Archive for penarth

A Walk with a Mamiya 7 MkII

Posted in black & white, film, penarth, photography, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2017 by yammerman


The last days of summer are upon us and in a break from the everyday 35mm I took out my Mamiya 7 MkII with its 80mm lens. Only ten frames of 6×7 on a roll of 120 generate a feeling you need to make every frame count but on a sleepy afternoon in Penarth, it’s not so easy. I’ve done this walk hundreds of times so I don’t expect to find anything new but a different camera always has other ideas. Few things in life are as lovely as a large black and white negative fresh out of the wash, shiny and wet offering up its delayed satisfaction.  You know I might even print some in the darkroom.

This is the whole roll of Ilford FP4 processed in Ilford HC for 6:30mins @  22 degrees and then tweaked in Adobe Lightroom.

Walking with a Rollei B35.

Posted in black & white, film, photography, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on May 21, 2017 by yammerman


I took a Rollei B35 for a walk around Penarth. It is a small pocket camera from 1985, which is about as simple as it gets. A roll of film in a tin with a 40mm lens on the front.  Distance focusing with a simple meter. I used my first roll of Kentmere 100 film developed in  Ilford HC (1+31) for 7mins. I rather enjoyed the results.

Antique preset added in Lightroom

The Joy and Pain of Shooting Film at the Cardiff Photomarathon 2014.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on June 1, 2014 by yammerman




At last the Nikon F3 practice was over and the day of the 2014 Cardiff Photomarathon had arrived, so I assembled with the other 400+ hardy souls at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay.  It was the 10th anniversary this year and, as a special treat, fifty people were allowed to use film to replicate the good old days when it first began.  I’m not sure how many stuck their heads above the parapet for this offer or how many  like me were fervently praying that the film would load and rewind  correctly.  This could also be viewed as a punishment to those who might have muttered over the digital years that film was the one true path…. not me you understand.

After a short anniversary speech and the customary group photograph, the first set of four topics was handed out.  The first is always a topic linked to your number, this year it was ‘Me, Myself & I’.  Because I shot film I won’t see them until June 20th and, of course, neither will you but as my wife mentioned the possibility  of gardening this morning, I feel it important I describe my adventures in loving detail.

Taking sometime to relearn the controls of the F3 may have paid off as, heroically, I went for a triumph or disaster triple exposure for my first shot.  Of course the beauty of film is I can imagine the fantastically clever shot with the three of me holding my number until the exhibition.  If you see a morose figure slinking away on opening night, it may not have gone so well.

The correct spirit of the competition would be to wander the streets of Cardiff searching for images, but I leave that to the younger folk.  I tend to work the more manageable Penarth where I can slip home for tea and cake on a regular basis.  For the second topic ‘Street Level’, I had to take my camera on to the street, something I never do, but this is a competition and I had my game face on. The Big Issue seller turned me down which was unfortunate, so I was forced back on the rather obvious, putting the camera on the ground or more precisely in the gutter.  It might have all ended there as it turns out fire engines need quite a bit of the road.  It is as well that I’ve not completely lost the agility and speed that left many a lumpen full back sitting on the turf back in the day.

Mostly people ignored the strange man lying on the pavement but one lady did come up and ask ‘What on earth was I doing?’  When I explained and finished with ‘I expect it seems a bit insane?’, she replied ‘Well yes’.   Still the traffic kindly stopped as I set the timer going and walked away from the camera until I heard it click.  I’m thinking beautiful parallel yellow lines with my feet slightly out of focus…. we shall see.

I then spotted a couple of teenagers in full army gear with collecting buckets and, as the next topic was ‘Camouflage’, I couldn’t resist.  They were brilliant, as not only did they say “yes” but they came up with the idea of being near a tree and one them slightly hiding behind it.  Who are these people who speak disparagingly about young folk?

The fourth topic ‘Ten’ began my struggles, as being literal and photographing things is the creative danger of the flagging photo-marathoner.  In the end I found a clump of ten daisies (OK there were eleven but that was soon sorted) and used coloured plastic numbers to collate them.  I know, not a topic winner, but pretty colours have to count for something.  This left me ahead on time and meant I could actually have lunch. It turns out, unsurprisingly, that film is quicker than digital because you can’t shoot a 100 shots for the best one or try ten different ideas.  With film there is indeed a decisive moment, you look at the frame in the viewfinder, the crowd hush, in a moment of stillness you press the shutter, hear the click and then the moment is gone.

Collected the next four topics at two ‘o’clock the first being ‘We’re all in this Together’.  As with all my photo-marathons, in the end I fall back on constructing images.  I found a globe in my son’s room and set it up with some candles underneath and, boom, you have global warming.  Usually I’m good with the ideas, it’s the turning them into decent  photos that’s the problem.  For the next topic ‘Attention to Detail’ it was another hour of ideas chosen and rejected until, in desperation, I wandered the streets of Penarth again.  The best I could come up with was some ‘Keep Penarth Tidy’ stickers on a lamppost.  I liked the shot but I suspect the judges might not concur.  The seventh topic ‘Control’ I’d known what I wanted as soon as I’d seen a sail boat at Cardiff Bay.  I grabbed a 300mm lens and went hunting somebody messing about in boats.  From the barrage, I found two running together and this is when I started to miss digital.  I suspect I should have shown more patience but, as soon as I got what I thought was a vaguely decent shot, I clicked.  This left topic eight ‘Crossed Wires’ so I focus grouped some ideas with my family who stared back at me blankly.  I mean a mouse chasing a cat, that’s comedy gold right there.  In the end  I took a roll of film and fed it in to a small digital camera. Well I thought it was funny.

Once more ahead of the curve I felt good until the ninth topic ‘The dying of the light’ presented itself.  Here I hit ‘the wall’.  I was tiring and the only two things in my head were the literal sun going down kind of shot or nipping up to the cemetery.  I spent too long by the River Ely nearly clicking on the sun in the trees or the swans on the water in silhouette.  With digital I’d have shot both as insurance and moved on but in the end it just seemed too literal.  I lost 90 mins there searching for something else while it clouded over enough that the light didn’t just  seem like it was dying but actually dead.  In the end, just to move on, I shot an image across the bay. It was my Paula Radcliffe peeing by the side of the road moment; the thread was broken.

Number ten was ‘Stacked Up’ in which I came up with the highly original idea of supermarket trolleys.  This did lead to more human interaction as a guy stopped his car and asked me ‘What kind of photography is that?’  Oh Lord, an art critic is all I need, I thought and began to mumble an explanation.  He then explained he’d taken a picture of his daughter with his phone under the Penarth Pier and I knew immediately what he was getting at as I’ve taken that shot myself.   All the legs and struts do indeed make a great pattern but as to what kind of photography it was, my mind was a sudden blank.  We settled on abstract and this meeting of great photographic minds was at an end.

By this stage I was flagging badly, knackered and at the bottom of my barrel of ideas.  Number eleven was ‘Join the Dots’ and went with the first thing that popped in my head, a guitar chord book and my fingers making the chord on show.  I became subject and Art Director for this one as my wife had to push the shutter.  I imagine that’ll be the best shot of the twelve.

For the last shot ‘It’s a wrap’ I cut off my photo-marathon armband and placed it next to a cup of coffee and a piece of strawberry cheese cake.  Not a great finish, more of a whimper than a bang, but that’s the pattern with most of my marathons.   I love doing it as it’s a fantastic challenge but I’m pretty much a zombie by those last few shots.

As I drove back across the Cogan Spur, having delivered my finished roll, the sky cleared to leave a majestic sunset with swirling patterns of clouds bathed in a beautiful red light.  The dying of the light had never looked better and while the photographic gods chuckled, I vowed to be back next year for Cardiff Photomarathon 2015.

Thanks to the people who make this possible and here is a link to the Flickr feed showing how darn good people are at this event.



Snowy Penarth with a Panasonic GF-1 and 14mm f2.5

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on January 18, 2013 by yammerman


As predicted it snowed in the wee small hours so I took my Panasonic GF-1 and  14mm lens out when I went to get bread. It was a wet slushy kind of snow and still falling lightly in the swirling wind. The roads were unusually quite and the cars using them picked their way carefully.

I choose the Panasonic GF-1  because I didn’t care about it getting wet as it’s been superseded by my love of Fuji – having an optical finder is a big plus in my book. On a snowy day though, when the LCD is easy to see, it’s a really great camera as no one really notices you’ve got it. This is as close as I get to street photography and while a bit lame they’re not bad for ten minutes work.

There was no sign of panic buying in the well stocked bakery but I felt a twinge of guilt as I bought two loaves. I resisted the temptation to say ‘Look I’m not in a panic, this is just normal weekend usage,  nothing to see here’.  I was reminded of my 2012 moment in this vein when with petrol shortages raging I needed fuel for the lawnmower. I was very self conscious as got out of the car with my 5L container amongst the queuing motorists. ‘Look at that bastard not needing to fill up his car but just stocking piling’.   Once more I resisted the temptation to begin a casual conversation about how ‘the break in the rain meant I could MOW MY LAWN..hoarding good Lord no’.  Not that you should draw from this that I’m in anyway paranoid; just sensitive to the needs of others.

Anyway, I strolled home taking a few more shots from the hip  while realising that my shoes appeared not to be waterproof in any meaningful sense. Oh and I  bought doughnuts, of course to share, who do you think I am Homer Simpson?

See my efforts below which are grayscaled and tweaked in Lightroom for your viewing.

Walking in Penarth with the Fuji X-Pro 1 and 35mm f1.4

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on January 15, 2013 by yammerman


The clouds parted briefly in the New Year and, with school approaching, it was time to tire the boy out enough that he might actually go to sleep before midnight.  Naturally the prospect of being disconnected from the global network was not met with much enthusiasm, but the possibility of ice-cream was dangled and the bait taken.

We wandered as always with me striding off and James, his hood up, following in a manner that suggests to an outside observer that I will be his next mugging victim. We strike up a good healthy dialogue normally, as he tells me I’m old and stupid and I counter that he is young and knows nothing.

We then spend the rest of the time negotiating the length of this shared pleasure and whether killing things all day long might have a detrimental effect on the mind of a teenager. To be fair to him, in his games he’s always a mage or a healer and surprisingly moral considering he has such a dissolute father.  He tested me on some Walking Dead (it’s a game) plot lines once and it turned out I might be a bit of a liability in a zombie apocalypse situation.

We did the full circuit of Penarth seafront but sadly the ice cream vendors had their feet up at home. I was forced to promise ice-cream on our return as we trudged up the very steep climb home.

Here are some more efforts with the Fuji X-Pro 1 and 35mm f1.4 with the usual Yesteryear preset in Lightroom.

Exposing Penarth with a Leica MP and 35mm ASPH

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2012 by yammerman

Pier Walk064

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.

Large Format Pinhole 10×8 in Penarth

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 24, 2012 by yammerman

A year or two back I bought a Robert Rigby 10×8 pinhole camera, mainly because I wanted to achieve as big a negative as possible and this seemed the cheapest way of reaching my goal.  Plus it was a manageable size compared to the huge large format contraptions I was looking at on eBay.

It rather goes against the DIY ethos of the pinhole movement not to make one yourself, out of a shoe box or a tin can, so maybe that’s why I never really got into using it.  I did some experiments using photo paper as a negative but ended up with nothing that really inspired me.   The exposure calculations were complicated and I realised I needed some good light and a calm day to ease things along.

This year I resolved to do better and found some 10×8 Fomapan 100 and loaded up the dark slides I’d acquired with film. I then waited for a sunny day without too much wind and after the wettest April since records began, this week that day finally arrived.

The Robert Rigby 10×8 comes with three focal lengths: 150mm, 200mm and 250mm; plus there are three apertures to match with f stops of: f429, f449 and f480.  This is achieved by changing the size of the box and switching the pinhole you are going to use.  It is actually a very neat system and works well.

I found very useful in showing me a method of calculating exposure.  I simply set my meter to its highest aperture of f152 and, using a chart that mrpinhole provides, changed the ISO on the meter for the actual f stop of the pinhole.  As an example  with 100 speed film, the meter is set at ISO 10 for f480.  I confess I embarked on this with only a small amount of faith but the results were very good.  It suggested 8 secs given the sunny condition and who was I to argue.

I took a couple of shots of the house and then processed the film in trays. This, of course, is done in total darkness which with Rodinal 1+50 @ 20 degrees  meant about 10 minutes in the dark after stop and fix.  I still find slightly unnerving the sensory deprivation of being in complete darkness with only the indifferent voice of the talking timer to punctuate the silence.  I was willing the time to pass and tension was mounting as I reached the point where I would see if it had been a success or failure. Deep joy when the lights went on; there was at least some kind of image on the negative.  I can’t tell you the relief.  Nothing is perfect and I could see I had a bad light leak, but I also had the biggest negative I’d ever held in my hands so I had to call this a triumph.

With this encouragement I steeled myself to go out on the streets of Penarth and use up the other three dark slides – that’s a whopping six more shots.  The camera is quite light and with a carbon tripod and a small backpack for the dark slides I loaded up the car and went hunting something to shoot.  I attracted some looks as I wandered the streets and  at one point a passing cyclist shouted “Look he’s got an old camera”.  I found the process of taking a shot very simple  as you just have to line the shot up by triangulating some pins on the top of the box.  Afte a hour I had my 3 darkslides exposed.

Below is what I achieved with the light leaks cropped out of most of them. I’ve since stuck a torch inside the pinhole box and turned the lights out so I could see where the holes might be.  It seems I need to increase the rubber seals and I should be able to solve the problem.  The photos aren’t always sharp but they do have a certain evocative mood. I’ve toned them in Lightroom with an Antique Greyscale pre-set.  I’m keen to contact print them on to photo paper at some point.

I didn’t do enough research on agitation methods with trays and seem to have flows of developer across some of the negatives.  This I think can be solved by larger trays.  I used 10×8 trays for 10×8 film which is a mistake by all accounts.  Also continuous agitation seems to be important so I will try that next time with, I assume, a reduced processing time.  I’m far from disappointed by the results and am in fact encouraged to perfect my technique.

It still amazes me that a tiny hole in a box with film at the other end can produce such images.  If you don’t believe in magic, give this a whirl and you’ll be convinced.