Monday, October 09, 2017

A Chance Discovery

Morning folks - do you ever get the feeling that time is playing tricks with you?
I do. I have a mountain of printing to do, but the weekends just seem to run away and before you know it, it's back to the daily usual and nothing done.
Anyway rather than me trying to shoehorn in another Dundee thing (we are The City Of Discovery - literally, Captain Scott's Antarctic ship is berthed here and well worth a visit should you ever decide to visit - but just about every single business in the city tries to fit 'Discovery' into their wording, or so it seems) instead, I will pen a little ditty about coming across something of which I was not aware, but which surprised the heck out of me.

If you've read FogBlog much you'll know of my enormous respect and love for Joseph McKenzie, 'father of modern Scottish Photography' (whatever that is!), mentor, friend for a time and purveyor of jokes, tea, chat and advice. In other words the sort of person anyone would be glad to have around.
Whole days spent in his office, spotting prints and talking and the enormous push towards a degree show, which showed a lot of my landscape photographs . . 
Err, what a fantastic idea eh? 
Go for a graphics degree and end up displaying nearly as much trying-to-get-the-spirit-of-place landscape photographs! 
Ah yes, I was a stone cold genius (read fool) predating the rediscovery of landscape by the masses by oooh a few years (and if you believe that you'll believe anything). 
Still it was a stupid move really, but you know what? I was proud of my photographic exhibition - it is the only one I have ever done.

Anyway, that's away from the main drag - which is the discovery of an image that I personally think is absolutely stunning. 
I found it a few years back (can't remember where, so don't ask) when trawling around for Joe's images on t'net.
It stopped me in my tracks, mainly because I was unaware of its existence, but also because of the technical mastery. 
Now I would say that it appears to be a lithographed print (because it is a poster) so one does wonder whether any tickling-up occurred during the plate-making process. 
You never know. 
It does seem to have that heavy 'graphics' look to it . . 
This was something I practiced, oooh, decades ago when at school and preparing a portfolio for admission to college. 
It's a simple technique - basically, look at something with half closed eyes - your brain will render that down to shapes and light and shadow - then draw it. 
It can also be very useful when taking photographs of iffy subjects too, especially in even dodgier lighting; it renders things down, cuts out superfluous detail and you can get an idea of what a good bit of heavy-handed (or light and delicate!) printing will do to the negative. 
I still use it if I need to.

Back to the poster, though - yes the 'heavy' look is there, but also if you look at the sky below the bridge spans, that looks pretty damn naturally photographic to me. 
The New Tay Railway Bridge bridge opened on the 13th July 1887 - at the time it was a marvel of Scottish Victorian engineering. 
Joe's Centenary photograph gives it an air of wonderful permanence and solidity and dare I say it for something which is so huge - a certain grace and beauty too.
As to the 'graphic' aspect, well certainly he could print anything, and the fireworks do have that aspect, but look closely too - it does have the look of a proper Scottish Summer night, when it never really gets that dark. So, tickling up or not, you decide
Technically, well, it was Joe so more than likely he was using Tri-X and D76 . . it doesn't look like it though does it . . . 
Anyway, that's an aside. 
Here's the poster.
I think it is a technical tour-de-force - let me know what you think.

© Joseph McKenzie Estate 2017

I would dearly love to see the original print . . .
It actually very much reminds me of (if they'd had the same speed on their plates) something that could have appeared in Steiglitz' Camera Work in the early 1900's. 
Maybe that was his intention - it wouldn't surprise me.
If you look closely, you can see, beside the firework traces, the remnants of explosion clouds; those, balanced with the solidity and power, well, one can only wonder at the marvellous happenstance that brought together, light, gunpowder, water, engineering and technical mastery of a medium.
Hands down, it's the best fireworks photograph I have ever seen.
I love it.

Anyway, that is that, more treading water by me till the next 'proper' FB creaks its way out of the fog on its battle-cart . . .

So, before I head, I'll ask you to charge your glasses and raise them to Joe (again).
Photographer, mentor, friend to many, and all-round good egg.
Cheers Joe!

© Joseph McKenzie Estate 2017

TTFN and remember to keep taking the tablets.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Danger, Danger - High Voltage!

Fire in the disco
Fire in the Taco Bell
Fire in the disco
Fire in the gates of hell

Morning folks - I'm not sure whether any of you have heard of The Electric Six, but you should immediately go to Y'Tube and seek out 'Danger! High Voltage'  . . . oh go on and 'Dance Commander' too. Much fun and great music, and appropriately for once, relevant to my next tale (well 'Dance Commander' isn't, being more of a wonderfully noisy take on The Fast Show's Channel 9, but I like it anyway) . . . so.

Anyway this is just an interim post just to provide a warning for all of you with DeVere enlargers contemplating your navels and wondering where your next bulb is going to come from.
The bulb in question . . . the equivalent of 3 megatons of course! - the 250Watt 240 Volt ELC. 
It's bright, hot and er, potentially dangerous if not handled correctly. 
Well, the replacements might well be. 
You see in our urge to get even more for our pennies, safety and quality seem to have been utterly thrown out the window. 
Take as a good example, my new replacement bulb, the FXLab 250W 24V GX 5.3. It was very reasonable I thought, so I ordered one.
Now for a start that should have got the alarm bells ringing, but reading around it seemed OK and decently reviewed in a number of places (damn . . should have checked Amazon).
It arrived quickly, looked decent in the box, so I rushed to the 504, unscrewed the lamp compartment and pushed it into the holder . . . it was all too easy, except the pins hadn't engaged at all, the lamp fell off the socket and I realised that the pins had disappeared!
  WTF were my mental words. I looked at the bulb and the whole sorry tale of woe unfolded. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here's some pictures.

The white 'ceramic' appeared to have the consistency of a very soft Minto . . you know the sort you see melting on a hot pavement, all chalk and squidgieness - it actually turned out to be softer than chalk!
Now can you imagine if the pins hadn't disappeared and I'd fitted it and then the 'Minto' had decided to give? 
One exceptionally hot, ie 'Ooo ya!', third degree burns hot, bulb, just hanging about unsupported and ready to cause chaos. 
Very very dangerous.

So, the moral?
Well, this may have been a one off, but more reading and I discovered that it was 'a thing' with this make, so, my hard won advice?
Buy something from a 'known' manufacturer like GE or Osram or Philips or even some NOS ones on eBay, i.e. something that was made/is made, where the old (and currently very much neglected in this world) QC (Quality Control) reins supreme.

Over and out . . . now, where's my 'tache?

Friday, August 25, 2017

Yer Arsenal

Mornin' Varmints!

Well, I recently had a rather lovely time armed (why is it photography has all the combat terms? . . Shoot, Kit, Armed . .) with a very lovely MF kit:
Vic the 500 CM with the 60mm Distagon and 150mm Sonnar, and Olly The Rollei, with his ancient 75mm Tessar.

Now you might think lugging this amount of gear around would be a pain, and in one shoulder bag it certainly is, so that's why I resorted to two bags . . one big 'un with the Hasselblad stuff and the other much smaller with the Rollei.
Despite the fact they're MF cameras, they're both relatively luggable:

On a its oh-so-1960's skinny strap, the Hasselblad in particular seems to accomodate less of the space/time dimension than a modern 'Pro' SLR - it strangely looks smaller too, and I can't get my head around that!
Also, because of the optical quality of the Zeiss lenses, hand-holding such a decent-sized camera is relatively easy, simply because you can afford to take photographs even wide open with little appreciable loss of quality on the negative.
It is this factor (as well as feeling very 'professional') that endears me to Hasselblads.

But you know what (and as others have uncovered before me) as a walk about camera for those who hate having to use 24 or 36 exposures at a time, a nice little TLR of quality build, makes a wonderful and very very adaptable friend. Olly (my Rollei T) is a reasonable, light, quiet and relatively rugged little machine; he only draws admiring glances and comments, because he is so beautiful and so damn old-fashioned looking.
OK, so a 2.8 or 3.5 Rollei E or F would be maybe a nicer machine from the optical point of view, but let's set this straight - Olly's 3.5 Tessar is a damned fine lens with a really wonderful treatment of out of focus areas. His optimum (optimised) aperture is f11 and I can confirm this is what you should use on a Rollei T if you want it really sharp all over.
The image softens a tad at wider apertures, but you don't notice actually - it is a homegenous mess of crispness and smooth OOFA..
The greatest thing about any TLR though, is that you can actually hand-hold with reasonable expectation of decent sharpness all the way down to around a 1/4 of a second. Brace yourselves, your hand or the camera, or employ a nice little Leitz Table Top Tripod, and 1 second is easy.
I use a neck strap with mine (original Rollei scissor strap) and gently pulling down on the strap and breathing out really make the lower limits of hand-holdability expand beyond the horizon.

Anyway, enough of this guff - here's the films and the photos.

The Hasselblad Stuff.

First up are the Hasselblad films - both HP5. Now I've never had much success with HP5 really, but this was reasonably priced so I snapped it up and developed it in Pyrocat HD for 16 mins at 21C, and then let it stand to 20 mins. I think I have reached a conclusion too - whilst I appreciate 'T-grain' films for their versatility and bombproofness, and whether my eye has changed a lot, I don't know, but I do think that these days I prefer 'normal' films like FP4, HP5, Tri-X etc.
I think it seems to come from (not the grey palette per se, because you could look at any John Sexton photo and say the grey palette of TMX is second to none) some combination of greys, shadows and crispness? I don't actually know, but I do know that I think I can differentiate between T-grain and normal. So there must be something . . . ***

Hoist 'Pon My Own Petard!

*** Well actually, that was my thinking when I blearily scanned the contacts and wrote the above without referring to the film types . . .
The Hasselblad films as mentioned were HP5, but the Rollei films were ancient TMX 400 (ARGH!) and Ilford Delta 400, both at EI 200 (DOUBLE ARGGGH!!!).
And you know what? jings, TMX 400 and a single coated lens (the last two photographs are that combination) - well, I think the results speak for themselves - though these aren't properly printed things, just 3200 DPI scans from the contact prints and a bit of tickling up in Photos.
All the same, to me, they have that proper old-school air about them that I see in photos I love from the 1930's and 40's.
Strike 1 for T-Grain! ***

Anyway, back to Hasselblads and HP5 - the first film was taken at one of my favourite places in the world and whether the weight of the words of David M were weighing on my shoulders or not I don't know. But last time I posted photos of the place (roughly a year ago) he wondered whether I could put the place in its place as it were - give it more of a detailed air and reveal more of its structure.

And you know what, I bloody couldn't.

The tower is damn near impossible to photograph well, because it is fenced off and surrounded by heavy wood and impassability - honestly, it was like trying to make photos of a very tall building somehow magically shrunk into a tiny room filled with magically shrunken trees - I had no room to move, and no space to stand back and get it all in - even with a wide-angle lens.

So I struggled, picked my tripod up, put it down again, huffed, moved around, and then spotted some horses and was like a child:

"Ooooh, HORSES!" 

said I, abandoning the tripod and merrily taking nearly a whole roll of film of some of the most poor horse pics you have ever seen:

See What I Mean

You see stupidly, in my excitement about HORSES, I forgot to swap lenses and go for a wide option, so the whole bloody lot were taken with the 150mm Sonnar - no wonder they're stupid close-ups like the horse is photo-bombing every frame!

But things changed after that (no, really, they did) - I knew that the horse pics were a disaster, so, intent on saving the weekend (I only had 2 days effectively in total) I had a stern talk with myself and became determined to make better photographs . . .

We had some lunch, and the sun came out, and in fact it got downright roasting, if you can use such a term in Scotland. We were both shattered from our working weeks, but despite the temptation (very big) to head for a snooze, I gritted my teeth, loaded the second HP5 into the Hasselblad and went in search of a mini-adventure.

I turned up at a place I have been intending to visit seriously for quite a number of years. It's fully apparent on an old OS map I have of the area, as Hotel, but I never knew of its existence; indeed back in the day, my trips here were filled with visiting a relation, tending a grave and no exploration of the environs, so it slipped under my radar. I'm acutely familiar with the road it is on now though,  but I'd only ever sailed past a couple of times and still never visited it.

Anyway, back in 1997 this wonderful building was struck by lightning whilst the owners were away on holiday and underwent a devastating fire, to the extent that rebuilding would probably have cost more than the whole place was worth; try finding someone with the skills for building with Lime these days and stone masons who can cut and chop raw stone so beautifully. Trust me, there's precious few around - so, subsequently the house has slid ever since.

A Lost Cause

It'll start to properly collapse in a few years which is awful because it is beautiful and in an incredible setting; not far from a river, surrounded by wild hills and woods and fields. Having read further, it is also apparently well-haunted, but personally I could find nothing like that (being sensitive to such things) other than an air of abandonment - all the ghosts have gone elsewhere - they like warmth and being reminded of what it is like to be human . .

Approaching it was rather like approaching the photographing of a Vet (eran) - you know, Army, Wars, laying down their lives so we can do everything we take for granted - you have to be utterly respectful and do them justice and hopefully establish a rapport which transcends mere film and chemicals - it is not as easy as it sounds. In fact that goes for most portraiture - check out some of Arnold Newman's transcending photographs to see what I mean.

Strangely (to me, and despite trying my hardest) I don't think I have got anywhere near doing it justice - my rapport was non-existent given I had hardly any time.
I'll just have to go back methinks (any excuse) and photograph it in snow and rain and storm and sun. There, I feel better now!

Anyway, I really did try - the sun was out (it was mid-afternoon) there were hard shadows everywhere and I had a feeling like I was stepping back in time. I was excited and a bit trepidatious too . . .

The use of the two Hasselblad lenses was also interesting  - I still need to get my head around the 150mm - I've never done a full lens set-up approach before and I found it challenging, in that it seemed to really complicate my view of things, so rather than just get in and shoot, I had to stand and think AND I still need to get my head around the 150mm!

I believe I am more of a wide-angle man actually, though as we'll see later, the 75mm Tessar on the Rollei proved to be as natural as breathing.
Hmmm . . . maybe an 80mm Planar would be a good choice on the Hasselblad . . .

That's Better!

The above were roughly divided half and half - Sonnar at the start, Distagon at the end.
I actually like both - the Sonnar definitely has a more 'pictorial' quality, whereas the Distagon is pure, hard fact - it's an inspiration-inspiring lens.

I really haven't done it any justice though - in reality it needs something more panoramic with a large tower that I could get up so that I don't keep getting converging verticals, but can get the whole scene in - bring on the cherry pickers!

The broom and especially gooseberries were rampant, and to my eye they kept the dereliction in place - the house was sinking into a sea of vegetation.
I've photographed a lot of city dereliction and it is always RAW and in yer face as it were - I definitely prefer the former.

The Rollei Stuff - Part 1.

Anyway, partially satiated, I wandered back to the car, still amazed at how such a lovely place in a lovely bit of land can remain so neglected, and then thought, 'Well . . Why Not?!' and pulled Olly out of the boot and went back.
As we'll see, it might only be an 'advanced amateur' camera, and as old as me, but it takes a lovely photo that reveals atmosphere. I'll put it down to the Tessar - single coated and reverential.

The sun was still shining and the Tessar concentrated my mind for a few frames, and that was it.

Olly the Rollei? He's a good old stick is my T
(I seriously thought I'd broken him a few years back, when, using a tiny amount of WD40 to sort a very squeaky take-up spindle, the whole camera siezed and would not work. I was frustrated as feck, left it a few months, tried again, still nothing, so in desperation, thinking that maybe the WD 40 had loosened some lubricant which had then [this being Scotland] re-seized somewhere important, I did what I have done with a couple of old LF shutters . . left them on a warm but not hot radiator for a day or so. It worked! And has worked ever since. It's just a theory of mine, but worth a try if you are at the OH SHIT! stage.)
He's been a companion of mine for a long time now and we've seen some lovely landscapes together.

Anyway, before we get back to the house, I'll set the controls on the Time Machine to the previous day and detail this properly chronologically:

The first film through Olly was very expired TMX 400 without a light meter . . you can tell can't you. We arrived on a Saturday afternoon and it was dull and quite unpleasant, but that didn't stop me -
I guessed and snapped and guessed some more after only a brief EV reading of shadows.

(Oh and the change in format of the contact sheets, is because I bought some very cheap Printfile 120-3HB sleeves. I don't know why, but I've always used the "4 sets of 3" sleeves . . but these were a revelation. One less cut, and less mucking about! Also less chance of scratching and dropping, if you know what I mean.)

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible . .

The Ramblin' Man Stuff - Skip If You Like!

I was rather amazed by the number of abandoned buildings - this place never ever used to be like this - it used to be quaint and full of moneyed old ladies. In fact the town was almost impossibly English in places - and why not, beautiful surroundings, not far from the Border. The locals were semi-accepting of the invasion because it brought money into the town - of course, it was a different matter if you were of school age back in the 1970's, but that's another long story . . .
And it is still quaint and I love it, but when I started exploring, I was really unsettled by how rundown it is in places and thought to myself something had happened in the 30-odd years since I'd lived here, and I think I might well have got to the nub of it.
Basically . .  ready?
Property prices!
15 years ago you could buy a detached Victorian 4 bedroomed villa here with gardens for around £100,000 to £150,000 . . and they weren't just bog standard Victorian houses either; these were built for the moneyed of the area; from émigrés from Edinburgh and Glasgow, to the local landed gentry and well-off - basically 'the nobs'. And as with all varieties of nob, excellence was demanded, so they were built to a very high standard indeed.
At the time, similar properties in the rest of the UK must have averaged around at least £250,000 for a 'normal' house and of course in London you'd have been well over a Mill or two.
Prices like that don't stay hidden for long.
You're 60-odd miles from Glagow Centre and the same from Edinburgh . . . England is just a couple of hours away - it's a good placement with a good community (and I'll say that, the community is sterling) but I think what happened is that cheaper properties (of which there were quite a few) have attracted people from Darn Sarf (In much the same way my Mum and Dad were attracted and bought a whole house for £600 in 1967!). I'm not denigrating the community, but where before the émigrés were old ladies and retiring couples with money (bank managers, teachers, you know the sort of social level) now it is a broad swathe of society with people from every social background, good, bad and indifferent, and that has bought with it a 'tougher' feel.
It always was a tough community - you ask some local farmers, and I can personally attest to the penury of hill farming - but it is different now.
Do I sound like a snob?
I dunno - probably - though it's a word I wouldn't apply to myself, being council estate raised. It's just that on our 1960's/1970's estate, most people really cared for their property - albeit rented - because they knew the worth of having decent bricks and mortar, having gone through the intensity and destruction of the Blitz.
Yes there were problems, but they were minor.
(After we left London, drugs, guns and gangs moved in and my old estate became known as Little Beirut. But that was brief and as far as I can see these days it's an OK place to raise a family.)
But anyway, nowadays decent housing is taken for granted, but believe you me, it's not that long ago when it was definitely not the norm.
But there's something else at work too - the way society is now, people are about as rootless as a hoe'd weed - you're no longer 'of the place', maybe even no longer 'from the place', you just 'live there'
This is a new phenomenon.
Communities up until relatively recently have been fairly closed. You, if you had been born somewhere and could trace back a few generations, were 'OF' the place. If you'd just moved there, you were 'FROM' the place. It would take quite a while for you to be utterly accepted - sometimes a couple of generations. This is true in my opinion - I've observed it and been on the brunt end of it.
But now there's new dandelion seeds in town, they move where they can afford, and this area was affordable compared to other parts of the country; they come and stop and life deals them some rough hands and they flit and the houses get caught up in legal red tape and all the while the weather keeps going and Winters' come and go and the house starts to slide and before you know it (as in the last two photographs at the bottom) your front window has fallen in; your rear outbuilding has elder trees growing out of the walls; the drains and gutters are choked; water enters the property; damp takes a hold; insiduous mould creeps on; vermin, rot, and boring insect attack all take their toll; in very little time you have a derelict (requiring vast expense) property on your hands.
People wipe their hands of it and vanish.
The paper trail of responsibility dries up, and poor Mrs McKenzie, who, maybe 30 years ago bought a lovely wee semi-detached next to some good solid neighbours finds herself tethered to a disaster in decreasing property value and saleabilty . .
And all because property prices are cheaper here than elsewhere.
Town Councils need to get a grip and sort out situations like this before they go beyond anything sortable - it's shocking and needs to be acted on, or, as is happening in my old home town, things will start to get really really bad - Mr David Mundell, Secretary Of State for Scotland take note - it's one of your communities I am talking about!
Over and out . .

The Rollei Stuff - Part 2

Anyway, enough of the ramblin' man shite - here's the photos!

First into the ring is ancient TMY 400 developed in Pyrocat.

Yes, I Know . . . Remember To Consult Exposure Meter Next Time

Next up is the Delta 400.
The river pictures bring an instant tear to my eye as it was where I was raised. Getting down under the bridge and just standing there for 10 minutes, before taking some photos and immersing my hands in the cold, clear water was a salve for city life.
As for the house, well, I guess it reveals it - please excuse the converging verticals, it was inevitable from the ground!
I think an atmosphere has been captured though, as you might see from the (ahem) OK-They-re-Not-Really 'Prints'.

Weirdly Semi-Guessed

The 'Ere-Ain't-They-Just-3200 DPi-Scans?' Bit


 "You Talkin' To Me?"

 "You Talkin' To Me?"

 "You Talkin' To Me?"

"Well, Then Who The Hell Else Are You Talking . .  ?
You Talking To Me?
Well, I'm The Only One Here."

I Love The Comedy/Tragedy Masks Someone Has Nailed To This Trunk

Wonder Where The Wheels Went?

Mirror, Signal, Manouevre

Fire Escape For Ghosts

Had To Crop This Because Of The Verticals

A Nice Comfy Sitting Room

And Again

Potrait Of A Van


I Dunno - I Think I Captured Something

Anybody Home?

Just Us Ghosts

My Parents Are Buried Here


Abandoned House I (With Curtain)

Abandoned House II (With Webs)

And that, as they say, is that.
Sorry for the length of this post, but hope it has been interesting.
As usual, comments are most welcome unless they're 'Anonymous'!
TTFN and remember:
Mony A Mickle Maks A Muckle, But No Any Mickle Maks A Pickle!

Friday, July 28, 2017

A Walk On The Wild Side (In Sheep-O-Vision)

Morning troops - this is something sick-makingly different.

Well, you've seen this walk before - way way back in Off Piste 1 & 2, but anyway, I felt it was way too long since I'd done this walk and way too long since I'd been on the hills AT ALL.
It really is shocking how time disappears, it seems like the world is moving at a faster and faster pace, but the reality is that I am just getting older and slower - of course the world turns at the same rate - life continues as it always has done. It's just that in some little corner of my brain, my take on it is that it is getting faster!
The sad fact is, that I am just turning into an addled old shite.

Anyway, suitable packed I headed out, well I say suitably packed, I had to rip out and rearrange the lovingly sorted, perfectly ideal, nicely divided interior of my Tamrack 777 bag!
That was a nightmare in itself - so why did I do it?
No, quiet at the back, not because I am an addled old shite . . . it's because I had to make room for the Hasselblad and gear for taking pictures a long way from anywhere.
Last time I'd done this it was full-on 5x4 . . . but seeing as I have had no inclination to do any LF work in a couple of years now, MF it was!
Trust me, if you have a backpack for your gear and you work in different formats, do the right thing and buy a separate bag for each format (if you've got the room). Why? because it is a total b'tard having to tear out and rearrange those velcro panels!
When you get it just right, it's a good feeling, because it is there for almost perpetuity . . . but having to rip out that perfect arrangement to accomodate another format . . well, it's my idea of Dante's Seventh Circle. Anyway, I had no alternative, so rip, rip, feck, feck, rip, it was.
The air was bluer than a Smurf Convention!

Anyway, so here we are, on a lovely walk into the middle of nowhere.
I've got my camera (Hasselblad 500 C/M); the 60mm Distagon and some rolls of Ilford's really wonderful Delta 400. I took some FP4 too, but ended up on the Delta.
This walk really is off-piste - basically I followed a well-known track some of the way and then followed fence lines (always a reliable way to go) doing some moderate climbing, till my destination was reached. It isn't a massive walk as far as these things go and definitely not an exhausting one, but it was still uphill.
The slight frost on the ground cleared away quite quickly and I found myself 2000 feet up in bright (and very windy) sunshine.
Sadly for me, but not for the animals, I found no winter kill (ie dead animals caught by fences) It happens a lot with snowy ground and deer fences, but we had little snow this year, which is good news for the beasts, but not for me, so photographically it had to be all hill . . .
Photographing hills isn't as easy as people think, because, inherently, they can be quite dull (unless they have dramatic sky attached) and on a day like this was, the sky was a long way up and the hills were bathed in bright sunshine. Not exactly ideal.
I photographed the hilly bits, had a rooty-tooty time and headed back, because I knew that there was more to photograph. The truth is hill-mates, I secretly hoped that the upcoming subject matter was still there. I'd spied it a few years earlier and photographed it, and desparately wanted to photograph it again. It was maybe the whole reason for the trip . . . not that I've done it justice . . but never mind.

And now the Sheep-O-Vision bit:

Have a butchers at these stupid videos (shot on a PiePhone - yes a Wallace's PiePhone 2 . . . that's a Dundee joke dontcha know) with the added bonus addition of EWN!
It was unavoidable - in some shelter it was fine, but stand up and well, wind.
I made them as a bit of laugh and record for myself, but when I got back and watched them, I thought I could shove them on FB and see what happens. They'll give you a decent idea of the place, but it's just a shame there's some gnarly old twat talking to you.





OK, I've called the emergency services and they'll be here in a few minutes. Hope the recovery position isn't too uncomfortable and that the CPR hasn't hurt your chest too much.
So, I did take some photographs too - honest! 
In fact here's the results. 
None of these have been properly printed - just the two contact sheets, scanned at 800DPI and the actual photographs are just scans from those contact sheets at 3200 DPI. 
I am surprised they look not bad considering.
Film as mentioned was Delta 400, EI was 200, and development was in Pyrocat HD for around 20 minutes

And that's about it really. It was a decent walk of around 8 to 10 miles with a fair amount of gear, but I loved it.
I need to get out more actually, it's criminal
I am barely managing two proper walks a year at the moment.
If I had my way I'd be out there every day - it's food for the soul, and fat-burning for the middle-aged spread.
Any exercise is good exercise, and especially when you can breath really clean air and experience all the majesty of the Scottish hills; well, you can't put a price on it, can you.

TTFN, and remember. Er, what did I say to remember?.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Normal Service Will Be Resumed As Soon As Possible

Hi folks - if you normally subscribe to FB by email, you will not doubt have been very surprised by a post this morning that seems half ready - please ignore it - it is an incomplete one posted by an errant set of fingers and a tea-deprived brain. 
It is nearly ready though, but needs tweaking. 
(Ab)normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Dr. No? Blofeld? Nope It's Goldfinger!

Morning folks - y'know, in a galaxy far, far away and a long time ago, people actually used to prInt and mail out paper catalogues! 
It was dead exciting getting one through the post because you could muse for hours over your choice of whatever you liked from a planet full of stuff, narrowing your choices down day by day, till the ultimate list was made!
No more searching your High Street and feeling despondent and glum because your local shops never stocked anything you wanted at all. No, for a small amount of postage, there were wonderful people who would send you everything your heart desired.
And so it was with photography.
There are still a number of excellent mailorder suppliers of photographic stuff in the world - you should be using them rather than Ebay, or Amazon, simply because they care, they are knowledgable, and it is their business. Yes, you'll maybe pay more, but you are paying for a service and deep stock

Goldfinger pre-dated Silverprint (in London) - this is one of their mailorder things - it used to be available as a download on Silverprint's site, but it vanished a few years ago - I guess they thought 'Who wants to read this old stuff!'
So, in the interests of knowledge and some bloody fantastic reading, here it is again as a fully downloadable PDF.
My apologies to Martin Reed and Silverprint, but I just feel that stuff like this should be 'out there' as it were and not consigned to the digital skip of history! Though if you are from Silverprint, or indeed are Martin and you don't want this to remain posted please contact me.

This post buys some time for me - a small stop-gap whilst I try and get some more printing and writing done . . . but that's another (series) of stories . . .
The Godlfinger Craftbook is a well written photographic processing discourse. Sadly the price list has gone . . . as has a lot of the stuff mentioned.
I hope you enjoy it, oh and if you do, remember, FogBlog is pretty much dedicated to Ye Anciente Arte Of Printing And Processing, so have a look around - there's some interesting stuff on this blog if I do say so myself.

This is the link:

It works. It'll open in Google Docs and is fully downloadable.
Every home should have one.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Photography's Not Dead (It Just Smells A Bit Funny)

Morning folks - well, more time away from the keyboard just doing stuff has meant there's been little time for posting, however, some stuff will be posted the noo. 
So hold onto your hard-hats and be intrigued by the title of this.

You see, I really believed in my heart that photography was pretty much dead - I did and I bet you did too!
For all intents and purposes, our style of photography, pretty much is. 
Where are the massed ranks of analogue photographers rushing home to their darkrooms with oodles of film? 
I figure they are out there (the confidence shown by film manufacturers recently certainly says that something is going on) it's just that, be honest, apart from yourself and your mad friends, how many others have you actually seen?

Yer Sheephouse was recently extremely lucky to be invited on holiday by his parents-in-law (along with Mrs Sheephouse of course) to Dubrovnik, in Croatia.
If you've never been, go.
If you have been, you'll maybe know what I am talking about.
It's a stunningly beautiful place, full of some of the most happy and welcoming 'natives' we've ever encountered, but man is it rammed with tourists.
It's as busy as busy can be, and you know what? to a man (and woman) they're all taking photographs.
Billions and billions of them.
All the time.
If I thought that Amsterdam was indeed the city of a plague of bicycles (which it is - they come at you from all directions) then Dubrovnik, is the city of the selfie-stick toting tourist.
Well, you'll be saying, that's just the modern age innit.
Yes it most certainly is, but amongst all the phone photography (and seriously, the selfie is an extraordinary phenomenon in its own right) I have never seen as many massive-lensed SLRs being carried, anywhere.
They were predominantly Canon, and toted by everyone from bearded/concerned young men, to grannies.
To my eyes, the digital compact is all but dead, having been supplanted by the phone, but for 'serious' stuff . . . well, SLR it is.
There was also a smattering of Sony NEX-style cameras, but these were outnumbered vastly.
So, photography isn't dead.
Indeed, were I to be stuck in a chair and tickled by Ken Dodd (overseas readers, look him up) then I would say, missus, that our lovely hobby is alive and kicking, in spades 
But (and here's the question) how many of these masterpieces ever make it out of their little envelopes of plastic, metal and silicone?.

So, it's alive, but worrabout Film?
Did someone say film?
Well, I've mentioned this before, but there is a curious phenomenon in the world, whereby the only people carrying film cameras in daylight hours are . . . young Asian women.
I believe they're mostly Japanese too (God bless 'em) and my spotting haul was good this time - 5 film cameras!
From memory they were: an Olympus OM1, another later OM (not sure what), a Minolta, a Praktika (!) and a gorgeous Pentax Spotmatic . . .

So what was I doing to hold our side up, film fans?  
What was Mr Sheephouse, proponent of film, film and more film doing?

No Film camera, cough.

What was that?

Err, sorry, no film camera . . . 

OK, I chickened out again about carrying film through security scanners and ended up with the Sony A6000 and 35mm f2 Nikkor-O.
Now the Nikkor is a fine lens and I've taken a lot of photos with it that I actually like, but I dunno, on the Sony, that character it normally oozes is lost in a world of digital flatness. The Sony relates any detail captured in life-like colours and great quality, but the photos below look, to me, as dead as dodos.
Let me know what you think.
I can't begin to tell you how many times I hungered for a film camera!
Honest, I even dreamed about a Leicaflex SL. 
It was total pain (and shame) I was feeling, and I am now more determined than ever to travel with film. I've been thinking that something really really small and discreet like an OLD screw-mount Leica with the Canon 28mm f3.5 lens I have and using Sunny 16, would yield me the sort of photos I'd like to print.
Of course, I have the M2 too, but that is rather a target I believe, sadly. 

The other thing that came to a head with the Sony was it's reaction time.
Excuse me, as I am going to swear:

It was fucking fucking fucking fucking slow.

Nearly 3 seconds to wake up and react to my presence and that stupid fucking electronic viewfinder . . ah jeez. Well, you can tell, I was frustrated as fuck. In fact I would rank the electronic VF (apart from the nice red focus confirmation bits) on the Sony as being WORSE than the faff that is focusing and composing on a screw-mount Leica.
So, is the Sony going to get the boot?
I dunno - potentially.
I think I should replace our 7 year old Panasonic which is getting a bit long in the tooth (and whose screen has started to go) but still takes a decent pic, with something that'll do the job with an optical VF, but that is compact, and for the rest, well, hyperfocal with the Canon on a screw mount Leica - how does that sound?
Or accept the cudgel, get a Sony short focal length zoom for the Sony, use that as the 'general' camera and forget about using Nikkors on it.
Oh and I think solid B&W from now on - none of this colour stuff for me (even though I like it) - so that I can come home with 36 or 64 real negatives that I can easily deal with, and not nearly 500 digital ones, that are so-so and consume hours of time to sort.

So why is photography a bit smelly then Sheepy?

Well, the thing this has all highlighted for me, is that in the total move to digital, we, as photographers, have lost SO much. 
Yes, you get an optical VF with an SLR, but you also get a camera that is huge and has just way too many options that make me personally just say:

"Oh fuck OFF!"

I want something that reacts in the way an M2 or a Nikon F reacts. Quickly and intuitively. That lets the photographer be a photographer and not just a button pushing curator of menus. Yes, I know, there are the likes of the digi-Leicas and Fujis, but they're really expensive. there has to be a cheaper common ground.
I doubt this very much, but

If there is a camera manufacturer out there, who would like me to design a camera that old-time photographers WOULD ACTUALLY LIKE TO USE, then please, send me a message!

I reckon I could design one for you.
There's a huge gap in the market for something as simple and wonderful to use as the old Olympus Trip.

Anyway, without further ado, Dubrovnik . . oh and the wonderful Kotor (in Montenegro). 

I make no pretensions about these photos - I just enjoyed taking them, but the results are so-so to my eyes, they're not 'art' they are '(ph)art' and they're sifted from, as I said, around 500 in total - what a fecking nightmare!

And that's it folks - normal service will be resumed shortly - got a massive backlog of negatives to be printed - I just need some time.
Be good, keep taking the pills and remember that a bird in the hand will more than likely crap in it too.