A day at the races

About three weeks ago I visited Doncaster races with my Dad. I’d bought him an experience day voucher for his birthday earlier in the year and, as he’d not found anyone else who wanted to go with him (I’d assumed he’d have gone with one of his pals), I said I’d go. By the time this happened, there was only one event still available before the coucher was due to expire, the Vertem Very Different Stockbrokers Raceday on 25 October. As this was a Friday, I booked a day’s leave.

FILM - Looking for a winner

The voucher gave us access to the County Enclosure at the racecourse. This meant no denim, no trainers or sportswear, and the requirement to wear a collared shirt. It also granted us a £5 voucher each for a drink, as well as a free race programme.

FILM - Bookies

When the day arrived, the weather was pretty atrocious with heavy rain forecast for the whole day. When we arrived there were very few people in the outside areas of the enclosures other than those wishing to place a bet at the trackside bookies, or those armed with umbrellas. Most people seemed to be inside watching proceedings on television screens. This seemed somewhat pointless as, as my dad said, they might have well just gone into a local betting shop to do this rather than pay the entrance fee for the racecourse.

FILM - Equine athletes

We decided to cash in our drink vouchers before doing anything else (first things first, right?). My dad’s beer was covered by his, but the cider I asked for came to more than the allocated £5 and I had to put another 20p to the cost. It wasn’t even a particularly nice cider either. Nonetheless, we found ourselves a table with some free seats and sat down to look at the programme an pick the winners(!). After choosing some likely looking prospects (my dad came armed with a sheet of tips from a bloke he knows) we moved over to the County Enclosure ready for the first race.


A few minutes before the race was due, we went outside (where it was still raining heavily) to watch the event. Although the bottom tiers of the stands were soaked (see my earlier post for an idea of how wet they were), the higher levels were sheltered enough to have dry seats, so we headed up there.

FILM - Rainy racedays

I think there were seven races scheduled for the day. We didn’t bother with the first, which only had four runners, and we left before the final two races, but the others followed a similar pattern of us watching from the dry section of the stands (where I took a number of photos); retreating indoors to place further bets / take shelter; then repeating the process for the next race.

FILM - By a nose

Although I have little interest in horse-racing, and even less experience in picking winners, I didn’t fare too badly on the day. While I didn’t break even, a couple of good results (including a win!) meant that my losses came to only a few pounds – and I’d written off all my stake money as likely to be lost beforehand anyway, so anything less than a total wipeout was good news. I’m not sure that my dad’s tips played any better than my “stick a pin in it and hope for the best” technique.

FILM - Winner

Overall I enjoyed the day and I’d like to do it again (albeit in better weather).

Olympus OM-1, Zuiko 75-150mm f/4, Zuiko 28mm f/3.5, F.Zuiko 50mm f/1.8 & Ilford HP5+ (pushed to 800asa).

Taken on 25 October 2019

Watching the Thames at low tide

This was a photograph taken very quickly during my walk along the South Bank of the River Thames in London recently. The smart suit, bald head, and posture of this chap made for a nice composition. It was the last shot on the roll and I wasn’t sure it would come out (as a result of this, I loaded another roll and took a second shot of the same guy a minute or two later, albeit from a different position – I’ve not scanned that roll yet, so maybe I’ll share that picture in a future post). Luckily it turned out quite nicely.

FILM - Low water

Olympus OM-1, Zuiko 28mm f/3.5 & Fujifilm Acros (pushed to 400asa).

Taken on 23 October 2019

Waterlogged field

After yesterday’s flooded field photo, today I present a field that is merely waterlogged.

The photograph has some similarities to the previous one beyond the water, namely the powerlines marching across the fields into the distance.

See! I told you I had a thing abouth photographing powerlines – this is three days on the trot that they, or similar transmission equipment, has featured.

As it no doubt will again.

FILM - Over yonder way

Holga 120N and Kodak Tmax 400 (expired).

Taken on 9 November 2019

Flooded field

I mentioned in yesterday’s post about my trip out to photograph the saturated fields that have resulted from the recent period of heavy rainfall, and here’s a picture of one of them. I have a number of others that I hope to post soon, but as my job has involved a trip across the country, I’m tired, so it’ll be a somewhat truncated piece today.

FILM - Floodlands

Holga 120N and Kodak Tmax 400 (expired).

Taken on 9 November 2019

Behind the fence

I posted a little about my odd fascination with electrical transmission lines back in January, and there have been a number of images featuring pylons, power lines, electicity poles and suchlike throughout the time I’ve been posting this blog. Today features another addition to the set.

I went out for a drive last weekend with the aim of photographing some muddy (and flooded – we’ve had a lot of rain recently!) fields and had equipped myself with the Holga and a roll of slightly expired Kodak Tmax 400. While the sub-station in today’s photograph was on my planned route, I didn’t know it was there until I saw it. I spotted it from a nearby road and then realised that the road I had to turn on to went right past it, so I couldn’t resist the opportunity. The small pylons look like they’re approaching the fence to see what I’m up to (I’m not crazy, honest, I just have an odd imagination. :)).

I think the Holga makes a nice job of this sort of image, and it especially seems to like gloomy, atmospheric conditions – it’s simple, vingnetted lens adding a lot to the feel of the resulting pictures.

FILM - They're approaching the fence

Holga 120N and Kodak Tmax 400 (expired).

Taken on 9 November 2019

St. Paul’s Cathedral from Millennium Bridge

Three shots of the same subject today, all of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London taken from across the river on the South Bank from the end of Millennium Bridge. Two of the photos were taken using the Olympus Zuiko AUTO-Zoom 75-150mm f/4 lens, my second time using it since I bought it back in the late summer (I used it for a few shots on my trip to Hull a few days prior to this). So far I’m quite happy with it’s performance. Like most Zuiko lenses, it’s pretty compact, but it has a decent reach and is able to compress distances nicely.

The first shot was taken with the Zuiko 28mm f/3.5.

This is one of those slightly cliched and overdone photo locations – albeit for obvious reasons – but I’ve never shot it before and as it’s not a place I get to visit often I though I might as well take the opportunity while I had the chance.

FILM - St. Paul's (wide)

FILM - St. Paul's (mid)

FILM - Milennium Bridge

Olympus OM-1, Zuiko 28mm f/3.5 & Zuiko AUTO-Zoom 75-150mm f/4 & Fujifilm Acros (pushed to 400asa).

Taken on 23 October 2019

Turn up the contrast

I shot a roll of Fuji Across a couple of weeks ago and, expecting the weather to be a bit on the gloomy side, pushed it to 400asa. As it turned out, the sun decided to come out for at least some of the shots. This resulted in super-hight-contrast images being the outcome. Across is pretty contrasty anyway, but pushing it amplifies this noticeably, such as in today’s photograph of a street corner convenience store in Southwark in London.

The sunlit areas, particularly those with lighter tones stand out vividly, while the shadows have been reduced to deep blacks – the lady on the left of this shot seemingly emerging from a pool of liquid darkness.

I do like a contrasty image, but care needs to be taken when shooting in such conditions of light and shade that it doesn’t become too much. I’m pretty happy with this one – there is still detail in the highlights, and while the shadows are deep, they work nicely withe the brighter details popping out of them.

FILM - Contrast

Olympus OM-1, F.Zuiko 50mm f/1.8 & Fujifilm Acros (pushed to 400asa).

Taken on 22 October 2019