Archive for November, 2009

A Day Trip to Lampeter – Panasonic GF-1 + 20mm Pancake

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on November 29, 2009 by yammerman

In a week in which the sad news reached us of Amanda Glover’s death, it seemed fortunate that Gillian and I should be able to make a kind of pilgrimage back to the old “alma mater”.   Our good friend Shevaughn Williams has used her considerable creative powers to reinvent herself as the “Bagwitch” and had a stall at the Town and Gown Christmas Fair.  While she wowed the good citizens of Lampeter, we took a stroll around the town and campus with her husband Paul and remembered the dear friend we’d lost and the good times we’d had in those buildings and on those streets.  Any chin stroking and pomposity was quelled by the accompanying Elsie and James, four and ten respectively, who will probably never begin to imagine the fun that our young bodies had in those far off days.

You are unaware, when young, how much the choices that you make will echo through the years and alter the course of your life.   I have my family and a support for Plymouth Argyle from before 1976, and almost everthing else comes from the people I met here  in these formative years.  The class of 76 arrived to a landscape peopled by post hippy prog-rockers with the Stones and Dylan as the pipers of the tune.  Yet in that one short year, it was all changed with the arrival of the Sex Pistols and punk.  By the time the class of 77 arrived, which included Amanda and Gillian, it was clear the rules had been rewritten and that generation was over and a new kind of thinking was all around.  For a while in rural Wales we felt like the only people who noticed this change and it was really very exciting.

We went to Conti’s, where Mr Conti still serves his wonderful ice cream and where he reported that the arrival of mobile phones had killed the juke box as people brought their own music with them.  He kindly gave the children a bag each – very appropriate on the Bagwitch launch day.  The town seems more colourful than I remember and smarter, while the college seems in places untidy with a sense of not being looked after.  The hockey pitch, once immaculate,  now looks like it might be used  but not maintained.  The tennis courts are a car park; in fact everywhere seems to have succumbed to the need for parking spaces.  The social centre of our campus life at Bridge St is now a shop.  But I’m sure for the young who attend this year it will shape and form them in ways they won’t even begin to notice for years.  As we walked past the pipe that Gillian made me walk to prove my love 30 years ago, a band appeared to be rehearsing in the union buildings that have moved across the river.  Not a patch on the mighty Repeaters, I’m sure.

We walked to the swollen Teifi, with the flooded fields looking much like they did in the first term of 76, when it seemed to me that it rained for 10 weeks.  It was dark and grey, with the feeling of rain in the air, but that fitted the mood of the week.  It felt right to be back there at that time and Gillian bought a candle from the Fair to light for her friend, which burns on our mantlepiece as I type.

Shot with Panasonic GF-1 and 20mm Pancake which has replaced my Nikon D5000 as my small camera of choice. I used Lightroom to turn them B&W which just seemed to fit.

A Ripple of Sadness

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on November 25, 2009 by yammerman

I wrote this in response to the death of  Amanda Glover, a friend who amongest a group in Lampeter and Brighton helped make me the person I am today. I’ve also posted some  pictures which hardly do justice to the way “Mandy”  lit up the world

A Ripple of Sadness

Sadness from its centre spreads like a ripple
Losing its power but breaking the surface.
Absence sharpens the memories
Random stills from history
Retained by each of us
Moments of seeming unimportance
Kept close and made perfect.
 
 We are alone with our thoughts
In all the times we have ever known.
 
IEW November 2009.

Her funeral is at Gorleston Crematorium in Great Yarmouth on Tuesday 1st December. The request is for colours and smiles – Gillian and I shall do our very best.

Pushing Film : Ilford HP5+ in Xtol @1600

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 23, 2009 by yammerman

I’ve had disappointing results pushing film, always seeming to get far more grain than is permissible or desirable. Recently while trawling through some forum somewhere I’d noticed someone singing the praises of Xtol and decided to give it a try.  I’ve had a roll of HP5+ sitting on the shelf for a while that I’d shot at 1600 with my Nikon N80, so I quickly shot another using the Leica M3 amd Canon 50mm combo mixed up the medicine.

Xtol is a two part powder developer so you need a bucket if you’re going to do five litres. I also have 4 clear glass bottles with stoppers from IKEA to store the made up solution. I did have five but shoved one under the tap too hard and broke the damn thing. I think these storage bottles are supposed to be brown but mine are in a dark cupboard anyway and thus far I have had no problems. I usually dilute it one to one after mixing and found the time quoted online always a tad excessive for my tastes so generally I knock of 20% and am much happier with the results. The Massive Dev Chart suggests 18mins for 1:1 dilution at 20 degrees for Hp5+ pushed to 1600, so at 23 degrees factoring in my reduced time, I went for 11 min’s.  There are some very fastidious people in the world of darkrooms and much as I like to be one I can’t be like that. Old Ansel Adams would kill me but there seems so many variables involved that ball park figures will do fine for the kind of work I’m knocking out. Anyway I’ve not forgiven Ansel for his treatment of William Mortensen but that’s a whole other blog.

 Nothing very exciting on the rolls but I do think the grain has improved from previous efforts. I went in the darkroom and printed some up at the weekend and thought some better pictures than I had taken wouldn’t look half bad. It seems to be that for the winter months on dull days this might not be bad way to shoot, as once you factor in a filter, 1600 isn’t a bad speed to be using. The scans don’t look as good as the prints but I think they still show that the grain is not too harsh.

Anyway my brother has been demanding cat pictures so I finally find myself in position to deliver at least one. It seems I’m at a “three shots acceptable” per a roll stage with film at the moment so only these six made to the final cut.

Stupid Dull Crap Meaningless Pictures with a Leica M3 and Canon 50mm f1.4 LTM

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2009 by yammerman

 

It is one of life’s coincidences that, in the week that my good friend Bob Machin should mount a “stupid dull crap meaningless”  tirade against a picture by Sara Ramos featured in the Guardian’s best shot series, I was sorting through some test shots I took using a Canon 50mm 1.4 LTM that fitted his description well.  I bought this lens a couple of weeks ago from Vintage & Classic Cameras as a cheaper alternative to the Leica 50mm Summilux  which is way out of my price range.  To test it one Sunday, I decided to suggest a family walk; I believe another pet hate of Bob’s, but he has so many it is sometimes difficult to keep track.  Naturally the suggestion was met with indifference by the rest of the family, no doubt feeling they would rather enjoy the silence in my absence as the Sunday afternoon guitar practice would cease during my sojourn.  I set out on the same imaginary dog walk that I have done for many a month now, armed with my Leica M3 and the Canon 50mm.  I go down the hill to the seafront and perambulate on one of the finest aspects of Penarth, its wonderful pier.  I’ve taken hundreds of pictures of this pier and some I like and some I hate, but it often affords a good place to just fire off some test shots and complete a roll of film.  There was a Penarth Pier photo competition last year which, due to indolence, I failed to enter.  I have to say that when I saw the dramatic nature of the winner – lighting striking the pier in darkness – it was probably as well I didn’t make the effort.   Hats off to the guy, but the idea of setting off in a storm, in the dark, on the off chance of capturing something like that,  as those closest to me will attest, is simply not in my laidback, naturally lazy nature.   A slow Sunday afternoon stroll taking pictures of things that don’t move, or as Bob so succinctly put it “stupid dull  crap meaningless pictures”, now that’s right up my street.

I shot two rolls on Fuji Reala 100 of which I have a ton because I found it very cheap.  It has a rather naturalistic look, which I’ve yet to decide upon, but its slowness engenders clarity.  The decline of film means Tesco no longer process, so Davis Colour did me 72 5×7’s of which 60 constituted what could loosely be called landscapes.  Now these are the ones that for me are the true crap, because you look through them and wonder what on earth it was that you saw through the view finder that made you press the shutter.  I guess it’s just not my thing because the ones that please me are always the more abstract odd ones that nearly don’t work but at least are not a dull travesty of  life’s reality.  So I’ve selected my favourites and they are to be found below.

What can I say about the lens?  It’s well made and certainly sharp.  It has good colour rendition at least with the Reala.  It balances well on the M3 and gives me that extra stop for those low light moments.  I’m not a big tester of stuff in the technical way that some people are; if it feels comfortable, and I like the photos, then I don’t need much more info than that.  I have shot some black and white photos that I processed last night so I’ll post them up when the mood strikes.

I should also mention Paul Williams who has set up a little competition on his blog, inspired by Bob’s words, and which can be found here.  I’ve already entered one of these from below, with a small explanation of my thoughts.  I started writing it with my tongue in my cheek, only to discover that I found some merit in my own pretentiousness.  The years I’ve spent being taught by the graduates of Newport School of Art, Media and Design are paying off, either that or I’ve been indoctrinated.  It is certainly true that while I don’t think the actual pictures I take have changed so much, the way I think about them has changed enormously.  Teaching, the internet and practice have meant I can really nail those stupid dull meaningless pictures these days and, who knows, maybe even I have an exhibition in me.

Royal Photo Shoot with Pentax 6×7 + 135mm Macro and Tubes

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 19, 2009 by yammerman

 

Sometime in the summer after I acquired a Bronica SQA I decided it was time to sell my old Pentax 6×7 and the lenses I’d used with it. One of these was the Pentax 135mm f4 Macro lens which I tried a few times with some extension tubes I picked up cheap. In order to test the camera I decided it was best shoot off a quick roll to check it was all working correctly. I shot a roll of Konica Minolta Centuria Pro400  which seems to to have punchy colours and was very cheap.

My son has a collection of figures that I occasionally use as subject matter but never very seriously. This time I set up a couple of lights round a small fold out studio I had and using the 135mm macro and a couple of extension tubes and  took a series of portraits. I liked what I was seeing through the lens and thought there might be a project in this at some later stage. Naturally I completely forgot about this as I moved on to some other idea in my rather haphazard way. The roll of film has been sitting on the shelf unprocessed for an age and it was only because my local Tesco’s have stopped processing 35mm film that I was forced to visit Davis Colour who I’ve used in the past for my colour medium format projects. As it’s a pro lab I always worry that my rather slap dash approach to shooting might betray me. But when I saw the contact sheet of these and the vivid colours I realised that it didn’t matter what they thought as I really liked them.

 This is the closest I’m going to get to Royal photography and perhaps now I can exchange lighting tips with Annie Leibovitz and show her how to have total control of your subject and avoid all that storming out business. Maybe I’m to photography what the guy in Flight of the Phoenix is to airplane building…… so your majesty if you’re reading this I’m ready for the gig if you need me.

This is all  ten images from the roll.

Bessa R2a on Jersey using Ilford HP5+ in Xtol.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 8, 2009 by yammerman

Pot and Glass

I shot 5 rolls of Ilford HP5+ on Jersey and already had two rolls sitting waiting to be developed so I decided to use up some of the Xtol I bought cheap at Warehouse Express.

I found this tames the grain a little when using HP5 especially when shooting at 1600. These were all at 400  so I used Xtol 1+1 @22degrees for 8.5 minutes with one inversion every minute. Then scanned  at 1200dpi on an Epson V700  Considering I shot 5 rolls on Jersey I was pretty disappointed with the results although not altogether suprised. Trying to use both film and digital on the family holidays always seems to creat a confusion in my mind. I tend to get into a digital mode and then remember the B&W and shoot rather thoughtlessly to compensate.

This time I took my Bessa R2a , which is my budget access to aperture priority in the rangefinder system, when really I’d love an M7. Its seems a good idea for family holidays when time is at a premium and the targets are genearally moving. Normally I take a 50mm with me, which is why I’ve been favouring the Leica M3 recently and its wonderful viewfinder for the 50mm shooter. This time I thought I’d only take my Leica 35mm Summicron ASPH which on the 0.72 finder of the Bessa gives a larger size view than a 50mm. I thought the wider angle of view might work better with landscapes likely to present themselves on Jersey. It didn’t work out like that as I just ended up missing my fifty and being caught between the digital and film camera debate. I took less stuff with me on this holiday but then regretted some of the choices I’d made. I started to miss the 50mm which I’ve used so much recently, not bringing a zoom or a wide angle just seemed more daft as the holiday progressed. I really missed a zoom at Durrells Wildlife Conservation Trust,  where I had some really clear views of animals actually doing stuff.  I also started to notice how loud the shutter was on the Bessa, an SLR gunshot compared to the whisper of the M3.

Of the shots below the first lot are from Jersey and then at the end theres five from the rolls I shot with the M3 and the Leica 50mm Summicron DR  the very last one is my favourite, of the pot and the glass. Since Malcolm Taylor gave it a service it has out performed everything I use. It could be that it just goes so well with the M3  but some shots taken with it just leap out at me as that one did. Anyway been a bit of nerds post this time round but I’m trying to get through as much recent stuff now those dark Autumn nights are upon us.

See photographs below.

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Love is Stronger or Song in Need of Lead Guitar.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on November 6, 2009 by yammerman

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I wrote this while sitting at the kitchen table last year  in response to the Mumbai attacks and sent it to my old writing partner Paul Williams from The Airtight Garage.  He knocked some basic chords that I found I could actually play for once and I’ve been working on it on and off for a year. I did most of this the week before we went Jersey and its only now that I’ve listened to in again. I did try and come up with a lead break but never quite hit the spot so the tedious middle can be filled by all you aspiring lead guitar players out there.  Click below to here it in all its glory.

  Love is Stronger 

When imagination fails
Hate weighs heavy on the scales
And tries to take the love out of our lives
Men with guns and shadow hearts
Try to tear this world apart
Blind to the beauty all around

Love is stronger
It lasts longer
You can choose to be or not to be.

I don’t believe in God
But I do believe in evil
When a man can take a life without a thought
I never seen perfection
But I  know  a wrong direction
Let fear be defeated by an open mind

When innocence is cast aside
We all have nowhere left to hide
But I don’t believe that love is ever lost
I’d rather trust a hearts that true
And let love defeat the hate in you
You are the no men and you are nothing

IEW  November 2008

Have a good weekend.