Another Street Sign

With the way the talking heads in the media are ranting and frothing at the mouth about religious fundamentalism you would be pardoned if you thought it was a new phenomenon. Of course it’s not, the ebb and flow of violent pious beliefs is a historical fact.

One day’s crackpot is tomorrow’s martyr.

On a lighter note; a sure way of recognizing a photograph shot with a medium format film camera is the so-called waist-level shot – so named because the camera is held just above the waist and you look down into the viewfinder to focus and a fine example of what happens is this picture.

The picture was shot about 22years ago so it is also a fine example of the continuity of religious bigotry.

If there is one thing that I find exceptionally hard to understand it’s the large swaths of angry people who believe that their belief in a loving god demands that they abuse and persecute those who don’t have the same beliefs, when in fact such overweaning narcissism is an anathema to all religious teaching with the possible exception of Satanism.
Bronica SQA, 80mm, Kodak Tri-x, asa 400

A Tale of Resilience

One of the major differences between film and digital photography are the stories one can tell. In the digital realm to tell someone that you underexposed 10 or 12 photos 2 or 3 stops without noticing just means you are not very good at what your doing.

Alternatively, mistakenly putting a 50 ASA film in the camera and metering for a 400ASA film will extract humorous groans from those who have also done it. It becomes an more interesting tale when you compound the mistakes. In this picture which I shot two weeks ago I never noticed that the film was not the much faster HP5 that I thought it to be and I consequently metered and developed it as if it was. But what makes the tale interesting for those who like such things are the extraordinary details. Such as because the film was over ten years out of date I was reluctant to buy new developer and the internet said that Rodinal  film developer could be kept for a few years before it went off. I had an open bottle of it that had been hanging around for about a year and a half so I thought  why not give it a go, even though the chemical’s colour had shifted from light amber to almost black.

The fixer (just as old) smelt a little, but what the hell.

The end result is that the chemicals did their job and properly developed the film , but due to the massive underexposure  when I shot the film the negatives are seriously thin and it took a slow 3200 dpi scan to get a sort of image.

Considering everything, a 4-second handheld exposure, terrible lighting conditions, gross underexposure, old out-of-date film and failing chemicals, I was surprised to get anything and yet I still got a picture. And it looks like a very old photograph  straight out of the camera, which is cool.

Film, it’s amazing stuff.

Bronica SQa, 50mm wide angle, f4, 4 second exposure, Ilford Pan F, ISO 50.

On Film, Ism’s and Rituals

Once a site of resistance, the Peace Wall in Prague is now a place where insignificant individuals desecrate symbols of resistance for reasons of narcissism. Let’s face it, the mass of tourists who feel a need to write on walls such as the John Lennon Peace Wall are those who come late to history via a homogenized journey but want others to think they would have risked life and limb if only they had been born earlier, or in a less salubrious location, or under an oppressive regime, or didn’t have to go to uni, or….

The folk law version I heard from the locals back in the mid 1990s was that during the communist era someone did the original graffiti/paintings and the authorities painted over them, and then more were done, the authorities would removed them and back and forth it went. Finally someone who was caught repainting the J.L. mural was badly beaten, which resulted in the violent protests of record.

Ironically, Wikipedia gives a different, more homogenized and palatable version, but by the 1990s tourists had begun to do what organized oppression could not, they were taking the wall away piece by piece, paint chip by paint chip as souvenirs to put away and forget or were tagging what was left with rather stupid minutia.

The wall looks much different today, I guess because it’s now a site of entertainment, an ode to the corrosive power of any dominant ism no matter the label

The reason for these pictures is that I have begun to regress and have once again fallen in love with film. Not for the nostalgic reasons so popular today or because film is better, but for the ritual of loading film, taking light meter readings and being restricted to the amount of shots (12 in the case of this camera) to a roll of film. These actions slow everything down, makes me more selective and contemplative about composition and why I want to shoot the image. It also costs 30 to 50 cents a shot and a lot of work goes into making the final picture so each image is important. The process is therapeutic you might say, in its own odd way.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lennon_Wall

Bronica SQA, 80mm, Ilford HP5, developed in Rodinol. 1994

I was in Rome many years ago and while I was there I took a tour of the Vatican. At the time I didn’t really understand the influence the visit would have on me, nor how what I saw would become an ingrained part of the way I take pictures.

While on the tour I noticed that in every painting someone (usually a young woman) would be looking at the audience and the eyes would follow you everywhere you went in that room. I mentioned this to the tour guide who explained that in this period it was normal to have someone in the painting referencing the viewer. I liked this idea a lot. Now, many years later, when taking pictures of people in public I still prefer to have someone looking at the camera. It may be a tick, but it is something I consciously do, and the images I choose to display invariably have someone looking back at the viewer.

EOS RT, 50mm, Fomapan 400 B&W film, developed in Rodinol (it was all I used at the time, which is why I remember)

ANARCHY-PRIDE-HITCHHIKE

ANARCHY-PRIDE-HITCHHIKE

 

If any one thing exemplifies the reason I needed to reorganize my library of images it is today’s post.

Having spent the week moving pictures around and doing very little else I decided that the last post of the week would be a photograph from my favorite shoot of 2015. My memory for pictures is good, but reality and memory are two different animals. The picture is from a large group of individual portraits I did in a single evening. In my memory the shoot took place around February/ March whereas it actually took place in November 2014. As this was a very specific set of pictures I knew where to find the folder but more obscure shoots under the old system would take a lot of looking to find.

It’s easier now, although the filing system can and will be further refined. But it is the sheer volume of images that has surprised me, not that I’m blind to the amount of times I press the shutter release, but the massive amount of people, places and objects that needed to be properly categorized for easy access has been mind bending.

 

This picture was shot with Ilford HP5 6x6cm roll film using a Bronica SQA camera with a 50mm wide-angle lens attached. The film was developed with Adonal (A Rodinol clone) developer and pushed 1 stop to help alleviate anticipated problems with fogging, because the film was very old and very much out of date. It may not have been my favorite shoot from 2015, but it is still one of my favorite shoots in recent years.

Remembering The Big Apple

Still sitting in a room sorting bits and bites.

This picture was shot around 2002 in New York, on the ferry to Staten Island, a trip I like to take every time we visit the Big Apple. You get a great view of the city as well as the Statue of Liberty and as the ferry is fee, it’s easily the best value in NY.

The camera I was using at the time was an EOS RT, a wonderful camera thats shutter curtain has since stopped working properly because it hadn’t been used in years.

That’s the way of machines, use them or loose them.

I’m currently doing huge backups in conjunction with sorting the library. It always sounds excitingly fast in a movie, in reality it’s as slow and tedious as watching oil-based paint dry.

EOS RT, 50mm (that’s what I was mainly using at the time) Classic Pan 400ASA film, developed with Rodinol.

Cultural Differences

I’ve been preoccupied with doing other things than taking pictures today so it’s necessary to retreat to the archives.

This picture was shot in California in about 2005 (I’m ambiguous about the date because it’s from unlogged film stock, which means I was on holidays), and I thought it ironic at the time and a real sign of cultural differences.

I’ve never seen such a sign anywhere else in the world.

Under new management, new ownership, yep, all the time, but new corporate ownership, how is that a benefit to the customer?

It simply means that any guarantee problems you had with faulty items just got so much worse. That you’re going to hear a lot more from a recorded voice saying “please stay on the line, your call is important to us” and yes, that call is important to them, because it’s a revenue stream.

Canon Eos 5, Foma Classic Pan ASA400