These images were shot on a 1950s Weltaflex TLR with its 75mm f/3.5 Ludwig Meritar lens, using ILFORD’s FP4 PLUS at box speed (EI 125). I developed the negatives in Kodak’s HC-110, dilution B. As I don’t own a medium format-friendly scanner, I digitised the negatives using a digital camera and extension tubes.
The photographs were captured after I had been sent home from work and told to practise ‘social distancing’, owing to being categorised as ‘vulnerable’ to the SARS-CoV-2 virus because of my history as an asthmatic. This was in mid-March 2020, a week or so prior to the general lockdown in the UK.
Given the government advice that a distance of two metres should be maintained from other people at all times, I began to wonder what it meant to consistently maintain a distance of two metres from other people, and what that looked – and, more importantly, felt – like. Visiting a local green space that is usually very busy and generally used in the spring and summer for sporting activities, but which is currently devoid of activity for obvious reasons, I asked my family members (my wife and children) to stand two metres away from me and hold up a piece of paper on which was written, simply, ‘2 metres’.
The final image, of the derelict pavilion enclosed by temporary fencing, felt suitably symbolic given the circumstances. Along with a bowling club just around the corner (with whom I worked on a photographic project back in 2018), the pavilion – once in heavy use during the football and cricket seasons – had been targeted by arsonists just prior to the lockdown, but in the weeks since these photographs were taken, it has been further vandalised by ne’er-do-wells and demolished completely by the local council. There is more to this story, as there are rumours that the council plan to sell this much-needed and well-loved community green space, which has been a particular lifeline during the lockdown for many local residents, to builders.
I was pleased with the results. I love shooting on the TLR: despite its reputation as cheap and cheerful, the Weltaflex is a lovely camera to use, I think, and the lens produces decent results. I bought the camera not too long ago, intending to use it to capture portraits in a much larger project focusing on a local community group, but my first meeting with this group was cancelled when the pandemic took hold, so I have been shooting more personal documentary-style images with it instead.
The waist level viewfinder and the slowing down of the process of capturing a moment that it inspires is almost Zen-like. I also love the look of FP4 PLUS (in both its 120 and 135 formats) though generally, I tend to fall back on HP5 PLUS owing to its flexibility in different lighting scenarios. The only weakness in the workflow was my method of digitising these negatives. Moving forwards, I would like to shoot more projects on the Weltaflex but think I will need to invest in a medium format-friendly scanner for at home. I would generally use the one we have at work, but in the current ‘lockdown’ I don’t have access to it.
Want to submit your own 5 Frames...?
Get your 5 Frames featured by submitting your 350+ word article by this Google form or by sending an email via the contact link at the top of the page.
Share your knowledge, story or project
The transfer of knowledge across the film photography community is the heart of EMULSIVE. You can add your support by contributing your thoughts, work, experiences and ideas to inspire the hundreds of thousands of people who read these pages each month. Check out the submission guide here.
If you like what you're reading you can also help this passion project by heading over to the EMULSIVE Patreon page and contributing as little as a dollar a month. There's also print and apparel over at Society 6, currently showcasing over two dozen t-shirt designs and over a dozen unique photographs available for purchase.