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Monday, August 13

Back to the Future

Way back in the mists of time, I was an early adopter of things digital. The cameras were handy for a young father with little free time and helped me get back into photography after a lay-off of several years. Mucking about with image files on the computer was good fun but I soon wanted to see some prints. That's where the problems began.

Saturday, August 4

The Carse - quick update

It's been a while since I posted anything about the Carse and when I realised I still had some unpublished snowy shots I thought it was time to bring you up to date - before the next winter is upon us.

These are all 35mm negative scans dating back to February. One or two might look familiar since I've covered some of the same subjects before but they're all new pics. I've not spent much time on the Carse project for a couple of months having, it has to be said, begun to tire of repeatedly shooting the same or similar subjects.

Maybe the old enthusiasm will rekindle of it's own accord or perhaps I just need to work a bit harder at finding new subjects, locations or viewpoints in the Carse.

Tuesday, July 24

Mamiya Press update

Farmyard at Evelick

I've been having a whale of a time with the Mamiya Press outfit I bought recently. It's the first rangefinder I've felt entirely comfortable with because, for the first time, I can see all the of the frame lines with my glasses on! I grew to love the Leica M2 but that took some perseverance and involved a certain amount of guesswork when it came to the edges of the frame.

Monday, July 16

FP4 and Microphen

Bridge at Finlathen

HP5 and Microphen is working out nicely as far as the 6x9 negatives from the Mamiya Press go so I've been turning my attention to the 35mm format and what might give me a similar look. Having decided a while back that I'd try to stick with more traditional films rather than the T-grain stuff, I loaded up some FP4 in the OM1 and went for a wander.

Monday, July 9

If I don't reply to comments..'s because bloody awful Blogger no longer sends me an email alerting me to them. I try to remember to check the admin side of the blog for comments but I got so used to the email alerts that I sometimes forget.

I checked five minutes ago and found about ten comments dating back to June 23 that I hadn't approved. I have to use an approval process otherwise spam bots would flood the comments with garbage.

All comments are greatly appreciated. If from now on your comment doesn't appear in a timely fashion then please remember that it's not laziness or disinterest at work but just my bad habits. Hopefully, though, I'll not be quite so forgetful in future.

Sunday, July 8

The Angus Glens

It's been a while since my last post but a lot has been happening none of which, sadly, has been conducive to photography. Cath and I decided to knock down an internal wall in the house and install a new kitchen. We did all the down-takings but got a joiner in to build the new kitchen. That involved about a dozen trips to the local municipal dump with car loads of kitchen cupboards, appliances, flooring and the various elements that go to make up an internal wall. Thankfully, we're just about finished now.

Wednesday, June 20

Soul Survivor

Here's another shot off the first roll I exposed in the Mamiya Press. You might remember the big, threatening cloud from the earlier pic? If this had been a digital shot, I'd have cloned out the scrubby bushes to the left of the single tree. See what's so great terrible about digital? It can turn you into a big liar, photographically-speaking. The temptation can be overwhelming, even for the most honest of photographers. I did it all the time when I was using digital cameras.
“Digital photography can be a totally lying experience - you can move what you want, the whole thing can’t be trusted really." Don McCullin.
That single tree preoccupied me a great deal when sizing up this scene. It was the main reason for taking the photograph but it was difficult getting it in the right place. The idea, which was obvious enough, was to show a sole (we'll forget about the clonable shrubs for this exercise) survivor threatened by the massive bully of a cloud.

Sunday, June 17

Stars in Their Eyes

Dalreichmoor, high up in the Carse of Gowrie

Way back in the mists of time there was a TV show in the UK called Stars in Their Eyes where ordinary members of the public could grab their 15 minutes in the limelight by impersonating a famous celebrity. I'm pretty sure the same format would have been used in many other countries around the world.

Thursday, June 14

In praise of the Filofax

Well, it's difficult for me to admit it but I guess I can accurately be described as a Luddite now. I'm slowly coming to the conclusion that technology, especially computer-related digital technology, is, on balance, diminishing the quality of life. I know it's not a massive revelation but it's still hard for me to admit it.

A couple of things happened to make me realise the path I'm on, a path away from the ubiquity of electronic devices and their propensity for restricting our life experiences under the guise of opening up new vistas.

First, my iPad started playing up. In truth, it had been slowing down and becoming ever more recalcitrant for months. I thought I'd teach it a lesson so I backed everything up - or so I thought - and wiped the bugger clean. That marginally improved the performance of the machine so I was reasonably happy - that was until it came to developing a film using the Massive Dev Chart app on the iPad.

That was when I realised that I no longer had the app on my iPad. It had disappeared along with my developer times and all my notes which I'd typed into the app. Now, I know some of you will be sitting there thinking, "Well, that's not exactly the iPad's fault, is it? The muppet forgot to back up the app and now he's blaming the device!" And, of course, you'd be right. You could also accuse me of over-optimism in placing my faith in the iPad as an archival storage system when notebooks and pencils are cheap and reliable. I get that, too.

However, there is one storage system that has stood the test of time despite being given no special treatment nor back-ups of any kind - the humble Filofax or personal organiser. I stumbled upon mine in a box of stuff that I hadn't looked at for many years. It's a cheap copy and not the big name brand but it was still stuffed with developer notes and information sheets from boxes of developer and film going back more than 25 years. It was a lovely thing to behold, if truth be told. A snapshot of a point in time before digital photography was even a term, when I had most of my life before me and when Jessop's own-brand film (re-packaged Efke) was a pound a roll (it always comes down to money eventually, doesn't it!).

Whatever happened to the Filofax, I wondered to myself. It was such a big part of the stationery industry and now it's gone. Another victim of the digital takeover. Except it isn't. Gone, that is. There's a burgeoning Filofax community out there peopled by all sorts from hipsters and young mums to company executives and lawyers. This reality kind of blew me away. But it was also an affirmation. It fairly made my day to know that not only was I not alone in my growing mistrust and dislike of digital devices but I didn't even need counselling. I wasn't (that much of) a freak after all!

My eager research into the Filofax led me, almost inevitably as it turns out, to a great website called Philofaxy (very clever name) where I discovered, amongst many other things, that personal organisers have been around since long before the war. The main contributor to the blog seems to be a retired UK radio engineer - and photographer - who has a fine command of the English language so it's not only chock full of information but can also be read without filling me with rage at the slow dismantling of our main form of communication. Everything you might reasonably want to know about personal organisers is readily accessible on the Philofaxy site. Including the fact that you can pay as much for a leather bound Filofax or similar quality brand as you might for an iPad. Obviously, you could write your photography info on a £1.50 notebook out of Asda but you could also use a £25 Minolta SRT101 as your main camera and there aren't many who do that. A good place to start on the Philofaxy blog is right at the beginning where you can read about the events that sparked the whole thing off.

There are printable PDF files for a whole range of inserts for the Filofax from notebook pages to "to do" lists and calendars and all the way through to PHOTOGRAPH EXPOSURE NOTES! Yes, you can print out your own pages and slot them into your personal organiser for use in the field. OK, the money you'll save from this DIY approach won't enable you to pay off your mortgage early but it tickles the nerve centre where independence and self-sufficiency reside and, at least from my perspective, imparts a warm glow to the being.

A nice Omega organiser. £350 of your finest British pounds, sir.

So how much is entry to the Filofax club? Filofax organisers start at about £30 or thereabouts and go right up to several hundred pounds. There are other premium brands which are even more expensive. I really fancy a leather-jacketed one in a nice dark brown filled with my DIY exposure note pages and associated scribblings in the notebook section. I can guarantee that such a Filofax would be around as long as I am which is more than I can say for an iPad.

In fact, just last night, I was sitting on the settee with said iPad looking at some Ray Moore photographs when I stopped to blow a hair off the screen. Turns out it wasn't a hair but a long, hairline crack! I looked further and found a series of cracks partly hidden by the cover I use over the device. Again, the "muppet" must confess that the cracks are no doubt the result of some rough handling as iPad screens tend not to self-destruct. But must things always happen for a reason? Or is it only coincidence that my iPad has started the no doubt inexorable process of disintegration just as I rediscover the joys of the battery-free personal organiser?

I don't know the answer to that one. But I do know that I'll not be taking any chances. From now on, my developer notes, etc, will be committed to good old paper using no more than the humble Biro. 

Monday, June 11

Moving the goalposts

Where have all the dogs gone? Ray Moore could conjure up a hound or two (apparently) when he needed them. Lots of other photographers can as well. I've had luck influencing the flight patterns of seagulls so they fly into my frame at just the right spot, but dogs?