They're back!

Well, my processed films came back and I'm pretty pleased. This is not to say the shots are anything outstanding but the fact there were actual images on each of the four films is, I feel, an achievement considering how ham fisted and clumsy I felt taking the shots.

The Tri-x is, as you would expect, really contrasty with short transitions between shadow and highlight but they do have a nice feel. Please excuse the poor quality scans, my scanner is excellent for line art and documents, it's really not a film scanner.

I didn't think with such harsh back-lighting, there would be much on this frame at all but I quite like the silhouettes. With what I've already learned, I can't wait to get back out there, shoot more film and see how I can improve. To be continued...

Setting myself up for a fall

I don't imagine a huge audience, waiting with baited breath for my posts but my apologies for the time since my last post, no excuses really.

I'm of an age where, like many photographers, I straddle both film and digital eras. That said, during the film years, my use of film was limited to holiday snaps and disposable cameras, although, I did have a childhood friend who, being a little older than me had more mature hobbies, photography being one of them. I often dabbled alongside him in his makeshift darkroom, taking enough interest to participate but never fully fathoming or comprehending what I was really doing. I enjoyed the process as much as, if not more than the results, the chemicals, the anticipation, it was fun. Then my friend moved away and my coat-tailing came to an end.

It seems a lot of photographers have a phase of revisiting film, some for the nostalgic joy of it, some to genuinely learn more and to slow down their shooting and others, well, just for the hipster nonsense of it – deliberately accidental light leaks on expired film in plastic lomo cameras and all that stuff.

You can probably already see where this is going can't you? Yup, you're absolutely right, I've been shooting film. Let me back up a bit to the decision to try it. I'm already not much of a 'spray and prey' shooter, I'm pretty conservative with my shutter count, always try to get what I need in an efficient way so already, almost a film shooter mentality.

I'm happy enough with my current digital gear, I do suffer from gear acquisition syndrome like everyone else but not to the same degree as most shooters, but I do have the occasional yearning for old-school rangefinders and dslr's. I don't fully understand modern digital cameras that are designed to look old or 'classic' though, to my eye, they never truly pull it off, looking good from the front and top but ugly as all hell on the back, an awkward hodge-bodge of screen and buttons  in sub-optimal positions for use, shoehorned on there, and be honest, which side of the camera are you spending 99% of your time?

To be fully fair, there are some beautiful, although still not perfect ones out there, the new Olympus Pen is an elegant example, looking and feeling almost hand made, lovely knurling and details on the dials but it's still a bit, well, awkward on the back.

Sorry, I've wandered off-topic slightly, where I'm getting to is – I've bought four film cameras, a Zorki-4 from the 50's, a Pentax SV from the 60's, an Olympus OM10 from the 70's and a Canon A1 from the 80's – each with 50mm lenses. Nothing too remarkable there I hear you say but the remarkable thing is, they're all in great shape, are mechanically sound, function beautifully and I bought all four, including their lenses for less than £100 (about $145).

Even if none of them worked, they are beautiful objects and although a bit of a photographer cliché, would make lovely 'decorator items' or 'shelf art' – they're simply nice things. The fact that they work is amazing. The only exception being, I have my suspicions that the longer shutter speeds on the Zorki are not entirely accurate but considering this camera is 60 years old, it's a very minor worry and a small miracle there aren't more significant issues.

So, this is my first post containing no images at all, it's simply me, setting myself up for a terrible fall. I have four films currently being processed and I'll report back when they're in. A few things are likely... my claims that the cameras are in great shape may be shattered when glaring mechanical issues present them selves in the form of light leaks and sticky shutters. What will also be under the microscope will be my ability to even use such old camera's with the limited or complete lack of assistance they provide. The Zorki is a rangefinder with the smallest viewfinder ever which I can barely see through as I wear glasses, the focussing is sketchy at best. The Pentax, like the Zorki has no light meter, so exposures are calculated (approximated?!) in my head... these aren't excuses, well, ok, maybe they are a little bit but I'm fully prepared for whatever comes back, they may be completely blank negatives – anything is possible and I can't wait! 


I've not really had chance to breathe since getting back but here's a few images which will be featuring in an upcoming book of street photography, of which I'll post more info when it becomes available. As for Tokyo, well, I fell completely in love with the place and I'm desperate to get back there as soon as time permits. Have a look at some more Tokyo Street images here.


I know that in this age of Instagram, one photo a day is completely insignificant, almost meaningless, particularly on a website blog with practically no viewers/readers but that wasn't the point at all. The point was to force me to get out there and shoot each day, to go out even when exhausted, to just practice more and to learn more. In those respects it was a success, I screwed up, I made daft mistakes but I practiced and I learnt a lot.

When I started this challenge, I used the 'learning to play guitar' analogy and I think that still stands, you have to pick up your guitar every day and play the damn thing, same with your camera – I played many bum notes throughout the month, I fluffed more shots than I nailed but out of 30 days shooting, I did actually get four shots I'm happy with, four shots I would be happy to show people - I've put them together in the gallery below. 


Ok, last one then! As ever, I just missed the mark with this one, just missed the focus, managed to focus on the bridge, with the mother and daughter slightly soft. The composition is ok though, I got the overall picture I was looking for but it's not technically very good.


Although this looks like the result of a cross-processed film experiment, it's straight out of the camera and is exactly as I saw it – the ropes, green with moss and mould, the rust breaking through the ancient paint.


If this anchor looks huge it's because it really is! I was really fortunate with the timing, notice the shadow under the anchor, the sun was perfectly aligned with its spine, the crescent shadow from the curved hooks fitting perfectly in the circle.



Well yet again, the light wasn't being kind to me (it's horrible!) but I'm going to pop back on a better day. I do quite like the composition but it could use a focal point, a person passing through maybe, between the windows with a slow-ish shutter for a bit of motion blur.


This isn't really a 'proper' landscape photo, the light was just so brilliantly odd but I didn't have a tripod or a graduated filter or any other landscape photography essentials with me so it's just a 'hand-held snap', well, 'an awkwardly balanced on my knee snap'. 

Thankfully, it's a wall, not a pipe. 

Thankfully, it's a wall, not a pipe. 


I've read many books about composition, each explaining that the eye enjoys triangles and will seek them out within a composition, most people finding them pleasing. Therefore I seek them out myself, I look for converging triangles wherever I go... today I found only circles, everywhere I looked, circles and more circles... what the...?

Where are all the triangles?

Where are all the triangles?


I said right up front that this would be a month of learning and indeed it has been – rookie error No.05 – Leaving on my circular polarising filter from a job the day before and not realising, only to discover the colours are unnatural and weird. I make a determined effort not to 'chimp' while out and about shooting, to trust what I'm doing but if I'd 'chimped' just once I'd have noticed the filter. I know I could have corrected this before posting but I've chosen to show it in all it's oddly saturated glory – it sort of looks like a Visit Austria Holiday Brochure from the 70's.


I hadn't planned to post any work images here, just fun/hobby pictures, but for the first time in the 'One a day challenge' I just didn't make it outside to shoot yesterday. This was because I was inside shooting a 'floating shelf' stack of beautiful books for Ruthin Craft Centre, check out their amazing catalogue of extraordinary applied arts books here

Ruthin Craft Centre books on ceramicists Simon Carroll, Gillian Lowndes, Emmanuel Cooper, Michael Casson and Walter Keeler.

Ruthin Craft Centre books on ceramicists Simon Carroll, Gillian Lowndes, Emmanuel Cooper, Michael Casson and Walter Keeler.


I know this isn't glamorous but I liked the colours and the very specific set of restrictions – it was a bugger too as I had some waste oil, paint tins and tyres in my camera bag I needed to get rid of.

No, no, no...

No, no, no...