Noir

I have always been drawn to dark images, I like strong definition. I keep going back to night photography not just because of its stark beauty but partly because I have little free time and most of it is during the hours of darkness. People get scared of the dark, it gives a strong emotion much like the warmth of the suns rays or early morning mist in an image.

B62futLCQAA7meHI’m no stranger to long exposures, I’ve dabbled in various forms of light painting before but recently I have been really trying to do more scripted work. My Hasselblad lends itself beautifully to this. If you think shooting medium format slows you down, try shooting it at night! Sometimes you are struggling to see anything through the viewfinder.

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbHI think my wife has thought me mad to leave the nice warm house late at night. To be honest I’ve pushed myself to do it because I know I really enjoy the results.

Night shooting has a different set of rules, strange people come out at night (you’re one of them) I’ve been shooting in fairly remote places so it’s important you do consider the dangers. You have time to do this whilst shooting long exposures, once you’ve fired the shutter you could be waiting an hour to release it.

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbHPeople I have seen whilst night shooting fall into these categories, boy racers, midnight lovers (doggers), kids out smoking weed and tramps. These people can be intimidating however once I imagined what I looked like (hood up, head torch, staring into the distance, by myself) I look fairly intimidating. I wouldn’t approach me, none of them have. Just remember a sturdy tripod can be used for more than stabilising your camera.

photo(12)Since posting a couple of night images I’ve been asked what settings and how long I’ve been exposing the image. There is a lot of information online about this and all of it contradicts itself. I’ve been emailing Andy Martin about this (check his night and wetplate work) his responses have been brilliant. It is also the same way I shall reply, its important you figure it out yourself. Night time is not just black, you get clouds, you get different moons, you get street light, you get shadows. It’s impossible to apply a sunny16 rule to it. In some scenes 15 seconds will make virtually no difference but in others it can be massive. It also scripts if you want clean images or concentrate on astrology.

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbHGo out, experiment and be safe.

 

 

 

LNDNWLK 2.0

I recently attending a workshop and meet up of like minded individuals in London. The day was hosted by  Johnny Patience and his wife Rebecca. It was not only a great chance to learn but also to meet people I knew of from the internet (Stranger Danger). We all met for a workshop in the morning at Stephen Bartels Gallery  and were treated to not only goodies from Kodak but  Richards Photo Lab

08600018For the next hour Johnny talked us through his theory on film photography and his image methodology. This was very well pitched as the audience was made up of great photographers and there was little point teaching someones granny to suck eggs. I found it really worthwhile and made me take my approach to photography more seriously. This is not a bad thing, it is still enjoyable but you take time out to learn what you have done wrong and right. Also it was great to hear terms you may not have properly understood taken apart and clarified.

08600004-2We then were treated to a private viewing in the gallery. This was particularly interesting as it prompted people to discuss what they liked and didn’t like in a photo. Stephen was particularly charming and was eager to teach us more about the art market.

08600007After some refreshments we were joined by more photographers and descended on London armed with all kinds of cameras. Basically we were a muggers dream with the amount of red dots and MF gear. There was a lot of GAS going on.

08600009I found it tricky to shoot when conversation was flowing. It was a pleasure to speak to people and not be limited by characters. It was also good to observe peoples shooting stances, there was a lot of great poses going on! It was evident that everyone shoots at different rates and different angles. It was surprising to see what some people would consider a worthwhile shot and what others don’t.

08600017I am finding myself drawn into street photography more and more and this was a nice excuse to try my hand and also the safety in numbers factor helped. I was fairly pleased with my results (developed and scanned by Richard Photo Lab) considering I only shot 28 shots.

0860001508600014-1I was really pushing myself to get closer. Not an easy task with a 50mm lens.  I could feeling myself gaining in confidence after being surrounded by professionals. It was interesting to chat to everyone and what support network they have in terms of photography. Many only have twitter as an outlet for geeking out about photography so it was not only great for us but presumably our partners.

08600008Thank you to all involved for making it such a great day and I look forward to LNDNWLK 3.0

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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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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.

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

National Trust Oast House

I have recently come back from a lovely weekend staying in an Oast House in Worcestershire.

It was a really lovely weekend and probably the first of the actually warm weekends we have had in Britain so far this year.

I was really looking forward to seeing my neices and playing out side in the wild! It was great fun.

I thought I would share some of the shots with you. I used my Olympus OM1 loaded with Kodak Ektachrome film and cross processed it.

This was the farmers house which was nearby.This was the nearby farmers house.

My Neice on the viewers right and her friend.

Three generations! My mum and my sister and my two neices.

My neices.Harriet is a real girly girl whilst Ruby (with the stick) is a big Tomboy and helped me climb trees.

The girls scared the hell out of the cows.

It was such a nice weekend and very cheap. You can hire most of the National Trust properties. Details of this house are here

Im not sure where the reddish tint came from in these photos. Thats the beauty of using slide film I guess! You can see the rest of the photos from the weekend here

Sorry this is such a short rushed post. I kept meaning to write it all up and got very busy!

Lomography Swap Shop!

I have in my possession a brand new, in box, Coloursplash Lomography camera. It is the snazzy looking chakras edition and comes with a great book, film and a cardboard box (perfect for making a hat with).

You can take some awesome shots with this camera.

This sleek Lomographic camera will re-cast your world with a gorgeous riot of color. Its patented colorwheel system puts several tinted flash filters at your finger tips for instant selection; with an additional 9 filters included to exchange. Just select your color, put it in front of your flash, and fire a burst of colored light at your subject! Long exposure capability creates dreamy streaked backgrounds behind crisp, color-flashed foregrounds.

This special limited edition has been customized by Staple Design with a rubberized surface and Staple’s signature pigeon graphics. Inspired by the ubiquitous bird of New York City (and countless other urban locales), this special edition is outfitted in a slick grey & red color scheme. It uses regular 35mm film that can be developed anywhere.

The camera retails for £69.99 and it can be yours for a swap! What I would like you guys to do is…

Step 1. Comment below telling me what you would like to swap this camera for and why I should swap with you.

Step 2. Sign up to the email service for this blog so I can let you all know when a new post is published. (Your details will not be passed on to any other people)

Step 3. Tweet ” I have entered the swapshop competition for a #lomography camera at https://tomwelland.wordpress.com/ @tomwelland ”

If you don’t have a twitter account, you should get one, its fun. I guess you could maybe blog or facebook it but you will need to post me a link or screen grab of you saying it.

The swap shop will be open from now until the 1st April 2012 and a winner will be picked in early April. I will pay for the postage to get the camera to you but likewise you will be expected to pay for the postage of whatever you swap to me! I am based in the UK but will happily post overseas.

Please do not think this swap is all about monetary value or that I am after something specific, I want to see all kinds of suggestions. It could be anything from a left footed flip-flop once worn by Winston Churchill to a pigeon’s toupee and everything in between.

Good luck, everyone is in with a chance and I hope the camera goes to someone who really wants it.

HRH