Badminton (no rackets) 2009

It’s another photo from my past, which I’m doing not because I set out to but because it was on my desktop and I quite like it. It’s a photo of event rider Paul Tapner, clearing the L200s at the Badminton Horse Trials 2009. By a strange co-incidence his son is a pupil at the school where I work, so when I came across this image a few weeks ago I was able to send a copy home via Tapner Jnr.

One of my sons and I used to go to Badminton every year, it was our annual day out and we loved it. The walk round the course is about 4miles, you spend the day walking round, stopping at jumps, watching some riders go past, etc. All in all, a good day out.

Paul Tapner jumps the L200s

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what I’ve seen in videos now, Morocco in 2020 is a different place to Morocco in 1988, so these are in some ways an historical document!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

A Photoshoot doomed by technology (possibly)

I’ve just sent off for processing a roll of film on which, frankly, I’ll be astounded if there is anything worth looking at. Any failures I shall, justifiably I think, lay directly at the door of the equipment!

First, the film. A while back my son’s girlfriend came to visit the UK (she’s Dutch) and for fun picked up an old Olympus Trip to try out. She’d never shot film in her life, I forget that lots of people have never shot film, when did I get old? Anyway, to cut a long story (and roll of film) short she’d not made sure the film was tight and it had wound itself so loosely round the takup spool it had popped the back off the camera. I took one look at the, by now, fogged mess, took it out of the camera and loaded a fresh roll of film from the fridge. I was just going to bin the damaged roll but thought that by my guestimate there were probably about about twentyish shots left on the roll. Seemed a pity to waste it so I trimmed a new leader and put it in the fridge on the grounds it was going to come in handy one day..maybe…

Now the camera. In 1979 I bought a FED IV, which were of course new and shiny (if the FED was ever ‘new and shiny) in 1979 as a backup camera for my K1000. I shot a roll of film with it to try it out and discovered that the K1000 was so reliable that I never needed a backup camera. The fact that I still shoot the K1000 now and again demonstrates that. The photos from the FED were, well, okay. It’s sat in various cupboards as we’ve moved house ever since and I sort of felt that I’d quite like to give it a spin again. I have a dark suspicion that I might have at some stage checked it was working mechanically and forgot the golden rule of the soviet rangefinder…never set the shutter speed without cocking the shutter first. Whatever, it felt a bit rough.

So I put the two together, the half(ish) roll of possibly slightly fogged film into a camera which hasn’t seen any film in 4 decades – what can possibly go wrong? Well in a few days I’ll let you know when it comes back from A G Photolab.

I decided not to spend the extra on the optional scanning….

Oh, that’s an old copy of Black and White Photography from 2004. Somebody I know donated me a bag of old issues from the loft. You’ve not missed an issue!

Morocco ’88 (part two)

I’ve got it down to the final 31. Interestingly, even now shooting digital I still psychologically feel that nobody wants to look at more than a roll when they look at photos so 36 or less is a magic number! It’s been less of a tough sort than I thought it might be, I’ve had to let go of images I liked, but which in the end I decided just didn’t have it.

The final count was, of the 31, 23 were ones which I’d originally put into the album with 8 new entrants. I think this is because, frankly, a lot of the ones which didn’t make it into the album, which was originally 80 images, just werent that good and now I probably wouldn’t have even tried to take, or would have taken ‘better’ so statistically most of the worthwhile ones would have been in that 80 image subset.

So now it’s going to be down to a lot of scanning….here’s where I find if investing in Vuescan was worth the money 🙂

Morocco ’88 Revisted: part one

In 1988 Sue and I visited friends of her’s in Morocco. My memories, to be frank, are not great: I’d never been abroard before, it was very different to anything I’d seen in my life, it was very hot, and I got food poisoning (the only time I was happy to get on an airplane and be presented with cardboard food processed to within an inch of it’s life was on the way home). But I took a lot of photos, which in the days of film meant less than it did now but definitely a fair few rolls of, I suspect, Kodacolour II.

These got sorted through and the best 80 put into a flip album of the trip: 80 being chosen because it’s the number of pockets in the album rather than for artistic or philosophical reasons. The rest went into a file box where they’ve sat for the past 31 years, and I doubt I’ve looked through the album more than half a dozen times. Quite often I get an old negative out and scan it to put it on my blog or Instagram, and I found myself wondering three things about the Morocco trip

  1. If I were picking now, would I pick the same images as the strongest?
  2. What do they look like scanned from the negatives and digitally processed rather than the somewhat bland prints from Supersnaps I got back in ’88?
  3. Back then I sequenced them chronologically, would I do that again now?

So I’ve taken them out of the album, numbering them in order so I know which were in the original sort, I want to put the album back as it was because it’s part of our history and also represents my photographic thinking thirty one years ago, though I’m pretty sure I wasn’t thinking like a photographer back then! I’ve mixed up the album photos with the spares for each town and picked out the ten or so images I think are the strongest, eh photo above shows the town of Meknes. The next step will be to take the ones I’ve picked for each location and pull them down to the forty strongest overall. I sense this is going to be tougher, but I’m following more or less the process I go through from a shoot now where I hammer through the images in Lightroom accepting or rejecting, then go through a process of making choices, doing some processing at which point I invariably decide some just are not working, then pulling out the small percentage of the originals to go here, or my website, or social media. I’ve already found something I’d hoped which is that I’m removed enough from the taking for them almost to seem like somebody else’s images rather than mine, though a lot do still make me absolutely remember taking the photo, and the circumstances around that. Lots of these don’t make it into what you might call the semi-finals as one thing I’ve learned is that just because it’s a massive memory jogger for me doesn’t (necessarily) make it a strong image which somebody else might enjoy.

But in a lot I’m catching a faint smell of heat and dust; of of Rick and Ilsa.

Biscuit the Dog, and his Owner

With the new scanner, I can continue my occasional walk down photgraphic memory lane – yes it’s a ‘photos from my past’ post

Oddly enough, this pack of negatives were actually dated, so I can say with confidence this is 1980, and also therefore that it’s taken on my K1000 (though I can remember which camera I used when I took them). If you notice the super hard shadows you can also tell it’s done with flash, which was a more primitive technology then than it is now (also I wasn’t very good at it). They lived a couple of doors down the road and I needed to shoot off the last few frames on a roll of film. I wanted to take some more of her later on but she wasn’t up for sitting. Biscuit was also the first Weimarana dog I ever met, they weren’t as common then, and was a fairly pleasent pooch…though he is one of the only dogs to have bitten me, albite accidentally. The lack of dynamic range, and with photoshop I’ve managed retrieve a lot of dynamic range which gives you an idea of how far out they were, was due to a misreading of the temperature when I processed the film.

Remix – Harpist

I’m going to try something along the lines of scanning old photos from years back but with some of my digital stuff – in a manner akin to a musician remixing their old tracks, I’m going to find images from my early days with digital, process them the way I would now, and post the two together to see the difference.

So this first image is one I took years ago in the Mussenden Temple at Downhill in Northern Ireland (definitely worth a look if you’re there). The biggest issue with the original image is that I didn’t know how to lock a focus point then so it’s missed her eyes and gone for the harp frame, but not by enough to really spoil it. Remixing it now I’m a lot more confident making big edits to light and shadow areas, and using layers to bring out selective bits – also I have no idea why I didn’t want to crop it in tight like that originally. I remember being a bit meh about the image when I took it, but I’m a lot more postive about it now.