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Re-evaluating my photography prejudices...

Earlier in my life with my complete lack of experience, knowledge and wisdom I shunned 35mm photography. It just wasn’t good enough because my images didn’t look good enough. It couldn’t be me that was at fault it must have been the small film size that was inadequate. So started the GAS that has haunted me and my bank balance ever since leading me through Medium Format to Large Format and on to Ultra Large Format… 🤦‍♂️


Like a lot of people during the pandemic and the isolation that ensued I found a twitter community of supportive, talented and enthusiastic film photographers. Seeing their wonderful images spurred me to re-evaluate my long held prejudices about what it takes to make a good image.

One such inspiration is Dave Whenham. His 35mm panoramic images of his local town are sublime. Simple and subtle yet fascinating and captivating. No complex post processing or equipment involved, just 35mm black and white film well composed and developed. Proving it’s never about the camera, it’s all about what you do with it.

Rediscovering 35mm

So with that in mind I’ve spent some time recently not with my 7x17" Ultra Large Format panoramic camera but with a Horizon S3 Pro 35mm film swing lens panoramic camera and to completely honest with you I’ve loved using it and the results I’ve produced with it. It’s far from perfect. Frames overlap a lot of the time, there’s a light leak that I can only avoid by taping the back and keeping the camera in a bag most of the time and it scratches the top and bottom of most of the frames. Despite those “quirks” I’ve had a absolute blast.

Initial reaction though...

To be fair, my initial results were a little less than pleasing. Using Ilford HP5 @ 400 and Ilford ID-11 the results where grainy and a little muddy. My original prejudices where nagging at me. I was right after all!

Grainy and "muddy"

Not wanting to have wasted the money on shipping the camera from Russia I remembered a post from Dave about using Ilford Perceptol for HP5 in 35mm to calm the grain. It’s cheap, can do 10 rolls with reuse (and extended times) so worth a shout. It reduces the effective ISO to 250 and with the Y/G filter we were down to 125. Ok for bright days, but in the shade or on a dull day we were going to need the tripod. The simple switch to Perceptol has changed things dramatically. The negatives are crisp with much reduced grain and good separation in the mid tones to lose the “muddiness” I was seeing. It’s such a small thing but a huge difference. I can now happily explore the (local) world in glorious 35mm panoramic form to my hearts content.

Ipswich docks
No ice cream?

Ancient Oak

Cobbold's Point, Felixstowe
What's your hangup?

I’ve revisited and got over a very old photography hang up of mine. What about you? Have you got something you could/should revisit to see if time/knowledge/experience has changed what you think? Let me know. 👌


This article was originally posted on my Revue/Twitter "All the formats" platform which I have now deactivated. Sorry if you've already read this before but feel free to comment.

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