Manor Kilbride Long Exposure

Manor Kilbride is an incredibly photogenic location during the Autumn months. This year, a group of us from Offshoot Photographic Society visited the area. I used some long exposure techniques to blur the water and to catch some movement in the leaves in the trees. On this particular day, the sky was flat grey, so I tried to make sure that the sky did not feature in the images. This location is always worth returning to as it is one of my favourite locations for Autumn colours in Wicklow. Next time I go I will venture further upstream to see what I can photograph there.



Robinsglen Organic Farm

Yesterday I went to a Sunflower field in Kilkenny and took some Macro and close-up photos of the flowers. The first photo, below, is a macro photo, the second is a close-up photo. I used a 100mm lens for the Macro shot and a 50mm lens for the wider shot. I was unable to use a tripod due to the lack of space available to me, so both photos are handheld. I intentionally did not show the entire flower, as we all know what a sunflower looks like. I will post about macro photography in another post.

If you want to know more about the farm, please go to

Holga Camera Guide

Originally Chinese in origin, the Holga is a cheap Lofi plastic film camera with a plastic lens with a focal length of 60mm that uses 120mm film, mostly, there are 35mm camera options too. They were originally used in giveaways until they became popular for photography students and fans. To focus, rotate the barrel of the lens to the icon displayed that best corresponds to the shooting situation. The icons are one person (3 feet/1m focusing distance), two people (6 feet/2m focusing distance), a group of people (3 feet/1m focusing distance), and a mountain. The One person is the closest focus distance (18 feet/6m focusing distance) leading up to the mountain(30 feet/10m to infinity focusing distance).

This camera is 100% manual, so you need to advance the film yourself. This, however, leads to creative options, as you can take multiple exposures, or panoramic photos or single shots, or you can overlap images. It is stupidly easy to forget to wind the film on, which can lead to happy accidents. You can buy Holga’s with a flash, or you can use an external flash as the cameras have a hotshoe fitting. The Shutter Speed is about 1/100 of a second, this can change depending on wear and tear on the spring inside the camera. You can use Bulb ‘B’ mode if you hold down the Shutter Release for an extended period of time. This opens up more creative options for you as well as night shooting. The Holga has two apertures, F11 by using the sunny day option or F8 if you use the cloudy day option. However, it is debatable if there is any real difference between the two apertures. You can shot colour or black and white film in Holga cameras. There are a large number of variations of the Holga camera, including pinhole, panorama, stereo, and TLR versions.

Due to the cheap nature of the Holga, it has features that give it a certain look. These include the light leaks from joints that are not light sealed, if you don’t like the light leaks you can use gaffer tape to cover the joints, in an effort to reduce light leaks. Holgas also frequently have a vignette on the images. Another feature is that the images are not sharp, this is due to imperfections in the plastic meniscus lens. The images will be low contrast and you may lose detail in the shadows. However, if you are using black and white film, you can expose for the shadows and develop for the highlights for an improved image. This is something I constantly forget to do. Bold me. Colour film can also find over exposure helpful.

When choosing a film to use in the camera, keep the shooting conditions in mind, with film you have to shoot an entire roll at one ISO, but, with 120mm that is only 12 or 16 images, depending on how you set up the camera, unlike with 35mm where you have to shoot either 24 or 36 images before you can change the ISO. For sunny days use 100, 160, 200 or 400 ISO films. In Ireland 400 ISO is a good place to start. On darker days 800 ISO is a good option, and sunset or indoors can mean 1600 or 3200 ISO. If you use C-41 film you can have it developed in your local Fuji Centre, or Harvey Normans.

You may wonder why in a digital world would anyone want to use a manual, cheap film camera, rather than a DSLR that helps you get as good an image as possible? For me, the reason is simple, the lack of options of the Holga and the challenges it presents are a great opportunity to learn and improve my photography skills. I think if you can get a decent photo out of a Holga, you have a grasp of photography basics. Using a Holga makes you see things differently and it slows you down, so you have to think more.

“Mechanically the Holga is simplicity itself. The nature of the Holga places emphasis on seeing, thinking, and interacting with the environment at hand.”
Joe Ostraff, Professor, BYU

Holga 120N & HP5
52 Rolls/366 – Week 1
52 Rolls Project

B&W Development

Following on from my post on Stand Development, I thought I would add my normal Black and White Film Development process. All the chemicals will be used at 20 Degrees C. The photos below were taken on HP5 120 on a Holga 120N.

A 5 minute prewash to bring the film up to temperature.

11 minutes in Rodinal at a 1:50 dilution. 50mls/1000mls
Agitate for the first 30 seconds, with 5 inversions every minute.

1:19 190 mls/1000mls of Ilfostop for 10 seconds

1:4 250mls/1000mls of Ilford Rapid Fixer for 2-5 minutes

5-10 Minutes in Kodak FotoFlo

5mls/1000mls for 5-10 minutes



Stand Development

Moving Part Packs of Instax Film

If you have your only pack of Instax film loaded in a camera or printer and you want to use it in another camera or printer. You can of course, just take the pack out and move it to another camera or printer and you will only lose the top sheet of film, as the camera or printer you move the pack to will treat the top sheet as a dark slide and will expel that sheet. However, you can also safely take the pack out without losing any sheets of film. All you need to do is to put the dark slide back into the pack. I did this by turning off the lights and taking the pack out, I then slid the dark slide back into the pack and I did not lose any sheets when I moved the pack, because the printer ejected the dark slide when I switched the printer on. Obvious I know, but, I thought people might find it a useful idea.

If you have any Instax tips, please feel free to share them in the comments below.

Thank you.

Stand Development (Black & White)

This process dates back to the 1880’s, where you leave the film to develop in a very dilute solution for a longer amount of time then you would if you were using normal development processes, with this process you do very little if any agitation, again, this is different to standard development processing. The technique leads to finer grain, increased perceived sharpness and no marking from movement of fluid over the film. This method does take a significant amount more time than the more usual method.  With this technique you don’t need to agitate the tank, as the developer exhausts against the film more quickly in the more exposed areas, and less quickly in the not so exposed areas, this means that in theory, highlights should be saved and shadow detail should be boosted. The reason I use a semi stand process to prevent bromide drag, which can sometimes happen if you do not agitate the developing tank, so far, I have never had bromide drag on my film rolls that I have developed with this technique. I use this technique for black and white across all film sizes. I know that some people have also used it for colour development, this is something I would like to try in the future. I know that you can also push and pull images on the same roll, which again, is something I want to try in the future. You can have different film stock in the tank too, which is very handy.

This is the technique I use for Stand Development, mine is more of a semi stand process, the temperature of all fluids should be 20 Degrees C. I prewash the film for 5 minutes, in plain water in the development tank, this means that you have brought the film up to temperature and you have washed off the top level of chemical on the film, thereby allowing for more even development of the film. This stage is not essential and sometimes I completely forget to do it with no ill effects at all to the film, but, I try to do it, as it appears to be a good habit. I use Rodinal as my Developer. The film will be in the developer for an hour, so the dilution needs to be weak, so I use a 1:100 dilution (500ml of water and 5ml of developer). You need to have enough developer in the mix, so that it still works. Anything less than 5ml is probably too little developer. After I empty the water from the prewash, I pour in the developer. For the first 30 seconds I agitate and I tap the tank on the counter when I have finished, so that I dislodge any air bubbles that may be present in the film in the tank. For the first 3 or 4 minutes I agitate every minute for 10 seconds, after 4 minutes I then let the tank sit for about 45 minutes, at that stage I prepare the chemicals for the rest of the procedure. At the hour mark, I revert to the usual stop (10seconds) , fix (5 minutes), wash (5 minutes), rinse (5 minutes) process. I use a couple of drops of a wetting agent like Kodak Foto Flow, to stop any drying marks appearing on the film. The negatives may appear dense, but, they work out perfectly. The shot below is one I took on a Holga 120N and developed using the process mentioned above.


B&W Development

Instax Mini 8 Guide

This is a Guide to using both the Fuji Film Instax Mini 8 & 9 cameras. These two cameras are nearly identical, with only a couple of additions to the 9, which I will feature at the end of the blog, as well as letting you know how you can get the same features for the 8 without having to buy a new camera.

Both cameras share a minimum focusing distance of 60cm (24 inches). The shutter speed is fixed at 1/60 sec, the flash always fires and cannot be switched off, it has a range of 2.7 metres. Both cameras use Instax Mini film and two AA batteries. These cameras are very simple to use and have very few setting options, the options available are Indoors/Night (F12.7), Cloudy/Shade (F16), Sunny/Sunny Slightly Cloudy (F22), Sunny and Bright (F32) and High Key (which makes your image brighter, and should probably only be used indoors, as it can wash out outdoor photos). I will get back to these later in my post. The counter, on the back of the camera, that lets you know how many shots you have left, counts backwards from 10-1.

The light meter is two circles in a vertical configuration above the lens and to the right of the flash. Please do not cover the light meter, as it helps work out the best exposure for your photo. If it is covered up, the exposure reading for your images will be incorrect and your photo could not turn out the way you want it to.

To turn on the camera, you need to press the button to the bottom right of the lens. When you do this, the lens pops out, the camera will emit a whirring sound and then a red/orange light will appear in front of one of the five little icons above the lens. When the light appears the camera is ready to shoot.

When you want to load a pack of film, make sure that you line the yellow line on the pack of film up with the yellow line on the camera, and the pack will go in the correct way. Do not squish the pack of film, as you will disturb the chemicals in the sheets of film and you will ruin your pictures. Another tip is that you should not shake your photo, as you could damage it.

This is what the icons around the lens of your camera mean:

When you look through the viewfinder you will see a circle, this indicates the centre of your frame, and helps you line up your photo. If you are using a close up attachment, which brings the focusing distance to 35-50cm, you should line your image up in the bottom left quarter of your viewfinder, under the circle.

If you want to take a selfie, if you use the selfie mirror and the close up attachment that comes with the Mini 9, or the Close up attachment/ selfie mirror that you can buy for the Mini 8, you should get a good result. Outdoor natural light is better for portraits than flash, so if possible, shoot your portraits outside.  The shots take 90 seconds to develop.