Back in the saddle…

Phew. Last night I loaded up half-a-dozen film holders and (weather permitting) I will get out this evening to use the large format camera again.

I haven’t used it ‘in anger’ for over a month now, what with travelling for work (no more of that at least) and other things. The tripod kit (Manfrotto 055XProB and 808RC4) I got at the end of February has not really been used at all.

Tonight’s project? I’m going to see if I can get some ‘fake miniature’ pictures – there’s a technique for faking a tilt-shift lens in Photoshop and, with the right subject matter, the resultant photos look like they’re models. It’s pretty cool in my opinion. And then there’s the work by Miklos Gaál which I’m quite taken by.

This kind of thing…

Hopefully I’ll post some results soon…

Equipment Rationalisation

I have too many cameras. There, I’ve said it.

I have, at some point, used all of them, but for my day-to-day use I feel that I need to rationalise. Trouble is, each of them is unique and interesting in its own way, and so the choice is almost impossible.

My main ‘working’ camera is currently the Yashica FX-3. I originally intended to use it as a backup for the FX-D, the FX-3 is a fully mechanical 35mm SLR which doesn’t even need batteries (it uses a pair of SR44 for the internal meter, that’s all). The FX-D on the other hand won’t do anything without its pair of SR44s – of course the aperture-priority auto-exposure of the FX-D is very handy for more spontaneous captures…

So, I’ll keep the FX-3 and FX-D (but perhaps slim down my lens collection…?)

I also go out and about with a rangefinder now and then – leaf shutters are so much more discreet than the mirror-slap of an SLR – but again, I have two: The Yashica Electro 35 (original model) which is a brick of a camera, with a rather nice f1.7 lens and auto-exposure… Compare this with my compact Werra 3; fully mechanical, extremely compact and completely manual… it can also take different lenses, although I’ve only the standard 50mm f2.8 Zeiss job.

Then there are the three TLRs I have: Lubitel 166B, a Rolleicord from 1934, and a YashicaMat. All of these are completely manual, but each produces different results dues to the difference in age and lens quality…

Wow. There’s an awful lot of people seemingly upset by The Polaroid Corporation’s recent decision to stop making their eponymous film.

Check out
Of course, the current Polaroid Corp. has pretty much nothing to do with the original corporation; the current company being much more interested in slapping their coloured squares onto any number of consumer electronic devices than their traditional analogue imaging processes.

Ironically, Polaroid could well be making the biggest mistake ever. Recent reports seem to indicate that the rush to digital imaging is being stemmed, and consumers are returning to film, whether for

  • aesthetic reasons (some colours just aren’t rendered as nicely as on film); or
  • financial reasons (the constant buy/use/replace cycle which comes from chasing the leading edge of technology becomes pretty expensive after a short while)

Polaroid always had a characteristic look which distinguished itself from traditional negative/positive photography – and the fact that each shot is totally unique (Ok, so is slide film) adds some mystique to the object you hold in your hand…

I for one am going to stock up on 600 series film so that the kids can have some fun (they *really* appreciate the instant nature of Polaroids – they are well versed in 35mm and digital photography, but the sheer immediacy of Polaroid really pushes their buttons). The suspense of waiting for the picture to magically appear is fantastic, and they both want to take pictures with the Polaroid. Best let them do it before it’s too late…

Country on the verge of a totalitatian regime (UK 2008)

The latest Metropolitan Police Force advertising campaign encouraging us all to spy on each other is further evidence that the UK is losing its nerve entirely and will, before long, welcome Stasi-like secret police, constant observation, and further restrictions in our movements.

In the old days, there was a very real terrorist threat within the UK, what with the IRA and all that. During that time business as usual was preached – once you respond to the terrorists, you have already lost. Now, there were plenty of attacks, lots of people died but, ultimately, it is now history. Who was funding the terrorists here? Well, there were rumours of collections being held in certain Boston bars to support the brave freedom fighters across the Atlantic but I’m not saying anything…

Is society to blame for its own incarceration? Is accountability the true evil here? When everyone has to be seen to be doing something, the only responses are kneejerk – there is no plan, there is just a panicked herd mentality.

Until one day, you wake up in East Germany in the 1980’s

A quote from New York Times’ ‘Stasi’ book

“To ensure that the people would become and remain submissive, East German communist leaders saturated their realm with more spies than had any other totalitarian government in recent history. The Soviet Union’s KGB employed about 480,000 full-time agents to oversee a nation of 280 million, which means there was one agent per 5,830 citizens. Using Wiesenthal’s figures for the Nazi Gestapo, there was one officer for 2,000 people. The ratio for the Stasi was one secret policeman per 166 East Germans. When the regular informers are added, these ratios become much higher: In the Stasi’s case, there would have been at least one spy watching every 66 citizens! When one adds in the estimated numbers of part-time snoops, the result is nothing short of monstrous: one informer per 6.5 citizens. It would not have been unreasonable to assume that at least one Stasi informer was present in any party of ten or twelve dinner guests.”


[Also see Amateur Photographer article]

Austin Mitchell has an ‘Early Day Motion’ (EDM) currently running in the houses of Parliament regarding the clarification of the laws of photography in public places:

“That this House is concerned to encourage the spread and enjoyment of photography as the most genuine and accessible people’s art; deplores the apparent increase in the number of reported incidents in which the police, police community support officers (PCSOs) or wardens attempt to stop street photography and order the deletion of photographs or the confiscation of cards, cameras or film on various specious ground such as claims that some public buildings are strategic or sensitive, that children and adults can only be photographed with their written permission, that photographs of police and PCSOs are illegal, or that photographs may be used by terrorists; points out that photography in public places and streets is not only enjoyable but perfectly legal; regrets all such efforts to stop, discourage or inhibit amateur photographers taking pictures in public places, many of which are in any case festooned with closed circuit television cameras; and urges the Home Office and the Association of Chief Police Officers to agree on a photography code for the information of officers on the ground, setting out the public’s right to photograph public places thus allowing photographers to enjoy their hobby without officious interference or unjustified suspicion.”

We should all let our MPs know that we want to retain the freedom to take pictures of public places without having to have to explain ourselves to the local constabulary, and that our MPs should back EDM 1155

You can find and email your MP by putting your postcode in the link below

Birthday + Polaroid + Friends = great time!

Cake!I had a birthday party (of sorts) last weekend* and invited friends etc. over to our house for drinks/food/chat. In light of the recent announcement by Polaroid that the production of instant film was to stop, I decided that this would be a good time to have a go with Polaroid… I picked up a camera from freecycle, bought a twin-pack of 600 film from Boots, and I was good to go.

Well, y’know – Polaroids are way cool fun! Much more entertainment than a digital camera – especially the wait for a picture to appear – and a real conversation piece. Most people weren’t aware that Polaroid was stopping, and a couple even said that they were going to go and get a camera before the chance disappeared completely!

Anyway, thanks to all of the people who turned up. Hope you had a good time, and we’ll try and get together again soon, Ok?

*(for those who know me and feel disgruntled that they weren’t invited, it may be that we don’t have contact details for you – give us a ring: our number hasn’t changed for about 10 years!!!).

Happy birthday to me….

My collection of photographic equipment grows ever-larger – got a HP Combi-Plan developing tank from my wife and her parents (Hooray! Now I hope I won’t scratch my 5×4 negatives), and am getting a decent tripod from my parents (Manfrotto 055xprob + 808RC4 head – I really need to keep the MPP still!).

Also received a CD by Elbow (“Asleep in the back” – having enjoyed their appearance on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross a couple of weeks back, as well as their version of Independent Woman courtesy of, a James Brown compilation CD (I actually only own one James Brown record – a 12″ single of ‘Get Up’ from the 1980s, so this addresses a shortcoming in my music collection!), and a Family Guy DVD (Blue Harvest).


Now, what I have just decided that I need is a Polaroid camera, so that I can document my upcoming birthday party….


My sense of timing is, as ever,

… perfect.

Just days before Polaroid announced they were shutting down production of their eponymous instant-film, I bid on ebay for a Polaroid film back (so I can use instant film with my LF camera). I have been chasing various 545 film backs (taking Polaroid ‘Type 5x’ sheet film) but they always went up to silly prices (and the film isn’t cheap either). I therefore started looking at the 405 back. It takes a smaller image – 3.25 x 4.25 inches (in a pack of 10 pictures) – but it will allow me the instant feedback on my pictures that I desire.

So, between bidding and winning the 405 back (hooray!), Polaroid made their announcement. Which probably helped me win it actually (for about a tenner less than others had gone for). Fortunately, the 405 back takes ‘pack’ film – and you can get this from the saviours of film (or so it would seem) FujiFilm.

fp100c-1There are minor hurdles in that my MPP doesn’t have quite the right sort of a back to mount the Polaroid holder securely (but it’s good enough for now), but this evening (drum roll please) I took my first ever ‘polaroid’.
Not bad for a first attempt even if I do say so myself… using flash as well, which is a bit of a departure…

Anyway. Instant film is FANTASTIC. I’ve only taken one picture, but blimey – try it NOW… get a camera, and get some film while you still can!