Ice, Water & Steam

For ages I’ve had the idea of producing a themed set of three black & white prints to display on the wall on my stairs at home. This evening I finally had the inspiration (the three classical states of water) and motivation to take the pictures and develop the film immediately after.

I wanted to shoot these pictures on film so I’d have the pleasure of making the prints in the darkroom. I broke out my trusty Mamiya RB67, which takes 10 shots on a roll of film, giving me just 3 or 4 attempts to get each photo right. Last time I tried something similar with my digital camera, I took over 200 photos to get the one I wanted. On this occasion, it took three attempts to get the ice right, and just one for both the water and the steam 😀


These pictures are not perfect. In the ice and water pictures, the background is not sufficiently overexposed and it’s distracting. In the steam picture, some of the light got onto the backdrop despite my best efforts. It might seem like nit-picking but I’m not going to put these on my wall, else I will grimace at my mistakes every time I go up or down the stairs 😛

However, I’ve now got a better idea of what to do next time. My cotton backdrops are in the loft so I used some A3 pieces of black and white perspex that I bought for macro photography. They’re a bit reflective, and not large enough (I couldn’t get all the steam in). Rather than using a flashgun to illuminate the backdrop, I think I will use a softbox as the backdrop instead. Using the flashes bare, without modifiers, the lighting was a bit harsh. Unfortunately my white umbrellas are also in the loft with the backdrops 😉

For those who are interested, here’s my setup. That’s a Mamiya RB67 medium format camera with Sekor C 127mm f/3.8 lens, bellows fully cranked out and an extension tube. Also with prism finder (that black lumpy bit on the top is full of glass, and weighs a kilo on its own) and a roll film back loaded with 120-format Ilford FP4+. I’m using a cable release to get mirror lockup to reduce camera shake (the mirror is 6×7cm and makes a mighty thwack when it flips up), and a wireless flash trigger to sync with two flashguns.

Setup shot

One thought on “Ice, Water & Steam

  1. My favourite if the water one, I’m impressed at the detail in the water droplets and that you only had 3 attempts.


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