The film photography & darkroom work of David Kirby

Oh What Might Have Been!

Things haven't exactly gone to plan lately.  As regular readers will know I spent a large amount of my Iceland trip back in May picking up all the parts that were falling off my tripod.  As such I have been in need of a new one ever since my return.  I have one picked out online (a Manfrotto 055XPRO3 with 498 RC2 ball head) and am just waiting for the funds which is where my secular work was meant to come in.  Twice a year I get a little bonus which is a share of the company profits if we reach certain targets.  I have been relying on getting it so I can buy my shiny new tripod (and the paper I need to complete my Iceland prints).  Alas I have been waiting since August and have only recently received word that I should be getting it at the end of October.  So, for now that leaves me with a duff tripod.

Which leads me to today's problem - going out to shoot some landscapes.  Jess and I have this week off work so we can spend some time together and forget about stress and worry for a while.  Today we decided to head over into Yorkshire for a wander around with the dog - naturally a good opportunity for shooting some landscapes.  Whilst Jess was getting ready I started gathering my gear (Jess getting ready presents ample time for me to carry out a vast number of tasks).  As I did so I realised all was not well.  I haven't had my gear out since Iceland as I have been super-busy with work and family life, and i've had some printing to catch up on.  As I packed my bag I realised the filter ring that attaches the filter holder to the lens was missing and I also remembered that my cable release had broken whilst in Iceland.  Damn and blast!  Ah well, nothing to be done except pack the bag regardless and hope for the best.  I decided to leave my wide angle lens behind as I very rarely use it and my shoulders weren't feeling up to the heavy bag challenge.

As we hit the road the sun was shining between the intermittent cloud - good conditions for some shooting, and I was looking forward to having a potter around the hills.  As we began to approach Malham the sky was getting darker and as we ascended the narrow roads upwards the rain began to fall.  Typical.  Whenever I leave the house with my camera the clouds deem it necessary to gather in the skies and bless me with their moist gifts.  Oh well, I suppose that's why my landforms galler is full of grim and moody images.

Before reaching the cove I spotted a lonely tre protruding from a limestone pavement and pulled over so I could expose a few frames.  I was torn between compositions, do I put the tree in the dead centre of the frame or stick more to a "rule of thirds" composition (see the images closing this article).  In the end I exposed both and I will be able to select my favourite once I have developed the film and made a contact print.  

It was whilst shooting this tree that I discovered just how dead my tripod was.  For starters the ball in the head moved significantly even when tightly locked.  Even worse the lower leg sections had jammed shut so I couldn't even get the legs to full length.  This meant that I was forced to extend the central column which I am never a fan of because it just isn't as stable as having three extended legs.  But, needs must and I persevered as best I could, using a slight dip in the dry stone wall next to where I was shooting to my advantage and dreaming of the day when the postman would drop off that large rectangular box.  The negatives will show whether I got away with it or not.

Stable.  Definitely stable.

Solid as a rock.

We carried on up the road and parked up a few miles ahead so that Ellie could go run around in the tarn (via an extremely muddy puddle).  After a nice wander we returned to the car and headed back down to Malham.  The weather had picked up by this time and actual cloud shapes were visible as opposed to the flat greyness that had dominated the afternoon.  We drove past the aforementioned single tree and I felt obliged to pull over and re-shoot it as the light was now far better than earlier.

The single tree (phone shot).

From Malham I decided that we should head over to Gordale Scar which is only 1 mile away and would be a good spot for another wander.  Jess hasn't seen much of Yorkshire so I thought it would be good to explore a little.  I used to go rock climbing in this area fairly regularly so I was having a nice little reminisce whilst driving about.  After a few minutes we parked up, grabbed our bags and the dog and started walking to Gordale Scar.  The approach is lovely, a pleasant green field with a little babbling stream running through it.  The field is also a campsite so Jess and I made plans to have a camping trip here with our friends when the weather was right.  We rounded the limestone corner and entered the scar.  The main feature of the scar is a waterfall to its rear which splits and pours over a large boulder.  The adventurous rambler can somewhat easily climb up this boulder and follow the path up and out of the rear of the scar.  With Ellie and Jess I knew this wouldn't be possible as Ellie is a clumsy dog and Jess is... well, Jess falls over things which aren't even there so trying to climb up large boulders is not a good move for her.


The water coming down the falls was a really pure white and there was some nice diffused light hitting the land so I decided to finish off my roll of film shooting here. I wandered around the pools surrounding the falls and found a nice spot.  After setting up and composing I remembered that I had no way of attaching filters to my lens.  I didn't want to go 10 stop as I am always conscious of being out shooting with non-landscape photographers.  Jess is really patient when we are together and I am taking photos but it takes me so long to get setup, compose, decide on filtration, meter and take notes that I don't want to expose for minutes on end, never mind breaking everything down and packing it away.  That's something I save for when I am alone and have as much time as I need.  I had a square 2 stop filter in my bag so ended up holding that in front of the lens for the length of my exposure.  Time will tell if it turns out or not.

Next (after waiting an eternity for a young couple to move out of the way) I moved in closer for a tighter crop of the pool at the base of the waterfall which was most pleasing to the eye.  And that finished off my roll (finally - this is my last roll from Iceland and had 9 frames left to be shot.  Hopefully it is ok and will come out well despite the many months it has been sat in my film back).

Shortly thereafter we headed back to the car and drove home, via a few farm shops to drool over biscuits and meat.  Naturally upon our return home we combined mince with bacon and grilled some pulled pork burgers to celebrate a most enjoyable day.  Tomorrow the morning will be spent developing film.  Please let it be ok, please let it be ok, please let it be ok, please let it be ok!

A quick phone edit of the waterfall.

Well it's tomorrow!  After awaking really early (9am is early for a holiday week isn't it?) I decided to just get up and make the most of my last day off work.  What better way to start the day than by developing some film.  I left Jess snoring (although she informs me she doesn't snore) and began mixing my chemicals.  I decided to go for N+1 development as the waterfall pictures could do with an extra zone of tonality.  Shortly thereafter my film was hanging up to dry - it came out, sweet relief!  Once dry I will make a contact sheet and see how in focus everything is.  From a provisional glance though all seems to be well - I may have gotten away with it!  Now to exhale slowly and steady the heartbeat...