Wednesday 13 May 2020

New blog...

A few months ago, I decided to continue the blog as part of my website and completely forgot to announce it here. So here is the link just in case you will be looking for new posts:
There is already a number of articles so please check some of them.

Thank you!

Tuesday 19 November 2019

New Ilford Ortho Plus 80 - first (visual) impression

I wanted to try this new film from the first day when it was announced. For a few reasons -  the look of photographs exposed on orthochromatic films, its abilities and finally the fact that it will be available locally at last... as most of Ilford films.
Last Saturday it arrived to the shop where I always buy all photographic materials. It was afternoon, just about 40 minutes before closing time. Too late when I got this information and I had no choice but waiting until the end of the weekend. The longest weekend ever...


Monday morning. Finally! Kids in school. I am on my bicycle heading to John Gunn Camera Shop. 8.58am John with his usual wonderful smile opened the door to let me in. 
I took out Rollei, packed into my bag the evening before, and loaded fresh roll of new Ilford Ortho Plus 80. 
Ready to shoot. Beautiful, sunny morning. And very cold.

I decided to go through parks where morning light was doing its magic. I have two on my way home... could also jump into third one but 12 shots (usually too much) in such situation is not enough. Two parks were OK then. I also wanted to expose a few frames on the street photographing buildings, my usual subject.
Done.  A few minutes after 10am I was back at home with roll ready for processing. And then surprise... I completely forgot to check processing data sheet. There was no XTol, my usual developer on the list or anything else I have at home at the Rodinal Spezial (R09 Spezial).
The only Ilford developer I was using from time to time was Perceptol but stock I had here was already out of date. After extensive online research I was back to square one.
I decided to call on John Gunn camera shop for Perceptol. Unfortunately out of stock but got an advice instead - 4min in Rodinal Spezial can be the way to go. 
OK. It had to be done fast as that was the plan for the day and the clock was ticking.
In my small bottle of Rodinal there was only 20ml left. I needed almost 32ml. 
As this film can be processed under deep red safelight there was an option of processing by inspection. Not this time. It would be too time consuming and too risky considering the fact that I had some images on the roll which I wanted to get processed correctly. 
Maybe I should photograph flower pot next time while testing film. It would be much easier ;)
Back to online research...  
Got it! 
One short sentence at the end of one of many forum's discussion.  
Ilford Ortho Plus exposed at ISO 80... Xtol, 1:1, 9.45min, 20C. 
Quite old 'conversation' and based on large format negative version.
Had to trust this guy.

And I did...

© Artur Sikora
© Artur Sikora
© Artur Sikora
© Artur Sikora
© Artur Sikora

My thoughts? I love this film. Sure it's not for everyone and not for every application but it is orthochromatic film. Film designed for specific usage. And it works great for that purpose. Landscape, streetscape or architecture... (besides copy and reproduction of course) 
It's a very sharp, fine grain film with beautiful contrast. What strikes me the most, however, is its dynamic range. I have never experienced it with any other film I was using before. I know, it's my first ortho film so I can't compoare. At the same time, I was using wide range of Ilford, Kodak and Fuji films for over a decade and this material is impressive.
The way how beautifully it renders foliage... 
I definitely should use a camera on a tripod and with closed aperture but this time I really wanted to try it out as fast as possible and with no hassle. 
All photographs were exposed using Rolleiflex T - ISO 80, f8 (except one with f3.5) and 1/60s - 1/125s, handheld with yellow filter. Then all was scanned on Epson V850 Pro using Silverfast Ai Studio software.
Apologise to anyone who expected here very technical information. It's purely visual opinion based on my experience and preferences.
One thing is certain - there will be many people who will enjoy this film for sure. 
I am one of them.

For all specs and data please check Ilford website HERE

Thank you!

Sunday 10 November 2019

Addicted to concrete...

Last weekend I returned to Arts Building once again. This time I got a chance to spend some time in Lecky library. Place I visited for the first time a few weeks ago during Open House, architectural festival. I knew that I wanted to get back there one day and such an opportunity just happened recently. 
Here I just wanted to thank John McManus from TCD library who is also a great photographer (please check John's Instagram here - LINK). It wouldn’t be possible without his help. 

Saturday morning, very few students there so plenty of space for me and my camera ;) This time Fuji GS645w for wider shots and Rolleiflex T for anything else. All loaded with Ilford Delta 400 Pro. I added yellow filter for slightly  better contrast. 
Before shooting I had some time to walk around, scout the place and figure out the best possible shots. Then about 30-40 minutes to go through chosen areas. 
Structure of this building is fascinating. Wonderfully exposed, blended with all bookshelves and beautifully opened to the external part of the campus though broad glazing. 
© Artur Sikora
© Artur Sikora
© Artur Sikora
© Artur Sikora 

All three libraries are connected  though underground corridor perfectly illuminated by large rooflight.

© Artur Sikora
And yes… I ended up getting a few quick photographs in Berkeley Library ;) I couldn’t miss this opportunity. Even if I made quite significant documentation of this building already.  

© Artur Sikora
© Artur Sikora

On the way back I repeated below photograph. I made it quickly last year... handheld  with 400 film exposed at 6400. This time slowly, with tripod, without loosing any details.

© Artur Sikora

My name is Artur Sikora and I am addicted to concrete ;)

Tuesday 22 October 2019

Arts Building revisited

Arts Building, designed by ABK Architects and completed in 1979, was the second structure I visited with my cameras when I started to work on ‘Unfulfilled Dreams’ project in 2011. 
A week ago I got back to Arts building during Open House 2019 festival. As all of you already know I have soft spot for well designed concrete buildings, especially these from 60s and 70s. 
There was a few beautiful new buildings on my list this year but I had to change plans and eventually ended up with Arts Building only … Fantastic tour with lots of interesting information and possibility to capture bits and pieces in my black and white squares.
Lights was beautifully dim. Exactly as it have to be in such objects. I had Delta 400 loaded in my Rollei but all was exposed at 1600 which was absolutely enough. 
Photographs taken back then (2011) are different and like it. I can clearly see how my approach to project and vision how it should looks like changes  I probably would photograph again every single building I visited since 2011 but it will stay as it is with small updates every now and then. Like this time…

© Artur Sikora
© Artur Sikora
© Artur Sikora
© Artur Sikora
© Artur Sikora
© Artur Sikora

You can read my blog post about Arts Building in 2011 using this link: Art of concrete .
Here is also link to 'Unfulfilled Dreams' project so you can see more photographs I made in there back then: Unfulfilled Dreams .

Thank you!

Saturday 5 October 2019

Heading North...

Waking up at 6am on Saturday morning sounds like a crazy plan considering the fact that I do it every day during the week. This time however it was something special on the way - A photo trip with my good friend and excellent photographer Jim Leonard, who came up with this idea a few weeks earlier.
The day before I packed my Rollei, Holga (yes, just two cameras this time) and box of films. It was still dark and pleasantly mild when I left my place. An hour later I met Jim. We packed our bags into the trunk and soon after that we’ve been on the road to Belfast. 
Forecast was rather unfavourable. Once we arrived, to our surprise, Belfast was literally shining. The streets were filled with beautiful light reflecting off buildings and illuminating surroundings. It couldn't be better.

Belfast © Artur Sikora

I don’t remember when last time I was wandering the streets just for pure photography and enjoyment, without any other particular purpose. 
What made it special however was the fact that we were not on our own. We have met a fantastic local photographers who showed us Belfast from completely different perspective - Sean Allen, Patrick O’Lean and Alistair Prentice. 
(Links to their websites/public profiles are at the bottom of this text so please have a look) 
Walking, photographing and listen to great stories... Just a perfect day! It was also a great experience to see them in action portraying strangers on the streets in such an interesting manner and with full confidence. I was surprised how positive all approached strangers reacted asked to being photographed.
And of course I was the odd one avoiding people and pointing my camera towards concrete and brick walls ;)

Belfast, Gate in Peace Wall © Artur Sikora
Belfast, Peace Wall © Artur Sikora 
Belfast, Divis Street © Artur Sikora
Belfast © Artur Sikora

This is just a glimpse of what I photographed over there. Still have 2 rolls of films to process (out of 5 in total). This includes photographs of couple of architectural gems. 
As usually all images will be presented soon on my social media: FB, Twitter, Instagram and also LinkedIn. 

At the end we visited Ulster Museum and extraordinary exhibition 'Temporary/Permanent' by Frankie Quinn, marking the 50th anniversary of the erection of the first Belfast peace wall. Exhibition is open until 10th of November so go for it if you will be in the area.

© Artur Sikora
I guess we were very lucky with weather. Late afternoon, as we got back into the car, heavy rain started...  

At the end I wanted to thank here Jim, Sean, Patrick and Alistair for wonderful day!

Thank you! 

Wednesday 12 June 2019

Convert – world of photography and ... cameras

There was a long time with no posts. To be honest not sure if people still read blogs… They probably do but whole attention has shifted to fast changing images rather than anything else. 
I also have to admit that I had not much time to write about anything for the last half a year or so. All my projects are on hold due to work and family related duties. One can say that there is always a moment for casual photography… well, that really depends on circumstances .

So ... first post after over 6 months will be mostly about cameras for a change rather than photographed subjects ;) but there are a few photographs to look at as well.

Let’s start from the beginning. Couple of years ago I decided to switch my photographic equipment which I am using for professional purposes to mirrorless system. It was all about weight,  outcome quality and other features unavailable in DSLR world (at least at the time when change has come).
This move took a while but I enjoy every single minute with it. My backpack lost about 40% of its weight and technical quality of work at the same time went up incomparably.

Weight was the main factor when I started to consider similar change with my film cameras I am using for personal purposes… personal projects and rather rare negative film based commercial assignments. 
It was especially important due to my recurrent back problems and the fact that I cycle and walk most of the time. I definitely had to get portable analogue equipment .

I sold my Hasselblad 500cm with its two lenses at the beginning of this year. 10 years with  this wonderful but relatively heavy system came to its end. Shooting hand held, which is the way I work a lot when photographing for personal purposes, was limited rather to 1/125 with Hasselblad. Even 1/60 was very risky with its large mirror. It was also a bit awkward to carry around.
I needed more flexibility.

I decided to go for Rolleiflex T with 75mm f3.5 Tessar lens.

Very small and light camera. At the moment even 1/30 of a second is easily doable handheld. Completely different experience. Now this camera is often in my bag or over my shoulder and it is not a burden anymore. I could come back to my long forgotten routine of photographing Dublin. Of course as long as weather is good. Also thanks to easily accessible and affordable filters I could rediscover my way of photographing and getting stronger contrast which I love. 

© Artur Sikora 
When sun is up which happens more and more often these days - Dublin is beautifully illuminated. I can see places I am passing by almost every day in completely different way. New perception, new way of seeing and completely new way of transferring this vision into celluloid material. 

Chancery House designed by Herbert Simms in 1934 © Artur Sikora
Kiosk designed in 1934-35 by Herbert Simms
 as part of the development of Chancery House housing scheme
© Artur Sikora

That wasn’t the end. I needed wider angle. Equivalent of Hasselblad 50mm lens.
Long research and I ended up with Fujica GS645w Professional equipped with 45mm f5,6 lens.

Extremely light camera, perfect ergonomic design and incredible optics. Also scale focusing system made it obviously point and shoot medium format camera created to photograph architecture or landscape :) 

Berkeley Library designed by ABK Architects in 1967
© Artur Sikora
Miesian Plaza, Recently renovated building 
originally designed by Ronnie Tallon of Scott Tallon Walker Architects 
and constructed in two phases during the 1960s and 1970s
© Artur Sikora

Glandalough © Artur Sikora

I am using both interchangeably and looking forward to get back at some stage to expand my ‘Unfulfilled Dreams’ project. I miss visiting modernist classics for pure photography and education purposes. I just need a time for it…

This is not the end of course. My very reliable and also heavy large format camera Sinar F2 has also gone. This was a camera which I wasn’t using anymore due to its weight and complexity of setting it up on site along with very heavy tripod needed for it.
I ended up with two excellent super light custom made 4x5 pinhole cameras with perspective correction. 

Well, I am thinking about getting proper, small and portable 4x5 camera at some stage as well but that’s the future…

Arts Building designed by ABK Architects in 1978
© Artur Sikora
Former Saint Nicholas of Myra National School,
Carman’s Hall, Dublin (
Building designed by John Joseph Robinson and Richard Cyril Keefe
© Artur Sikora
Achill Island © Artur Sikora

And that’s enough for now. I hope to prepare more substantial text next time. Thank you!

Wednesday 26 December 2018

The beginnings ...

This morning I opened the box with collection of my old negatives. Some of them from 2008/2009. Yes, that was the moment when I started my adventure with analogue photography. About 2 years earlier this medium became my form of so called visual expression. Surprised? 
No, I wasn’t born with camera ;) I got my first one (smena 8m) when I was about 8 years old but after exposing a few frames, film broke in the camera. It was never processed and I  didn’t bother to use smena again.
It’s all started rather about 2007/08. Initially street mixed with architecture. Modernist concrete structures were always my favourite subjects since then…. approached in a bit different way than I do it now. 
Here you can see short series of frames exposed around Berkeley Library in 2009. All mages on Fuji NCN400 black and white C41 film, Mamiya C330 Pro.
I didn’t process negatives myself back then. I decided to play with a few months later. And then it was like a flood …. Roll after roll, cameras, experiments and so on…
Below photographs are ‘remastered’ if I can say that. I rescanned all frames in higher resolution using much better scanner and software than I had available 10 years ago.

© Artur Sikora
© Artur Sikora
© Artur Sikora
© Artur Sikora
© Artur Sikora
© Artur Sikora

Thank you!

Saturday 15 December 2018

Back to the East...

August 2016 ... 'Journey to the East...' (please use this link to read old blog post). 
That was a very hot summer. Strong sunlingt, blue sky and incisive shadows from early morning. Perfect weather for Holga .
Last night I found a few more photographs from that time. As usually these images had to mature to be ready for presentation. 
... 13 photographs which I decided keep in drawer until now.
Eastern Poland: Hrubieszow, Zamosc and Lublin once again... and its mostly old buildings sometimes typical for this particular region.

Lublin © Artur Sikora
Zamosc © Artur Sikora
Hrubieszow © Artur Sikora
Zamosc © Artur Sikora
Zamosc © Artur Sikora
Hrubieszow. Abandoned factory 'Hakon' © Artur Sikora
Hrubieszow. Abandoned factory 'Hakon' © Artur Sikora
Hrubieszow © Artur Sikora
Hrubieszow © Artur Sikora
Hrubieszow © Artur Sikora
Hrubieszow © Artur Sikora
Hrubieszow © Artur Sikora
Lublin © Artur Sikora

Thank you!