Archive for February, 2010

Penarth Pier with Leica M2 and Voigtlander 28mm f3.5

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 18, 2010 by yammerman

Just some  shots I took down at the pier  on an afternoon when we had sun and not the miserable drizzling sleet. I took the opportunity to drag the boy away from his Playstation for this ever popular walk. I wanted to use up some film in my Leica M2  and because it is so astoundingly small I took my Voigtlander 28mm f3.5. There’s no 28mm framelines on an M2 so I have a small metal 28mm finder I picked up from a fellow user of the RFF forums. I shot good old Ilford HP5+ which on this bright day meant fast shutter speeds. I used a 28mm all the time when I shot Nikon F’s  but with rangefinders it’s usually 50’s so this was a first for this particular combo. 

Done this walk a thousand times so it’s  the same old things but the light is always different, as is the tide and the people.  It good to have a chat with James who asks the most interesting questions.

James: “Do you have any regrets in your life?”

Me: “No not really.”

James: “What, even the not using hair tonic?”

Where does he get this stuff?

Nothing very exciting in the images processsed in Xtol 1:1 but big on the monitor they look fine.

Cardiff Barrage with a Fotoman 45PS

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2010 by yammerman

For a while I’d been thinking I needed a lighter alternative to my Wista VX large format camera. While I’m quite happy lumping it about the garden I’d baulked at walking the streets with all the paraphernalia that goes with it. I know many are happy to do this (with even more weight) but I fall in to the wimp category of LF photographers. I had considered a light wooden camera but in the end I happened on a relatively cheap Fotoman 45PS.

 I’d seen these cameras a few years ago and thought it an interesting idea. Basically it’s a point and shoot LF camera with no movements and mostly zone focusing. It appealed to me because I don’t yet use the camera movements so beloved of LF photographers, as I’m fairly new to it and I just wanted the joy of a big negative. 

 Fotoman ceased production last year and I seemed to have picked up one that a dealer was keen to get rid.  They come with a cone, particular to the lense you use so I had to buy one with effectively the wrong cone and hope that the Schneider 90mm f8 lens I was going to use could be made to focus correctly. In this I was aided by the knowledge that Malcolm Taylor, who I use for my Leica servicing and repairs, is always game for an interesting engineering problem. So after a couple of discussions with him and some research into planes of focus and film flange distance I decided to give it a go.

 It arrived and proved that China is doing some quality work these days. When I took it up to Malcolm he was impressed by the  workmanship and the concept. He decided to machine a flange that would give me the correct focus at the film plane and attached the 90mm to the cone.  I left it with him and picked it up again after Christmas having also purchased a rangefinder to aid my zonal focusing.

 The set of images below are the first lot I took on a dank day down at the Cardiff Barrage. I put the camera on a tripod and it  really is very light. The only other thing I needed was a very small bag containing the dark slides (loaded with HP5) and a meter.  It was very simple to use and I knocked off those shots below in about an hour. I processed them in my own mixture of D23 and enjoyed the thrill of seeing at least something on the negatives when after about 10 minutes I could turn the lights back on in the darkroom.

 Naturally, because with LF you have to do every process yourself, it affords me many opportunities to screw up. On one of the negatives I noticed a shadow in the shape of a film and evidence of possible over agitation while in the chemical trays. I also struggle at the moment with muck on the negatives, even after extensive washing. Still I love the process and the connection I feel to those Victorian forbearers who did extraordinary things under the most difficult of conditions.

Before We Fade

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on February 11, 2010 by yammerman

For some reason Facebook wouldn’t let me link to this from so perhaps it has a taste feature that I’ve tripped. I updated my website today with all my  recent musical offerings as much for backup as administration. I came across this and it was better than I remembered it and captures my winter mood this year. Naturally I shan’t be taking my own advice

Click for audio Before We Fade(Willson)

Anthem for Damned Youth

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 9, 2010 by yammerman


Lookout Here Comes Youth (Willson)

So here is a song about youth, written at the age of 20 and sung by a man of 50. These days, 20 would be regarded as old and 50 still quite young, at least by me anyway. I don’t remember the writing process but it has been in my collection of writing and constantly sung over the years as the paper slowly yellowed.

The original has some lines so clunky that I had thought I’d never presented it as a prospect to the numerous bands I’ve hacked away in.  I can see now though, that Paul Williams  marked up some chords, presumably in our Airtight Garage days (reunion possible in 2010 if separate dressing rooms can be negotiated) and I wrote more lines for the first verse.  I can honestly say I’ve never sang them over the years and those chords mean nothing to me so I’m still claiming this version as all my own work.  I imagine that, although I’ve had Ian Marchant sing some awful lines over the years, at these he may have drawn the line.  

The chorus made me cringe when I wrote it as I was already past the prime of youth in ’79 but I think it reflects a sense I must have had of punk coming to an end. It is dated 2 days before my 21st birthday which is shortly before my exams and the leaving of St David’s University with a “gentleman’s” degree in History. How can anyone doubt my punk credibility with this kind of pedigree?  But parts of it I’ve always liked and so due to the staggeringly simple chordal structure, I have often sung it through the years, imagining a stadium audience holding up lighters in recognition of its anthemic quality. If the title “Billy Liar of punk” is on offer, I’ll take it.

My lazy attitude to writing has meant some rather half-arsed lines have made it off the production line over the years. Now I almost consider this my trade mark, as these naïve child like lines are from a self I can now barely remember. Not that I still can’t produce the odd cringe inducing couplet.   But even so, this one has the absolute turkey about “parents not understanding their son having fun” and was a bridge too far. So I rewrote a verse and it’s as inoffensive as it is bland, but at least I didn’t choke on it.

I have discovered the combination of a Blackheart Killer Ant and the MXR+ pedal perfect for home recording. The Killer Ant has virtually no noise unlike my other hissing valve amps (Hayden, Fender, Sheldon take note) so is perfect for recording. It only has a volume knob so getting break up meant the neighbours had front row seats. The MXR solves this problem introducing distortion at vicar tea party levels. The clunked note at the start passes for authenticity round these parts and those brave souls who make the end might be interested to note the sound of a power saw as the song closes. This extraneous noise was entirely unintended but I feel the Vale of Glamorgan workers should get credit for their artistic input. This surely is not Abbey Road.

This one’s for the kids.