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5 Frames Locked-down and loaded – By Dave Whenham

It was mid-morning on Wednesday 18th March that I received the not-unexpected call from my consultant – please stay home for your own safety. It was an instruction dressed up as a suggestion/recommendation. She conceded that I could use my backyard for fresh air but insisted that this should be my boundary until further notice.  Like so many others with medical conditions that make them particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 I was in Lockdown before the phrase had been uttered by HM government.

From the start I was determined to keep my 366 Project going. This might be Lockdown but I was determined it would not be a shutdown photographically. I am well past the 900 days mark with my long-term picture-a-day challenge, and I was not going to let this “inconvenience” stop me from going past the 1,000-day mark; my eyes are still firmly fixed on the end of July!

We only have a small backyard and a tiny front yard (three metres from the front door to the public footpath – I measured it) so it was going to be challenging.

In the event I’ve more than met my required daily image, partly because of the Bronica ETRS which I bought on my last trip out of the small town in which I live prior to Lockdown. Oh, and a drawer of film bought for shooting landscapes and urban monos over the coming months which are my usual photographic fare.

So, I have had to improvise and have found myself shooting the flowers in the backyard, the bark of the tree in the front yard, still life images of fruit and so-called intimate landscapes within the confines of the back yard. I’ve also “discovered” Ilford PanF+ but that’s another story for another day.  The Bronica is such a joy to use it actively encourages me to shoot every day, so much so that I’ve just purchased a Bronica SQ-A to partner with it (just don’t tell my wife!)

The handful of images here were all shot on black and white film within the very compact confines of either my back yard or the dimensionally-challenged front yard. Lockdown has made me work harder to create images but it hasn’t stopped me pursuing my hobby nor indeed from developing (pun intended) my skills into areas I’ve not really attempted before or at least not seriously. I have been experimenting with colour too but again that may be a subject for another day.

I see this plant every morning when I walk into the backyard for the first breath of fresh air of the day.

Pulsatilla flowers in black & white
Bronica ETRS 75mm lens plus 4x close-up lens on Kosmo Foto (100).

Inspired by internet browsing the evening before, particularly Edward Weston’s still life. I woke up thinking “I know what I will do today!”

Two pears in a plant pot. Black and white
Bronica ETRS 75mm lens with extension tube E14 and orange filter. Ilford PanF developed in Perceptol (1+1).

This one was shot on world Pinhole Day 26th April 2020. Having missed last years event I had this years all planned and a couple of composition worked out … but … well, let’s just say that this is not the River Calder!

Low viewpoint of a decked back yard in black and white
Zero Image pinhole camera and Acros II developed in Perceptol (1+1)

One of the upsides of Lockdown is I’m not spending money on days out etcetera so there’s a little in the kitty for impulse buys. This half-frame camera is one such purchase. My father owned one years ago and I was intrigued by the concept of taking images in pairs as here to create a “third” image as it were. The house in the background is actually a pair of semi-detached houses which I’ve managed to shrink.

Two side-by-side images of a tree with house in the background
Olympus PEN-EE3 35mm half-frame camera and a long outdated roll of Rollei Retro film.

This is actually growing in my neighbours garden but hangs over the wall into ours. It is another thing that I see first thing every day. Rain or shine I always start the day with a potter around the back yard whilst the kettle boils. At 6.30am it is very peaceful and if it isn’t raining I can sit on the bench and enjoy the quiet before the grandchildren get up and the moment is lost.  This one has some movement in the foliage but serves to remind me that it, like me, is going nowhere and will be there the following day ready for my camera.

Black and white image of a flowering shrub.
Bronica ETRS with out of date Portra, the colours were super-saturated and so I tamed them with a mono conversion – at least that’s my excuse for another mono!

The only thing I’ve not felt inspired to settle down to is a spell or two in my makeshift darkroom in the cellar. I can rest assured though that when the motivation does strike I will have a good selection of negatives, 35mm and medium format with which to feed my enlarger.

I’m locked in but that won’t stop me honing my photographic skills further and working my way through the film I bought for my Spring and Summer travels!  If you fancy a look at my other work, digital and analogue, you can find my website HERE. I also frequent Flickr where I am known as Father Pie and where my 365/366 images can be found.

Thank you for reading this far – stay safe!


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18 thoughts on “5 Frames Locked-down and loaded – By Dave Whenham”

  1. Really lovely shots. Particularly like the one with the pears. I have also recently acquired an ETRS and a square medium format camera and have read elsewhere that, when composing for a square, it’s often effective to have a circle inside the square. You’ve done it beautifully. Please share more tips if you have any!

  2. Great shots all! You’ve inspired me to keep going out there despite the lockdown and the sloooow reopening in our area. I’ve done some shooting in a few local parks. I will have an article here next month to show my photos taken with my Bronica SQ-B and the 135W panoramic film back, Pls be safe and keep on shooting and sharing.

    1. Hi Noel, many thanks for your kind words. Being shielded has been a major pain (93 days and counting) but I as determined to keep creating! Good luck with your article, I shall watch for it next month. Regards Dave

  3. I never know what I will find in an article. The Bronica is a brand I have always liked. But your B&W is astoundingly good, especially considering how well it meshes with my own preferences. Thank you for great work with great cameras!

  4. Thanks for the article Dave. Very inspiring to keep at it while not much is happening. Amazing shots from just what’s around the house, and the macro brings a whole new perspective. Out of interest, how does your ‘photo a day’ process work? Do you aim to take a photo a day or develop and complete a photo (but not necessarily taken that day). Just curious!

    1. Hi Calum, thanks for commenting. My picture a day is not exclusively film but is mainly digital with film images when I can. The idea is to take a picture every day, posting it to a Flickr group as soon as practical. I usually try to post them daily. Every few weeks though I try to shoot a roll of film in the morning, develop it at lunchtime and then either scan the negative in the evening for posting or create a darkroom print which I then scan and post. The irony of creating a darkroom print and then scanning it is not lost on me! All the best Dave

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