Welcome to

404i

Photography | Design

Looking back over 2017

Nearly at the year end and I think this has been an interesting year for me on a number of fronts.

Film 

This has been the biggest thing 2017 for me. Although I start using film at then end of last year, this year has seen me start to develop my own back and white negs. Taking this further, as of Christmas day I’ll be in possession of chemicals for colour film development (more on this once I’ve actually had a go).

In 2018 I hope to take the film photography further by getting my hands a classic Leica SLR. I’m already obsessing over the Leica R-range and what I’ll be able to get hold of (R6.2 is perfect but crazy expensive, R7 cheaper but bigger and heavier as it has more electronics for the bells and whistles). I’m also fretting over which lens. Even more expensive than the camera, do I get a Summicron-R 50mm or a Leica Vario-Elmar-R 35-70 mm (the latter meaning I probably never need to fork out on another lens again).

I still have an old film in the Brownie to use up but I’m interested in buying new 120 film and doing to medium format (if I can figure out how best to scan these negs).

Instagram (@timrpbrown)

Much of this year has been spent uploading my back catalogue from Flickr into Instagram. An interesting exercise in seeing which images get many or not so many likes. I’m not that bothered about the number of followers I have (about 156 last time I looked but this yo-yos around these days). One thing I get from Instagram is that I look at a lot images but other photographers, and in many cases they’re very good, so this helps me learn and develop.

GuruShots (my profile)

This is my latest wheeze that I’ve playing around with for that last few weeks. It’s a photo gaming site where you enter your photos into challenges and see who many votes you get. Again, interesting to see what floats people’s boat. The odd thing is that it can be quite contextual: a photo used in one challenge scores highly – the same photo in a different challenge doesn’t. I’m trying to avoid reusing images now. Again, I seem to be working through the flickr back catalogue, but unlike Instagram, I’m seeking out a photo that will fit into challenge remit. What I’d really like to start doing is to see a new challenge listed and go out and shoot a image specifically for it.

Printing photos

I’ve started getting my photos printed (the loverly Saal Digital book being my favourite) but I’ve also produced 3 small books (via a free photo book app by FreePrints that’s not very free, it’s still £6 postage). My very first outing into arty photography when I was bout 14 years old saw me run off a roll of black and white using my Dad’s Prakita SLR (not sure what happened to that camera but the lenses live on as they fit my mostly never used Zenit EM). When I do the roll developed and printed I put them into a photo album and titled it “Obscura Camera” (see what I did there, clever huh….). So picking up on this, I’m titling my little books as the same; I’m up to Obscura Camera 3 and will produce another one in the next week or so.

The FreePrint people also have an app to print up to 44 “free” prints every month (£4 p and p): I’ve done this a couple of times but loose 6×4 photos don’t do it for me and I’ll just stick to books I think.

I’m an Artist, darling!

I think 2017 will be the year when I had the revelation that I was rotten at trying to produce a sellable image on ShutterStock and it dawned on me I’m an artist, so I don’t care if people like my photos or not, they are what they are. It was a liberating moment. This isn’t an excuse to not keep learning and critiquing my work, but I think you have to have the confidence to stand by what you do. Unlike professional photographers I have the luxury of not having to make a living out it, pros have to be (and are) brilliant at what they do, cos anything less and the mortgage doesn’t get paid.

My favourite photo of 2017

The negative got a little mangled in the development process and the damage seems to have given the image something extra, albeit a little odd

Man resting at the back door (Minolta X-300/50mm, Ilford XP2 400)

2018

The biggest highlight of the year was getting selected into one of Ted Forbes’ photo assignment videos (see previous post). I’ll try and see if I can repeat this feat in 2018. Otherwise I’m anticipating a film filled year, and with any luck that will include getting my hands a Leica and creating some keepers.

Read More

I got selected – literally

The very excellent YouTube channel The Art of Photography by Ted Forbes has a load of videos that are well worth watching, whether in relation to technique, profiles about photographic artists, or general ideas and concepts.

Another great feature is Ted gives every couple of weeks a photo assignment. You can then submit your image (via Facebook, Instagram or Twitter) and he puts together a selection of his favourites in a video. I submitted a couple times before but never been selected (to be honest the standard to rather high). However… this week the assignment was “Self portraits” and I was flippin’ chuffed to see my submission appear in the video of selected images.

I still think I look a bit grim but that’s art I suppose

My humble self at 1’08”

Read More

Latest film developed: Ilford HP5+ 400

The journey continues into home development. I finally finished a roll of Ilford HP5+ ISO 400 film and developed it last night (1:50 Rodinal, 11 minutes 20oC). The images seem to have come out quite nicely, with a satisfactory level of contrast, and the anticipated level of grain. Little of no work required in Photoshop.

Ilford HP5+ 400

I’ll publish the Flickr gallery into the Mono menu later, once all the images have been processed.

Read More

I can dream can’t I?

My growing interest in film photography progresses. Next year I have a significant birthday (don’t ask) and I feel it would be a good time upgrade my camera. The problem is that my Sony A57 is not a problem. I works just great, and spending £600+ on a newer version (A68 or A77?) won’t bring much more than extra megapixels and Wifi. I just doesn’t seem that exciting.

Ok, I could get excited by a Sony a7RII, or even more excited by an Sony a9 but they cost thousands, and that ain’t gonna happen!

But I starting thinking about film. There’s something organic and natural that I’m getting from film. I like the process of shooting – thoughtful, measured, slow, economical (not in terms of money admittedly). I love my Minolta x-300 – all manual, simple, and I like the results (especially now I fixed the light leaks). So how do I improve on that?

Leica R6.2 SLR

It is beautiful. The Leica R6 (or R6.2 even better) date from the 1980s – 1990s and are pretty much fully manual (no P, A or S mode). The experience using this camera would be outstanding. A Leica is like a Rolex watch: a £10 Casio will tell me the time but where’s the pleasure in it. At my level of photography I don’t need a Leica, the images would not be much better than from the Minolta, but the pleasure of it, the inspiration…

Oh, the cost… well you’re looking at about £300-400 for the body and about the same again for 50mm lens, but it would be perfect. I can dream can’t I?

Read More

Medium Format on 42 year-old Film

A few years ago my great Aunty Dorothy (sadly no longer with us) gave me an old Kodak Brownie 6-twenty C (aka Box Brownie) that her husband (great Uncle Harry, who had died in the late 70s) had bought in a jumble sale. With the camera were 2 rolls of 620 black and white Kodak Verichrome Pan that had expired in September 1975.

Till now I had been unsure how to load the camera, what I would photograph, and how I would get it developed. However, since I have started developing my own film I felt empowered to load the camera (super-easy, but thank you people on YouTube) and take some photos around Glasgow and Troon (all 8 exposures you get from a film). The results are in the Box Brownie gallery but here’s a sample:

Troon Beach

As you can see, the results weren’t great but nonetheless had an unexpectedness that you couldn’t (or wouldn’t) emulate in Photoshop. My guess is that the film was not in a good state after 42 years but I have also at least question whether the development process was ideal: an internet search for Rodinal on Verichrome gave one recipe of 10 mins 1:50 which I increased to 11 mins since the film was old (total guess work). The other problem is that the larger medium format negative wouldn’t fit into my film scanner so I had to scan using my old Epson Perfection scanner – not bad, but not brilliant either.

Another film to use and not sure how to use it. I have a trip to Northumberland next month so tempted to bring it along if I can get to Dunstanburgh.

Read More

Photobook – Review of Saal Digital

About 3 weeks ago I replied to an Instagram post by Saal Digital that offered £25 voucher off printing if you did a product review for them so long as you wrote a review of the product once received. So here it is.

I only had about a week or so to put together a book (the voucher only valid for 14 days), and being on holiday I relied on all the images I wanted to use all being in my Flickr account. As ever I decided (not for the first time) to create a book of black and white images, and titled it “Monochrome One”. Not to be confused with “Mono One” that is available through Blurb.

The Software

Images selected and downloaded onto the Mac I then downloaded the book building software. I previously used Blurbs equivalent software and there are similarities but I have to say that I found Saal’s software very easy to pick up and start putting together the book. Images auto-aligned nicely, resized to similar dimensions as nearby photos on the same or opposite pages. I put the whole thing together relatively quickly, in part because I only had 32 pages and I was generally keeping to 1 image per page. I’d chosen to make the book a landscape format (28 x 19 cm) on matt finish paper, and on at least one page, laid a single image across both as a centerfold (of a beach, nothing more existing than that I’m afraid).

My only criticism was the choice of fonts which was broad but far too many nasty, comedy fonts and not early enough choice of sensible, grown up fonts like Georgia, Gill Sans, Perpetua, Helvetica and so on.

Anyway, job done I clicked a few buttons and off it went to get printed (in Germany I think) plus a few extra quid for some additional pages (and postage costs).

The Product

And yesterday it arrived (barely a week after I’d placed the order so extra stars for a fast turn around). I have to say that I was very impressed, the book just felt like quality before I’d even opened it – a good weight, nice feel to it, and the cover that I’d designed to be black, with white (and pale blue) lettering and a photo on the right edge, looked good. Really good.

Opening up things just got better. The paper was really heavy, practically card, but most importantly, the images look superb. The contrast was deep – blacks were black, whites, white – matt finish worked well for this. Of the tinted and split tone images the colour was accurate.

The resolution was very good too – fine details as good as I’ve seen in any print.

My only wish was that there was a way to sell this online in the way that Blurb have a digital version you can have as a shop front. I have one copy of Monochrome One and if anyone wants one they’ll have to email and I’ll order it again and send it on and get payment by cheque or something. This isn’t what this service is for – this is a way to produce a high quality book for your own enjoyment, for showcasing, portfolio, or whatever. Given the quality I was say Saal Digital provide pretty good value for money too.


So will I use Saal for Monochrome Two? Yes I would expect so (I’ll have to start saving up now).

For more info see and get a £15 welcome voucher…
http://www.saal-digital.co.uk/photobooks

@SaalDigitaluk #saaldigitaluk

Read More

To get the latest update of me and my works

>> <<