Sunday, 7 April 2013

Failure - Ignoring My Own Advice

Practice, practice, practice. I think Jimi Hendrix reportedly played his guitar for 6 hours a day on average, at least that's what I'm constantly telling my daughters when they've gone a couple of days without playing their guitars or singing together.

Well I have to admit that I've failed to follow my own advice and this week I paid the price.

Westward Ho! At Dusk, North Devon
Westward Ho! At Dusk, North Devon

You see, apart from a couple of weeks during last autumn, I'm ashamed to say I've not used my Large Format camera regularly for over a year. I have lots of excuses, the main one being I've been concentrating on another project and haven't had the time to devote to my photography that I would like. Of course I've been working on my photography all this time, but have found myself using the lack of time as an excuse not to pick up my Large Format camera.

I've been fooling myself though because a Large Format camera is not like a bike that you never forget how to ride. Unless you practice you quickly forget those little, but important, things that with regular use you'd remember without even thinking.

This week I spent a few days on the North Devon coast. For the last two nights low tide occurred at dusk and so the night before last I decided to take another look at the old pier at Westward Ho! and work on an image I have had on my mind for sometime. I managed two exposures, but the second is most likely ruined. After careful focussing I forgot to tighten the locking nuts on the lensboard tilt action. As a result the whole front lensboard tilted down as I cocked the shutter. By then it was too dark to accurately re-focus. I did my best and exposed a sheet of film, but I am sure it is ruined.

Last night I decided to photograph the wreck out on the beach at Westward Ho! that I had noticed was exposed the evening before. Another image I've had in mind for quite some time. I arrived in plenty of time but the wreck was nowhere to be seen, re-buried under sand it would seem. Instead I decided to make a few images of the patterns left in the sand by the retreating tide. For my last (and hopefully best) composition I switched from my usual Velvia 50 film to the faster Provia 100 due to the dwindling light. Without thinking I calculated the exposure from my light meter without resetting the film speed on my lightmeter and over exposed the image. Schoolboy error!

What made this last mistake all the harder to bear was that I was making a long exposure and had a whole 2 minutes in which to consider my mistake and rectify it by closing the shutter early. During long exposures I often pass the time by re-calculating exposures just in case I have made a mistake. Of course I forgot the change in film speed and made the same mistake a second time. My mistake only dawned on me once I was packed up.

I'm now wondering what other errors I made but I will have to wait for the film to be returned from the lab to find out. So, determined not to make these mistakes again, I will be out and about with my Large Format camera on a regular basis from now on.

Fortunately I did make a few exposures on an 'idiot proof' digital camera so all was not lost. The image you see here is one of them.

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