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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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.

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!

Dishwashed Film

I have long been an admirer of distressed film techniques. There are various ways of distressing film such as dishwashing, soaking in salt water, silicon gel, rice. All can lead to great shots but what I love is that it is a massive experiment and the results are bespoke and unknown. You cannot guarantee what results you will get as you are playing with the chemical balance of the film and the reaction will be different each time.

I have recently purchased an Olympus OM1 and I decided the first roll to go through this awesome camera would be a distressed film. There are a number of people who have written about these techniques with deliberately misleading information and missing out vital steps. I had tried this technique before without success due to following someones recipe who thought it was clever to not tell people the full story. Analogue is not always a great community, some people do not want you to succeed contrary to what some marketing schemes would have you believe.

So here it is the Dishwashed Soup Technique (DST).

1. Get a film, any film would work but remember what you are going to shoot with it and in what camera and adjust your speed and type accordingly. From what I have seen they will come out darker than what you would if shooting without DST.

2. Load into your dishwasher! Take it out of its canister and its best to load it into a cutlery tray to avoid it flying about.

2. Once finished leave the film for a couple of days to relax. Somewhere nice and dry and out of the sun unless you wish to distress the film even more. The reason for leaving it to relax is because step 3 is applying a lot of heat and that may just tip the chemical reaction over the edge.

3.  Find yourself dark room and a hairdryer. You will need to pull the unexposed film out of the can and carefully dry it. Use nice big sweeping motions to avoid prolonged heat contact. When you pull the sticky film out I found it curls up a lot so a top tip is to attach a clothes peg to the end of the film, this will keep it nice and straight.

4. Shoot it.

I knew that with this film it’s not great for creating detail so I wanted to try to shoot some shapes. So I rang up another aspiring photographer, Mike and asked if he fancied coming on a photo walk through the countryside. We decided upon a nice 10 mile walk in Lower Crawley following an old disused railway line. The route is called Worth Way and I highly recommend it. Details of the route can be found here. Mike  (@Mikey_AbsentElk) was great company and walked at a good pace which was nice as I like to walk fast! He was shooting digital but don’t hold it against him. We saw wild deer, llamas, pigs, pheasants, squirrels, pigs and various birds. Was all going swimmingly until we met the main road and didn’t know the right way to go so asked an old lady which way. She pointed us in the (wrong) direction. It started raining. We walked about a mile down a really busy 50mph road which was a bit sketchy. After deciding the old lady had sold us up the garden path we turned round and did the mile again. We decided to escape the rain and headed to the nearest pub to sample the local ale. (God I’m old).

So here are some of my results from that day. If Mike is kind enough I will show you some of his shots later.

Would appreciate any feedback on the shots. I know they are not everyone’s cup of tea. The rest of the shots can be viewed on my flickr page. A word to the wise putting these types of film through a commercial lab is naughty. It can ruin their chemicals so either ask permission and be prepared to be shot down, send it away to a mass lab or give it to a lab you are not fussed about using again. I won’t disclose where I got these developed.

My camera collection

As Christmas and my birthday have just been I have been lucky enough to get a couple of new cameras and I think I have completed my collection. This is my “need” list of cameras rather than “would like”. There are still lots of cameras out there that I would love but I don’t actually need them. A Leica would be nice but I don’t really have a spare £1500 lying about!

So in order of when I got them, let me introduce you to the gang.

The classic Lomography LCA+ (Pictured is an original LCA) This is an awesome camera and arguably all you need. It has fixed focus points and has a great MX button to make double exposures easy. This kick started my love of analogue and was a wedding present to my wife and I. It is robust (I have dropped it a couple of times) and takes great images with its glass lens.

The next camera I got was the Lomography supersampler in black. I was the “lomohome of the day” on the lomography site so they gave me 50 piggie points to spend. Piggie points equate to pounds so I bought this little beauty. This camera is great fun to use and has a pull string to start capturing 4 images as one. There are two speeds and is ideal at capturing movement. Its really tough and an fit in your pocket. It has limited use but I have had great fun with it so deserves a place on my shelf.

The next camera I got was a lubitel 166b. I had recently won a competition and had again been given a number of piggie points. @achocolatemoose tweeted that she had one of these bad boys spare and would anyone like to buy it. I offered her a straight swap for a Diana Mini (bought with my piggie points). She accepted and shipped the lubitel from Belgium. This is a 120 format camera and takes a lot of getting used to as it doesn’t have any light meters and there is nothing automatic about it. I love this camera although it is bulky and because it is old (1980) it does have a personality of being difficult.

My next edition was a 1967 Zenit E. I got this camera whilst out shopping for halloween costumes. I went into a fabric shop with a wife and as she was browsing this Russian was smiling at me from a shelf. After a quick chat with the owners (who thought I was weird for wanting it) I purchased it for £5. An absolute bargain. This camera is great and takes amazing photos but the all mechanical action and heavy metal body make it as effective a weapon as a camera.

The next camera was a birthday gift from the in laws and what a gift it is too! A Zorki 4 from 1956. This camera I have yet to use but have spent a long time reading about it online. The lens is incredible and KMZ sold alot of these cameras for 17 years. It is basically a poor Russian mans Leica. I can’t wait to learn how to use this. It oozes analogue.

Last but not least is my new Olympus OM1 from 1972. I was given some Birthday money so decided to buy this camera. Although I had the Zenit for an SLR it is not a typical SLR with all of the crazy cool features and easy to get hold of lens’s. The OM1 range was basically the very first of the truely professional SLRs. The OM range went on to produce a lot of cameras from 1 to 10 I believe. As years went on they added more and more electronics and made it more automatic. The OM1 is truely manual and has a neat feature of a light meter needle that doesn’t even need batteries. This is such a good camera and I can’t wait to use it to see what it can do. The whole OM range is great and made very well but the OM1 is special as it was unique and kick started a massive revolution of SLRs.

Thats it, thats the gang, my homies. I have the LCA for great shoot from the hip shots. The supersampler for pure fun. The Lubitel for arty shots that require time. The Zenit for that bit of Russian SLR goodness. The Zorki for range finder shooting with a lens anyone would desire and the OM1 for anything I need. Bring on 2012.

I will just mention too the awesome birthday pressie my wife got me. An Epson V500 the best of all negative scanners. I have never been able to scan my own negs and have relied upon the lab. Now I have even more control over my developing. What a great present and I didn’t even ask for it!

What I love about this collection is that all it has cost me is £5 (The Zenit) They have all been gifts or won or swapped.