The film photography & darkroom work of David Kirby

From Foggy Peak to Sunny Shore

Yesterday was one of those extremely rare days where the sky was actually visible in England.  Jess and I decided to finish our week off work in style by once again walking the dog on a local stretch of coastline, somewhere between Lytham and Blackpool.  The best thing about this stretch of coast is that it's super flat so you can don your wellies and walk out a fair way, even when the tide is fully in.  Ellie, our dog, loves the water and so happily pelts it around chasing birds and swimming whilst Jess and I amble along enjoying the lovely scenery.  As usual I had my Bronica SQ-A kit with me (just in case), and I remembered that my 6x4.5 back had half a roll of film left in it to finish off from a wet and cloudy day in the Peak District earlier in the week.  As a break from shooting dark, moody landscapes I decided to try my hand at some bright, sunny seascapes, not my usual subject but hey, it's good to try new things!  I sauntered along and took a few shots, nothing amazing, but I really hate having an unfinished roll of film in my camera!  The thing about the tide on the Fylde coast is that it comes in ridiculously fast.

For example, in the shot above I was setup on dry sand.  At this point I hadn't even metered the scene!  Maybe that's just because i'm really slow at taking a shot.  That's probably why I rarely do portraits you know, mountains don't get tired of me fiddling around with light meters and notebooks.

Anyway, I filled the roll (just in time as the water level was coming dangerously close to the top of my wellies) and we headed back inland through the marshy grass towards the sand dunes.  That was a bit of an adventure in itself as we couldn't see the ground below the grass, so sometimes our feet sank deeper than expected.  After battling through the grass we made it to the dune path safely and started heading towards the car before we noticed Ellie had managed to get herself caked in mud.  Back to the water we went for a quick splash before running inland, avoiding the marsh, and getting to the car.  After swapping our shoes over and giving Ellie a drink we started to head home.

Jess, being a lover of all edible things, was laying down some "subtle" (i.e. not subtle in the slightest) hints that she wanted to go to the local Harvester (a pub/restaurant chain that does pretty nice food) so we took a slight detour.  Once seated we saw that there was a meal deal offer on (hurrah) wherein we could pay £9.99 and receive a main meal, unlimited salad, unlimited drinks and an ice cream sundae for pudding!  Bellies glowing with anticipation we placed our orders and hit the salad bar!  A burger each and some salad later and it was dessert time.  I had paced myself throughout the main course and had taken it easy on the salad because I knew dessert was going to be intense.  The reason being that Jess is allergic to foods with dairy in, meaning that I would be required to consume both ice cream sundaes (no point wasting good food)!  No mean feat but a real man must have his pudding and eat it.  Several brain-freeze headaches and strange gurgling sounds later and man had prevailed in the face of great adversity!

2014-10-13 08.41.21 1.jpg

After a queasy drive home and a quick rest on the couch I was ready for some film developing.  I mixed my Rodinal 1:50 and decided to do an N+1 development on the roll (if you don't know what that is fear not, I will be writing a zone system tutorial soon which will explain all).  After processing I hung the film up to dry.  A quick glance over the negative revealed a few frames which may be useable, but as always I decided to wait until I had made a contact sheet before getting excited.

As I write this Article my contact sheet is drying in the bathroom.  It looks like there are some useable frames on there so I am looking forward to getting into the darkroom soon to start making some prints.  It will be a nice change to work on some sunny pictures, let's hope I have got the skills to get it looking right!

What did I learn form this roll?  Well, sometimes it's nice to finish a roll off in a familiar place, taking it easy and shooting a few frames without worrying about the final print.  Enjoy the moment - the sun on your back and the breeze in what remains of your hair, worry about the darkroom side of things later.  That being said i'm sure in a future post i'll be ranting about the necessity to always be thinking of the darkroom!  But, until that post let's keep enjoying the simple pleasures, being out in the countryside doing the thing we love with the people we love.  Happy printing everyone!