I had long wanted to visit the Holywell church and well in North Wales but for some reason had never got round to it. So a few weeks ago I went with a Hasselblad 503, tripod and 80mm Planar lens and Ilford HP5 film.

I love the qualities of light that come through large but thick-glassed windows and into spaces with a little air dust so typical of small churches. I had the church to myself. It was locked but I had found the warden who let me have the key.

Below is the ‘straight’ print. I quite liked the windows but the middle window panel was too dark compared to the others and the image was weak in the margins. I had envisioned a darker and more sombre mood.

Altar, Holywell, North Wales; scan from a straight print. (Only digital alteration was a colour shift away from green)

The difficulty of photographing into windows, of course, is taming the contrast. So I had already processed the negative in Pyrocat HD for 17 minutes with a single agitation at 4, 10 and 14 minutes after the initial 1 minute gentle agitation. The compensation helped control the highlights and the pyro did a good job pulling out the sharp detail in the windows.

I was using new paper (for me), the new Ilford Portfolio RC, which I have to say is very good. Just 1 minute in developer, 10 second stop, 30 second fix and 2 minute wash. That takes a lot of time out of a printing session!

I decided to split-grade print this picture to try to preserve the luminosity in the windows whilst toning down the base of the picture – a picture of 2 halves. I didn’t want the altar to dominate the picture.

The result:

Scan from Print (adjusted for green hue) – Ilford HP5 120; Pyrocat HD semi stand; Split grade printed on Ilford New Portfolio RC, no toning.

Here is the print map:

Print map