Sketchbook Project 2012 Part 2

30 01 2012

A while back, I posted some pages from the sketchbook I’ve been working on for the Brooklyn Art Library’s Sketchbook Project 2012.

Well, I finished it, and it has been sent on it’s way.

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The Riverside Bicycle

6 09 2011

I’m still alive, I’ve just been a tad lax about everything of late. Blame the crappy weather.

This is a project I’ve been working on for a while, and may continue to shoot over time. It’s also the strating point for a broader project, loosely based around things people leave behind, forget or discard, but more on that at a later date when it’s all come together fully.

Along the bank of the river that runs close to where I live, I found an old bicycle firmly wedged into the riverbed. It looks like it has been there for quite a while. I first photographed it in April 2011, and have since been back a few times to take more photos, and check it’s still there. Sometimes the river has surrounded the bike, and I’ve had to wade into the water to get close to it, other times the water is lower on the banks, and it’s just been buried in sand.

For me, this old bike illustrates our throwaway society perfectly, and also raises questions. Who did it belong to? How did it come to be where it is? Was it abandoned, or simply lost? If abandoned, then why? Could some use not have been found for the parts, at least?

All this intrigues me, because I’ve found there to be remarkably few things which cannot be repurposed in some way. In my mind, this old bicycle has become an accidental sculpture, and a small monument to our society’s attitude to that which is no longer wanted.

Ilford Microphen

26 06 2011

I’ve previously been using premixed Ilfosol, but last time I bought developer, decided to go for one of the powder boxes that my local photographic store sells (they do three varieties of the Ilford developers). Up until now, I was pretty cynical about developer having a particularly huge difference on the outcome of film (developer’s developer, right? So long as it produces an image, we’re good?) Oh so wrong.

I compared the tones and grain on this negative to a negative shot on the exact same film (same batch and all, from a bulk roll I have), on the same camera, with the same lens attached. The difference goes way beyond simple exposure differences. It’s just clearer, somehow.

I suspect we overdeveloped the film ever so slightly (the original plan was to wash in the bathroom upstairs. This plan was foiled by the occupancy of the bathroom by someone else in the house, so there was a dash down to the kitchen, and an extra couple of minutes on the developing time), which would account for the contrasty tones, although I’ve pushed this film with Ilfosol before, and not gotten this sort of result. So I’d assume the developer does have something to do with it.

Even scanned with my super-crappy Global film scanner, the results are looking promising. These are a few of my favourites from the roll. No Photoshop adjustments other than resize, although the scanner has degraded the tonal quality, as evident in the pixelation of some shadow areas.

Armley Mills

Armley Mills

Armley Mills

Armley Mills

Camera: Olympus OM10 with 50mm f1.8 lens
Film: (Bulk) Jessops Pan100S (out of date by three years, but kept refrigerated). Shot rated as intended at 100iso.
Developer: Ilford Microphen. Diluted at 3:1 ratio. Developed for ~17 minutes

The Sketchbook Project 2012

22 05 2011

After seeing banners on various photographic and creative websites all over the internet recently, I investigated The Sketchbook Project, and decided I wanted to join in.

For those who don’t know, the project is a travelling art show, displaying hundreds of sketchbooks from people all over the world. Not just from working artists, but from anyone who decides they’d like to join in. Entry is $25, which covers not only the cost of the sketchbook, but also goes towards the cost of putting together such a large project and taking it on tour.

I ordered my sketchbook on Monday May 9th, and it arrived at my door on Tuesday May 17th, so not very long to wait at all considering it came from America. I spent a while flicking through, counting the pages, and trying to imagine some of my ideas on those pages. At first, I had the same problem I have with most new stationary – making that first mark on the fresh white paper. But I reasoned that I had to start somewhere, and so I began with a copied Polaroid of my gran in a camper van back in the ’70s. It’s not finished, and I’m not really completely happy with it (yet), but it got me past that first step.

So, here’s the few pages I’ve been working on so far. Some are pretty much finished, others I’ll probably work on some more.

By the River

25 04 2011

Last weekend, we took a walk along the side of the River Swale, in Richmond. As expected, there was plenty of litter around and along the river banks, and whilst it’s a pity people feel the need to just drop rubbish all over instead of just taking it home, or finding a bin, the thought did occur to me that this might be something I’d like to focus more on. Litter is ephemeral, it’s made up mostly of things that were never meant to last, or to be re-used. Add the constant flow of running water, and those pieces of rubbish are quite literally here one day, and gone the next.

I’ve put a few of the shots from that roll up on Flickr, but these are my two favourites.

By the River

By the River

A Catch Up Post

2 04 2011

For once, I’ve been pretty consistantly active, photographically.

My ‘disposable living’ project has started to move forward a little, and a shot I’m extremely happy with is this one, shot at the beginning of last week.

On Eggshells

I’m pretty certain this will make it into the final selection of work for this project portfolio, so at some point in the near future, I think I’m going to take it to be lab printed, to see how it looks at the size I intend it to be displayed.

Last weekend, we had a trip to Whitby, whilst the goth weekend was on. There’s a wonderful bric a brac/antiques shop there, from which I’ve bought many curious and beautiful things over the years. This time yielded a close to perfect condition Olympus OM10, complete with manual adapter and 50mm f1.8 lens.

The first film I ran through it came out well in terms of exposure (inbuilt meter working correctly), and the lens is clear and sharp. The only problem was a deep scratch over a few frames, but further investigation found that the pressure plate wasn’t mounted correctly on the film door, so it’s likely that it has slipped to the side during exposure and created the scratch.

Olympus OM10

I have a roll of Ilford FP4 running through it this weekend, which I should finish during our visit to Newcastle’s Side Gallery, and Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, later today. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to develop that this afternoon, and have some decent results to post.

I’ve taken to the OM10 quite beautifully, though. I really can’t bring myself to put it down. It’s wonderfully lightweight, whilst not feeling fragile or badly made. The meter is simple and appears to be spot on. It looks lovely – like a camera should look, and it’s just ‘old’ looking enough to make shooting in the street an absolute breeze. Nobody pays you much attention at all, and there certainly doesn’t seem to be the look of suspicion you find when using a modern DSLR in the centre of town.

I’ve already bought it a second lens, elevating it’s status to the only one of my cameras to have more than one lens, including my DSLR. Although the secondhand cost of Olympus film glass has a lot to do with it, of course. The latest lens is a 135mm F2.8 Tamron, which is not only glorious for ninja-style street captures, but has the added bonus of being an Adaptall lens. When I discovered this, I had a moment of ‘super-yay’, since the 70-210mm zoom on my Praktica BMS is also an Adaptall, so that can also be used on the OM10 with a simple change of adapter (just as the 135mm is useable on the BMS. Hurrah!) I’ve also picked up a red filter, and a set of closeups, for the 50mm lens, so combining the lot with the little Cobra 210 flashgun I already had, I’ve got a nice little 35mm film setup which now lives in a spare Lowepro shoulder bag.

Also accompanying me today will be the little cardboard 35mm pinhole camera I made last night, using these instructions. My version is a little shonkier that the one pictured, since I used slightly thinner card, and more tape (since I had no elastic band anywhere). It’s got a cheapy roll of Kodak Colourplus 200 in it, so I’m not expecting much, but if I get anything that looks remotely like a picture out of it, I’ll be happy.

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