35mm · Film photography · Photography

Miner’s strike graffiti

I used to live not too far from Orgreave when I was younger and still lived at home with my parents. Orgreave was the site of a coal mine and coking plant and was a location made infamous when, during the 1984-84 UK miner’s strike, it was the site of clashes betweek striking miners and police – an event that bacame known as the Battle of Orgreave.

Some of my friends witnessed the events that took place, watching from the vantage point of the railway bridge above where the clashes took place. I missed it all by dint of me being on a week-long school trip.

During the whole period of the miner’s strike, a variety of industial action took place across the coalfields of the UK, and graffiti appeared in support of the striking miners. So it was with some amazement to find a few weeks ago, while out for a walk with my dad, that some of the graffiti I remembered seeing back when I was a teenager is still present and highly legible.

If anyone could be said to be at the head of the conflicting sides during the dispute, then it would have to be Margaret Thatcher, then UK Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party – also known a The Tories – for the government, and Arthur Scargill, leader of the powerful National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). It is these opposing forces celebrated and denounced in graffiti form here.

I’m not sure what paint was used, but it has certainly stood the test of time!

Back when we were young
Youthful adventures happened
In places like this

Miner's Strike graffiti
Miner's Strike graffiti
Miner's Strike graffiti
Miner's Strike graffiti

Olympus OM-2N, G-Zuiko Auto-W 28mm f/3.5 + orange filter & Ilford Delta 100. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 12mins @ 20°.

Taken on 4 April 2021

35mm · Film photography · Photography

New Topographics

In 1975 an exhibition named New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape was held in the International Museum of Photography in New York City. It featured works by a number of photographers – the Americans Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz, Joe Deal, Frank Gohlke, Nicholas Nixon, John Schott, Stephen Shore, and Henry Wessel, Jr., and the German couple Bernd and Hilla Becher. Each photographer exhibited 10 photographs.

New homes

New Topographics presented a different way of photographing landscapes, eschewing the traditional natural environments and instead presenting images of scenes with a clear human footprint, such as industry, suburbia, gas stations, parking lots and the like.

New Topographics

While I only came across the term in recent years, and at no point set out to be a “new topographer”, it’s clear that many of my photographs fall into the style. I’ve no doubt found influence in the works of photographers who were in turn influenced by the works of the artists presented in the original exhibition, although of the ten, I only have photobooks by Stephen Shore (though there are undoubtedly works by the others collected in other books in my collection).

It’s a style that doesn’t appeal to all. For many, the subjects of such photographs are ruinous blots on the landscape, detracting and imposing on the traditional bucolic scenes more often considered as landscape photography. But I have a place in my heart for both.

Grass fields and blue lakes
Overlooked by new homes
It was once a mine

Power to the people

Olympus OM-2N, Zuiko Auto-S 50mm f/1.8 + orange filter & Ilford Delta 100. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 12mins @ 20°.

Taken on 4 April 2021

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Boulder

Adjacent to Owler tor stand this lone boulder. I’m not sure if it it has a name, even a local one not on maps, but it’s quite a distinctive lump of gritstone.

Near Owler Tor

The crack / groove angled around its midriff is quite striking and can produce the impression of faces in the stone depending on where you stand and the angle of the light.

Near Owler Tor

In this final image there is a strange beady-eyed visage at the bottom left corner of the rock. Or at least there is to my eyes.

Pareidolia
Seeing faces in objects
That are not alive

Near Owler Tor

Olympus OM-2N, Zuiko Auto-S 50mm f/1.8 + orange filter & Ilford Delta 100. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 12mins @ 20°.

Taken on 29 March 2021

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Owler Tor

Owler Tor stands a mere stone’s throw from Surprise View carpark. Unlike its namesake Over Owler Tor which sits up on the hillside in the opposite direction, Owler Tor is accessed by simply crossing the road, passing through a wooden gate, and then walking to the nearby boulders.

On nice days and, especially, weekends it’s difficult to get a photograph that doesnt have at least one person in the frame. The main part of the tor is easily climbed and there are generally groups of people taking in the view and grabbing selfies from the summit. There were a few people around when I made the shot featured here today, but patience, timing, and that old standby – the awkward photographer’s stance – allowed me to keep them out of the frame.

Climbing Owler Tor
An irresistable draw
For its visitors

Owler Tor

Olympus OM-2N, Zuiko Auto-S 50mm f/1.8 + orange filter & Ilford Delta 100. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 12mins @ 20°.

Taken on 29 March 2021

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Trees and drystone walls

Two photos of scenes only a stones-throw apart – up on the western edge of Padley Gorge.

Lone pine

There’s at least one more photo of this same wall to come in a future post, but that one was made with the GW690 where these are born of the OM-2n.

How many rocks are here?
Hundreds, though across the land
There are millions

Drystone wall

Olympus OM-2N, Zuiko Auto-S 50mm f/1.8 + orange filter & Ilford HP5+ (@800asa). Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 10mins @ 20°.

Taken on 29 March 2021

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Driven to abstraction

As I type this it’s after 11pm here. I normally write these blog posts much earlier but today got waylaid trying to successfully scan some Portra 160 negatives. I thought I had a good system in place for getting the colours how I wanted them, but somewhwere along the line that particular train has left the tracks, and my scans looked like crap.

My process has been to scan as a linear tiff file and then invert using the Grain2Pixel plugin in Photoshop but today, for some reason , it’s made the colours look horrible on the frames I’ve scanned so far. So, after messing around for a while, I’ve resorted to EpsonScan of all things. While I use this Epson software very successfully for my B&W medium format scans, I’ve never been too happy with the results for colour photos. Today, however, it seems to have made the best job so far.

I found this blog post by Colton Allen about scanning colour negatives with EpsonScan that has proven extremely useful and given me some pretty decent results. If I can figure out the issue with Grain2Pixel I’ll resume using that (and will use it on a roll of Colorplus I’ve yet to scan – but that’s 135 format and will be scanned with my Plustek, so a whole different ball game anyway), but for now I’ll use EpsonScan for this roll

I’ll post the Portra photos in an upcoming post, but today no colour faffing is required for this black-and-white abstract image of a birch tree reflected in a water.

Wibbly wobbly tree
Gelatinous in water
Shimmering beneath

Reflected birch

Olympus OM-2N, Zuiko Auto-S 50mm f/1.8 + orange filter & Ilford HP5+ (@800asa). Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 10mins @ 20°.

Taken on 29 March 2021

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Old signs of industry

Millstone Edge, up above the lower Hope Valley in the Peak District is a location where quarrying for gritstone used to take place, withe the main ourput being the production of millstones. There are numerous signs of this former industry to be found, perhaps most notably in the number of abandoned millstones that litter the hillsides in this whole area of the National Park. Indeed, the emblem of the Peak District National Park is a millstone.

Stone hut

There are other indications of the former industrial activity to be found – there are still holes drilled into rock faces for the placement of never-used explosive charges, and also a number of building remains such as the stone shack featured in today’s blog post.

Stone hut

Quarrying for gritstone at Millstone Edge came to a close in the late 1930s.

Signs of industry
Littering the stony crags
Above the valley

Stone hut

Olympus OM-2N, Zuiko Auto-S 50mm f/1.8 + orange filter & Ilford HP5+ (@800asa). Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 10mins @ 20°.

Taken on 29 March 2021

35mm · Film photography · Photography

A broken bird-box and a creaky tree

While out in the Peak District the other week I took a brief wander into the birch trees close to Surprise View to look for potential photos. There are countless pictures to be had, but it’s not always easy to eke them out. I didn’t stay in the arera long and made just three or four photos including the two here today.

The first is of a bird-box affixed to one of the trees. There are a number of these boxes throughout the place, but this one has been damaged somehow – whether by human, animal, or natural forces I do not know. It’s a bit of a fixer-upper now though.

Broken bird-box

While I was making the photo of the bird-box I could hear the trees creaking in the wind around me, but it was only when I looked up that I noticed the soun was coming from a tree I was stood beneath. It’s trunk was broken partway up and a significant section of the upper part of the tree was swinging in the breeze. I don’t think it was at imminent risk of breaking free and landing on my head but I moved out of the way nontheless.

A broken tree trunk
Swinging and creaking above
I’m glad it stayed put

Creaky tree

Olympus OM-2N, Zuiko Auto-S 50mm f/1.8 + orange filter & Ilford HP5+ (@800asa). Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 10mins @ 20°.

Taken on 29 March 2021

35mm · Film photography · Photography

The way to Surprise View

Just beside the car-park a wooden signpost points the way to the Surprise View scenic viewpoint at Millstone Edge. The signpost is weathered and host to mossy lichen. The view from the edge is pretty nice, looking down upon the Hope Valley / Derwent Valley area stretching away towards the Great Ridge and the Edale Valley to the north-west, and down towards Grindleford and beyond in the other direction. It can also be extremely windy, with strong gusts being pushed up the valley sides and onto unwitting sightseers (it nearly blew my wooly hat off on the day I made this photo!).

Looking for a view?
Well head this way my good man
I have a surprise!

Surprise View

Olympus OM-2N, Zuiko Auto-S 50mm f/1.8 + orange filter & Ilford HP5+ (@800asa). Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 10mins @ 20°.

Taken on 29 March 2021