At sixes and sevens

A New Year’s Day walk with a ridiculously big film camera.

Kodak Portra 400 120 film that had been kept in the worst place possible for two and a half years… in the kitchen cupboard above the cooker. Oops. Varying temperatures ahoy! I think it survived rather marvellously.

 

 

Film developing and medium resolution scans by the fabulous Ag Photographic. Posted off on a Saturday evening and returned to me on the Wednesday.

It’s the first time in many years that I’ve ordered prints along with the developing and scans. They look gorgeous and it was such a joy to see new photos for the first time in that more tangible way again.

Through the looking glass

It’s been a while since I got my Pentax 6×7 out to play. I had completely forgotten that I had an adapter to use my massive 105mm 6×7 lens on my regular DSLR (Pentax K3).

I love the quality of this lens. Attached to my K3 it does look ridiculous and it’s heavier than the camera itself. Old film camera lenses retain a lot of their character in digital format. This one gives a fair amount of chromatic aberation, as lenses designed for film often do, but that’s easily rectifiable manually in Lightroom. It’s an exrtremely soft lens and wide open, regardless of the cropped sensor on the K3, it just has a really expansive feel to it.

I intend to drag out the 6×7 for some more film fun soon, and this has certainly whetted my appetite.

 

Hunted by Red October

Hurricane Ophelia carried a very spooky sky to the UK two weeks ago. Everything looked orange and the sun turned red in the middle of the day. After ascertaining that it wasn’t in fact the sun dying (that really was my first thought, not that anyone could accuse me of being dramatic…), I thought I should probably take some pictures.

The sunset that evening was also rather beautiful.

Round, like a circle in a spiral…

I’ve been experimenting recently with some basic iPhone apps to mess around with images. The apps I have mostly been using are Circular and Tiny Planets.

I’ve mostly been using these two apps combined together to create images and videos, sometimes running an image through an editing process more than once in order to create greater or lesser abstracted images.

The thing I like most about these apps is that you don’t really need a great quality image to start with to create something visually interesting.

Here is a small selection of the videos I’ve made. Playing around with images like this can be incredibly addictive! And if I hadn’t recently lost my phone during the creation of this post, I’d have a majorly larger library of these videos by now.

Of course, I’ve also been building an album of the still images on Flickr.

 

 

Take 2: Visibility: Coal Force 5

I took a two and a half hour cruise on my boat this weekend. With my engine newly serviced, and the sun shining, it was a staggeringly beautiful day out on the canals.

This time of year when the sun is so low it can be a bit blinding out there at times. Especially when heading West in the afternoon.

I like to take pictures into the sun. I love the way the light scatters and the possibilities with silhouettes, shadows, and lens flares.

With this picture I wanted to turn it isn’t something it wasn’t. I didn’t want the deep shadows. I wanted the picture to show me what I could have seen had I not been staring into the sun for hours. I wanted to try to create an image that expressed how I felt about the day. The air was still and chilly, but the warm Autumn colours were still out in force. I don’t normally apply such extreme adjustments to an image.

These are the main edits I made using Lightroom:

  • I took the contrast all the way down to flatten out the image and give it a painterly, slightly hazy quality
  • I brought the shadows all the way up to bring out as much detail in the background as possible
  • I took the highlights down to bring out a bit of detail in the sky
  • I pulled the tone curve into a gentle S shape, with the lights and shadows brought up and then highlights and darks very slightly down just to give a bit of definition
  • I very slightly warmed up the white balance

Colours:

  • I raised the orange and yellow saturation and luminance
  • I raised the red saturation slightly
  • I took the green luminance up to give a bit of life to the background
  • I raised the blue saturation slightly and also lowered the luminance to bring out more detail in the sky and balance the warmth a little

 

 

I Love Limehouse

After having been roaming the canals around London for a year now, I’ve seen parts of London I’d never even heard of before. The city looks infinitely fascinating from the water and my journey North East from Slough has been beautiful, horrible, and all things in between. But it’s never too noisy. The roads are never too close. The towpaths come alive in some places and are neglected in others.

Limehouse so far is my favourite spot to moor. It’s not especially pretty, or quiet. [Although it does benefit from being beautifully soundtracked with the quarter hourly chimes of St. Anne’s.] It has a character about it that beckons. I felt instantly at home here.

This is a little ode to Limehouse.

Ahoy, Savoy!

I was asked to take photographs at Roger’s 70th birthday bash a few weeks ago and how could I refuse with such a glamourous setting and glamourous guests? Absolutely smashing evening all round.

The icing on the cake* was my ex boyfriend trusting me to borrow the absolutely amazing new Pentax full frame K1 camera from him for the task. Beautiful camera.

Happy birthday, Roger! Hip hip!

 

*The icing on the cake actually said “Happy Birthday”.

Endeavour, and ever, and ever…

The past five or six weeks have been a srange and busy time. Mostly spent on dry land having various urgent attentions spent on my lovely boat. It felt almost neverending at one stage. It was truly a strange experience to be onboard the same boat with absolutely no movement and climbing a ladder to get in. It’s a slow and tentative sigh of relief to be afloat again now.

I got everything done and fixed that I needed to, except that I haven’t got around to putting the name back on her yet. I’m procrastinating a little over that… But bit by bit, she’s starting to look quite smart.

Flat bottomed girl

I’ve had to put my photography on the back burner for the past few months, whilst attending to issues with my Marvellous new home. But of course there’s always room for both.

I’ve dealt with no running water at all on far too many occasions since moving aboard, had to hand pump gallons of water from leaky plumbing every other evening, but now I’ve seen my boat fly…

I wouldn’t exchange life on the water for anything, and yet I’ve had to be taken onto land in order to get back out there. Some jobs just require it.

Her hull is the most important thing and whilst currently out of the water to have her hull blacked, I’ve finally been in a position to confidently sort my disastrous plumbing situation. Maintenance and sprucing up are well underway now.

Exciting and terrifying times. And more to come. Wonderful.

The gift of Sound and Vision

On 5th February I went ice skating at Alexandra Palace with my mother, one of my brothers, and a wonderful colleague for a David Bowie soundtracked evening of skidding about and falling over, hosted by Feeling Gloomy.

I don’t know anyone who wasn’t saddened by Bowie’s passing, and what better way to blow off the cobwebs than such a ridiculous and fun tribute.

I took my Pentax K-S1 and intended to get lots of fun shots of the inevitably Bowie-emblazoned skaters, but admittedly I spent the vast majority of the time enjoying the skating. It’s over 20 years since I’ve purposefully stepped onto ice and I loved every single minute of it.

My brother looked utterly fabulous in his golden spacesuit and I at least managed to capture this for prosperity. He drew much adoring attention both on the ice and during the journey there and back. Even the lovely staff at Pizza Express didn’t seem to mind us applying our face painted lightning bolts at the dinner table beforehand.

Farewell, Starman.

 

The Floater

It’s been a really busy month for me moving onto my handsome narrowboat. I’ve not had much time for photography. But I still somehow found myself volunteering to take pictures for a free online magazine for the boating community called The Floater.

 

 

I contributed these two pictures to go with an article about Winter moorings, the first of which I was delighted to see made it onto page one. You can read the December 2015 issue by clicking here.

 

 

Postcards from the edge of the laptop

I have almost accidentally found myself constructing a series of black and white self portraits with my laptop camera. People who know me well will know that I don’t usually have a problem expressing myself verbally, but recently I’ve found this ability somewhat ripped from me. I always try and infuse my pictures with as much emotion as possible, but rarely turn the camera on myself for this purpose. The low quality images seem to create a barrier behind which (conversely) I can comfortably express more of myself.

I’m editing the photographs in Lightroom and I’ve found that another result of the image quality being so poor, is that it is really freeing up my creativity in other elements of the pictures. It’s turning out to be a really interesting way to experiment with and explore and express different visual ideas, a bit like a sketchbook. I think I’ll continue with this from time to time.

The amount of grain in the images has added interesting textures. They could almost be pen and ink, pencil, charcoal, or spray painted images. The huge depth of field and wide angle view bizarrely reminds me of my pinhole images which I find fascinating considering the ridiculous difference in equipment involved.

 

Beyond Beyond Chocolate

There were a lot of ridiculously delicious cakes provided by Abbi’s Pantry at Beyond Chocolate‘s celebration of “no diet day”. I went along to take some photographs of the food and the round table discussions.

 

I took my back up camera for this shoot, my primary camera being out on loan. I’m more than happy with how the relatively humble Pentax KS1 handled the task. I can’t really compare it favourably to the Pentax K3 in performance overall (that thing is a dream machine!), but I can say that the final image can be a hair’s width in difference. The sensors are not significantly different, and I’m using the same lenses, so I’d say the biggest difference is to do with ease of use.

Focussing is slower and sometimes clunky with the KS1. I took most shots focussing manually. Overall it’s probably comparable, in the experience of setting up shots, to using the Pentax k-x. The k-x was my first digital camera and one I used for a good few years with fabulous results but it needed to be bullied a lot in camera and in post.

The key really is understanding and getting to know the equipment, its limitations, and its potential. In general I’d say that the potential for quality images from the KS1 is light years nearer to the K3 than the k-x and I should use it more often to know how best to release its strengths and better circumnavigate its weaknesses.

The best thing about the KS1 is how very light it is. I used my favourite lenses which all seemed to weigh more than the camera. This had a really positive impact on my experience. The slightly more cumbersome handling of settings was more than made up for by the fact that my back wasn’t aching as it would with the chunky K3. For long shoots I think it will even serve well as first choice in that regard.

Pinhole exposure

I recently submitted my pinhole picture of a ukulele to a gallery on The Guardian‘s website and I’m really pleased to see that it was amongst their selection of favourite images. It’s the second time this image has been featured by others online (this was the first).

Ukulele

Without the space for a darkroom at the moment I really miss taking pinhole images, so it’s nice to see my picture out there waving the flag for me, until I have the space to set up a darkroom again.