Archive for October, 2010

Walking in Penarth with a Leica M4-P

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2010 by yammerman

Today I felt compelled to drag the boy away from the computer and trundle off down to Penarth Pier. He only comes for the ice cream and to inform me I’m old enough to be his grandfather. It is reassuring that his maths might finally be improving.

I have squeezed the photographic life out of this walk but am ever hopeful that the changing seasons and weather may fool people into thinking they haven’t seen these shots a hundred times before.

I decided, as the weather has been inclement all day, to use my battered Leica M4-P. I picked it up cheap on the back of it being worn enough to have lost its red dot and been recovered. The lens too is an old, well used 50mm Summicron and no doubt both would benefit from a service.

These come from an age when Leica had finally realised it would have to succumb to some modern methods in order to survive.  After the poor reception of the M5, a first attempt at escaping the past, Leica were all set to concentrate on the R range of SLRs when Walter Kluck CEO of Leitz Canada suggested a lower manufacturing cost M4. This M4-2 is credited by some as saving Leica and my M4-P is part of that evolution towards the very popular M6.

It lacks the beauty of my hand built M3 but, as a go anywhere camera, it can’t be beat. I normally use it with my 28mm Voigtlander lens but on this occasion I stuck with the Leica 50mm. It was a very dull day and I expected rain, but in the end a weak sun attempted a break through. I probably should have been using 400 films but the first bag I reached for had plenty Fomapan 100 Classic in it so I went with that. I shot all these at 1/60th with a yellow filter that happened to be on the lens and never went beyond F5.6.  I shot two rolls in the hope I’d have half a dozen to put on here; as it is I went for the full dozen.

I processed as soon as we got home, in Rodinal. The Massive Dev chart came up with a rather unhelpful 8-10 mins at 1:50 so a quick Google suggested a time of 7 mins @20 degrees. Somewhere in the back of my mind I remembered I had a bit of a disaster with this film when I’d ended up with the thinnest negatives imaginable and binned the lot. As it turned out, my fears  that 7 minutes would be too short were wrong as if anything they’re a bit over developed . The scanner prefers them thin but it’s not the end of the world.

The darkroom is ticking over again.

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The Best of the Rest using a Leica M3 and 50mm Summicron

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 26, 2010 by yammerman


I just wanted to post some shots from the other two rolls that were processed in the same batch as in the previous blog. These were shot on a Leica M3 with a 50mm Summicron DR both of which have been recently serviced by Malcolm Taylor .  It is a beautiful camera and the lens seems to shoot like I’m still living in the 1950s or maybe everything black and white looks like that. This Rollei 400s is a cheap film but I really like the grain I’m getting processing it in Rodinal. 

Here they are.

Spring in the Garden with Leica R4s and 60mm Macro-Elmarit

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2010 by yammerman

So back to the photography and all those films I have piled up in the darkroom. I developed three films today shot on Rollei 400s. I had no idea what was on them so I was throwing some mystery in to the delayed gratification equation. It is as well that I’ve started using Rodinal as its attribute of sitting on the shelf for ages is coming in very handy.

I found some very long development times on the Massive Dev database but found one at a dilution of 1:25 for this film that would take 10.5 mins @ 20 degrees. In the end, the water was at 21 degrees so, knowing I was going to scan the film, I took it down to 8 minutes. The fix and stop seeming to be holding up, despite lack of use, and the results came out pretty much as expected.

There are many random factors at work here, mostly stemming from my cavalier attitude to what, to some, is a very exact science. But, starting with my exposure calculation then chemical dilution, water temperature and agitation regime etc, I’m never going to do the same thing twice and so have come to love the happy accident and shrug at the disasters.

These seem to have come out with a pleasant grain and this first sample, if I remember correctly, is from the Spring. I have a vague recollection of getting out my Leica R4s and 60mm Macro Elmarit and spending a pleasant hour in the garden. This kind of shooting seems to suit me and that lens is a cracker and rarely disappoints. The camera is one of the lower budget SLRs that Leica once produced and a bit of clunker but, if it lets me use this lens, then I’m happy enough with it.

 Here then are the best of the bunch, scanned with Epson V700 and toned with the Antique Grayscale preset in Lightroom

Come Together – A Song For Old Friends.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2010 by yammerman

Still buzzing from the previous weekend activity at Punk Brighton I decided to record a song I wrote during the months of  The Airtight Garage reunion. You have to take inspiration where you can and naturally the nostalgia kick of the previous few months proved a ready source.

I’ve been writing melancholy since very young and it seems now my age has caught up with the interior voice. It is always difficult dancing around that line between catching an emotion or straying into something a bit crass. The fact I kept playing around with this despite not being sure which side of the line it was falling I took as a sign and persisted.

I recorded it in two days and it started as an African funk work out but somehow evolved into the anthemic stadium filler that I’d always imagined. It is one of the wonders of recording, the alchemy and accidents that happen when you start mixing the tracks together.

I imagine the more musical know what’s coming, but when I came up with the very simple guitar part in the chorus I hooted with laugher. Suddenly a few notes had changed it in a way I didn’t even know was possible. I couldn’t sing what I’d done before and was just messing about when suddenly that too fell into place. I thought “this is great”; now where’s the damn band, I need to record it properly as I just past a sign saying ‘musical ability at its limit’.

The normal process with this kind of thing is thinking you’ve created the most brilliant song of your life and then 8 hours later find you’ve dumped the lot. The catchiness became nauseating and the whole elegiac tone was some what wearing. I decided I needed an independent opinion so, in an act of bravery, I persuaded Gillian to come and have a listen knowing an honest assessment can always be relied upon from that quarter. As it turned out Gillian thought it one of my better offerings though she fired me as the singer. With this kind of praise ringing in my years I thought it churlish not to put it up on the blog

So click on the link below to hear my latest masterpiece in all its glory.

                                                                                                                                                                                     Come Together(Willson)

Some Thoughts on The Airtight Garage at Punk Brighton 10th Anniversary All Dayer

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 19, 2010 by yammerman


Some pictures taken with a Panasonic GF1 and 20mm Pancake, taken by Gillian while I was on stage, plus my rambling thoughts on the Airtight Garage reunion after 30 years.  Converted to B&W in Lightroom.

So what has been keeping me up at night finally came to pass at the weekend when the Airtight Garage hit the stage for the first time in 30 years as part of the Punk Brighton 10th Anniversary All Dayer at the Prince Albert.  Punk Brighton being a website maintained by the dedicated Phil to remember those far off days when bands rose from the streets barely able to play, rather than  X Factored into existence by a  twat with a high waist band and an ability to polish turds for money.  The website lists well over 50 bands in Brighton who were no doubt inspired by another arch manipulator and his Sex Pistols. It was in a way a kind of folk music compared to the hideous cynicism of today’s wannabees.

The Airtight Garage played in Brighton but its roots go back to Lampeter. There, where its members had just arrived to be educated, the most important cultural tidal wave since the 60’s crashed on the beach. I was but a naïve country boy but I fell in with a motley crew obsessed with music, the counter culture, art and anything that your 21st century university would consider inappropriate. So, when the Pistols swore at Mr Grundy and the moral panic of the nation began, we followed from afar with utter glee. We were more than ready to help bury the bloated corpse of the sixties and pogo on its grave.

I imagine punk was different depending on where ever you were standing but the main thing was to form a band. The first incarnation caused a shock at the  Eisteddfod but later evolved into the Repeaters, a pop oriented punk band along the lines of the Rezillos.  I was only writing words at this stage and could barely play but felt armed with my “gentleman’s degree”  enough part of the gang to follow the band to Brighton, the singer Ian Marchant’s home town.

So it was in the summer of 79 we turned up in Brighton and with the aid of the dole set about obtaining world domination on a shoestring. The Repeaters broke up almost immediately but from its ashes the Airtight Garage was born. I was no Dylan but Costello seemed something to aim for (truly).  I did seem to have a knack for lyrics having realised that some poetry and emotion was highly attractive to musicians not that bothered about the words. Plus fifteen minutes of inspiration and the job was done which really is my kind of work.

The band started then with Ian Marchant (vocals), Paul Williams (bass) and in a very punk move my good self on guitar.  Ian obtained for us a gig supporting Peter and the Test Tube Babies (I represented them once but that’s a whole other blog) and with a borrowed drummer we did a show at the Richmond. We dressed I remember in lime green shirts with purple potato prints on them and must have made a right racket. I have to take most of the credit for that and both cringe and admire my bravery at inflicting my musicality on the good people of Brighton.

Later Bob Machin returned, as it seemed sensible to have one guitarist who could play, and Paul Hazel, the original drummer from 1976, climbed aboard. We recorded a demo of Sinking in the Sands and Hardly a Heartache but the world proved indifferent. We made a pretty frightening racket which could occasionally be sublime but nonetheless, in a breath taking act of ruthlessness, the bastards threw me out.  In part it came as a relief as being the slowest ship in the convoy was at time not much fun.  I had of course written almost all the words and some of the music and, in an act of generosity that I don’t think I would now repeat, I continued to allow them to rifle through my lyric draw.  They continued to perform and were much tighter but from my point of view, and I am of course biassed, they had lost their soul.  It staggered on for a further 6 months with one further demo featuring Time and Time Again and The Deadly Rythmn of Private Thoughts.  These were also met with a resounding silence and, in the end, the Airtight Garage imploded and I was relieved to discover I was not going to be the Pete Best in this story.

I’ve always loved the songs we did back then and naturally, like your first love,  you never forget your first band.  So I’ve always played these songs and been incorporating them into my fantasy solo set for many years.  I had honestly thought the others had moved on with nary a backward glance, so it was quite a surprise when Bob suggested the possibility that we could play at the Punk Brighton Anniversary.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to play at first as I’d become somewhat less sanguine about my ejection as the years have past. Still I’m not one to turn down maybe a last chance to get up on stage, so all systems were go.

We rehearsed a few times with me singing which was great fun, and then Ian rejoined and that wonderful group dynamic had returned.  A band is a very strange beast; in this case a four way marriage and the passing years don’t make it any easier when you have become ever more set in your ways and opinions. But we have also mellowed and improved musically and the noise we make now isn’t half bad when we get in a groove.  Let me also say: man those guys have big egos, where as I’m of course utterly reasonable.

The day of the gig was a marvellous with people coming from a long way off to renew old friendships – well done to Facebook for making that possible.  What ever doubts I’d had, melted away in both a glow of nostalgia and the sheer enjoyment of thrashing a guitar on stage again.  The day felt very surreal at times, but in a good way, and this is maybe how you get high on life.   My guitar sounded loud and jangly and I could barely hear the drums.  We moved it and grooved it, and it went by in a flash.  Don’t Look Back by The Remains was our cover, then Sinking in the Sands, Hardly a Heartache, City’s Heart and Sparking in the Dark.  I counted the songs off as Ian discarded the sheets of lyrics at my feet and it was  over all too quickly.  A lot of trouble for seventeen minutes thirty you might think but, no, it was well worth all the effort and that band, you know,  are not such a bad lot after all or at least until the next time we have to rehearse.

If a process could ever be considered cathartic then this, maybe, was it.

More pictures at taken by Mr Machin’s sister and very good they are too.

In the Garden with a Panasonic GF-1 and 20mm

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on October 10, 2010 by yammerman

A quick post of some shots I took at the weekend at Chidham in Sussex in a bored moment using my Panasonic GF-1 and 20mm lens. Nothing very exciting just me wandering round the garden seeing what I could find in a place I’ve photographed many times. Just bits of stuff that caught my eye. I’ve not used this lens up as close to things as this but it performed really well.