Capturing time in the garden – Fomapan 100 and Oskar Terrapin pinhole camera.

Spring and early summer of 2020 will be memorable for most of us.

Staying at home, days blending into one another, being furloughed …. or not.

Spending more time with loved ones that you are used to.

For me I haven’t gone anywhere for work for nearly 12 weeks at the time of writing and, like many friends on social media this has been a time to concentrate on the important things in life, to remind yourself of priorities, to bring big, life changing decisions into focus.

During the first few weeks of lock down, including 2 weeks of forced isolation due to COVID-19 like symptoms I shot 5 rolls of Portra 160 in my Diana F+ combining daylight and flash. The ordinary became the extra ordinary. That, however, will be the subject of a future blog and zine.

Anyone who has ever made pictures with a pinhole camera, be it home made or bought from one of several brilliant people who make them, will soon realise that time can be captured in chunks of seconds to minutes.   Time can be represented far more effectively than at freeze-frame shutter speeds on a lens camera.

IMG_0635 The wonderful Todd Schlemmer, 3D printed Terrapin Oskar.

A week or so ago, at the end of a really dry spell of weather here in the UK I took out my Terrapin Oskar 6×6 pinhole camera and loaded it with the only slowish speed film I had, Fomapan 100. Now I love Fomapan 100 and use it regularly in my Toyo 45a field camera. It has a steady contrast “curve” that doesn’t really flatten out in the highlights so you get well differentiated highlights but they can easily become far too dense to make nice prints or to scan without losing detail. I guess they can become so dense a typical flat bed scanner can’t even see through the dense highlights. Also once you get beyond exposure times of a few seconds the additional time you have to add on to compensate for what is called reciprocity failure can become way too long if you want to record any movement in your final image.

Julie has been spending all her time in the garden growing things from seeds and because we haven’t been anywhere at weekends most things are still alive.

I wanted to record a little of this, and how east is it to take yet more I Phone shots, I didnt want that so the Terrapin and Fomapan did the work.

Fomapan in bright light was about 1 second so I made it two seconds and developed in Rodinal 1:100 semi stand (basically 10ml to 1 litre, agitate a few times then once after 30mins then leave alone for another 30 mins). This or other compensating  developer methods control contrast by working on areas that have fewer exposed silver grains (shadows) and quickly exhausting in heavily exposed (highlight ) areas. Because there is little or no agitation no fresh developer can easily get back to work on those highlight areas and contrast is controlled.

Even so – the prints I made had to be produced on grade 1 to give manageable prints with my set up in the darkroom.

So, I’d rather use FP4 or HP5 but sometimes you have to work with what you have.


Prints were made in my darkroom using the new Ilford MG Deluxe paper. The enlarger was a Meopta Magnifax with a colour head.

Stay Safe.

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