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

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Crazy golf

In yesterday’s post I mentioned some of the attractions at Queen’s Park in Mablethorpe. One of those was the crazy golf course. It’s one of (I think) three courses in Mablethorpe. the other two being at the other end of the sea-front. All three courses have been there as long as I can remember – so since the 1970s at least – and most likely they were around for some time before too. All three have seen changes and updates.

The northernmost course was, for many years, an Arnold Palmer’s branded course.

There were a number of these Arnold Palmer courses at various seaside resorts around the country. These all had full branding in place with brightly painted red and white obstacles (most of the ones I visited had a windmill with spinning blades to putt your ball past) and professional-looking felt “greens” upon which the ball would roll smoothly and with precision. At the end of the course, the final hole gave a chance to win a free game if you got the ball in a central hole (which would ring a bell, alerting the staff to the fact). Missing this target would result in your ball being lost down an alternate, prize-less, chute and your game would be over. I still have a free game pass in my wallet that I won sometime during the 1990s. Alas, the course at Mablethorpe is under different ownership now (although it still looks pretty snazzy with it’s new pirate themed looks)

The other two courses had a more independent feel to them. The central course had obstacles that felt homemade, but inventive nonetheless, with a variety of brightly painted bridges, pipes, and chutes to get your ball through. The southernmost course always seemed the more basic of the three, less fantastical in nature and almost akin to a pub-game with pegs, chicanes, and barriers making up it’s obstacles (and there’s a part of me that remembers it having concrete “greens” too, upon which your ball might be prone to sudden disruption, although this might just be down to a faulty memory circuit).

Today’s picture is of this southernmost course as it is today, still in use (although not when I took my photo). Long may it live.

FILM - Crazy golf

Zeiss Mess-Ikonta 524/16 & Kodak Portra 400.

Taken on 13 September 2019

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Little red boats

Queen’s Park at Mablethorpe sits just behind the promenade atop the sea defences and rows of chalets and consists of a boating lake, a paddling pool, a miniature railway, miniature (or “crazy”!) golf course, and a small funfair for younger kids. I remember spending one happy summer in the paddling pool sailing a toy boat that I’d had bought for me from a  toy shop (now sadly closed) in the town centre. The boat was battery operated and had a fan on the rear that would propel it across the water. It felt like the best thing ever at the time.

These boats are probably battery operated too.

FILM - Little red boats

Zeiss Mess-Ikonta 524/16 & 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

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

A final(?) set of Holga misadventures

Ok, before I start (not that I expect this to be an especially long post), I should point out that this is not an all-new set of misadventures with the Holga, rather some more from my previous set (where I’d accidentally knocked the camera’s exposure switch to “Bulb”). You can read about that here if you’d like. I’m hoping that this brings to an end my misadventures with this simple, but seemingly all too easy to mess up, camera.

The reasons this set are seperate from the last are:

  1. These are in colour, so that’s a good enough reason to seperate them.
  2. They were lab scanned, so I got them back a few days after posting my home-scanned black and white photos.

Out of the full set of twelve images there are maybe five or six that are worthy of sharing (although your mileage may vary), four of which are posted here today. A couple are reasonably sharp – the car and the church. The other two are notably blurred from “unintentional camera movement”, but one of those – the house – looks kinda neat in my opinion. The hotel is perhaps a borderline case though.

But anyway, here are the four I’ve chosen to share. I quite like them all, despite (or because!) of their failings.

FILM - Classic

FILM - Crux

FILM - Eagle

FILM - Quake!

Holga 120N & Fujifilm Pro 400H (expired).

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

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Seaside steps

FILM - Beach steps

This is the view looking north from the Lincolnshire seaside resort of Mablethorpe. There is a small promentory at this point on the shore above the outfall from The Cut, a drain that takes water from the surrounding low-lying countryside – mostly agricultural land – and this section of steps leading down to the beach is at the easternmost point.

The steps form part of an extensive system of coastal defenses that were built and strengthened following the devastating North Sea Flood that occurred in 1953. This winter storm hit on the night of Saturday 31 January and, coupled with a high spring tide, resulted in a storm surge of over 5 metres above the average sea level in some areas. Large areas of low-lying coastal land were deluged in the countries bordering the North Sea, particularly The Netherlands, where 1,836 deaths were recorded. Although loss of life was less severe in England and Scotland, there was still a tragic loss of 336 people. The flood waters reached as far as 2 miles inland in places and forced the evacuation of over 30,000 people from their homes.

The photograph below shows the outfall where The Cut enters the North Sea. This area is submerged at high tide.

FILM - At low tide

Olympus 35RC & Eastman Double-X.

Taken on 13 September 2019

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Further Holga misadventures

Following my initial, less than fully-successful, outing with the Holga, and then the second, much more fruitful attempt, I decided to take the camera with me on a trip to Mablethorpe, my childhood seaside haunt on the Lincolnshire coast.

It was Friday 13th. Take it as you will…

As well as the Holga, I also took a 35mm rangefinder and my Zeiss folder (which had half-a-roll of Ektar still inside). I took several rolls of film on the trip – three rolls of expired Tri-X, and a roll of expired Pro 400H for the Holga. A roll of Portra 400 each for the Zeiss and my 35RC, plus a couple of rolls of B&W also for the 35RC. I figured it’s better to bring back unused film from a trip than to run out while there, so I was good to go on that front.

Where I wasn’t so good was the Holga itself. It would seem that, probably when placing it in my bag and completely unnoticed by myself, that I inadvertently knocked the shutter setting into bulb mode.

So, the day progressed nicely. The weather was lovely – bright and sunny (but not too hot) and with photogenic whisps of high altitude clouds adding interest to the sky – and I soon got to taking some photographs (in fact I stopped at a couple of places during the journey when I saw some photogenic scenes). In all I shot three rolls through the Holga – the Pro 400H and two rolls of expired Tri-X, two through the 35RC (Portra 400 and Eastman Double-X) and the remaining Ektar and the Portra 400 in the Zeiss. Quite a busy day, all told, and very enjoyable. I was happy that I’d found a bunch of nice photos and looked forward to seeing the results.

I sent the colour rolls off for processing on Saturday, and took the B&W to my local lab today and got the results back this lunchtime. Eager to see the results, I held the negatives up to the window and was quickly dismayed to see that they were very thick – a clear sign of overexposure. Although difficult to tell without a loupe, it was also apparent that some were blurry – even moreso than I would expect from my Holga (which is pretty sharp in the centre). Picking up the camera I examined the shutter control and, with a sinking heart (and a deal of profanity!) saw the cause. All three rolls through the camera had been shot on bulb mode.

I felt pretty down about it and, for a moment, was tempted to just throw the lot in the bin. Instead, I decided to try scanning them to see how bad they looked. The truth is, they were pretty bad – almost white from overexposure and soft across the whole frame from camera-shake. Again, I was tempted to not waste my time and give it all up as a bad job.

But I didn’t.

Partly because of the cost of film and processing, but mostly because I didn’t want to lose all my photos from the Holga, I carried on. As I progressed I found that some images, while still blurrier than normal, were not as bad as I first thought (I had either been particularly quick on the shutter release, or posess a hitherto unknown robot-like ability to stand rigidly still). I was able to recover lots of detail during scanning; did some processing in Lightroom to punch up the contrast, which helped; and then – although this is not something I would normally do with film photos – decided to run them through Nik Silver FX. The result was contrasty, moody and grainy images that I felt I could live with (luckily, it’s a look I like). I’ve yet to receive the Pro 400H shots, which will be similarly afflicted – It might be that they end up being converted to B&W if any are worthwhile.

So, without further ado, here are some of the images I rescued. As with my other Holga misadventure, these aren’t what I’d envisaged, but they’re also much better than I initially feared. I think that they were worth saving.

I guess there might be a moral about not giving up in here somewhere. Again, take it as you will.

FILM - Footpath through the dunes

FILM - To the beach

FILM - Looking out to sea

FILM - Beach fence

FILM - Camera obscura

FILM - Looking east

Holga 120N & Kodak Tri-X (expired).

Taken on 13 September 2019

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Photography is fun(icular)

Yesterday’s photo had the Grand Hotel in the background and here it is again, albeit much closer this time, providing the brick backdrop to the funicular station.

The funicular railway here was built almost 15 years after the hotel, opening to passengers in 1881, and it still serves residents and visitors to this day. There were originally a total of five funicular railways at the resort, but there are only two still in service today: the one here (the Central Tramway), and another on the south cliffs (aptly named the South Cliff Lift). Another between these two (the Saint Nicholas Cliff Lift, just the other side of the Grand Hotel) is still in place, but the bottom station is now an ice-cream parlour while the two carriages are fixed in place at the top of the incline and make up the Saint Nicholas Cafe.

The other two were in the North Bay area of the town. The North Bay Cliff Lift was closed in 1996 and has been dismantled and placed in storage, while the Queen’s Parade Cliff Lift appears to have had a somewhat ill-fated lifespan, being subject to runaway cars, accidents and mechanical failures until a landslide eventually caused it to close for good in 1887, just nine years after it opened.

There are various meandering pathways to and from the seafront for those who don’t wish to ride in style (or some seriously imposing sets of steps for those of a sturdy disposition!).

FILM - At the top of the funicular

Pentax Espio 140M & Kodak Colorplus.

Taken on 13 July 2019