Forgotten Film

A very long time ago, I bought a Lubitel 166B. I wanted to experiment with both TLRs and medium-format photography, and I already had a (small) collection of Soviet and Eastern Bloc cameras. It’s not got the style or sophistication of a Rolleiflex, but it’s still a beautiful object and is a joy to use.

lubitel.jpg

The first time I ever shot on this camera was the first time I went to Cambridgeshire to see Katie’s parents. I was mostly just playing around for fun, but here and there I tried to do some ‘serious’ photography. I had the film lying around for a while, because uni and work had caught up with me and I had never managed to get it into the darkroom, but recently I re-discovered it and sent it to a lab to be developed and scanned.

Peterhouse College, 02
Peterhouse College, #02

Whether the light-leaks are due to the camera or the fact that the film had been lying around for so long, I don’t know, but most of the images have at least one splotch of white on them, and some even more than that. This one, of the ceiling in the entrance-way to Peterhouse College, Cambridge, is missing a lot of detail, but that doesn’t stop the pattern from being striking, and I think gives the image character.

Some others have come out a little bit better. This is Peterhouse again, this time from the outside. The image has some fading but I think this works in its favour. The beautiful contrast between the intricate pattern on the roof and the texture of the columns, accentuated by the grain of Ilford FP4+, gives the image an almost painterly quality.

Peterhouse College, 01
Peterhouse College, #01

The same goes for this image of a church door in Huntingdon. You can see the beautiful grain on the door, contrasted with the decoration and the stonework above. These images have been edited in Lightroom, of course, but not much.

Church Door
Church Door Study

I’m quite pleased with these images, although I probably shouldn’t leave it a year before getting them developed next time. If I had the time and money I think I’d work more with film. I enjoy the feeling of working with a mechanical camera, especially something like the Lubitel, and I do love the quality and character that you get from film that you really can’t achieve with digital. However, like many, I am limited by material reality, so for now, I’ll have to say goodbye to my archaic Soviet TLR.

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Andalusia, Part 2

During my time in Andalusia, I visited Ronda. The city hasn’t changed in the slightest since the last time I was there, but I found myself with an appreciation for the history and medieval architecture of the place that was lacking before.

Calle Manuel Montero, Ronda
Calle Manuel Montero

Ronda, like many places in Andalusia, has had a variety of rulers over the course of history. The current city is of Roman origins, starting its life as a fortified outpost, but it has changed significantly since then. The city has changed hands many times over the years, and this can be seen from the range of different architectural styles that can be seen throughout the old quarter, from the minarets of medieval mosques to the nunnery in the image above.

Calle Ruedo Alonso Gamero, Ronda (Flickr).jpg
Calle Ruedo Alonso Gamero

Walking down streets like this can make you forget that Ronda is a city of 35,000 people. This quaint little alleyway would not look out of place in a village of 350. I love the way the buildings lean over the street, their imposing presence exaggerated by the wide angle of the shot.

 

Andalusia, Part 1

Last week I got back from eight days in Andalusia, Spain. My family and I were staying in an apartment in the mountains, not far from Marbella. We’ve been going to that region of Spain almost every year since I was a child, but this is the first time I have gone with a passion for photography, and it shows.

Andalusian Mountains, 01 (Flickr).jpg
Andalusian Mountains, #01

This image was taken atop a mountain near Benalmádena, and I think it captures the awe-inspiring view that stood before me while I was there. I love the tones in the sky, and the way that the mountains overlap one another in the frame, stretching out into the distance. The clouds add texture, as do the trees on the mountainside in the foreground. This is probably one of my favourite images of the whole trip, but is by no means the only one I’m going to show you.

Mountain Tree
Mountain Tree

This image was taken not far from where we were staying. I love the way that the tree leans slightly to the side, and I think that it adds balance to the frame. It contrasts well with the light tone of the sand beneath it, and the bare sky really draws your eye to the tree. The best images, I find, are those that are simple in composition, and this is a great example.

Over the course of this trip I began to notice my strong preference for vertically-framed images. I often find that a vertical frame allows for more impactful negative space, drawing the viewer’s eye to what little definitive elements remain, which is exactly what I’m aiming for most of the time with my photography.

Clouds over Mediterranean
Clouds over Mediterranean

This image is slightly different though. There isn’t a lot of negative space, but I think that the vertical frame still works to the advantage of the composition. The vertical composition makes the drama-filled clouds hanging above the Mediterranean even more imposing. This image really does make me feel small.

I loved every minute of my trip to Andalusia, and I know that I will definitely be visiting with my camera again. However, you don’t have to wait til then to see more, because there are plenty of images that I haven’t shown you yet. I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing these, and I look forward to sharing more.

Journal #9

Since Monday I’ve been in Andalusia, Spain, on holiday with my family. As I write this on my phone, I’m basking in the midday sun, and enjoying every minute of not working!

In addition to some much-needed R&R, I’ve managed to get loads of great shots. Unfortunately, without my laptop I can’t edit any of them to show you right now, but rest assured that you’ll see them as soon as I get back!

Until then, here’s an image I took on my phone yesterday while in the mountains near Benalmádena.

Andalusian Mountains, near Benalmádena

Journal #8

As you may have noticed, my ‘weekly journals’ aren’t exactly weekly. Sometimes I forget, and sometimes I’m too busy to get round to writing them. I want to keep the journal, but committing to one a week seems too arbitrary, and I find it often leaves me forcing out a post with very little real content. For this reason, I’m carrying on with the journal, but (as you may have guessed from the title) I’m going to drop the ‘weekly’!

The topic of this journal is spontaneity. I’m the kind of photographer who prefers to take his time, out in the hills with nothing but a camera and a tripod. However, sadly, modern life doesn’t really allow for that all the time. I’ve taken to shooting on the camera on my phone on a far more regular basis than in the past, because it allows me to keep my creative eye active as I go about my busy days.

Thirty-Eight Birds.jpg
Thirty-Eight Birds

The image above captures exactly what I mean. I took this on my way home from work this evening, at about 5pm, just as the sun was setting. The gradient of the clear evening sky forms a still, calming backdrop to this flock of birds that circles above me. Some, gliding peacefully, are captured sharply, while others are blurred. This is an image of a truly fleeting moment – within seconds of me taking this image, the flock had moved on.

As a landscape photographer, it’s easy to think that an image needs to be obsessed over for hours to be ‘great’. Sometimes I do exactly that, and I enjoy it, but life doesn’t always allow for obsession. Sometimes life only gives you thirty seconds and a phone.

Weekly Journal #6 & #7

It’s been quite a while since my last journal (certainly more than a week). This is for two reasons. Firstly, I’ve not been feeling too great, and have even been off work a couple of days this week! Secondly, there just isn’t much going on.

I’m going to talk a bit about the near future. There are a few things happening that I’m excited about. 

The main one is my trip to Spain in February. That should bring with it some beautiful images, which I look forward to sharing with you all. It’s an area of Spain that I’ve visited many times in the past, but I’ve never really focused on photography there. Getting a tripod through airport security is going to be fun. 

The other thing I’m excited about is Ghosts – it’s the perfect time of year for working on the series, as we move through winter. I’ve had a few ideas for shots that I want to try out when I have the chance. It would be good to try and get the series closer to completion this year!

That’s about it for now – all of this is a way off but it’s nice to sit and think about it, and to let you know that I’m still active in my work, despite the lack of time. Hopefully I’ll have something more interesting to talk about in the next journal!

Weekly Journal #5

Happy New Year! 2017 has been a good year for me in many ways. I’ve enjoyed being able to write for this blog, and produce many great images.

The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to stop and reflect on the things that happened in the last one. I find that writing for this blog helps me to reflect on things, and so I want to involve you in that process. I hope to be able to write a few blog posts on my favourite images from 2017!

2018, with any luck, will hold some interesting shots as well, and the chance to explore my art further. I look forward to what the year has in store. 

Weekly Journal #4

Sorry that this one is a bit late, but I think I can be excused on account of the holiday season!

I was given a very interesting book by my dad as a Christmas gift – At the Existentialist Cafe: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails. It’s a book that details author Sarah Bakewell’s fascination with French existentialist thinker Jean-Paul Sartre, and I’ve found it enthralling so far.

As an artist, something about Sartre’s existentialism intrigues me. It is concerned not with some abstract philosophy, but with the lived experience of the individual. In the past I have often found myself wondering what exactly my photography means, and have come up with some very good answers. Recently, however, I’ve begun to think that maybe the question itself is flawed. Why does art have to concern itself with meaning? I don’t believe our lives have any inherent meaning, so why must our creations?

You may think these questions are empty, and I can understand why, but I find this (albeit shallow) thought enticing, and it’s something I’d very much like to explore in the New Year.