Sloth..not a deadly sin..

Went over to the Cotswold Wildlife Park again (sans school party) yesterday, much more restful. Fortunately one of the sloths was not only just over the path in the tropical bird house but also decided to take a peer at at us which was great. One advantage of the Canon 6d and 24-105 lens is that it gives me the ability to crop in quite well to bring out his/her (I have no idea which) wonderful expression

How do people find, and keep track of, photographers to watch?

It is a fact universally acknowleged that the photographer who wants to improve needs to look at the work of photographers who are better than they are, who inspire and create great images. The problem I find is how to find new work, and when I’ve found it how to keep track of it. Of course if one had a limitless photobook budget this would be easier, but I for one do not. I do read Black and White Photography and The British Journal of Photography every month, which are both full of inpsiring stuff, but I find the problem is that I haven’t found a way to keep track of them all. I could make notes of their names in a book, or bookmark their websites with something like Pocket or Instapaper, but that doesn’t turn into a way to keep going back and looking at their images.

One idea which is sort of developing in my head is a version of those digital photo frames which you can use to show a rolling slide show of your photos (As an aside I keep thinking of getting one of those) but rather than flipping through my own work it would pull up an image from somebody else’s website and display it. Now all good inventions, well actually all inventions, start with a wild idea: the issue is turning it into a reality. I’ve broken this down into two phases

The finding an image phase.

How do I pull an image from somebody every day? One possiblity would be to use something which already exists like Pinterest to do it, which would definitely be easier than trying to write something which visits the website of a selected photographer and downloads a random image.

The displaying phase.

How do I show the images? I’m thinking of something around the Raspberry Pi computer or Arduino board using Wi-Fi and hitched up to a small monitor, somehow then showing full screen images.

Anyway, it’s a crazy idea in my head at the moment. If there are no further blog posts on this topic you’ll know that’s how it remained!

Lions, heading for divorce

I went on a school trip this week to the Cotswold Wildlife Park with the GCSE photography group. Their teacher decided we all ought to pick our best photo from the day and this one is mine: I call it “Lions Heading for the Divorce Courts” as she looks soooooo cheesed off with his posing 🙂

It’s never easy photographing with other people, and doing it with a whole school party to help manage is well nigh impossible, but I do like this one!

Morocco Revisited – tis done

It’s taken a while but finally I’ve sorted, selected, scanned and sequenced the photos from our 1988 trip to Morocco. It’s been a fun project in which I’ve found the images are so different in many ways to the machine processed enprints (remember when they were called enprints?) from SuperSnaps then. I’d say about 75% of this final selection had been in my original sort, while the remainder were ones I’d discounted at the time; in some cases I’m just not sure why. I’ve captioned where I ‘believe’ they are, but if anybody wants to correct me then feel free in the comments: I’m not precious about this…

One thing which is notiable is that the colours are often more punchy, even without processing on the scans and the dynamic range is greater – apart from the baker who still has that huge sinister black pit of an oven next to him. I also noticed differences between rolls which must be down to processing as while they all (there are 8 in total) were bought at the same time and place and so must be out of the same batch, were processed at intervals. The film is almost certainly Kodak Gold 200, though I can’t prove this it was very much a goto film at that time for me and the photos would have been taken on a Pentax K1000 with the 50mm Pentax lens and a Super Paragon 135mm telephoto.

From what I’ve seen in videos now, Morocco in 2020 is a different place to Morocco in 1988, so these are in some ways an historical document!

So, here you are now

To the Health Food Shop, with photos

We’re lucky where we live to have a local health food / whole food shop called The Health Box, which not only sells a lot of nice things but also does a lot of bulk refilling of washing up liquid containers etc and does loose dry goods if you bring your own pot to put it in. All of which is so brilliant these days. I however have not actually ever been; normally my significant other stops on her way home from work. But today they moved from their tiny shop to a bigger unit down the road and were having a reopening event, so S.O. thought it would be fun go down, see the new shop and refill some stuff. It’s a lovely shop, and the people are every bit as nice as S.O. says they are. It’s also visually amazing.

Oddly, I found myself taking photographs….. (all shot directly into Lightroom on my iPhone)

Back in the USSR

I’ve been scanning a few more of the frames from the old film / even older Fed photoshoot and I’m wondering if maybe I was a bit harsh on the old comrade because, while some are frankly dire a couple of them are really quite nice once I accept them for what they are. I particularly liked this one of the plants, the muted colours I think really work and the focus is as close to there as it’s reasonable to expect. I possibly could improve things with a bit more lightroom tweaking but I think I like it just as it is

There’s also a bit of me which suspects that my lack of familiarity with the rangefinder focussing might be an issue too here. The nice hard edges to the leaves in this do provide a decent focus target and the light is good (the rangefinder patch on the FED isn’t that big or that bright, especially with my older eyesight). I’ve also given it a really good clean up to see if that improves the focussing possiblities, though of course another solution would be to get to be a better judge of distance against aperture and just trust to that rather than the focussing spot.

This one I thought worked well too, though it’s had more added clarity to bring out the details. One thing I can’t decided is wether the colour shifts are a feature of the way the lens deals with the colour, or if that film was in some way past it’s best. I didn’t buy it and have no idea of it’s provenance prior to my having it. The only other roll I ever shot with the FED, when it was new, was the one this image came from (it featured in a past blog post) which while the colour isn’t perfect lacks the extreme desaturation seen in the one from this year, the trees behind her are definitely a brighter green.

A significant part of me wants to persevere with the FED, or at least try another roll or two through it. Definitely some monochrome, something with some contrast and another roll of my certain colour to satisfy my curiousity about whether it’s the film or the camera. I also want to see if improving my focussing skills with the rangefinder improves the sharpness of the images or if they’re always just going to be a wee bit blurred. But there’s also a bit of me which rather thinks that this product of the former soviet union just deserves to be used..

(Incidentally, while writing this article I discovered for the first time that the name FED are the initials of Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky, first head of the Soviet Secret Police – now how’s that for a camera pedigree!)

The Russians are Coming..

Well, the film from my test shoot with my aging FED IV is back from the process lab. On the plus side there is something on every frame…that’s sort of it really. I’ve taken a look at a couple on the scanner and this one is so far the best.

So, being positive, it’s got that vintage feel which many people spend a fortune on presets attempting to achieve and much of it is almost sharp. Straight out of the scanner it was badly lacking contrast and the colour rendition wasn’t great but Lightroom has put some of that back into the image, and actually I kind of like that muted, slightly desaturated pallette. The biggest problem with some of the others is that they’re way off sharp, however I’m not used to a rangefinder, and as some are sharp(ish) that might be me having problems using it. Amazingly, the exposure isn’t far off, which suprises me as I had doubts about that shutter speed accuracy. I’m definitely going to explore some of the other images with the scanner, and I think I’m going to put more film through it; possibly a fairly contrasty monochrome…