Pond at Plymoth

© John H. Siskin

Pond at Plymoth

Jayme S. Hall December 13, 2007

John- you have made a beautiful image. You broke the rules of thirds & did it with style. I like it when the rules get broken & the image still works well :) The tonal range in this is super. My eyes go directly to the thin dark line of distant land that divides heaven from earth. I like that! Nice tonal range in the foreground, enough to see lots of detail & then those wispy clouds above. All put together, it really is beautiful! Really well done! #807196

John H. Siskin December 13, 2007

Hi Jayme,
This image is taken with a camera I built. It uses a 28mm Nikkor Perspective Control lens that has extra coverage on a 35mm full frame negative or sensor. The camera allows me to use the lens with 120 film giving me an image that is about 60mm wide. One of the things that makes this camera a blast to work with is that you never know precisely what you image will look like. The camera doesn’t have a viewfinder, so the result is always hit or miss. But I have had a large number of hits.

Usually I would avoid the horizon line in the middle of the image. The reason is that either the sky or the ground is more interesting and you should favor that area. In this case Both the sky and the ground are interesting, but not compelling. As a result the image keeps the eye engaged, looking at the details.
Thanks, John Siskin

Jayme S. Hall December 14, 2007

John- I would not have a clue where to start to build something like this. It sounds so interesting & fun. Not knowing what you'll get sounds fun too :) Sometimes it's better than knowing, I love surprises :) I have never developed my own film, but I have always had this urge to do so. Obviously, a control issue :) Several years back, we lived in a house where the previous owner had built a darkroom in one room of the basement. I always wanted to try it out, but my kids were small & I never got a chance to do so. It's almost a lost art today. Recently, there was an interesting garage sale in Louisville. A long time film photographer died & his widow put all his darkroom equipment up for sale at a garage sale. She sold his cameras to several of his photographer friends. While I didn't attend, I know a few photographers that did. They said they got some really neat stuff! I was afraid to attend, I'd have been tempted to buy a bunch of stuff & not have a clue what to do with it! LOL! Ever in pursuit of some new experience with regard to photography! #5206900

John H. Siskin December 14, 2007

Hi Jayme,
I wouldn’t make this camera a first project. It might be better to start with a pinhole camera. Pinhole cameras are very unpredictable. Working with film is not yet a lost art, but if people don’t choose to learn how to use film and a darkroom my generation might be the last that uses film regularly. I think that would be sad. I am building a new darkroom starting tomorrow! I’ll be able to give private lessons! A few years ago I bought slide rules since they were so cheap, now they are collectable. There is a similar thing going on with darkroom equipment now, save it from the landfill!
Thanks, John

M.Christine Duncan May 09, 2008

I learned how to process film and work in a homemade darkroom at 17, it's a very fulfilling process... don't worry John, there are some of us that would love to get our hands on the cash to have a chance to go back! The process was sometimes way more interesting than the photo that resulted, LOL. Gosh, I wonder if I could find my pinhole images now?!! Anyhow, it's been interesting to read this thread, and I would agree, it'd be awful to think of darkrooms becoming extinct :-( This is a wonderful photo with a unique camera! #5906316

John H. Siskin May 09, 2008

Hi Christine,
I don’t know where you are located, but there is a lot of darkroom equipment available cheap or free right now. You might want to look for some. We all have to keep some dedication to creating images in this way if we want to keep the silver based processes alive!
Thanks, John

Laura E. Swan level-classic May 12, 2008

Like Christine, I, too, learned to develop in the dark room. (Of course I was much younger than she...16...Ha!)

The best part for me was actually seeing something appear. I love to hear the part of the "process" of things that others feel are most rewarding for them.

John, I know you mainly bank on controlled lighting. Whereas I adore natural light and lucky timing. Camera carried with me. I also realize you are th pro and I am the novice that must rely on spontaneity and speed.

At any rate, I enjoy reading your words of wisdom and enjoy what you share. -Laura #5914721

John H. Siskin May 12, 2008

HI Laura,
Many years ago I heard a description of Bruce Lee, the martial arts expert. He had no style, and he followed no school. Every move was precisely right for the situation, rather than fitting the situation into his moves. I don’t know if that was actually true of Mr. Lee, but it is my goal photographically. I would like to be able to choose the right response for every circumstance from a preserved flea to a charging rhino. I am not there yet, but who know what one might achieve with patience and practice?
Thanks, John Siskin

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This camera is terrific for panorama shots.

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Uploaded on August 18, 2006

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