Infrared Flash with an Olympus XA2

26 10 2013

I’ve owned an XA2 for some years now, although after the initial honeymoon period of a new toy to experiment with, it fell out of favour with me for a while. Over the past few months, I’ve been enjoying the simplicity and compact size, and looking once again at testing it’s capability and limitations.

The returning interest in infrared arose from my acquisition of the more powerful A16 flash unit, when replacing my faulty A11. I was reminded of a project posted online some years back, running a series of experiments with infrared flash, using an XA2. It was something J and I were both interested in at the time, although whilst I lost interest quickly, J took it so far as photographing a couple of live bands with IR flash (with great success, although with an SLR and more powerful flashgun).

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The Riverside Bicycle

6 09 2011

I’m still alive, I’ve just been a tad lax about everything of late. Blame the crappy weather.

This is a project I’ve been working on for a while, and may continue to shoot over time. It’s also the strating point for a broader project, loosely based around things people leave behind, forget or discard, but more on that at a later date when it’s all come together fully.

Along the bank of the river that runs close to where I live, I found an old bicycle firmly wedged into the riverbed. It looks like it has been there for quite a while. I first photographed it in April 2011, and have since been back a few times to take more photos, and check it’s still there. Sometimes the river has surrounded the bike, and I’ve had to wade into the water to get close to it, other times the water is lower on the banks, and it’s just been buried in sand.

For me, this old bike illustrates our throwaway society perfectly, and also raises questions. Who did it belong to? How did it come to be where it is? Was it abandoned, or simply lost? If abandoned, then why? Could some use not have been found for the parts, at least?

All this intrigues me, because I’ve found there to be remarkably few things which cannot be repurposed in some way. In my mind, this old bicycle has become an accidental sculpture, and a small monument to our society’s attitude to that which is no longer wanted.

Infrared Flash Part One

8 08 2011

Recently, J and I have been looking into infrared flash photography.
After some careful research (mostly done by J, it has to be said), we split the cost of a ten pack of Rollei Infrared from AG Photographic.

Next step was deciding on a camera, and flash, setup. In terms of flashguns, I’m currently limited to a choice between a Metz hammerhead, and the little Cobra manual. For the sake of size, I went for the Cobra. Easier to mount and carry, slightly less conspicuous (which is kind of the point) and less flash area to cover with the IR filter. Plus, it comes with a diffuser attachment, from which the piece of diffuser plastic pops in and out of, onto which I can tape the infrared filter rather than taping it directly onto the flash itself.

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Ilford Microphen

26 06 2011

I’ve previously been using premixed Ilfosol, but last time I bought developer, decided to go for one of the powder boxes that my local photographic store sells (they do three varieties of the Ilford developers). Up until now, I was pretty cynical about developer having a particularly huge difference on the outcome of film (developer’s developer, right? So long as it produces an image, we’re good?) Oh so wrong.

I compared the tones and grain on this negative to a negative shot on the exact same film (same batch and all, from a bulk roll I have), on the same camera, with the same lens attached. The difference goes way beyond simple exposure differences. It’s just clearer, somehow.

I suspect we overdeveloped the film ever so slightly (the original plan was to wash in the bathroom upstairs. This plan was foiled by the occupancy of the bathroom by someone else in the house, so there was a dash down to the kitchen, and an extra couple of minutes on the developing time), which would account for the contrasty tones, although I’ve pushed this film with Ilfosol before, and not gotten this sort of result. So I’d assume the developer does have something to do with it.

Even scanned with my super-crappy Global film scanner, the results are looking promising. These are a few of my favourites from the roll. No Photoshop adjustments other than resize, although the scanner has degraded the tonal quality, as evident in the pixelation of some shadow areas.

Armley Mills

Armley Mills

Armley Mills

Armley Mills

Camera: Olympus OM10 with 50mm f1.8 lens
Film: (Bulk) Jessops Pan100S (out of date by three years, but kept refrigerated). Shot rated as intended at 100iso.
Developer: Ilford Microphen. Diluted at 3:1 ratio. Developed for ~17 minutes

By the River

25 04 2011

Last weekend, we took a walk along the side of the River Swale, in Richmond. As expected, there was plenty of litter around and along the river banks, and whilst it’s a pity people feel the need to just drop rubbish all over instead of just taking it home, or finding a bin, the thought did occur to me that this might be something I’d like to focus more on. Litter is ephemeral, it’s made up mostly of things that were never meant to last, or to be re-used. Add the constant flow of running water, and those pieces of rubbish are quite literally here one day, and gone the next.

I’ve put a few of the shots from that roll up on Flickr, but these are my two favourites.

By the River

By the River

Negative Experiment

11 04 2011

Well, I’ve had a pretty productive weekend where film is concerned, having shot 5 rolls, developed the two black and white rolls myself, found a place in town which does C-41 developing only for £2.99 (for a half hour service), and loaded a sixth roll into the Olympus right before heading home yesterday.

J bought a new scanner recently, and as briefly mentioned in my last post, this weekend has been the first opportunity I’ve had to borrow it. It’s an Epson V600, and it is beautiful 🙂

I’ve scanned the black and whites, and the roll I took to the new developing place, and some of the shots from those have been uploaded to my Flickr.

One shot in particular, of J in a mask, I’d been having thoughts about working on further. I shot a few mask photographs on b&w, with the intention from the start of distressing the negative, and creating something very much inspired by the methods used by Joel Peter Witkin. Back in college, I enjoyed spending time in the black and white darkroom, using odd materials and processes during printing, to see what came out.

Not wanting to destroy my original negatives at this point, or risk getting anything on the scanner bed, I used small squared of acetate in layers, to scratch, and sandwich things between, before scanning. The result is better than I’d hoped, and for a first attempt at this sort of hybrid film/digital means, I’m thrilled with the outcome.


Aside from resizing and converting to jpeg, that photograph is directly out of the scanner, no retouching, no digital alteration, no dust/spot removal.

Kodak Portra and Pinhole Results

9 04 2011

I mentioned last week that I’d made a cardboard 35mm pinhole camera, using a print out design found here.
I got the film back, and scanned, yesterday, and am happy to report that I got something out of the film. Here’s a couple of the clearer images, tidied up a little in photoshop, with a curve adjustment to make the picure more visible (the originals were a little underexposed and hazy, although that’s in part because you’d expect that from a pinhole camera, and in part because I suspect my light-proofing could have been a little better).



I also got my first roll of the Kodak Portra 400 developed, and am happy to say that I’m thrilled with the results. It’s also one of the first rolls from the OM10, and I’m doubly happy to report that the scratch in the first roll from the camera was, as suspected, down to the pressure plate being loose.

Again, tidied up a few dust spots in photoshop, and made a very slight curve adjustment on some of the photographs, but overall, these are pretty much what came out of the scanner.

Kodak Portra 400 Tests

Kodak Portra 400 Tests

Kodak Portra 400 Tests

A few more from each roll of film can be seen on my Flickr.

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