I wrote a post the other day announcing that I had started a “Our family in Coronavirus Quarantine” series. Somewhat of a mini project to do whilst the family and I self quarantine or lockdown or whatever you want to call it. It might seem like a daft thing to do when the world has been flipped upside down. There are much more serious things to be thinking about; the NHS heroes working themselves into the ground to save lives. The delivery drivers, supermarket workers, social care specialist, energy supply workers, water supply workers, and the many government officials and civil servants working tirelessly behind the scenes to keep the country afloat. The businesses that have folded, and the employees with no money for their families. These are devasting times. But it is for exactly that reason that I wanted to document the little world that is my immediate family during it. We are trying to shield our kids from the realities of what is going on to some extent; we are not concealing what is happening, but softening it to avoid alarm. They are aware people are dying and they are aware it is serious. But in addition to all the other upheaval all our children are facing, I want our kids at least to think “Mum and Dad don’t seem too worried so I’m sure it will be OK soon“. The last thing I want is my kids thinking the world is about to end!

I explained that I’d shot 5 rolls of 120 using the Hasselblad and since then, I have developed and scanned those plus two more in the evenings and over the weekend. So 7 rolls so far.

One thing I decided to do with these sets of negatives, which I don’t usually do, was to press the dam things over night. I’m sick of curly film not being held flat in the cruddy plastic glassless Epson V550 holder. I am usually in so much of a hurry to get them scanned I just don’t wait, but this time I figured “Hey, there’s no hurry is there. Not like I’m going anywhere!”. So I used a pile of 4 large A4 books, and pressed them in their sleeves overnight, after they had been hanging up drying for several hours first. This had a pleasing outcome, making almost all of them perfectly flat, thus enabling better scans without resorting to glass.

Now, some of you might want me to share ALL of the images. And whilst it is true that I will be USING all of them myself, for our own private family keepsake book, I don’t really want to share them all with the world. They are, after all, private family keepsake images. Not promotional work or work I am being paid to produce for clients. So I won’t be doing that publically. I will however share a handful of those I have taken so far, just to show the wonderful results I have got from some of the Ilford films, most notably Ilford Delta 100 and Ilford Delta 400. I have also had a few good frames from the HP5, but the Delta really seems to have some punch to it which I like.

Before posting those, below is an amusing iPhone snapshot of one of my makeshift outdoor studio endeavors! You will see I have used a large white projector screen that I use for projecting slides using my Hasselblad PCP-80 medium format projector as a background piece. I have then supported it either side from the strong wind using using, yes, a plastic toy slide to the left and to the right, mostly out of shot, a wheelie bin!

Outdoor studio setup

No matter. I was confident of my skills 🙂 .You will notice the screen and the subject have been placed just out of the sun, with the sun behind them and slightly to the right. Out of shot is my faithful assistant holding a reflector, to bounce just a little soft light back onto the front-left of the subject. And I have positioned the subject a couple of feet forward from the screen to ensure no creases or lines are visible. I am using the 120mm Carl Zeiss lens on the Hasselblad, with a lens hood to reduce any glare from the sun.

A quick meter reading with the Sekonic, and the results of this are below, all of which were captured on Ilford Delta 100 at box speed and developed in Ilford Ilfotec DD-X for 12 minutes at 21 degrees using a steel tank.

In addition to these quite controlled photographs, I have taken dozens of other candid shots, most of which I metered by eye just to try and capture the moment. All things considered they came out pretty well too. Most of the ones below were caught on the 120mm or 80mm Carl Zeiss lens.

As I said in my initial post, the long term aim of this is to try and take at least one picture a day using the Hasselblad 501CM and Ilford film stocks only, for consistency. So there is more to come, but I will most likely continue to bulk process the films, 4 or 6 at a time. When this is all over, or at least, once the lockdown restrictions are at least lifted even if social distancing remains “a thing” for a while, I intend then to create a printed zine of the entire set; every photo, as a document of our family life. I will then give one each to my kids for them to keep and how their kids, and their kids. Years from now, decades from now, they will be a poignant reminder of their time as children during Coronavirus, which is, lets face it, a time like none of us can recall in recent history excepting World War II. And perhaps as soon as next year or the year after, we will be saying “Oh do you remember when that sodding Coronavirus shut the entire world down?!”, and we will have our zines to show people (who might be interested).