I’ve always been pretty firm in my resistance to the
seemingly unstoppable charge of digital photography. The “digital revolution”
has been an inarguable success, but the takeover has not been total. The brave
new digital world has been benevolent enough to leave room for those of us with
gelatine hearts and analogue souls.
A brief search of YouTube finds a huge number of analogue
shooters extolling the virtues of film in all formats.
Personally, I love my old film cameras. They’re tactile.
They look great, and they feel great, and I can choose between multiple formats
dependant on what I want to shoot or how I want to shoot it. It’s great to have
a choice, and that choice extends to film or digital.
Life is busy, and I don’t have as much time as I’d like to devote to personal photography, so when I do, I’ve always thought that I should do what I like to do… not work to someone else’s agenda… shoot for myself alone. But now, I’m beginning to think that rather than providing artistic freedom, that may be an attitude that may begin to stymie creativity. Maybe the “everything in moderation” approach that seems to serve me well in other areas should be applied, and the occasional assignment to a specific brief will help to keep the photography fresh and interesting. So, thanks to those lovely people at the sunny 16 podcast I recently embarked on an assignment on the theme of “day into night”.
“The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize.” ― Robert Hughes
I imagine many of us occasionally have those feelings that we’re out of our depth, that we don’t know what we’re doing, or we’re out of control and being carried along against our will or judgement. Most of the time these feelings are momentary. We attempt to regain control and move on, but what happens to our creativity during these periods of doubt? And what if those periods are not fleeting, but consistent, long term and debilitating? Following on from the previous post which described the darkness that Don McCullin feels from his years of bearing witness to the worst of humanity, and how those dark feelings are alleviated, just a little, by photographing the land, or creating classical still life compositions, I wanted to explore a little more the idea of how our mental state might affect, and be affected by, our photography.
I’m a big fan of square photos, it’s long been my favourite format, but I’m increasingly finding that there’s something about the panoramic format that appeals to me.
You may have read my earlier post about my first foray into pinhole photography. It’s no accident that my self-built pinhole camera utilises the panoramic format.
I’ve long fancied getting my hands on a nice Hasselblad x-pan and a couple of lenses, but my wallet just won’t stretch to that, so my little wooden “x-pin” is as close as I’ll get for the foreseeable future.
Now, I know that digital technology makes creating big panoramas relatively easy by stitching multiple images together, but really, if you’ve read anything on this blog you’ll know that’s just not me. The mere thought of spending that long at a computer screen puts me in a cold sweat. It’s not a facet of photography that I will ever enjoy, so I’ll leave it to those who do. I will concede though, to a brief dalliance with panoramic cropping. It’s quick and easy, and can sometimes throw up an intriguing composition.Continue reading “playing with panoramas”
It must have been around five years ago that I decided to build a pinhole camera. I’d come across this website: http://www.teamdroid.com/diy-high-capacity-panoramic-pinhole-camera/ which sparked my interest, so using the plans on the site as a guide, but making a few minor adjustments, I set about cutting, shaping, sanding, gluing, drilling and painting.
I used 6mm MDF for the outer shell, and 6mm “mighty-core” foam board for the internals, making quite a sturdy little box. A simple winding mechanism pulls the 120 film in front of a piece of thin brass shim, which I hand-drilled with a 0.25mm drill held in a pin chuck.
With the 0.25mm diameter hole, and a distance from pinhole to film of 40mm, the f/stop according to Mr Pinhole’s calculator is f160. A steel washer is glued onto the front of the brass shim in a recess on the front of the box, and a “memo board” type magnet fits snuggly into the recess as a shutter.Continue reading “pinhole photography – my first attempt”
“’Ere, Tone,” said Emma the hairdresser (friend of Mrs S), interrupting the snippety-snip-snipping of her tonsorial attentions as I sat in her kitchen one sunny Sunday morning in June. “You’re the best person to ask.” “Surely not,” thought I, “there must be millions more qualified than me, in every conceivable subject.” “I’ve taken a picture of my fruitbowl.” She continued. “Steady on, girl,” I spluttered, “children present!” But it turned out she was actually talking about an actual fruitbowl, not some bizarre euphemism… I breathed a sigh of relief.
Some years ago, when I had delusions of being an adequate photographer, I was given the opportunity to shoot a corporate calendar for my employer. You see, I’d made such a fuss about the quality of the previous year’s effort that I think they decided it was the only way to shut me up. Late 2003 it was. My deadline was very tight, but I managed to deliver a dozen nicely exposed 6×6 slides of moderately interesting views, and even got involved with the graphic designer on the layout. In truth, the print quality of the final calendar didn’t do me any favours, but that was well beyond my control, and having sold a number of the images as framed cibachrome prints, I’m happy in the knowledge that my personal quality control was up to standard. It was a fun project, and I wrote an article describing the experience and speculatively sent it off to Amateur Photographer magazine. Joy of joys, it was published, and only slightly edited. Surely I was now set… the big league beckoned… a stellar career in calendar photography, or journalism, or both, was a certainty…
There are some places whose names become inextricably linked in our memory to events (usually disasters) that happened there:
WORLD TRADE CENTRE
All appalling disasters which resulted in tragic loss of life. All are entrenched in our collective memory, even though we may not have a personal memory. The Aberfan tragedy, for example, happened exactly one year before I was born. There is no possible way I can have a “real” memory of it. Memories of my own childhood up to the age of around 5 or 6 are hazy at best yet Aberfan is etched on my mind, to the extent that on mention of the name, I “see” the old black and white news footage and photographs.Continue reading “the lifeboat station project”