White Heat Mungo. Silver gelatin print Photographed at Mungo National…
Printing my own 35mm B&W film in the darkroom on silver gelatin has been my style for about 20 years. This has given me time to review my composition, scenario, and method that is the most suitable printing style for telling the story effectively.
The camera I have been using is Leica IIIb built in 1938 which my father bought second hand when I was born, for him to take photos of his first-born child. This very old camera is very simple to operate and robust (no battery required). It is also small with Barnack style lenses which is perfect for a small build female like me. The simple operation of the camera helped me to spend all my time and energy for the more important aspects of photography – i.e. the composition and storytelling.
Fate has been playing a major role in my choice of direction in photography. Right from the start of using my father’s camera to how I landed with the 8×10. Through my mentor for large format in Tokyo, a professional commercial photographer gave me a Tachihara Woodview triple extension 8×10. I was very touched by his generosity! I believe if an equipment comes my way, it comes to me for a reason so I should cherish it by using it as it was designed to be used. I accepted this without knowing what I had to learn before I could fully utilise this equipment!
I was mildly interested in Large Format camera 3 years ago. Took some workshops but at that time my initial impression was “Too much detail! It is not my style. I prefer blurry images”. However, like good wine or cheese, it takes time to get to the maturing stage. I started to take notice of the energy or aura from the printed subjects and was puzzled with B&W images of grapes showing green tones, or green tones of fennel’s fresh leaves in B&W prints. To this day I am not sure if 8×10 can take in more information than the human eye or if my eye/brain is playing tricks. But one thing is for sure, 8×10 has changed my photography eye from outwards to inwards. I was very surprised and also interested.
However, like any new equipment, the learning curve from 35mm to 8×10 is quite steep. But I am interested in what I can produce so am very motivated. It has given me more depth in portfolio stories.
Dark illuminated Photography like Pepper by Edward Weston interests me greatly at the moment. I converted my downstairs toilet (just for the duration of photo shoots) into a photo studio for 8×10. I have been doing many shots of different lighting around the room. Doing film speed test was fascinating too. In fact, learning about 8×10 showed me how little I knew (it was guess work based on experiences before) about film photography! But I enjoy learning new things!
The still life photos by 8×10 are vegetables at the moment. This particular image is 60cm humongous sweet potato taken in dark illuminated photography style. The first negative was exposed for 4 1/2 hours following all the proper calculations, but it was too bright and the negative was too thin. So, the next one was 7 1/2 hours and longer development. Then at the end I found my best combination of 45 min to 2 hours depending on the aperture and the time of the day. Lens used was Nikkor-W 240mm and film was Ilford HP5+400. These will be a part of my portfolio for an exhibition (first with all 8×10 films) at the end of 2020.
The adventure into 8×10 has just begun and I have a long way to go yet to mastering the camera. Discovering a new tool brings changes to one’s photography style and helps to evolve as a photographer on their journey. However, the most important thing for me is to always follow my heart.
Respectfully submitted by Keiko Goto.
Details of Keiko’s current exhibition can be seen here.
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