Boxing

A couple of my friends were due to have their first fight in a fundraising boxing match and I have recently purchased a Hasselblad 500cm so thought I would try my hand at shooting the fight. ImageTrouble with shooting a boxing match are its dark and fast. Not great combos to try and shoot but I thought I’d give it a go.

I wanted to shoot black and white as I wanted to make it look old school and having not been to the venue before it could be more flattering.

ImageI didn’t make it to the shop in time to buy some Delta 3200 but after tweeting a couple of people (thanks guys) I was confident that Delta 400 could be pushed. This would produce lots of grain but would at least allow me to shoot.

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Shooting medium format was both a joy and a pain. Looking at the fight through the viewfinder was just beautiful, trying to track two fast moving fighters and focus was ridiculously hard.

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It seemed any time I had a nicely framed shot, the leg of the referee would step into view!

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Fairly happy with the shots I got, was a good challenging experience and I’m confident I could do better next time. I was suprised how nice the judges were when I asked to crouch by them so I could get close to the ring. The official photographer for the night was a really nice guy (who got some great shots) and was loving my Hasselblad!

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All in all a good night, both my friends won and the shots were at least exposed correctly.

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Devon

I’ve recently come back from a lovely weeks holiday down to Devon. We stayed at a great park in between Brixham and Paignton.

CNV00014I was taken on holiday to Brixham when I was a child so it was fitting I take my daughter on her first holiday to Brixham. In the Middle Ages, Brixham was the largest fishing port in the south-west of England. Known as the ‘Mother of Deep-Sea Fisheries’, its boats helped to establish the fishing industries of Hull, Grimsby and Lowestoft. In the 1890s, there were about 300 trawling vessels in Brixham, most individually owned. The trawlers can still be seen coming in and out of the harbour, followed by flocks of seagulls. . The modern boats are diesel-driven, but several of the old sailing trawlers have been preserved. To visit a harbour steeped in fishing heritage and not eat any fish is sacrilege but neither of us eat fish.

CNV00019 CNV00021Paignton the next nearest town is more on the side of tacky seaside resort, it seems like you step back into the 80′s with the fashion and decor. Its claim to fame was to have Europe’s oldest man made cinema. Paignton also has Kents Caverns which is one of the most important stone age sites in Europe. The caves have been excavated for many years and they have found a 41,000 year old jawbone, the oldest human fossil found in Britain.

CNV00003 CNV00005I would thoroughly recommend a visit to anywhere in Devon, especially Brixham and Paignton. It is a beautiful stretch of the coast, steeped in history, great food and part of British culture. I think its depressing to think many children are brought up exploring other peoples countries more than their own.

The weather was very kind to us which is great because I had only packed some portra 400. Without really being comfortable with my meterless M4 yet, I decided to take my reliable OM1.

CNV00016 CNV00033The irritating part of deciding to take my OM1 is that it seems it now has a light leak which you can see from the pictures. I have been reliably informed it is a fix I can attempt myself, my luck with cameras just seems to be getting worse.

The bad luck doesn’t end there, when I took my rolls of portra to the lab I mistakenly took a fresh roll which they processed (without questioning why the leader was out). When I went to pick it up they made me think I hadn’t loaded the film correctly (this has been done before too) however after a frantic search of my fridge I found the exposed roll.

999862_10153235000955150_68808538_nThis is the problem with film, or rather my problem with film. If I had of ruined/lost a roll not only is it the money wasted but more importantly the recorded memories gone.

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Catch up

Apologies I appear to have completely stopped blogging. I’m not sure how to get you all up to date in a suitable way so I’m just going to give you the jist and then normal service will resume.

1. I became a father. Shes beautiful and will be the subject of many of my photos from now on.

485485_10152803144650150_1765418924_n2. I bought a leica. An m4 to be precise. This was my present to myself as I realised I wouldn’t have any spare cash for a while (see post 1) I got a Zeiss Biogon 35mm f2 with it. This was a proper indulgence and I promise I won’t turn into a leicawanker but its an investment and the best tool for my hobby.

Leica_M4_with_curved_lever3. I went to Germany for work, I took my Olympus OM1 to take some long exposures as it has an awesome bridge and cathedral. Long story short the camera fell whilst attached to the tripod and that was the end of the camera.

Cologne-Cathedral4. I bought a mint condition black Olympus OM1. Got a great rate and service from the finder and enthusiast that is Dave Lam. If you have any questions about seemingly anything to do with film photography or want to find a camera give him a tweet.

BRU-INtCAAAO72E5. I really enjoyed my Lubitel but it was limiting and the lens wasn’t great so I purchased a Yashica D. It arrived around the same time as I became a father and winter so I didn’t use it for a while and when I did I found it was broken. (Thanks Ffordes photographic) However I managed to fix it and its ready to roll again once I reskin it.

yashica-d6. The football shoot went really well. It was challenging trying to focus and use the floodlights. I had to sign all rights away however as the game images are all owned by Brighton & Hove Albion but here’s one of the crowd which I’m sure I can sneak in.

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbHThat pretty much brings us up to date. I have been reading a lot and admiring a lot of photographers work which has inspired me even when I haven’t been shooting much. Hopefully I have a lot more posts to come.

 

Football Analogue Experiment

I have managed to blag myself a temporary press pass to shoot a football game at Brighton & Hove Albion’s ground, The Amex. It has taken quite a few emails, proof of work, a friend who works for the club and £2m professional indemnity insurance to allow them to let me shoot a game. That’s not the end of the hoops as the club have had to apply for a temporary license for me as the image rights are all owned by presumably sky and the club.

I am really excited for this opportunity. I am an amateur photographer so money is not something that drives me. Its projects like this that keeps me interested.

The game I am shooting will be a Tuesday night game so I will be shooting using artificial lights. I am limited by a number of factors. Sports these days are shot entirely on digital with massive fast lenses.

The equipment I will be using will be my Olympus OM1, I have a 50mm lens on it which won’t be suitable for this so I have purchased a 135mm F3.5 zuiko lens from ebay. Ideally I would be using a F2.8 but the price rise is drastic. I will also be using a Lubitel 166 and a Zenit E.

This was taken on my Olympus OM1 using expired 200 kodal gold film. You can see the lights worked well and the position of a photographer. No problem for a digital long lens but still a hefty range for my 135mm lens.

As the distances my cameras can reach are minimal a lot of this will come down to luck, right place right time. All I can do is make sure I have done my homework and selected the right equipment to use.

I will have the Olympus mounted on a tripod , the zenit E for a hopeful goal celebration right in front of me and the lubitel for crowd reactions.

What I am struggling with is what film to use. This is really important. I do not want to match or replicate digital photos. It has to have that analogue feel to it. It needs to be a fast speed for film. Maybe I should use black and white rather than colour? I am considering using Portra 800 as this should be fast enough to cope with the artificial lighting.

I tweeted Ilford and they said “The HP5+ left at 400 will give you the most leeway with your exposure, push to 800 if floodlit”

I also tweeted my UK analogue crew. Check these guys out, they regularly produce work I can only hope to achieve one day

@IainKendall “B&W. delta 400 would have fine grain…but I love the Delta range.”

@sibokku hp5plus 400 pushed to 800/1600. When dev’d properly it should look nice but a wee bit grainy

@AdamBronkhorst something fast. If your shooting black and white, go for a fuji 1600, if your shooting colour go for as fast as you can get,

@RobOrchard   or there’s Kodak portra 800, too. I’ve still got some FujiPro 800 in the fridge that I’m saving for a rainy day.

So anyone want to recommend anything? Any tips before I go? I have not shot sports before and have read various websites. I am limited in the equipment I have, the quickness of the camera, the amount of shots I can take before reloading, my skill and knowledge and to cap all that it may be a dull game and nothing of interest happens!

There is a lot that could go wrong but likewise this could be a great experiment.

 

Olympic Games, London 2012

I think it’s fair to say the London Olympic games gripped the world. In the lead up to the games the media were concentrating on complaints, money being spent, contractors not fulfilling obligations, traffic problems. However from the opening ceremony to the closing day the world was transfixed to the Olympic Games.

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I will admit I was not exactly fussed with the games until it all started. Early on in the games I found archery, a sport I had previously no interest in, enthralling. I think this happened with a lot of people, finding a sport they barely knew the rules for, absolutely unmissable. Productivity must have taken a massive down turn as the BBC were providing great live footage for your Olympic fix at work.

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It was a massive soap opera unfolding, twists and turns, drama and dilemmas. It was great to see the people get behind their nations. There was something special about these athletes. We are used to over payed mega stars not giving their all unless everything went their way.

ImageThese teams were ordinary people with passion, pride and talent. The Olympians are the best we can do and when that athlete produces the best they can do on the day its incredible to watch. Imagine working ridiculously hard through horrendous conditions with poor funding for a race that lasts 1 minute, or 3 jumps?

ImageWe tried and failed to get any reasonably priced tickets so we decided to make the trip up to London on the last day to watch the marathon. Not the best of spectator sports but at least we were there and the atmosphere around London was alive.

ImageI wanted to take some nice pictures to try and capture some of the spirit of the Olympics but realised I was never going to get close enough to the action. I decided to cheat a bit. I had seen a technique of taking bokeh layered photos by taking a photo of light on a computer first then double exposing them with your image. Slightly unimaginative but I have seen some nice results.

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I decided to replicate this process but taking photos of the athletes instead and layering them over London landmarks. I scoured the internet and downloaded the best images on to a wide screen tv. I then sat there and took the photos of the images (getting strange looks from my wife) on my Olympus OM1. I used Kodak Elitechrome. I then rewound the film, loaded in an Olympus Trip and headed to London with @LucyWelland and met up with @Dypka and @Misslucybridger and strolled the sites.

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Even though the technique is cheating as I’m ripping off someone else’s images I was happy with the results.

Introducing – Thomas Cole Simmonds #1

I am forever finding myself lost in the depths of photography websites such as flickr and amazed at the “non professional” talent out there. People who shoot for a passion and not a pay check. I am starting a series for Honeyroasthoax introducing this emerging talent. First up we have Thomas Cole Simmonds from my town of Brighton.

Age: 22

Years shooting: About 2 years now, a bit less shooting models though. :)

Favourite camera: I haven’t used it much yes seeing as it was quite a recent purchase but I really enjoy using my Bronica ETR-Si

Projects: At the moment I am working on my 52 week project, that is mainly so I have something photography related to do in between shoots. Other than that I am just trying to get as many shoots lined up and hopefully get in some magazines!

Person to shoot: I am actually in the process of arranging a shoot with someone who I have wanted to shoot with for a long time now, but more about that later. :D

Why use analogue: I love digital, you would be mad not to use it. It has so many advantages over film, however in my opinion it still lacks a certain character that you cat with analogue and in my opinion it can’t quite be replicated in a digital form.

Thanks to Thomas for sharing some of his photos. Take a look through his portfolio here

An analogue adventure in Iraq

My work involves a fair amount of travel but usually it is not particularly glamorous. The M25 is a well worn path for me. I do however get presented with an exciting opportunity for travel abroad where I always try to make the most of any free time I get. When my company asked me if I was happy to work in Iraq for a week the thought of bombs, shootings and kidnappings entered my head. Not exactly where I saw my career (or life) progressing. Thanks to British media all I knew of Iraq was war, Saddam Hussein and oil, lots of oil. Begrudgingly my work were extremely keen on me going out there so after some (a lot) of persuasion my flights were booked. I was travelling to a city called Sulaymaniyah in North Iraq. A quick google search was in order to see what was in store for me. (It’s not worth searching on youtube unless you want to scare yourself)

The modern city of Sulaymaniyah was founded on 14 November 1784 by the Kurdish prince Ibrahim Pasha Baban who named it after his father Sulaiman Pasha. Because it was founded as the capital of a powerful Kurdish principality, Sulaymaniyah has developed into a large city with a population of about 1.500.000 people. It is the cultural center of the Sorani-speaking Kurds and an important economic center for Iraqi Kurdistan.

Kurdistan you say? I thought I was going to Iraq. After more Googling I discover Kurdistan is a region in North Iraq. Kurdistan refers to parts of eastern Turkey (Turkish Kurdistan), northern Iraq (Iraqi Kurdistan), northwestern Iran (Iranian Kurdistan) and northern Syria inhabited mainly by Kurds. Kurdistan roughly encompasses the northwestern Zagros and the eastern Taurus mountain ranges, and covers small portions of Armenia. I appreciate a lot of you more clued up people will have already known all about the Kurds from the heinous attacks Saddam committed on them (mainly) in 1989. I have to admit I was only 6 then and it’s not really come up since.

It’s fair to say the region is extremely hostile bombings still happen almost every day in Baghdad and Basra and relations with their Syrian and Iranian neighbours aren’t exactly at the stage of borrowing a cup of sugar. I traveled by myself to Istanbul to catch my connecting flight to Sulaymaniyah, looking around at the holiday makers in Istanbul made me want to change my flight plans and get the first taxi to the beach instead after an hour’s wait I was on a small plane bound for Iraq. Nerves and tiredness were starting to set in it didn’t help that it was pitch black when we landed so I couldn’t see what was awaiting me.

I arrived at about 4am to be met by our driver “Alan” not a very Iraqi/Kurdish sounding name but I was tired and just accepted it. He took me on a short tour of the city on the way back from the airport and we stopped at a tea shop. The Iraqis have more of a thing for tea then British do, everything stops for tea and it must be administered every 2 hours. It’s served in small glass shot glasses and poured into the saucer to cool it down quicker and slurped. There were a lot of people about even at 5am; it’s so hot there a lot of the construction is nocturnal. There were a lot of quizzical looks when I entered this sports orientated tea shop. It was a mecca to football stars past and present and pride of place were two big pictures of the great Messi and not so great Frank Lampard. It may have been the tiny tea (no milk 4 sugars) they bought me or the familiar faces that calmed me down but as I looked about I remember drawing comparisons to a builder’s greasy spoon.

The next morning I awoke from my hotel and surveyed my surroundings through the window. I was in a fairly residential area but had a great view of the city. All of the houses were built in compounds and I could see so many new builds under construction. It was dusty, busy and 48 degrees at 8am.

 

The first few days of my trip were mainly work, the business hours here go long into the night. I must have consumed the volume of the atlantic sea in tea and water. I saw so many great photo opportunities whilst I was there but unfortunately I was driven practically everywhere and my schedule so tight it made shooting without a flash impracticable. I had recently procured a delicious Olympus RD that I was itching to take but it had suffered a minor mishap and the aperture blades had jammed. I was going to take my Olympus OM1 but this is a heavy SLR and not exactly inconspicuous. The following is a massive advert as to why twitter is amazing. A guy I was following @Leftofnever a great photographer and expert with all things analogue, after hearing my predicament and impending photo op offered to lend me one of his Olympus Trips. This camera was perfect for my needs, lightweight, fixed zone focusing and an awesome lens. (Thank you Martin).

I have a small stash of Kodak Elitechrome that I was saving for special occasions. This was the time to break out the film most analogue photographers would sell their Grannies dogs’ favorite toy for. (My Grandma does not have a dog)

I fired off a few shots through the car window but knowing it was only 100iso I fully expected blur and the odd 4×4 bonnet in the way. Luckily towards the end of my trip our hosts had arranged a few small excursions to see some of the sites. Sulymaniah is certainly a beautiful area. Surrounded by mountains it is mainly an arid land but has a great sense of history in it views. We were taken out to Lake Dukan, it was an hours drive west and was a great chance to get out of the City. We encountered many check points on the way (and oil tankers) without a problem until one of the larger ones where we were pulled over. In Iraq is fairly common to see guns, big guns too. These aren’t the nice shiny guns you see cradled by police in Airports in the UK. These guns were quite obviously used; you do what the guards say.

After a search of the car, a host of questions about what we were doing and a long look over our passports we were off. Alan was completely calm during all of this, I was not so good and it’s fair to say the 5.31pm Friday night drinking club my friends and I partake in seemed a very very long way away. It all comes down to what you are used to. These check points are there to protect you; it is good that they stop you; it is good that they are thorough. After a few days in Iraq I realized that they have a lot of Europeans coming for business and actually a lot of Middle Eastern people vacationing.

What feeds Lake Dukan is the coldest river imaginable. I was dared to have my feet in it for 5 minutes. Coming from a race of people who don’t think 49 degrees is hot to me who is used to British weather I was more than up for this challenge. I wish I hadn’t, stubbornness and the National Anthem going through my head was the only reason I kept my rapidly turning purple feet in that water. Alan explained throughout the summer the river is cold and in the winter (where they have snow) the water is hot. I’m not sure why this happens but it seems to.

After a couple of photo ops we carried on to Lake Dukan, I was amazed when I saw this massive expanse of water in what is predominately a country of desert. The surface area of the lake is 270 square kilometers (100 sq mi) and has a lovely island in the middle. There were quite a few people swimming in the clear waters of the lake and some small boats drifting about with fisherman using big nets. I got some strange looks carrying my telescopic fishing rod down to the banks.

Alan explained why they were giggling. Iraqis are very practical and effective if you have a task do it the quickest way possible. If you want to catch a fish do it the quickest way you can. They use dynamite and nets. Hence why my tiny rod and fake lures seemed ludicrous to them. After an hours or so fishing with temperatures soaring, the swimming was becoming more and more appealing. We were encouraged to have a dip so we stripped down to our pants and took a plunge.

This felt amazing, the sun was setting, there were some young men singing a beautiful song and it felt great not to be dusty for once. After a while of splashing around and teaching Alan to swim backstroke thoughts of my preconceptions of Iraq were making me chuckle. I thought I would be dodging RPGs and hiding in shadows yet here I was in the most beautiful lake swimming in my pants.

Due to a cancelled appointment we had some more time to kill the next day and I was keen to learn more about the city and its people. Alan had proved to be a most knowledgeable guide and his story of fleeing of Saddam Hussein to Nottingham is an incredible story that needs to be made into a film. I wanted to know more about the war(s) as there was very little damage to sulymaniahs buildings.

Saddam had a compound within the city where he was run out of Kurdistan by the local people. The siege lasted all day, the local people a powerful emotional force and Saddam’s compound extremely well fortified and armed. We were lucky enough to be allowed to a take a photo of this building through the gates. This building is littered with bullet holes and is a scar on blossoming city. I guess it serves as a constant reminder of what has happened and the pride of the region.

They must have been extremely brave to stand up to Saddam and eventually make him flee by helicopter to the safety of Southern Iraq. Many many crimes to humanity were carried out within this compound and it was an eerie site. I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to take a photo of these buildings but in a way the buildings use had turned from a centre of evil to a badge of honor for Kurdistan.

We were then taken to the local Zoo. There aren’t many recreational things to do around here but I was told that this is extremely popular with people of all ages. After awaking the young ticket seller and buying our tickets we were told it was out of season but we can still have a look about. I’m not a great fan of zoos and wasn’t expecting the greatest level of animal comfort. We were taken to the first enclosure and as I gazed through the locked gates I saw the bizarre site of a Labrador looking back at me. The next enclosure housed a few cats and a recently born litter of kittens. Alan loved them and was awfully impressed when I showed him a picture of my cat who not only a looker I have no doubts he would go for a rhino if it looked at his treats.

We were getting hungry so were taken to the local markets, a massive souk not dissimilar to any you would find in and around the African/middle eastern region. What was pleasant is that you didn’t have the same pestering sellers that go hand in hand with markets in places such as Egypt. It was a much more relaxed atmosphere and I was free to browse where I liked without fear of hearing “lovely jubbly”. There were plenty of shops selling ironmongery and watches but one stall selling a 2004 copy of the Argos catalogue made me look twice.

I left Iraq having had a nice time, it was a beautiful place, has a lot of culture, the people are lovely and it’s hot. Without all of the fighting I have no doubt that this would be firmly on the backpacker’s route. It’s surprisingly a very safe place to be. Strict laws and even stricter religion means that you are never going to get mugged, abused or any of your possessions stolen. Yes there is always a chance of more serious events but they are very keen to separate themselves from places like Baghdad. Bar some protesting violence at a local TV station there hasn’t been trouble on that scale here for many many years.

My impression and knowledge of Iraq has changed immensely and I hope you see from my photos that this is a normal region. Iraq is a country full of different beliefs shoe horned into borders which when you add in the vast amounts of black gold hidden beneath its land unfortunately has led to war.

I met a young man my age whilst I was over there that had also had to flee the country at time of trouble. He spent a few years in England until returning to his country. We got on great and he was keen to tell me his shoes were from River Island, Shirt from Marks and Spencers and Trousers from TK Maxx. We went out for some lunch and I was keen to impress on him how my vision had been blurred by the likes of the BBC and was glad to of come here and experienced it for myself. He liked English people and had enjoyed his time over there. After teaching me some basic phrases in Kurdish I asked him to give me his best English accent. He said (in the best North London accent) “wot you lookin at?” A common enough phrase that spells trouble for the listener. I thought that about sums it up, In Iraq I was treated so well and everyone was so polite to me I took away some nice memories whereas when pushed to recount his ideas of England he came out with that!

The rest of my photos can be viewed here