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.

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Hurdy Gurdy Man

My scanner is out of action at the moment, so there is neither any new work nor can I delve into the photos from my past (seeing as most of what I’m sharing at the moment is film based). But we can go back to the distant past of summer 2017 for this photo which I like. It’s shot on Ilford FP4 which I’d have rated at box speed, which frankly in the UK normally means a summer day with lots of sun; I suspect the reason we shoot so much HP5 and Tri-X here, and so many british film youtubers discuss pushing film is the weather. Interestingly though, back in the 70s I remember shooting almost exclusively FP4 and only occasionally going up to HP5. We always remember our younger days as being perpetually sunny, maybe it was true!

I’ve done a bit of online research and the musician is Mike Smith, who is also a painter – here are links to his website, and his Instagram

Ship in the Fog

We’ve just been to Cornwall for a couple of days, in which oddly enough we visited (and I photographed) some gardens as well as the coastline. When we used to go to Cornwall about 15 years ago Pendennis Castle was our son’s favourite place and we thought we’d go there for old time’s sake. It’s actually well worth a visit if you’re there, it’s not just somewhere to go for the nostalgia. The previous day was clear and sunny, but that morning there was fog over Carrick Roads, and the headland on which the castle stands looks out over the water. The previous day from a bit further round the coast there were some ships out at anchor, but from the castle, in the fog, the one you could see looked so great.

Oddly, this is the raw file straight out of the camera, I began to tweak it in Lightroom, but in the end I found I couldn’t improve it.

Ship in the Fog, Carrick Roads anchorage

St James’ Place – Bauhaus of the Cotswolds

Okay, I win the award for Clickbait of the Day on wordpress if such a think exists for that title, but hey we’re all allowed a bit of clickbaiting now and again. Though frankly my readership isn’t the sort to fall for clickbait.

Last year, year before maybe, the financial company St James’ Place (not a sponsored post) demolished an old garage and car dealership and built themselves a swanky new office block in the ultra modern style. I was very exited by this because, well frankly I thought you’d never get to build anything in the Cotswolds if it wasnt’ made of stone effect blocks and somehow resembled something from a remake of a costume drama. I blame ‘A Vision of Britain‘ by HRH, a book which probably has a huge readership in these parts. But build it they did. Well the other day I was out and about with my new Olympus Trip looking for something to photograph with it, and the sun was shining on the SJP building and I thought “It’s like Dessau…” Full disclosure, I’ve never been to Dessau (though I’m hoping to go later this year) but I’ve seen the pictures and something about the SJP building in cirencester made me think of them. So I used up half a roll on it.

I don’t normally do posts with multiple photos, but I’m really pleased with these and wanted to share them. I’m coming to the idea that I’m an urban landscape photographer if I’m going to have a label. I don’t really do well photographing the great outdoors, the majestic views and so forth. I like some sign of human occuapation for my images and I think I produce better work when there is some.

Who do I think I am, David Bailey?

If you’re British, and of a certain age, you’ll remember the commercials for the Olympus Trip with Brian Pringle as the wedding photographer and David Bailey as, well, himself. If you don’t remember them, or just want a rip down nostalgia lane, you can see it on here on youtube. I never owned one in the 70s mind you, way out of my price range.

But a while back I found myself thinking of getting a nice film compact camera, something I could put in my pocket. There was also an element of the fact that we’re going to Berlin later this year and I rather liked the idea of shooting film in that most creative of cities, on a vintage camera. Sort of get in touch with Bowie changing popular music, that sort of thing. So when I found myself thinking ‘vintage point and shoot’, well there really was only one camera springing to mind. An Olympus Trip. I checked on eBay and they were consistently available, and I read some online reviews by people who said that a good one really held up well and produced some great photos, almost certainly due to that bit of Zuiko glass at the front. So I started following them and set myself a ceiling price of forty quid and it had to be a decent one. I missed several as they were going for forty plus, and I’m in no time pressure, when somebody advertised one going with a Yashica 35 (for which I also found postive stuff online), so I set a celing of fifty five on the grounds there were two of them and got them for fifty one. The whole thing being made even better by the fact that while they weren’t tested the seller said if they didn’t work he’d take them back for a refund.

Well the box arrived, and the trip wasn’t in good condition, it was pretty much factory new! Not a mark on it, no scuffs, dents, none of that stuff cameras pick up in the process of being used. It felt mechanically okay so I stuck a roll of hp5 in it and saw what it could do. I was blown away, the results were great. The selenium light meter coped admirably with snow, which is a challenge for anything and I got crisp and clean images well on a par with those I get from film SLRs. There wasn’t any flaring, but I checked and the light seals are shot and will need to be replaced. I even went out and got a genunine original skylight filter and a lens cap for it to protect the glass.

Fairford in Snow
Fairford in Snow – taken with the Olympus Trip on HP5 (you really need to leave the edge of the frame when scanning :-))

Okay, so Bailey really used a Rolleiflex for most of his stuff, but he didn’t really care much about the hardware so I can believe he might well have shot with one…well I want to believe he did anyway.

Insta-Envy – not sure why I don’t have it.

I was watching the latest video by Amy Landino on Youtube, she’s all about efficiency and stuff – full disclosure because I’m going to tell her I’ve writtent this, I don’t watch all her videos all the way through because, well, I’m not really driven enough (sorry, Amy), but she is fun and has interesting stuff to say. So in the latest one she talks about Insta-Envy, which I think may be a new linguistic coinage. The idea that if scrolling though Instagram makes you feel envious rather than motivated, then stop doing it and be more careful about whom you pick to follow. It’s good advice. Instagram is famous as a giant highlight reel, full of people picking out (or setting up and photographing) the best moments of their lives to appear beautifully lit and post-processed for the enjoyment of their followers. Or sometimes to generate followers who can then, if not enjoy them, at least keep following and producing that all powerful thing…..ta da…engagement.

Ohhhkay Amy, I’m with you. But this led me to wonder something about Insta-Envy; why don’t I have it?

The thing is, I follow a number of folks on my Instagram accounts (yes, I have two), people who take photographs I like on one and people who take photographs of gardens I like on the other. I can lose time scrolling both of them which Amy would almost certainly, and correctly, tell me I could be using more profitably. But I never find myself envious in the sense that it upsets me or gets me down. Sure I wish I had that greenhouse, or a witch hazel like that, or could photograph in that location, or in that light. But never in the sense that I feel less happy with my own work or lose motivation. I mean I do feel unhappy with my own work, but I’d feel that without social networking to help me, every artist, photographer, musician, whatever feels unhappy with their own work, it’s the nature of the beast.

So I’ve been thinking about this, first off it’s not that I’m unusually self-confident and robust I’m sure. I think it’s down to three things, and one of them is pretty much in line with Amy’s idea of who you should follow. I follow people on Instagram because I enjoy their work. The thing which links everybody I follow on both my accounts is that I scroll through and think ‘great work on that photo’ and my choice of words here is important, it’s not the place, or the model or the other stuff, it’s the work. It’s the thought and effort which went into the image which impresses me. Some, ok much, of it is work on a level to which I just will never aspire, and I’m happy with that. Some sparks ideas of places or techniques I’d like to try out, or lets me (and this is one of the best bits) connect with other people because I like to make new online friends. The second is that I think as a photographer, I’m very aware of the fact that what I’m seeing is a crafted image. I know it’s not somebody living a wonderful life, I know it’s somebody who picked that window for the light, or that dress because it works with the colour palatte they wanted to achieve. I can tell a photo which didn’t just happen. The third thing I think is age, I come from before the Internet, and even before people had computers – heck when I was at school we didn’t even learn what a computer was and then when I left school I spent years in public-facing roles. I’ve met a lot of people, some of whom did live in lovely houses, and go on great foreign trips and the rest of it, but I also know they took their bins out, walked the dog and shouted at their kids. They had lovely cars, which broke down. They lived in lovely places and their neigbours were snobby gits. Deep down I know that nobody, but nobody actually lives the showreel life.

So, my suggestions for avoiding Insta-Envy, because well I’m allowed my brief excursion into being a self help and motivation guru am I not?

  • Follow people because you like their work, because their photos make you happy / impressed / inspired / whatever
  • As a photographer, you know that the camera never tells the whole truth
  • Be as old as dirt

Early Morning; Buscot Weir

This one is just a photo post. Last week I got up early because it was supposed to be sunny all day and I was hoping or spectacular dawn light at Buscot in Oxfordshire which is one of my favourite locations. Well the spectacular light didn’t happen, but I was quite pleased with what did.

These are all taken on my Mamiya 645, shot on Portra 400. Processed and scannned by A G Photolab who do all my colour stuff, and then tweaked in Lightroom.

I was hoping the early light would break right over the old pillbox, and TPE said it would, but the cloud just sat, though there was a faint hint of pink on the horizon. Needless to say, half an hour later when the sun was up the clouds had cleared, but that’s photography for you.

said it would, but the cloud just sat, though there was a faint hint of pink on the horizon. Needless to say, half an hour later when the sun was up the clouds had cleared, but that’s photography for you.

Oh, and yes, I do know there’s a bit of grit or something in my film holder! 🙂