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Monday, September 1

Vivian Maier: Feeling the Love



Well, I didn't think my tentative proposal that Vivian had been "fast-tracked to the pantheon of great photographers because of her romantic back-story" would be so comprehensively shot down by almost all my readers (thanks Antonio!) who left comments. That's the last time I take you lot on! Seriously, though, I'm a life-long contrarian used to holding minority views so I can live with the opprobrium. Stick your head above the parapet, etc.

I loved the passion and enthusiasm for Vivian that shone through in many of the comments. I'm sure she'd be overwhelmed to know the high regard in which many - myself included - hold her. What a damned shame that she couldn't have lived to see how big a photographic celebrity she's become but it's not the first time that's happened to an artist and it won't be the last.

Having said that, it's entirely possible, being such a shy, introverted and attention-avoiding person, that she would have struggled to handle fame. Her personality no doubt played a major part in the way she approached photography and the success she enjoyed in her image-making. A more gregarious person might have found other interests aside from photography or been side-tracked (in the best possible way) by a family.

So thanks to everyone who took the time to add a comment to my post. I read every one, thought about them and appreciated many of the points you made. I still stick to my same opinion of Vivian's photography - that it's excellent but not quite up there with the best - but now I know that it's a view that largely seems to be my own. A contrarian to the last...

Sunday, August 31

Analogue Archives: Kevin MacDonnell


This MacDonnell column is from 35mm Photography magazine and dates back to February, 1985. I've added a Kevin MacDonnell page in the right column where there are links to the other articles of his that I've already published on the blog.




Friday, August 29

Is Vivian Maier over-rated?



The story of the shy nanny who spent her spare time chronicling the streets of Chicago and further afield on her Rolleiflex but who died under sad circumstances before anyone could appreciate her ability touched me as much as anyone else.

You can't listen to her story without being moved and the thousands of photographs she left behind are a fitting testament to her life and work. BUT, switching from heart to head, did Vivian deserve to be fast-tracked onto the list of near-mythical photographers?

Wednesday, August 27

Stormy skies


Above and below: Contax 137 MA, 50mm f1.4 Planar, Adox Silvermax

Unlike a previous post where I was struggling for a foreground to go with a stormy sky, these foregrounds just sort of suggested themselves. Having said that, I still had to drive around a bit to find them.

I spend far too much time in the car looking for subjects, a strategy that nowadays costs a small fortune with petrol the price it is. But what else is there to do? Unless you like taking flower shots in your back garden then you either have to drive to a particular location, park the car and get out and hike or just trawl the highways and byways until something catches the attention.

Monday, August 25

Another few from the quarry


All pics shot on an Olympus OM2 on Adox Silvermax developed in Spur HRX.
This one was taken with the 50mm f1.8 Zuiko, probably the best tenner you'll
spend on a lens.

I really have to go back and photograph this old, derelict place in 5x4. When photographs are all about texture and light and shade, there's nothing better than a good, big negative to capture it all. The pics here are some more scans from the roll I shot recently at Newtyle Quarry.

Friday, August 22

Singular Image: Delta Sky



Sorry for the pretentious title. It could have been worse: Signpost to God, anyone? I'm absolutely hopeless at coming up with titles for photographs. I've got a desktop littered with stairs1, stairs2, sky3, etc. I tend to make them purely descriptive so I can identify them from their names.

The only one I've been entirely happy with was this one:

Thursday, August 21

Kodak BW400CN no more



Will Ilford be the last man standing? It's certainly looking increasingly that way. Kodak Alaris's coat seems to be on a shoogly peg, as we say in Scotland, following their announcement earlier this week that they are discontinuing BW400CN, their chromogenic film. I can see one Kodak film after another ending production - and, let's face it, there aren't many left now. I don't know if Fuji is doing much better although their 400CN chromogenic film is still around.

Ilford were quickly out of the gates to confirm that rival film XP2 Super will not be sharing a similar fate as BW400CN - at least for the "foreseeable future". They have "no plans" to stop production. Of course, it's anyone's guess what "foreseeable" means in this context. A month? Six months? Two years? Longer?

Wednesday, August 20

Large Format: Tenement Stairwells



Here's an embarrassing confession to kick this post off: I exposed these sheets of 5x4 on January 2 and just developed them on Monday. In fact, I wrote about the process of taking these photographs in this post here on January 3. They've been sitting in their dark slides wrapped in a black plastic print bag all that time. What can I say? Not a lot really. Sometimes I have so much inertia that I can give the immovable object a run for its money.

Monday, August 18

Quarry Office Revisited



A while back I published some aged HDR pics I'd taken, including one of an office at an old, disused quarry near the Perthshire village of Newtyle. That's the abomination in question below. The response in some quarters was quite brutal (only teasing) with a few readers leaving me in no doubt of what they thought of this digital carry on.

Friday, August 15

OT: Barn Find Bicycle



If you're a vintage vehicle enthusiast, whether bicycles, motor bikes or cars, the "barn find" is the holy grail. A machine not widely known, not on the market and in danger of being lost forever without your intervention. There are plenty of Youtube videos where cars left to languish at the back of a barn for more than 30 years have suddenly come to light, usually when the owner who left it there dies.

Such a barn find was this 1948 Hobbs of Barbican bike, the pinnacle of post-war racing machines. Happily, the owner is still very much alive and kicking although now approaching 90. As a vintage racing bike enthusiast, I found out about this particular bike when I bought a 1936 lightweight from the owner's older - and now deceased - brother. The older brother told me his younger sibling had a pre-war Hobbs so I got the phone number and gave the chap a ring. That was about 12 years ago.