Simon Riddell Bio
I am 37 years old, and work as a self-employed fire risk consultant while my passion for photography came from days out shooting with my Dad when I was a young lad. Just over a year ago I got back into photography, buying a Lubitel 166B and a roll of Ilford HP5.
I had never shot medium format, or used a TLR camera, I was just keen to get back to the basics and find my way in film. The months that followed saw me build a darkroom in my garage, making mistakes and learning from them along the way. YouTube videos of a photography lecturer called Will Agar and online research enabled me to start developing film, making black and white prints, and latterly also colour prints (colour can be difficult, but really boosts your skill-set).
These days I mainly shoot Ilford HP5 in my Lomography Sprocket Rocket camera pushed to 1600ISO as it gives me the versatility for multiple exposures and poor lighting conditions – I also love its gnarly grain. In my Bronica ETRS I shoot Ilford PanF for long exposures using a variety of filters, mainly red and ND for land / skyscapes. I also love Rollei Retro 80S, and Ilford SFX 200. If I shoot 35mm I use my Dad’s Canon AE-1, normally with HP5 loaded for street stuff, but recently I shot Adox CMS II at a boat graveyard, which yielded insane detail when shot at ISO 12.
The 6x6F pinhole camera has become a true love. Pinhole photography is like seeing another dimension for me, and I especially like multiple exposures. Early on, I noticed that I would often have light leaks using this camera, which I actually really liked. After investigating, the cause happened to be the way in which I was loading the film. I can now control the extent of light leak, to either have none, or a variation on the intensity you see in the images. I like to think this is similar to a signature on my work in pinhole. Normally I keep an orange filter on.
I like to shoot in high contrast and open the lens right up whenever I can. Capturing movement is something that also pulls me into photography. I would say that I most love using vintage or simple tools in challenging environments to capture the image. There are no limits with film, you have so many options with the chemicals, timings, ratios, temperatures, even the way you agitate (or do not) your film, and when it comes to making your prints – well, I find it amazing! Photography takes me away, it grasps and focuses my attention, it makes me look at the world in a different way. Which format, which film, which camera, which lens, what aperture, which ISO, what shutter speed, which developer, which paper? All these aspects come into my decision prior to letting light through the shutter. I have also been to places I would not have gone to without photography.
My Dad and I stumbled upon some WWI / WWII military installations in our local area (The Sutors of Cromarty and Nigg). Research showed us that there were many more installations along the coastline, culminating with two searchlight towers, that now are nearly inaccessible by land. These have been the subject of many of my recent days, and Nigg Bay is such a beautiful location to shoot at. Unfortunately, my Dad passed away recently, and so I will have to go on without his banter and encouragement, however photography will always be there, and it is something I share so I think it is like an ever widening array of chemicals, memories, and emotions, with limitless possibilities for creation. Enjoy the art of film photography!