Canon A1

Eggless cakes, not eccles cakes

Today I returned to Black & White Basement to join Keith Lyons and Dave Champion for a wonderful afternoon of dark room tuition.  As always, I learnt lots, both about the dark room process, photography in general (did you know that the 35mm was invented by the German Oskar Barnack who was a keen photographer, but due to his asthma struggled to carry around the heavy equipment and decided to reinvent the camera using the film left over from film cameras?) and cameras (the beauty - and price- of individual Leicas, and the hidden double exposure abilities behind the Canon A1).

We managed to squeeze in quite a lot into the afternoon.  It was another session of going through from have taken the shot to processing of the film and then making of prints - which is a very satisfying process.  We discovered that some of the foam inside the A1 which helps to seal the light out has worn out, so unfortunately quite a few of the shots weren’t worth developing.  Luckily, Dave is going to fix this problem for me so that I can continue to use it soon.  There were still a few shots we could salvage and make prints from though.

The first is the shot of St Pauls from a rooftop in Blackfriars.  I used Ilford Pearl, and having done the test strip at we achieved this print below relatively quickly without too much f-stop tweaking.

London Skyline - copyright Sandra Fontano

The second print was of the "eccles cakes" shop window, where, while creating this print, we realised that actually it said “eggless cake’s” (sic).  Nonetheless, this was another image that was nice to develop with plenty of reflections upon reflections coming through in the window.  Looks like the shop front from a few decades ago. 

Eggless Cake's - copyright Sandra Fontano

Final shot we worked on was one I took yesterday when the sudden torrential downpour started in the evening. I stood on a chair, sticking my head and camera out of the window to grab a shot of the rain hitting the window and splashing down onto the pavement below.  I’m not keen on the composition of this one, I could have lined it up better, but the geometry is strangely pleasing.

Geometrical Pavement - copyright Sandra Fontano

So, next up is getting the camera fixed and continuing to explore the streets with a new roll of film.  I think I'm going to play with light and shadows more next time.

Dark room hire at Black & White Basement is £30 for half a day (approx 4 hours).  For more info on Black & White Basement, visit there website:

"Agh! It's fallen on the floor! Shoot, I can't see a thing!" - my first day in the dark room

This is the first picture I developed thanks to the excellent teacher Dave at Black & White Basement. I took this shot of Louis Mendes whilst in NY lat year. He taught me more in 5 mins about the Canon A1 than I had managed to figure out from the French manual I had been trying to translate. He can be found outside B&H offering to take people’s picture with his 4x5 Speed Graphic.  When I returned this year, I managed to show him the picture, even if it was on my phone.  Not sure he was very impressed, but as my first photo which I had taken and developed, it was certainly a lovely image to learn to dodge and burn on.

In the meantime, happy 4 July.  

By the way, I'm writing this whilst listening to the Radio 4 shipping forecast which I find strangely relaxing.  Don't judge me.  It sounds like this (it starts from 1m30s).

Here she is...

Just thought I would take the time to introduce you to this sweet little lady.  I've currently got a Delta black and white film in at the moment, and have been set the challenge of taking photos of my surrounding areas with her.  I guess I'll get to see them once I finish the film (36 exp) and get it developed.