Lathallan House, a debris field

Lathallan House, originally known as 'Laurence Park', dates to 1826 and is attributed to architect Thomas Hamilton (who, along with William Burn were the first Scottish members of RIBA). The house was notably home to Henry Salvesen who built Scotland's first steam powered car, which he used around the estate. The car, dating to 1896, still survives and has been known to appear in the London to Brighton veteran car run.

The house was stripped of much of it's timber fixtures and fittings and at one stage suffered a fire (possibly started accidentally by a rough sleeper).

Sadly the house is now a ruin, listed on the Buildings at Risk Register for Scotland, and only frequented by occasional urbexers and the odd sheep. As my interest is landscape I focussed on the periphery of the building, not venturing deep inside but looking at the curious array of objects that are emerging from the building and migrating outwards. This has created a debris field, much as a sinking ship …

Introduction to the Platinum/Palladium Print

I recently attended a two day training course at Stills Centre for Photography in Edinburgh for their training course "An Introduction to the Platinum/Palladium Print". This is what would now be termed an alternative process (i.e. chemical not digital) although it works well as a hybrid process to contact print from digital negatives. As someone who is familiar with the Cyanotype process I already had some of the basic concepts around contact printing with a digital negative but the Pt/Pd print process is more involved and more exacting with chemicals which are much more expensive so it seemed like a good idea to get some training first.

Day one of the training was very hands on and based in the darkroom, cutting and coating papers, learning some drop ratios, exposing to UV and then working through the various chemical baths to get finished prints. To prepare for this we had submitted image files in advance of the course start date, which had been used to provide us with a pr…

Pet Cemetery, flash and firmware

My plan was to take some photographs of the pet (dog) graves in the gardens at Hopetoun House. I wanted to shoot the small headstones from a low position so chose a Fuji X-T1 for the job as this is the only camera I have with a flip out rear screen which makes shooting at odd angles and positions easier. Light levels were likely to be low in the location beneath a canopy of trees and so I was thinking of using a flash to illuminate the subject and also to help with contrast, giving a light drop off for the background. I'd be shooting from close up so the little Fuji EF-X8 shoe mount flash seemed ideal (guide number of 8, metres, ISO 100).

However when I came to start I could not get the flash to fire. I ran through a number of menu options and the obvious turn the camera on and off etc but it wouldn't play ball. So I was forced to rethink the shot, ambient light, higher ISO and a wide aperture (luckily I was using a prime lens, the Fuji XF 27mm f2.8). At f3.6 I was getting eno…

Book: Build Your Own Home Darkroom

I'm looking forward to a house move next year and part of my planning is to have a dedicated darkroom so it was with some interest that I came across a recommendation for this book, Build Your Own Home Darkroom, by Lista Duren and Billy McDonald, published by Curtin & London, 1982.

Although an old book it seems there's plenty of second hand copies to be found, I picked up mine via Abe Books and paid just £2.49 including postage, so good value for money.

My current setup is to use our utility room, this gives a little bit of work space and has a sink. However it means I have to tidy up and make space before I can start. It's far from light tight, not so critical for UV based processes but I still need to block up the window if I want consistent UV exposures. Once I've done my printing I then have to pack everything away again and return the room to normal. This makes doing prints a more cumbersome process and so something I do less often than I would like.

Build Your …

My film expired

I've been shooting away with my dad's old Nikon FE, loaded with some very old and long since expired film but progress was cut short by a problem with the camera. I was getting a situation where I would press the shutter release and the camera would lock up, the viewfinder would go black suggesting the mirror was locked in the up position, the shutter may or may not have been stuck open. The camera is a mechanical/electrical hybrid, what I found was that if I set the shutter speed to M90, the mechanical option, this then allowed the mirror to return to position, the film could then be advanced to try again. This gave me a temporary workaround however the problem quickly became more frequent, then happened every shot. So I decided to stop and develop the film with whatever was on it to that point.

The colour negative film needed the C41 process, a time and temperature sensitive process which is usually best done by a lab, and I needed a lab that would process expired film, so I…

Flaming sunsets

I need to start by confessing that I'm not a fan of sunset photographs or more specifically not a fan of what I think of as a conventional sunset. That is to say that a splash of colour is not enough to save an otherwise dull photograph if it's just a strip of horizon with the sun dipping down.

For example this is a photograph I do like:

Here the sun is setting behind the hill to the right, kept out of shot, while I've focussed on the tree in the middle distance, silhouetting it's shape against the sky and waited for a gull to fly into an appropriate area of frame to add a further point of interest. In post processing the black point has been adjusted to enhance the contrast against the background (and an additional, distracting, gull has been cloned out). 

But I'm less keen on this:

I think of this as a more conventional shot. I've arranged the composition so that the reflection falls between the rocks and is placed approx on the one third line. Competent but…

Five goes kayaking

When I posted about my selection of a tough camera I had yet to truly try it out. Now the Olympus Tough TG-5 has been taken on a couple of kayaking trips around the Skerries of Arisaig on the west coast of Scotland and I can report on how it performed.

These sample images were shot as raw and put through Lightroom with the Camera Vivid profile applied, along with a few other adjustments and a crop down to 16:9 aspect ratio:

In addition to numerous stills we also shot several video clips, opting for the 4k resolution (3840 x 2160 pixels). Obviously the best playback option is to watch this full screen on a 4k display but it will also look good on QHD (2560 × 1440 pixels, this is what my Eizo ColorEdge gives me) or otherwise regular HD.

Problems There were only a few minor issues, here's a quick summary:
With no viewfinder composing on the rear screen can sometimes be tricky in bright light.On our first outing I had accidentally selected Pro-Capture mode, this takes several consecuti…