35mm · Film photography · Photography

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

35mm · Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Day 365 – Twelve favourite photos from 2019

My initial plan for today’s post was to publish 12 photos that were taken this year but which haven’t featured in the blog, but on second thoughts I’ve decided to take the more traditional route. There might still be some that never appeared here before though – I tend to upload more stuff to Flickr than gets featured here – so aren’t you the lucky ones. 🙂

Today also marks the 365th consecutive blog post of the year – a target I attempted once before but which fell through when other events in my life took precedence. Not every blog was written on the day it was posted – in situations where I’ve been away from home I’ve pre-written blogs and then scheduled them to automatically publish (or made them live from my phone). Because of the way I link my photos from Flickr, I’ve found it’s a complete PITA to try and write and publish from mobile devices.

Anyway… Before I get on to the pictures, I just want to take the time to thank all who’ve viewed, interacted or commented on my blog over the year and to wish everyone a happy new year.

So, the photos…

January – This tree sits on the moors just south of Sheffield and is just a few metres from the roadside. It’s distictive shape made for an easy composition. Sadly the tree has now suffered damage – the last time I passed all that remained was the trunk as the upper branches have been broken off. 😦

FILM - In a lonely place (35mm)

Nikon F80, Nikkor 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 AF & Fomapan 400. Taken on 20 January 2019

February – Eyes in the back of his head? One of the tenets of street photography is to be prepared and ready to catch that decisive moment when it occurs. Sadly, this is rarely the case for me and I’ve missed loads of potentially nice shots due to fumbling with the camera. This was one of the times I didn’t.

FILM - He's got eyes in the back of his head

Olympus 35 RC & JCH Streetpan 400. Taken on 15 February 2019

March – Portraiture is not something I have much of an interest in, particularly studio portraits (although I do enjoy looking at environmental portraits), so when an opportunity arose to photograph some models at the local camera club I wasn’t sure whether I’d enjoy it or not. While I can’t say it ignited any desire to take more portraits, I was very pleased with my results, one of which is below. It isn’t prefect (the creased backdrop lets it down a little), but the way the Sigma 105mm lens and the Kodak P3200 rendered the images is lovely.

FILM - WPS Model Session-2

Nikon F80, Sigma 105mm f/2.8 OS HSM & Kodak Tmax P3200. Taken on 19 March 2019

April – A gate on a public footpath through Edale in the northern Peak District National Park. I think this photo has a certain charm to it, there’s a sense of mystery as to where the path leads and what might be beyond the gate. This is from the penultimate roll of film through my Yashica Mat 124G last year. I shall have to rectify this situation and shoot with the camera again post haste!

FILM - A path near Edale

Yashica Mat 124 G & Fomapan 100. Taken on 20 April 2019

May – During May I visited New York with my family. It’s the second time I’ve visited (and I’d love to return – although I think my wife would prefer somewhere else in the US if we get across the Atlantic again) – I could have spent all day, every day just walking the streets taking photos. It was a family trip though, so I grabbed whatever I could. This is just a view down 7th Avenue after a rain shower, but it screams New York to me.

FILM - 7th Avenue

Canon Sure Shot Z135 & Ilford HP5+. Taken on 28 May 2019

June – A box of pre-owned pool balls on a stall at the Sheffield Steam Rally. I think I might have said at the time that colour would have been a more obvious choice here, but I love the contrast given by the HP5+.

FILM - Balls

Nikon F80, Nikkor 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 D & Ilford HP5+. Taken on 30 June 2019

July – The beach at Scarborough. My wife and I took a trip to the seaside and I shot a roll-and-a-half of film during the day. This is just a snap of the beach, the people enjoying themselves there, and some yachts in the sea beyond, but it has a nice “Martin Parr” feel to it that I like. It was also an opportunity to test the little Pentax Espio compact that I’d bought for £1 a fortnight before.

FILM - On the beach

Pentax Espio 140M & Fuji Superia 100 (expired 2008). Taken on 13 July 2019

August – Taken at the Lincoln Steam Rally – the first time I’d attended this event, but it was huge and I hope to go again in 2020. I shot four rolls of film on the day, but this Ektar shot of a vintage truck is a favourite. The almost 70-year-old Zeiss Mess-Ikonta continues to impress with it’s superbly sharp lens.

FILM - ERF

Zeiss Mess-Ikonta 524/16 & Kodak Ektar. Taken on 17 August 2019

September – A day trip to my childhood seaside haunt: Mablethorpe. It’s a place I’m always drawn back to, even though I’m always slightly disappointed that it hasn’t remained frozen in time as I remember it from when I was a child. Another day where several rolls of film were shot (including three botched rolls through my Holga because I had it set to bulb mode!). I’ve many photos from the day that I like, but this is the one that always springs to mind when I think back.

FILM - Water dragon

Olympus 35 RC & Kodak Portra 400. Taken on 13 September 2019

October – I took a trip to Doncaster racecourse with my dad, and this is one of the photos from the day. The weather was awful, with heavy rain all day, but oftentimes bad weather makes for good photos.

FILM - A day at the races

Olympus OM-1, Zuiko 75-150mm f/4 & Ilford HP5+. Taken on 25 October 2019

November – This shot is potentially my favourite of the whole year. The simple but beautiful charms of the Holga coupled with a wonderfully foggy day made for some amazing photographic opportunities.

FILM - The path untaken

Holga 120N & Kodak Tmax 400. Taken on 30 November 2019

December – December is a little difficult as, as I type this, I have three rolls of film waiting to be processed still and there might be a showstopper on there (or possibly not), but this image that I took just before Christmas on a lunchtime walk is definitely worthy of the spot. It’s another Holga 120N image, but cropped to a 4×3 ratio (the bottom of the frame has a river in it, but it didn’t add a lot to the overall image and the landscape crop works much better. The way the Holga renders out-of-focus details is wonderful, and almost impressionistic in style.

FILM - Breaking through

Holga 120N & Kodak Tmax 400. Taken on 18 December 2019

So there you have it. Twelve favourite shots from 2019. As with any list like this it’s subjective, and if I were to do it again tomorrow several of the selections might change, but for now it will do.

One final word – I’ll proof read it later, so apologies in advance for any typos or grammatical goofs. 🙂

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Mablethorpe Rock

A couple of shots of Mablethorpe Rock, a shop that has been there as long as I can remember (or perhaps mis-remember).

Rock is one of those great British seaside traditions that is still going strong today –  although, personally, I don’t really like the stuff – it’s overly sweet, sticky, and feels like it will rot the teeth right out of my head as soon as I touch it.

For those not in the know, rock is basically sticks of boiled sugar. It traditionally has the name of the resort you buy it from cleverly running through the length of the stick – something that is done by adding pieces of different coloured sugar to form the individual letters during the manufacturing process while the substance is still soft and malleable – as can be seen in this film from 1957. As well as sticks, you will also find it shaped into all manner of other things – a cooked English breakfast formed out of pure sugar and served on a paper plate is another firm favourite.

Rock comes in a variety of flavours, but plain sugary-sweet, and peppermint are probably the best sellers. The fruit flavoured ones are best in my opinion (if forced to choose), but you can now find all manner of exotic varieties, including such culinary horrors as Tikka Masala flavour!

My favourite part about receiving a stick of rock – it was a traditional gift brought back when someone had been on holiday – was the little black and white photo of the resort that would be inside the clear plastic wrapper. Thanks to the miracle of modern technology, these photos are now in colour.

As you can see from the bottom picture, the shop also sells ice cream, so I had one of those instead.

FILM - Mablethorpe Rock

FILM - In a seaside town

Olympus 35 RC & Kodak Portra 400.

Taken on 13 September 2019

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Oddly appealing

Sometimes I make photographs that I like for obvious reasons. Maybe it’s the composition, the light, the subject, place or whatever. Sometimes though, I make a photograph that I like for reasons that I can’t quite put my finger on. Obviously there must have been something about the scene that caused me to take the image in the first place – these aren’t just random, shot from the hip accidents.

Todays photo is one such picture. I like it a lot but can’t put my finger on the precise reason(s) why. I guess it could be the way the scene is lit – there are plenty of shadows in the scene, but they’ve been lent a subtlety by the white painted gable-end of the house acting as a giant reflector and this has created some nice lighting. Maybe it’s the colours – it’s got a bit of that blue and orange thing going on, which is nice. The composition is ok – the tree in the background is nicely placed and the green pops in the scene. Or maybe it’s just little details – the satellite dish, the plants in the window, the garden shed with the barely-visible bins in front of it, or the flag.

Or maybe it’s just a combination of all these things that appeal specifically to me and my brain just said “Yep! That’s a nice photo!” and so I clicked the shutter.

It’s one of those images that I suspect many others won’t really take to, but it fires some circuits in me, and I’m even wondering what it would look like as a print.

FILM - White gable

Olympus 35 RC & Kodak Portra 400.

Taken on 13 September 2019

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Painting (a part of) the town red

It was mid-morning when I took this photograph and the fish and chip shop had not yet opened for business (although there was a man off shot to the right who appeared to be making preparations to do so). Prior to opening some maintenance was taking place, giving rise to the gloriously saturated red doors in the image. These reds, along with the morning light (and subsequent shadows) and the lone painter busy at work, are what attacted me to make the photograph.

FILM - Painting the town red

Olympus 35 RC & Kodak Portra 400.

Taken on 13 September 2019

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Chalets

These chalets sit along the promenade, just south of Mablethorpe town centre and behind Queen’s Park – which is where I stood to take this photo. It’s almost the same spot where I made the photo of the crazy golf course that I posted about a few days back, which is behind where I was stood when I took this shot.

I’ve got an older, digital photo of these chalets on my Flickr stream too – that one shot on my Nikon D3200 and 18-55mm kit lens back in September 2015.

I shot this whole roll of Portra 400 at 200asa and really like the way it’s handled the tones, with lovely cornflower blue skies while still keeping a good deal of pop in the primary colours.

FILM - One side water. One side park

Olympus 35 RC & Kodak Portra 400.

Taken on 13 September 2019

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Looking out to sea

Looking out to sea seems to be an enduring calling to many people when visiting the coast, certainly in the UK, but also, I suspect, around the globe. Every seaside resort I’ve ever visited has benches and shelters along the promenade, along harbour walls, and atop cliffs and promontories, for the purpose of providing somewhere to rest while looking at the ocean beyond. Coin-operated telescopes provide the means of a close-up inspection, should something interesting be present on the water. There are car-parks designed in a such a way as to provide access to the view without leaving the comfort of the vehicle (and in the UK, given our tendency to inclement weather, this is perhaps wise).

I remember as a child visiting the beach with my grandparents in the rain. We would just sit in the car, eat sandwiches, drink pop or hot drinks from a thermos-flask, and watch the tide come in or retreat. If the weather was favourable, we’d get to venture onto the sand with our granddad, while grandma remained in the car, often with the aim of building a sandcastle that we could then subsequently watch be destroyed by the incoming waves while we sat back in the car. The castle fallen, and night beginning to fall, we’d return to the caravan for cocoa and bed.

There’s definitely a draw to looking at the sea, even on a calm day. Something about being at the edge of the world and imagining what might lie beyond some distant horizon (usually Denmark in our case, given the east coast of England was generally our destination of choice). Often times it’s older people who seem to do this the most. Perhaps the sea offers a glimpse of something else, something poignant, something nostalgic. Or maybe they just need a sit down more than the young.

FILM - Together

Olympus 35RC & Eastman Double-X.

Taken on 13 September 2019

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Ice cream

The ice cream stand on Mablethorpe promenade. It has a satisfyingly wide range of choices, including those oyster-shell wafers filled with soft-serve that always look really nice, but which I’ve never once had in my entire time on this Earth. I did buy an ice cream, a 99, but it was from another shop.

Also in shot is a ubiquitous seaside sight – the giant ice cream cone! 🙂

Anyway, the lady in the photo’s stripey top has come out nicely on the Double-X. Although the blacks look pretty deep, there’s still detail in there when you look closely.

Sadly, this was the last of my Secret Santa supply of this film, so I’ll need to buy some more.

FILM - Ice Cream Stand

Olympus 35RC & Eastman Double-X.

Taken on 13 September 2019