Small Fishing Village
My Name is Austen Goldsmith I live on top of a hill on the outskirts of a small fishing Village in Cornwall. When a big storm approaches it means many things. It means I will have a bad nights sleep listening to the sound of the roof tiles rattling above my head. It also means that I will have a day off from my work as a fisherman. Most importantly it means I can pack a few rolls of film into my rucksack, figure out when the light will be best and what beach will have the best opportunities for some surf photography.
How It Began
My first film camera after my digital diversions was a Nikonos 5. This camera has a cult following. It is fully waterproof and I began swimming out among the surfers and waves and shooting film again. The results from the camera can be incredibly varied but I normally end up with a couple of keepers on the roll. This photo is certainly not my best but I love it for a number of reasons. Firstly it is my son in the photo, he’s a great surfer and surfing has been something that has kept us good mates for many years. It was also one of my first photos on the Nikonos. What I really like is the crazy light leak creating that big ray of light hitting my boy! I really must actually print this one and frame it come to think of it!!
I always try to leave one shot spare on a roll of film rather than shoot something just to use the roll up. This day I had shot 11 and had one left' in the barrel'. As I drove home past Lizard point I was admiring the light as it hit the rocks and waves. Then a big ship slowly started to come into view as it headed West punching it was through the storm. I hit the brakes, switched lenses and ran over to the cliff edge and waited for the ship to be in the best spot. I would have happily shot a whole roll at this one but I had only that one shot to play with. I was so excited. I just couldn’t wait to get home and develop that roll. HP5+ @ 800 - Polarising Filter
I drove for two hours to the Cornwall, Devon Border and the light was terrible. I scouted around and waited, slept in the van. It was 18 hours before I took a photo. Finally the winter sunset started to work its magic and I shot this on HP5+ pushed to 800 with an orange filter. It has everything I look for in a photo. The surfer and also the tonality of those amazing rock formations in the background. I like a photo to have something happening beyond the actual scene itself and the surfer provided that.
Storm Frankin - Kennack
This winter we had a run of big storms. I knew this spot would have clean wave. It was very very windy but thankfully blowing offshore, my camera bag with all my gear caught the wind and went cartwheeling towards the sea. Luckily it stopped on the edge of the water, my filters actually ended up inside a rock pool!! I shot this at 500 mm on my Hasselblad 500 cm. The HP5 was pushed to 1600 in very bright light. There was only one guy out there. Then this gorgeously formed wave hit the rocks and started to peel, just the very moment I chose to shoot, the surfer stuck is arm up in awe.`I would love to find this local surfer and let him know there was another guy on that otherwise empty beach equally in awe of that wave!
How I shoot
When I have plenty of rocks and sand in my scene. I can check all my tones with a spot meter, Sand generally around zone 5, rocks perhaps zone 2/3, then I can double check my highlights to be on the safe side but I have learned through trail and plenty of errors that if I don’t have anything solid to meter and lets say I want to point my film towards the burning sun or sky or perhaps the scary bright reflections on the water then I meter for my highlights, put those at around zone 8 1/2 then let everything else just sit where it lands, sacrificing shadow detail while cautiously metering for the highlights has been a game changer for me at times.
Shooting fast action sports or using long lenses in differing light on Medium Format immediately throws a whole heap of challenges. A few years ago I would have been shooting a digital camera at 11 frames per second, shutter priority ’Spray and pray ‘’ Come home then scour my way through hundreds of RAW files and pick out and edit the best ones.
A Filter Lover
I often use the Hasselblad 500 Cm with a 250 mm F 5.6 Lens, the fastest shutter speed on the camera is 1/500. I sometimes bolt on the 2 x extender and stretch the lens to 500 mm. I lose a further 2 stops of light with an extender, that means my starting point is F11 light wise, now bearing in mind that I have to shoot at 1/250th or 1/500th to avoid camera shake this means that have to push my films to 800 on a bright day but I try to stay below 1600. I nearly always use a polarising filter to control the glare off the water. I'm a filter lover and often use the red or orange filters. That's another 1.5 - 2.5 stops of light down the drain. In a nutshell it's a challenge but that’s the fun.
For long exposures and more gentle landscape work I shoot FP4 and Delta 100. For action shots and day to day work I shoot HP5, I need the flexibility and dynamic range it provides in the tough circumstances I find myself in. Also its amazing for star trails and night time photography.
I am 100% a student of the Youtube University of Film Photography. I owe so much to those people out there creating content. Roger ( Shoot film like a Boss) - Steve O’Nions and John Finch ( Pictoral Planet ) to name but a few. I started to upload videos a few months ago. It tough going. My channel is still tiny. My production quality still needs a lot of work. It is great fun to do. Despite the low traction I continue to make short films once every week or two. It adds focus and direction to my work. Its also great for me to re watch my videos to remind myself of the light at the time I took a photo and where I went wrong or got it right. Hitting record is less hassle than battling with a notepad in 30 knots of wind!
About The Author
Austen Goldsmith (Cornwall UK)
I have worked as a fisherman specialising in Bass fishing for 17 years, having escaped the city life 22 years ago. I live in a small Fishing Village of Porthleven and have no intention of leaving!
It was the surfing that drew me to Cornwall and over the years my interest in Surfing and Photography connected with each other. After a 20 years shooting digital I re discovered the joy, challenge, anticipation and patience of shooting film again. I have been truly obsessed with every aspect of the process and now shoot 35mm, Medium format and 4 X 5. I built a darkroom almost immediately and love to spend my evenings in the warm red glow of a safelight!