I am concentrating my work on 5×4 photography on a single project at the moment, an abandoned graveyard not far from the city centre, the vegetation having grown to form a cathedral of nature in the middle of Hull, alluding to Philip Larkin description of it. Not that I even knew the existence of Larkin when I first encountered this magical place in 1976, having rented a room opposite it, a bed sit with a gas fire which had the intention to shorten my life dramatically, sending me across the road to rest for ever and ever in between those majestic trees. Not that I would mind if that were to be my last dwelling place.
So far I have been getting to know the lens I am using, Fuji 90mm f5.6, and using that knowledge not only to achieve what I am after, but also to find what I am after in this project. I tend to work with the lens either fully open, or not far off, although in my more recent images I have been closing down it a bit more. I have no interest in corner to corner sharpness, I am looking for something that embeds a deep smile in my heart.I am not photographing to see how does it look on paper, or on a computer screen; I am photographing to explore my inner self.
I have not taken as many expeditions to the location, in spite that is not far from my current home, as I wish I would: the light does not help on one side, grey days which are not romantic, but deadening in my eyes, plus time spent elsewhere too.
I have been developing the film, Ilford FP4, on stand development process with Rodinal, which renders quite flat negatives, scanning them as 48 bit colour images. Doing this allows me to use channel curves to define contrast and tonality. I do intend to explore the development recipe.
I am still making mistakes when loading the sheet film on the slides, the result being two completely spoilt negatives, and a couple where I had to crop on square format due to partial fogging – failing to close the box before switching the light on. However, I am getting the hang of it. I also need to get more dark slides, as presently I am limited to two images on each trip. Whilst that concentrates the mind, perhaps a bit less concentration would be most welcome.