Informing Contexts - F2F Falmouth 5 x 4 hooked!

I started the day with a nervous excitement and a little heavy head, Malbec induced from the social last night. I have never so much as touched a 5 x 4 camera never mind used one, fears of dropping it where pretty high. As Jesse and Gary gave a very detailed explanation on how to use it my confidence grew until the moment of going outside to play.

I was filled with dread, not being one to like new cameras at the best of times and wishing I maybe should have skipped it and that just maybe I could just sneak out my d750 out of my bag. Outside I was paired with Daniel, the only issue was he is about 2ft taller and I was struggling to see but went with it.

Jesse challenged us to get a building and also to take an image what had different layers and all in focus.

Off we trot, Julia Margaret Cameron style. I looked at her work this evening as some PA duties required from home, I needed to book flights so I missed out on social hence the CRJ post instead of topping up the vino.

She did some lovely portraits with the 5 x 4. Her style was not widely appreciated in her own day as her choice to use a soft focus and to treat photography as an art as well as a science, by manipulating the wet collodion process, caused her works to be viewed as "slovenly", marred by "mistakes" and bad photography. She found more acceptance among pre-Raphaelite artists than among photographers, so I can really relate my work to hers.

© Julia Margaret cameron

The process was so time consuming, initially I felt rushed and as I really didn't have a clue how to use it we were having to learn it and figure it out on the spot. But then I quickly realised this is actually pretty cool. I think with more time and practice I could see myself bringing this into my current practice. I have no idea how though as I don't have a dark room ot tutors nearby to help me a bit in the beginning. I am going to research it though. When I think how I could bring this into my practice I know for a fact this wouldn't work with my current themes. I couldn't use children for a start, well not until I had got much faster at it. It would mean no photoshop either, how would I cope? Wiki states that Cameron used her children to practice on and she was one of the most prolific and advanced amateurs of her time. Her enthusiasm for her passion meant that her children and others sometimes tired of her endless photographing, but it also left us with some of the best of records of her children and of the many notable figures of the time who visited her. I could see my family tiring quickly, and especially knowing I am not going to be photoshopping dinosaurs or mermaids, I expect my bargaining skills are going to have to improve somewhat.

After we finished outside we went back into the IOP and Jesse showed us how to get the negatives.

I am so impressed with the speed in which these came out. Paul then asked if we wanted to go into the dark room. Didn't need asking twice, having never been in one I was thrilled.

But also having the opportunity to take the learning from learning to use the camera right up to processing was incredible. Paul talked us through each stage, then off we went alone. He showed me how it is possible to dodge and burn, and how you can change the darkness, contact prints soon began to happen after we did test prints.

And then a further step enlargement. Same process.

Then finishing the evening with a Grant Scott film, Do Not Bend - The Photographic Life of Bill Jay, thanks to Danny. What a way to end the day. Would have liked to see more about his though process in his own images but it was a good film nontheless.

I have got a taste for 5 x 4 now and will be looking in my local area to see what facilities there are for me to continue this new found interest and whether I can incorporate this into my portrait work.

#informingcontexts #BillJay #5x4 #juliamargaretcameron #MAphotographyfalmouth #f2ffalmouth #wiki

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