Stan’s little escapade

I’ve been talking about the current pandemic over the last few days but I don’t really have anything to say about it today – I’ve avoided the news for the most part, and the only things that have really brought it to mind have been the things I saw while out for a walk before lunch (nothing very extraordinary, but maybe I’ll cover them in a future blog when I have the photos I took developed).

Instead I’ll tell a short tale of Stan, our cat, and what happened to him yesterday…

Stan lets himself in and out of the house when he chooses through a cat-flap and, while he goes out a lot, he’s usually making his presence known throughout the day (generally folloing us into the kitchen and begging for treats or, if it’s meal-time, nipping at my feet for attention). Yesterday afternoon howerver he was nowhere to be seen. Even after his usual mealtime there was no sign of him and, as it began to get dark, I had pangs of worry. Shouting him and shaking his treat box didn’t elicit a response.

My thoughts were that he’d either seen something interesting (maybe a mouse or an insect or something) and was now waiting patiently somewhere for his opportunity to snare it. Another alternative was that he’d gotten himself trapped somewhere. There is always the additional concern that he might be struck by a car when he’s out but, to my knowledge, his territory doesn’t reach across the road beside our house and, if it did, the current coronavirus situation means that traffic is very much reduced anyway.

Thinking he could be trapped, my first idea was to check the garage. He enjoys going in there – I think he knows he’s not supposed to and so will dart in as the door is opened if the opportunity presents itself. It was possible he’d slipped in unnoticed and gotten himself locked in. However, there was no sign when I checked.

After about another hour of him not appearing, I racked my memory to think when I’d last seen him and remembered that it was when I’d returned home after my supermarket trip – he’d been sat on the doorstep as I unloaded the bags and then, after not coming in when I’d finished, I closed the door, shutting him outside.

And then another thing struck me. About five minutes after unpacking the groceries, my wife had told me I’d left the hatch-back open on the car, so I went outside and closed it,

Could it be that he’d poked his inquisitive little nose into the car while it was opened and then gotten locked in? Why yes. Yes it could!

I went back outside and opened the boot whereupon he instantly leapt, gazelle-like, out of his prison, eliciting a loud bark of relieved laughter from me. Thankfully he wasn’t any the worse for wear (and, equally importantly, hadn’t needed the toilet while trapped!).

It’s always a worry when a cat doesn’t come home when expected, and always a big relief when they turn up safely. I will add a boot-check in future when we unload the shopping.

I maybe also need to take some more photos of him that I can easily post on the blog if required – apart from loads of Instax pictures, I think this is the only film shot I have of him (and it was the end of the roll!).

FILM - Sofa cat

Olympus 35 RC & Eastman Double-X.

Taken on 13 September 2019

Eleven flights

As I briefly mentioned the other day, the skies are currently almost empty of aircraft, something noticeable on clear days. Today not so much as it’s mostly cloudy (and considerably chillier!) so the sight has been lessened somewhat. To mark the lack of flights, today I post a picture of eleven flights.

Of stairs.

As I type this I’ve not checked the news for today’s pandemic updates. I’m not planning on burying my head in the sand over the situation, but dwelling on a constant 24-hour news-cycle of reports on the pandemic are probably not great for mental health, so I’m going to try and get on with things as normally as possible, dipping into the news only when appropriate.

Today’s previously mundane, but now suddenly “interesting” activity was to go to the local supermarket for some things we needed. I only posted the other day about only going to get provisions once a week, and that seems to have fallen through straight away as my wife was unable to get all the things we needed yesterday. So, this morning, I drove to the local Sainsbury’s to get the things we were missing.

The branch of Sainsburys is attached to a shopping-mall close to where we live and there were plenty of car-parking spaces as most of the other shops in the mall are closed at present. The supermarket has implemented a queueing system that allows twenty people in the store at a time, which requires people to stand in the car-park outside in a zig-zag queue. The parking spaces make handy markers for keeping apart, and the was a gap of three or four metres between each person (or family). Everyone was behaving and, despite it being colder today, seemed in good spirits – chatting with their fellow shoppers and sharing news of what was open, where the treasured items (pasta and toilet rolls) might be acquired, and being generally good-natured. Despite the queue seeming quite long, I got into the store in the third block of people.

Stock on the shelves was pretty plentiful apart than a few items I noticed (pasta and dried rice), and I was able to get the things we needed, plus a few other items that we were running short on.

FILM - Eleven flights

Canon Sure Shot Supreme & Lomography Color Negative 400.

Taken on 1 March 2020

Bright colours for dark times

It’ll not be too long before my (more) usual posting of black and white photos resumes, but for a while at least I’ll post more of these colourful and saturated Lomography Color Negative shots. It suits the lovely weather we currently have here in the UK and maybe some sunny photos will lift people’s spirits in some small way. Today’s photo is of the gable-end of a row of shops just down the road from Harrison Cameras in Sheffield. I took if from the base of a block of flats just behind – and raised a little above – the building and the light was being reflected back on the scene in an attractive way. I like how the hedge on the left is illuminated such that it mirroes the green bins at the opposite side of the frame.

In today’s COVID-19 update, it would seem that both our Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock have tested positive for coronavirus infection. While i don’t wish serious illness upon either of them, it might be a situation that helps to convince some in the country of the seriousness of the situation. At present, while the lock-down is noticeable in the quietness of the streets – particularly at night – there still seems to be a decent amount of activity on the streets.

We’ve been told by the government that we should stay indoors for all but essential reasons: to buy essential shopping; for medical reasons (including provision of care for someone we’re responsible for); to travel to work (but only where this is essential and working from home isn’t an option); and for one period of exercise (such as a walk, run or cycle).

I think some people are using this as an excuse to carry out other pastimes under the guise of exercise – I saw a post from someone on Facebook who had gone into the countryside with not only a camera, but also a drone. While the person may have been safely able to avoid other people, there is always the small chance that something could go wrong – even a simple flat-tyre – which would then require the assistance of others. Taking a local walk with a camera in your pocket would seem a reasonable thing to do (as long as the exercise is the primary goal and you can avoid close contact with others), but driving out to beauty-spots feels a little like taking liberties.

As for us, we will only shop for food on a single occasion each week (although I guess it could be necessary to visit more than a single retailer) – we can manage without certain items if needed, so a single trip to the shops reduces our contact with others. We, thankfully, don’t have any medical requirements that we need to leave home for. My dad is elderly, but fit and active, and my sister still lives at home with him anyway. I work from home, so no need to travel for that, although my wife works in a key role that requires her to travel to her place of work each day still. She drives, so isn’t at risk from others on public transport at least. As for exercise, I have been going out for a walk, but haven’t the past couple of days. We’ve got an exercise bike in the garage (that can now be used again following yesterdays garage tidying activities!), so I’ll use that if required. Whle I can go out for a walk while easily avoiding others, I feel like maybe I shouldn’t unless absolutely necessary, so I’ll see how that goes.

I’ve tidied and cleaned my home-office today. I work in there, but it also houses my PC and scanner that U use for my photos. Hopefully my next scans will not feature constellations of stars across them from all the dust spots! 🙂

Somewhat to my surprise, most of the home-developing stuff I ordered yesterday has already arrived (although I still don’t have a developing tank yet, which is kinda important) so, once I get the final bits and pieces I’ll be in a position to ruin develop my own film. Or at least I will when I’ve finished a roll – my shooting rate seems to have declined a bit this week…

FILM - Pink gable

Canon Sure Shot Supreme & Lomography Color Negative 400.

Taken on 1 March 2020

No chips

Or fries, for my American pals. 🙂

I really will have to get some more Lomography Color Negative 400 when I get the chance. This was my only remaining roll, but I’ve found if produces wonderfully saturated colours, as with the red-painted frontage of the fish & chip shop in today’s photo.

As I type this, it’s day four of the UK’s COVID-19 lockdown. I have today and tomorrow off work and would under normal circumstances have taken the opportunity to go out and take some photos – probably shooting colour as we’ve had (in a cruel joke by mother nature) beautifully sunny weather all week – but alas we’re not able to do so at present. I didn’t even go out for a walk today as I have the rest of the week, intead deciding I’d spend some time tidying the garage which is full of loads of boxes that I’d placed in a storage unit when we moved house but which I then removed and brought home to save the monthly fees. It was difficult to get access to other things in the garage, so I’ve spent the day completely re-arranging it all to make better use of the space.

I also spent some time this morning looking at (and then ordering) the equipment I’ll need to start developing my own B&W film at home. I still have a few bits and pieces to acquire, but the changing bag and all the chems are on their way, and I’ve had someone kindly donate a developing tank which they will post to me when an opportunity arises to do so. I really don’t know that much about home developing, especially which of the wide range of chemicals would be best, but in the end opted for some Ilfotec DDX, Ilfostop, Ilford Rapid Fixer and some Ilfotol wetting agent. To be honest, I’m somewhat nervous at the thought of doing this, mostly because I’m concerned I’ll knacker a roll of otherwise nice photographs, but given how many other people manage to do this successfully, I think I’ll be ok if I pay attention to what I’m doing. I will, of course, let you know how I fared when the time comes.

FILM - No chips today

Canon Sure Shot Supreme & Lomography Color Negative 400.

Taken on 1 March 2020

Empty skies

As air travel has been reduced by a huge amount in the current pandemic situation, it means the skies are almost devoid of aircraft where I live. I’ve seen a couple, but today’s clear blue skies have been exactly that – clear and blue – with nary a cloud nor a contrail to be seen. With that in mind, today’s picture is a reminder of what they look like. 🙂

Today marks the second full day of lock-down (although it’s not being officially called that by the government) here in the UK. As we’re still allowed to leave the house for exercise (only once a day, by yourself or with people from your immediate household), I managed to get out for a walk again at lunchtime. I’m treating these very much as walks first and foremost as the exercise is beneficial, but as I always carry a camera when I go out, I will still take photos while out if the opportunity arises and it doesn’t mean putting myself or anyone else at risk of unnecessary contact.

My walk today took me through an industrial estate where a number of businesses are still operating and, as it was lunchtime and the weather was nice, there were people eating their food outside at one place, albeit sat a good three or four metres apart. I’ve taken to crossing the street if I see someone approaching, and it’s noticeable just how much people are fearful of getting too close to one another. We had a delivery to the house yesterday and the driver, after seeing me coming to the door, retreated to the bottom of the drive before I opened it.

Sadly, although understandably, my local film-processing lab announced today that it will be closing it’s doors and stopping production for the time-being, so any film I do shoot wil need to be sent elsewhere – although I am still looking into home developing (though only if I can get any kit and chems delivered, I suppose).

Work remains, for me at least, much the same as it did before this started as I work from home full-time anyway. The main difference is having the boys at home now that school has closed. My wife still has to travel to work as she is in a key-worker role, although she has the next few days off.

The lock-down in the UK is scheduled to be reviewed in three weeks time, but I would be very surprised if it’s lifted at that point. I think we’re in it for quite some time.

FILM - Contrail

Nikon F80, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 AF-D & Ilford HP5+.

Taken on 2 February 2020

Down Duke Street

Maybe the last of the Samsung Fino 60S photos (for now, at least, unless we get housebound for a reeeaaaallly long time!), but I also shot a Canon Sure Shot Supreme on the same outing, so there may be a few more Park Hill photos to come yet.

My local lab tweeted today that they have closed their walk-in reception for the time being due to coronavirus guidance, so I’m going to have to post any rolls to them (and wait for the negs to be posted back) for any stuff I manage to shoot in the meantime. It’s a shame because it will cost more in postage (effectively adding over £5 to the cost of developing for postage both ways) and will take longer than usual, but we all have to get on board with the measures to reduce the spread of the infection, so I don’t mind too much – I’ll probably wait until I have a few rolls before sending them in though to save on the cost.

I’ve also made some semi-serious investigations into home-developing kit. That’ll involve some upfront cost (and the very real risk of me destroying my own photos through incompetence!) if I go ahead with it, but will help with my impatience and wallet-health longer termif I manage to make a sucess of it. I think I’ll sleep on it awhile first…

FILM - Down Duke Street

Samsung Fino 60S & Kodak Colorplus.

Taken on 1 March 2020

Graffiti on the flats

This is the top / southern end of the Park Hill flats – the entire complex was built according to the topography of the city (which, like Rome, is built on seven hills according to local folklore) so that every floor of the multi-storey building was accessible from ground level without the need for stairs or lifts (although there are plenty of those too).

This end of the complex has not yet been reached by the Urban Splash re-generation project that is renovating and re-purposing the flats and other spaces for modern accomodation and businesses and some of the metal panels protecting the ground-floor flats has been used to host colourful graffiti art.

In other news, I’m expecting that the UK is likely to be placed under a much more stringent lock-down soon because of the COVID-19 pandemic, so it could be that my photography is limited somewhat (although some house-bound projects can be found I’m sure). I’ve enough photos to keep this blog going each day for months and months, so I have no plans to stop posting, but the supply of recently taken photos might be limited.

Maybe this will be a good time to learn how to develop my own film…

FILM - Maisonette grafitti

Samsung Fino 60S & Kodak Colorplus.

Taken on 1 March 2020