This week, ignoring the pressing demands produced by an approaching Christmas, I ventured out for a walk to Penarth Pier.
I have been fondling my Leica MP these past months, a camera which my talents do not deserve but which my 50th birthday made possible. What better way to pass such a mile stone than to have a camera that might well be the last in the line of beautiful analogue tools produced by Leica. The future is digital and a manual film camera in this day and age is going to go the way of the sabre-tooth tiger and the dodo. I fitted my Leica 35mm f2 ASPH which means that almost all you see through the beautiful viewfinder will appear on film.
I decided to walk to the pier in Penarth, not expecting much but the joy of hearing the shutter click. Photography is like Christmas shopping though, once you have made your first purchase the next comes much easier. I declined the road to the pier and followed the back lanes, an area I have trawled much, so was really just expecting to repeat myself.
The world though is always turning and changing so while it may be subtle, even these unloved back lanes evolve. A new garage door, a fresh lick of paint and a new graffiti tag; all these and of course the light is never the same. It dresses the stage a little different each time and I quickly found my self in that world I see with a camera in my hand.
The camera gods played a neat trick on me as they always do, as half way down to the pier, the meter battery ran out of juice thus removing one of Leica’s few concessions to the modern age. The rest of the shots had to be done with me guessing the exposure which after swallowing hard and grabbing hold of ‘sunny 16’ like a drowning man I carried on.
I read that Paul Strand said once that it takes eight to nine years to become a photographer and 2012 marks my seventh year, so maybe I’m getting close. It is a measure of my progress that the two rolls I shot came out of Ilford HC with me unable to tell which the camera had chosen the exposure and which were mine. I confess a little jig of delight escaped me when I saw the negatives for the first time.
As for the pictures, among the dull shots of the pier (again) were also some shots of Penarth that won’t make the tourist brochure but they are in the town somewhere if you care to look.
These were shot with FP4 with a yellow filter. Processed in Ilford HC 1+47 @ 20degrees for 9mins.