6X6: Hengistbury Head

I took the Hasselblad out to Hengistbury Head a few days back. If you feel so inclined there is a really informative Wiki page which can be found here. The ‘blad performed perfectly and I managed a few good images. It was a lovely day, the sun was out. I soon finished a roll, loaded up another, and got half way through that. I finished the second roll a few days later at the avenue of trees that I’ve already posted. That was the good part.

One of the many photography books that I own is “Zen Camera” by David Ulrich, it’s a good read, it’s tag line is “Creative awakening with a daily practice in photography”. I dip in and out of it regularly and contains some good ideas about remaining creative. When I came to develop the two rolls of 120, I experienced whatever the opposite of Zen is! Yet again, I had such trouble getting the first roll onto the reel. This is an on-going issue, that I thought I’d mastered. Nope. No less than 5 times I tried to get in onto the reel. By the time it was mostly on, I’d creased it, and was so p***** off with it, I shoved it in the tank, bunged on the lid and moved to the sink. I threw in some developer, shook it about, left it for a couple for minutes, another shake, and few minutes, stop, and fixed. Swirled it around in some wash, hung it up to dry without looking at it. I knew it would be un-usable.

Next I processed a 35mm with no problem – that was the “Takumar Trail” (Roll 1) perfect! As I had the dev and the fix mixed, and I’d calmed down a bit, I thought I might as well mess up the second roll of 120. No issue at all, straight onto the reel, no issue, processed fine! So.. it now appears that it is perhaps best NOT to trim the corners of the 120 first, and to wash the reel just before use. After the first roll, I almost went to the PC to send a couple of emails, to sell off the Hasselblad and the 120 film I have and give up on medium format once and for all. As it happened I didn’t, and the second roll stopped me.

When I looked at the first roll, it was indeed bad, but strangely the un-damaged parts by me were actually ok. A testament to good old FP4 and how it is still OK even with VERY bad processing. I’d performed even worse than I thought in that, in my temper, I’d shoved the roll into the tank with the agitation stick under it, therefore the film was held up out of the developer! A schoolboy, beginners error that I last did when I was about 12! I managed to salvage a couple of images.

Back to Zen camera (page 1): “Zen camera is not only about photography; its about you…” – if there is a lesson here it’s that there can’t be anything wrong with the reel or the second film wouldn’t have gone on fine, or indeed the previous films that have gone OK. The developing liquid, was fine too. It didn’t work on the parts of the film that wasn’t in it! No surprise there. That was down to me, and my mood. I need more. More patience, practice, technique and calmness, almost sounds like Zen!

6 thoughts on “6X6: Hengistbury Head

  1. Hi Andytree,

    I’ve been meaning to comment for a while. I am a regular viewer and reader of you blog and always look forward to your posts, so I thought I’d better say so…

    I’m a bit jealous of your blogging ability, too. I have my own blog and I’m a keen photographer (just getting back into it after a long period of never having the time, but now – I’m retired 🙂
    however I just can’t seem to get my act together and blog regularly, even though I’d like to. I seem to average a post about every 5 years! You must tell us how it is done, some time.

    All the best,


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello! Thanks for your kind comments and taking the time to read my ramblings! I have no secret to making posts, I simply try to show a selection of what I’ve been up to and anything I find that interests me! I by no means show all of the images I make – I make many that just aren’t interesting enough to post – I find that blogging gives me a reason to scan and edit, at least more than I would without blogging! Thanks again for reading! All best wishes – Andy


  2. Nicely told and illustrated.
    I experience the same frustration pretty regularly. Lately, I’ve decided I’m really too old to being doing film photography. But then I get one good shot and I’m back at it again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Mike, Many thanks for your kind comments. I don’t know whether age has anything to do with it, or just energy? As I get a little older, but still working full time, it’s sometimes easier to sit rather than get out with a camera. I do enjoy the “craft” of film photography, and can’t ever see myself giving it up, but it’s certainly the little successes here and there that keep me going! Thanks again for reading! All best wishes – Andy


  3. Hi Andy, Sorry to hear about your continuing travails loading 120 film into the tank, you do not say but I suspect it might be a Paterson or similar. I received some advice many years ago when I had just the same issue with loading 120 on to a Paterson reel and was advised to get a pre WW2 Johnson or Jobo tank as the reel design and materials of which the reels were made was more suitable for 120/620, smoother and less likely to snag. I eventually found a Johnson tank with adjustable reel, I still use it and never looked back and cannot remember the last time a film failed to go round first time. While I am writing and something I think worth passing on is that I recently, quite by chance, came across a site that does AI colour for monochrome photographs. I have tried some of these sites in the past and the colours always seem to be washed out, the colours overrun leaving blurred pics. Certainly not good to look at. I had a real surprise when I tried  https://palette.fm accurate colours with no colour overruns and unless you want to download as HD there is no charge. There are 23 filters although the ‘base’ one is very accurate and precise for colours and does this first, automatically, after uploading pic. You may already have come across the site, if not it is worth having a look. Unless I have a very special reason I do not think I will ever use colour film again it is that good.
    All the best,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Ed,

      It is a Paterson reel. I have many, but after many tests found one in particular to better than the others for loading. I’ve tried many, many ideas, trimming film, or not, old reels, new reels, loading from one end or the other. I tired metal tanks and reels, slowly I’m getting there. I think the issue this time may have been that the “120” reel has been un-used for a while over the winter, and maybe when it warmed up in the dark bag some moisture formed on it? The second film was easy to load and fine, but of course the reel had been warmed up and fully dried again by then. Another practice to add to me list!!

      I had a quick look at AI colouring today, it’s certainly come on leaps and bounds, but it still looks “odd” to me. As does hand tinting a b/w print with “human” hands! Rather like the process for movie films, I can appreciate it’s a very clever process but find myself asking most of the time – why? I rather like black and white!! 🙂 I will have a look at the site you mention though when I have time – sounds promising!

      Thanks for your kind comments and reading! With all best wishes – Andy


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