two grades, Normal and Contrast. I only had time to do a few tests on the Normal paper, but will post examples from their Contrast grade as well some time. 

My Ballerina shot done a couple of years or so back in time. This got a very different feeling to it all of a sudden when using the Slavich paper compared to the smoother Emaks paper from Fotokemika which I've used for lith earlier. 

I only tested the Slavich paper in lith developer (LD20) due to time issues (as usual). What I really liked about it is the rather extreme graphic looks it gives in the shadows, and the beautiful and warm tones (yellowish) I got in the highlights. 
And before you start to ask me what kind of test this is... well, it's not a test as in such. I only made three prints to see what it looked like, so if you need a deep test in all sorts of conditions and all sorts of developers compared to whatever else, I'm afraid you'll have to look elsewhere. I will probably come back though, with more prints and hopefully less words.  

mandag 13. mai 2019

Testing period of my converted to LED lights enlarger

Hi again, folks!
I know it's been quiet for some time again from this part of the world, but I have had things to do I'm afraid. Some fun stuff, and a bunch of boring things on the forever growing "to do" list. We're trying to sell the house as you might already know, which means a lot of really tedious things that just have to be done. I'll spare you the details! 

Just a quick phone shot of one of the few prints I've made with the home made LED module I made for my enlarger. This was not the final print, as I found out I had been a tad to careful with the blacks in this one, but you'll get the idea. Just to make everything right, this is not one of my own negatives but one I had printed for a friend that is just starting out with film. More of that later, but it seems I have managed to pull at least one guy over to the darker side... 

I have luckily also found some spare time to spend inside the darkroom lately, just to try to figure out how to use the new LED setup inside my enlarger. I finished the building of the thing the last time I was home, had it checked on the bench and then had to leave for six weeks while in Brazil working my sweat out. 
I have now mounted the light (or LED) module itself inside the enlarger, but the LED drivers and some electronics are still hanging outside making the thing look like something the cat dragged in. Still, I just had to get it all tested with negatives and paper. I mean there's no reason to do a lot of work on it just to use hours to dismantle the whole thing again when something did not work as planned, right?
So I had the LED module mounted and a negative stuck inside the enlarger and started to work on paper again. And yes, I just have to admit that it seems like I have done the right thing! It's different to work with of course, but then again I knew that much before I started this journey too many moons ago. 
It works!! 
The green LED's are giving me nice transitions from white to middleish greys, and the blue leds being quite a lot tougher than I thought are giving me rich and really nice blacks, which is the whole point after all. 
I have only done a few test prints up until now, but I'm hoping to be able to do a bit more serious work with it during next week. This week will have to be dedicated to that boring stuff mentioned above.
What I do see is that there's obviously a lot more of the blue light there than my eyes are seeing, making it a bit difficult to control at this early stage. I will get used to it though, I know. 

I am not where my darkroom is at the moment, so I can't give you any phone snaps of the thing right here and now. I will of course come back to the details at some point just to show you that it can be done if you're a bit dedicated...
You may also remember that I had a new timer built, and a digital LED controller for me to be able to turn on and off the right LED's and to dim them to the level I need them to shine through any given negative. Well... they all work as intended and I'm happy to say I'm quite satisfied with the whole thing. Now I only need to put all cables, transistors and resistances into somewhere to hide them away. But first I will have to make a few more prints I guess. 
The first impression is at least almost overwhelming, but I'll come back to the details and a few examples some day when I got something to show off.

mandag 22. april 2019

It's great, actually!

Well into the last few days of preparation for crew change over here. Which is a good thing, mind you! This time however we need to stay an extra day in Brazil as we're in for visa renewal, which is a horrible venue all together. Takes precious time you see, and lots of the sorts I'm afraid. We even have to get into a van and have someone to drive us about 4 hours up the coast just to get to the right police station to get it all properly done. Crazy, but that's how it is. Oh, and the same four hours back down to Rio again the next day to hopefully catch our flights to Europe. And if we're late, well the next plane leaves 24 hrs later if we can get tickets on such short notice that is. 

Living at the Beach. Well, this might be to stretch the truth a wee bit, but we will be moving to this area a few months from now. It's a place where you can breath. Like really breath...

OK, rants over!
It's going to be great to get home. I got plans, you see. Plans for some darkroom work, and even plans for some snapping up of (hopefully rather) good stuff for all of you to see some day. It's about time I take the old van out and do some driving around the area just to try my take on a few scenes inside the fjords somewhere. 
I usually find myself somewhere on the coast line, and it must be years since I took some time and drove deep into the fjords land of this place. They are quite nice though, if you like this sort of thing. Steep mountain sides and some deep water, that's what it's all about in there. We are only talking about a couple of hours drive actually, so it's not that the task is completely impossible. It's just myself liking the open landscapes a lot better. I feel I can breathe out there on the coast. In the fjords you're constantly walking around with something blocking the means of breathing. Of course it's just a feeling, but anyway who would and should not listen to what your body is trying to tell you? My body usually tells me to pack my things and get home to where the wind is howling, the rain is hammering flat onto your windows and the sun is shining and no wind is blowing half an hour later. That's fresh air to me...
But I'll do it for you, of course... just to let you know what it looks like when looking through one of my cameras. It will be nothing like this or that, I'm absolutely sure! Not like this either, if you follow me the slightest little bit...?
I'll manage to get something though, probably with a bit plainer looks.

onsdag 17. april 2019

Those cameras... and an engineer cadet

Ship o'hoi all! Another busy day is slowly coming to an end and time to find the old bunk quite soon. 
Today it's been another day back to school, but as a teacher and eventually sensor and assessor this time. Part of my job is of course to train new sailors to take over this sort of profession in the years to come. Well, the engineers are the real trainers and teachers, but it's still the assessor who got the last word when it comes to letting the cadets through the needle eye or not. 
I have been the "headmaster" to quite a few of them up through the years, and most of them have become owners of the certificate in the end, but this one has been a bit different. 
Accurate, tedious but effective... and a really outstanding written test to round it all off. You see in addition to the practical side the cadets got a "Cadet Book" they need to fill in. Or it's not about "filling in" as such, but to really answer the questions in as good way as they can. I have seen a lot of cadet books up through the years, but I'm happy to say I've never seen anything like this one. The book has been worked on more or less every day for a full year, and the result is just something else. 
I just signed off her last written test, which from this moment makes her an engineer holding the M4 maritime certificate. She will not know it herself until tomorrow morning, but I'm happy to break the big news to all of you out there right now.

There! See that? Now that's a proper marine engineer for you right there. On top of one of his 2,4 MegaWatt lumps of cast iron and bits and bobs of steel and other sorts of metal. Snapped with an old Nikkormat, I think. You can never be quite sure, but I'm fairly certain about this one. 

Oh, and I almost forgot. 
I just bought that Pentax Spotmatic I told you about a few days ago over here. Had to get it actually, just because it was now or never. I will write words about it whenever I get my hands on it and have eventually fed a roll of film through it. 
I mean it had at least one great lens and a couple of other maybe not so great lenses on the side. A nice leather strap and everything, and it did actually come quite cheap (OK, not cheap as in more or less free, but you know...) after a very short discussion about the matters. 
I'll be happy with it, as long as it opens and shuts when needed. 

mandag 15. april 2019

Sunday blues

Good evening! 
At least it's in the evening over here, so you just have to bear with it even though it's soon morning back home. 
I'm finally done with the most horrible Sunday at work in a very long time. 
As the master of everything technical on board the ship, you are more or less in charge of everything if you look away from knowing or being aware of where are, and/or where we're heading. Anything else is the engine dept. responsibility. 
It's basically like running a small miniature town with all it's support system. Including the sewage, and the waste lines from the mess. Sometimes food waste pipes are getting clogged and there will be a problem with the sewage plant... but (luckily) very rarely on the same day. 
I say no more about it other than mention that we just found ourselves in some very bad luck, from seven in the morning all the way around till six in the evening. That's eleven hours hard work with stuff you don't want to think about. 

It's from a beach in Scotland, of course. There's quite a few places like this over there, and they are great places to go for a walk. You will of course always walk with the wind into your face and get a lot of sand in your wellies and into your cameras and lenses, but it's worth it. Believe me!

Other than that, you might ask...? Nothing much, I'm afraid. Nothing at all, actually. 
I have not even had the time to take the old rangefinder out for a walk on deck. The sky was a bit more overcast today compared to most days, so it would be a nice day for it. Anyway, I'll get my chance again soon. And besides, I'm running out of film as well so might be a good idea to save it for crew change and traveling home days. 

I have just started working ever so lightly on collecting a few snaps to put op on a small exhibition later this year. I got a few prints made up already, and got a few more I need to print from my pile of existing negs... and then I probably need a few more to fill in the gaps. I'll get there though, as long as I can get my old Italian enlarger to work again after the rather serious rebuild to LEDs and new timers and LED controllers and what have we all. I am sure I'll get there, but it has taken a serious amount of time, I have to admit. But OK, at least I know how the thing works should it suddenly show signs of behaving weird. 
I'm looking forward to pinning these pictures up on the walls, because I'm probably going to mix them in between paintings, which will be a new experience all over. 
We have been talking about doing something together for something like 20 years or so, which should mean it's about time soon. Life has come in the way for something like a lifetime, but now it seems we can get something done... I hope. If not, we'll just put aside everything and work against next summer. At least we got a plan now. I've seen some of her paintings, and they look great even on a computer screen. 

I'll be back with more from the archive and a lot more talk soon. 

It's the ship I work on, while on dry land inside the dry dock in Curacao last summer. We had some of the anchor chain out for steel thickness measurements to be done, and a lot of work going on around the bottom of the thing. All thrusters were out for checks and engines were overhauled and a lot of things were going on all the time, day and night. You can even see a couple of guys inspecting something. One of them looking inside one of the thruster holes, and the other just looking at steel plates, whatever that would be good for...?

lørdag 13. april 2019

Just a very few words from downtown Rio de Janeiro

Good evening all, or whatever it is at this time of the day around the world. Over here in Rio it's about 21.30 or 9.30 pm as they rather like to say over here on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. It's OK, I know both terms well enough, so you can use whatever you're used to. 
I'm back again today as well, with a few rants and a couple of snaps that has nothing to do with anything being said. Which should mean everything is as it should be right now as I got nothing much to say about the photography part of it. 
One day I will though, so stay tuned folks!

We came in to town around four o'clock this morning, and it's been a darn long day ever since, I tell you. The client had some stuff to get done on one of their very stupid winches, which of course means we have to join them and go in to the shore either we like it or not. 
I like to go to in and see land and buildings and things, but honestly it's getting worse all the time due to the amount of work piling up that you have to try to get done during the very few hours you get alongside. 
You will have made ready a list of things to do of course, duly written on the door in the engine control room, and then you start on top and work your way down towards the end as far as you get before someone up on the bridge will call you and say "hi-ho" and heave them ropes aboard and fire up the steamers, and off we go again. 
Big trouble is you always only get about this far down your mentioned list before people start calling about all the things that has gone wrong around this old vessel. Winches that don't move, pumps not starting, valves not operating... and the one I never like to hear: the crane is not working!! Which was todays big happening, of course. The crane not working always means we have to drop whatever we're doing to shorten down our list, and jump onto that huge thing to try get it fixed ASAP. It means a world to have that crane working, as it's part of the ship and the ship will get off-hire as soon as it's not doing what it's supposed to do. No pounds, shilling or pence into the ship owners pockets, in other words. 
It's an old crane this one, made in 1998 in good old Holland. It's been great and has served us well, but it's also quite big and it's got a dreadful load of internal parts inside itself. 
About five years ago it was decided to have the thing a bit updated for about 5-6 million Euro, but due to the big crisis and bad things happening in the industry it was put on hold. I guess that's what we are paying for right now... with sleepless nights and a mighty lot of work to be done to keep the thing still working. 
Well, don't let me dwell into the matter too much. We finally found two tiny cables in contact with each other at a place where particularly these two cables should absolutely not be in contact with each other, and then stuff like this tends to sort itself out pretty quick after tearing them cables apart and have them secured that way. 
It's just a matter of finding the buried dog of course, in the middle of a million cables and sensors. It was well hidden this time, waaaay down in the lower and inner parts of the machinery inside everything. What most people seem to fail to understand is that the part you see of this crane is actually just a tiny bit of it. It also takes up quite a large space over five floors inside this old ship. Huge old yellow bastard it is!

 I'm really not sure what made me stop and waste a frame of film on this piece of warehouse somewhere at one of the piers on The Clyde in Glasgow a couple of years or so back in time. Looking at it now it could have been the positioning of things... and the brickwork maybe? I don't know, but there's been people working here some time back. That's for sure!

And not only that, but I even went around the corner to the opposite side of it and snapped that part of it up as well. This time it makes a bit more sense maybe. I think I thought about why they decided to put in a perfectly new and fine door into the hole where a rotten door probably used to stay a short time ago, but failed to see that the roof was about to fall into the building itself? I mean right now there will be a guy standing pushing against the door and wonder what on earth can possibly be blocking their rather new and perfect door from the inside? They can call me... I might be able to give them a clue.

Before all this maniac stuff happened we had a rather good time actually. At least part of the time. We were supposed to get some old sludge delivered to an on-shore lorry, and that part went well enough after we suddenly had a couple of hours extra work because of the fact that they were (for once in a lifetime) deciding that the port side of the ship was the best side to have alongside this time. That little detail created a total mess out of everything, but after that was sorted out it was great for about one hour... until the crane thing happened of course. I mean I even managed to take the black old Leica out on deck in the sunshine taking a few snaps. I even managed to get shouted at very loud because of pointing it into the direction of (obviously) the totally wrong man, and I could go on and on and on. 
All in all it's been a typical great day alongside in Rio, as you probably already have guessed.

And now I'm off to bed, just saying! 

fredag 12. april 2019

Watch this wonderful thing!

See? It's the stairs inside the old lighthouse keepers house out on the island. It's been posted around this place before I think, but having a look at it again can only do you good, so here you are thank you very much. 

I think it must be the best snap of any stairs I ever snapped! Not that I have that many of them under my belt as such, but anyway. 
It was done using the huge and clunky old Mamiya RZ, and after passing through the 110mm lens the light disturbed some silver halides on a tiny piece of 120 size FP4+ film from Ilford and here's the result of that magic. You can't go wrong with a setup like that as long as you just manage to let enough light onto that little piece of film. The shutter could have stayed open twice as long of course, but then there would be issues with some other stuff, so I left it be right where it was and had the deed done. 
Had there been any dead ones around they would probably still be awake of course, as the mirror flip-flap on this thing is on the extreme side. 
Everything went well though, and off we went. 

Oh yes, I got it printed as well. On both Art 300 and some lovely warm tone Ilford paper. Looks great, no kidding! 
One of the mentioned prints, the one on the Art300 paper, would have showed up on this snap had this snap been taken today, if you see what I mean... OK, it's twisting my brains a bit, so I leave it right there. The relativity theory thing has never really been my force in life!