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Bluecoat Stairwell

Posted by
Ian Bramham (Manchester, United Kingdom) on 12 June 2010 in Architecture and Portfolio.

Looking upward toward light streaming down the concrete and brick shaft of a stairwell at the grade 1 listed Bluecoat Gallery in city centre Liverpool.

This is my first ever photo using medium format film - in this case a 50 year old twin lens Minolta Autocord loaded with Ilford XP2 Super 400 B&W film. (I posted a photo of the camera yesterday)

12 shots to a roll of film and a shutter mechanism so smooth and quiet that you can hardly hear it click!

I was so delighted when I picked up the 8" x 8" prints and saw they were okay as I'd been concerned that I'd end up with nothing due to something I'd done wrong loading or exposing the film. Also the camera hadn't been used for a long time and there was no guarantee it would work.

I love the the way in which the camera has handled the change in tones from light to dark which I think is better than the way in which modern digital cameras handle highlights.

Like what you see here and are interested in photographic composition?.....the blog section of my website now has a complete set of 5 articles covering my personal approach to the subject: Ian Bramham Photography - Blog

For purchasing high quality archival prints of any of these photos you can send me an email by clicking here or by going to my website Ian Bramham - Fine Art Photography where prices are listed in the gallery sections under each individual photo.

Stefan from Thiersee, Austria

Great angle, fantastic B+W image!

12 Jun 2010 6:17am

@Stefan: Thanks Stefan!

Mags from Paris, France

It's perfect, I love the light and graphic effect

12 Jun 2010 6:21am

@Mags: Thanks Mags!

Anna.C from LA ROCHELLE, France

superb result ! range of grey, fine details and sharpness, the different lighting from the dark foreground to the bright top, very well balanced ! and your great framing, super angle of view and graphic shot ! congrats for this first step Ian !

12 Jun 2010 7:08am

@Anna.C: Thanks Anna!....getting the prints back was a lovely surprise as I wasn't all confident that they were going to turn out okay.

Sonia Nansid from Stockholm, Sweden

The light in your pictures is always outstanding!

12 Jun 2010 7:21am

@Sonia Nansid: Thanks Sonia!

Marie LC from Dauphiné, France

Fine sharpness. Light is really fantastic and composition too.

12 Jun 2010 8:25am

@Marie LC: Yes, the sharpness is really great for a 50 year old lens isn't it!...(I haven't added any extra sharpening in Photoshop as this is the sharpness straight from the scanned negative)

Adrian from Whitley Bay, United Kingdom

On the strength of this, I want to use film again! Of course, the success of the image is down to your skills but there's something about the way the light renders on film that you can't duplicate with digital. Can't quite put my finger on it...

12 Jun 2010 8:43am

@Adrian: Hi Adrian....I tried a 35mm SLR film camera 18 months ago but, whilst it was good, it wasn't nearly as impressive as these medium format shots. Give MF a go as I'm sure you'd love it!

Scene by Sharon Photography from Kingston, Ontario, Canada

First off - love the angle you took the photo from. Second, I don't think we will ever be able to beat the result produced by film ... in a real photographer's hands ... beautiful !!

12 Jun 2010 10:12am

@Scene by Sharon Photography: Thanks Sharon....nice highlight tonal transitions aren't they!

GJC from Kyoto (京都), Japan

A delightful image -- unexpected and fresh.

12 Jun 2010 11:11am

@GJC: Thanks GJC....I always get a kick out of trying something new (or should that be old in this case?! :-)

Ian Smith from London, United Kingdom

Looking good to me Ian - Next you'll be dabbling around in a self-built darkroom and you'll never want to go digital again ^_^ (I miss those good old days sometimes).
Question: is this a scan of the print, or the neg?

12 Jun 2010 1:02pm

@Ian Smith: Thanks Ian....I was so pleased that the photos turned out okay! This was a scan of the negative. The scan had slightly less contrast in the shadows than the supplied 8" x 8" print so I corrected the scan in Photoshop to get it looking as close as I could to the print.

Hoshisato from Ealing, United Kingdom

Amazing, very playful use of the light

12 Jun 2010 3:48pm

@Hoshisato: Thanks very much!

alex centrella from California, United States

F A N T A S T I C . . . .

12 Jun 2010 6:54pm

@alex centrella: Thanks Alex!

Vahid from Tabriz, Iran

Excellent 5/5

12 Jun 2010 7:13pm

@Vahid: Thanks Vahid!

tim from high desert, United States

Love the stairstepping spots of light down the wall.

Yep, still some things film can do better than digital. Give my condolences to your wallet.

12 Jun 2010 7:49pm

@tim: Thanks Tim!

These old MF cameras are very cheap compared to any modern digital cameras although obviously you have to pay for film and developing which would mount up for total beginners to photography who typically take lots and lots of photos.

Digital is much better for learning cheaply about the effects of changes to composition and light because of the instant feedback you get from the camera LCD.

Marie from FRESNES, France

superbe graphisme.

12 Jun 2010 8:33pm

@Marie: Thanks Marie!

Alfredo J. Martiz J. from Panama City, Panama

It came out very well, nicely composed!

13 Jun 2010 1:22am

@Alfredo J. Martiz J.: Thanks Alfredo!

DarkElf from Perth, Australia

superb play of light and shadow as well as great geometry and balance to this photo!

13 Jun 2010 12:39pm

@DarkElf: Thanks very much!

dr pankaj shukla from panaji, India

I loved the wiide dynamic range !
The contrast between the bright highlights and the deeep shadows is very eyecatching !

13 Jun 2010 2:34pm

@dr pankaj shukla: Thanks for that!

Daryl Johnson from Farnham, United Kingdom

I do like the geometry of this composition.

13 Jun 2010 3:32pm

@Daryl Johnson: Thank you!

danny from Hong Kong

Hi Ian,

What a lovely 6 x 6 film pics. In the past several months I have been in love with film cameras. I now have 2 TLRs, one is a Yashica D, my latest favourite portrait cameras and a plastic Gakkenflex. There are magic in the film cameras.

Looking forward to see more film pictures from you.

13 Jun 2010 5:28pm

@danny: Hi Danny, it's great to hear from you! How have you been keeping? It's great to hear that you are also using MF film cameras!'s interesting to see just how well MF film handles the highlights compared to digital and the tonal transitions are excellent too! Ian

Manette from San Diego, United States

As always, your pictures always make me want to try harder. It makes me realize I'm too lazy.

14 Jun 2010 7:21am

@Manette: Thanks Manette...I don't think it's a question of trying harder(!) as such. Photography is actually very easy when you find the right combination of subject and light. The frustrating thing for me is when I go through spells of the two elements not coming together.

Céline from Paris, France

great shot !

14 Jun 2010 7:39am

@Céline: Thanks Céline!

Ian Bramham from Manchester, United Kingdom

Note: 'Building' magazine here in the UK spotted this photo and will be publishing it on their back page readers section in one of the coming issues of the magazine.

14 Jun 2010 3:39pm

M@ndy from London, United Kingdom

perfect placement with light and shadows

15 Jun 2010 8:07pm

@M@ndy: Thanks M@ndy!

morteza from tehran, Iran

amazing shot

18 Jun 2010 5:30pm

@morteza: Thanks Morteza!

Naveen Bachwani from Mumbai (Bombay), India

What a beauty! Loved the way the light forms steps...

I have also recently taken up to film and manual SLRs and am loving every minute of using them... All the best with your's, though it looks like you don't need any more luck!

28 Jun 2010 6:22am

@Naveen Bachwani: Thanks Naveen.....yes, it's really interesting being able to use a film camera after learning on digital!

Magda from Vancouver, Canada

wow! excellent shot on film! bravo

30 Jun 2010 9:34pm


Très jolie prise de vue!!Magnifique photo!!
Amitiés de France:CLAIRE

19 Jul 2010 7:16pm