Musings

Witstable

I take photographs the same as everyone else, on holiday, on day trips, of friends and family. These photographs for the most part I never look at, but there are some that are just for me. These are the ones I always go back to. I want to see if I can figure out what they are saying to me. There importance lies in their unique voice and that I don’t understand them.

A series of statements as questions.

I have to be in the present when I create a photograph and it records a past that doesn’t exist, except in my memory.

Following on from that, my memory is created by the photograph and as such is suspect or at least open to discussion of what is happening when connecting disparate views.

Searching for a more fundamental vision of us, one where we get back to where we came from, recognise the now as our destinantion.

Are we being so conditioned that we can’t immediately see the now (truth) as apposed to what is figurativley a construction or cut out, showing us what we ideally should be.

Everything is connected with a truthful reading of the now.

Am I in the process of backing up my memory of non existent stuff.

Do I have these as conscious thought processes while creating a view ‘taking a photograph’ NO, I have nothing going on.

I am inexplicably drawn to fair ground rides, their stripped down to essentials examples such as the tubular metal minimalist incarnation to those in the most elaborate forms. These for me, promise something, an escape from your unconsciousness to another which is full of visceral emotions.

Luigi Ghirri and other stuff

Nikon F3 + 40mm f2 Voightlander, Kodak Portra 160, Scanned on Minolta Scan Elite 5400, Clacton-on-sea

Well, I guess its time to update this site especially as I haven’t got a single response to the photo walks. I will be partnering with Kodak on their next photo walk and taking over when Stiv (Kodak guy) heads back to his office.

So I haven’t been doing too much lately except looking for work in my previous guise, HTML/CSS coder, with no success I might add. I’ll do anything to get some cash into the house as they say, anything, I’m not proud!

Luigi Ghirri has been the focus of my attention as of late. I’ve always admired his work and although any books by him are rare and expensive I have recently acquired “The Map and the Territory” published by Mack books just a few weeks ago. Definitely a book I would recommend as it has a lot of his writing and images that I haven’t seen before. I do have others of his, such as “Its beautifull here isn’t it” sadly I purchased some 7 months ago before it went into reprint and can now be purchased at a fraction of the price I paid for a first edition. Still welcome to the photobook world! Speaking of which I came across another of his books, a collaboration with Aldo Rossi the architect, but once burned twice shy as they say, its available at £295.00, so I’m going to wait for a reprint or at least until I win the lottery!

Nikon F3 + 40mm f2 Voightlander, Kodak Portra 160, Scanned on Minolta Scan Elite 5400, Clacton-on-sea

I’m not sure how to say this without being pompous but my work has paralleled his but without the accompanying thoughts that he has articulated so well. I have been looking at the same things in the same way and I thought I was alone but I guess there must be lots of us out there, closet LG admirers or at least people that think and see the world as he did. He is so under appreciated it’s sad really.

On an equipment note, I purchase a 40 mm f2 Voightlander for my Nikon F3 and couldn’t be happier. The first time I went out and about with it was very revealing for me. At no time did I even consider needing a different angle of view it just never occurred to me, it suit my vision perfectly! As for its qualities it’s a very nice lens, very old school Nikon in looks and feel with a very smooth rendition of the scene. I do like it and at this moment do not feel compelled to get anything else. The 2 shots accompanying this post were both shot with it.

Photo-Walks #01

Chinatown, Central London

The last photo-walk I took was a very cold and exceptionally windy London day and there were about seven or eight of us. The leader was Stephen (Stiv) from Kodak.

I took the walk out of curiosity and a desire to meet other people interested in film photography. Mostly we were film-based users except one who was sporting a Fuji digital x100 camera. We didn’t go very far and we were limited to one and a half hours as our leader Stiv had to get back. When he left, the group wanted to keep going but were unfamiliar with London, consequently I took over and helped them get around to areas in the city that they were interested in. So this started me thinking, what if I gave photo walks around London… maybe I could earn enough money to pay for my film addiction!

Needless to say, that thought kicked off several other thoughts, such as how to advertise it, what would people want to get out of a photo-walk (guided tour) and what could I charge?

Who am I

Firstly, I have been shooting film for approximately 50 years in all formats 35mm to 8×10. I have worked in the Photo Lab industry for 10 years in various capacities such as Custom Black and White printer, Custom Colour Printer and a few other rungs on the ladder up to and including Lab Manager for Canada’s second largest Custom Photo lab (no longer in business, as digital knocked a lot of analogue companies for a loop).

I have been walking/traversing London to and from all points of the compass for well over 10 years now and almost know it like a Black Cab. Although, I don’t do remembering street names unfortunately, otherwise I could do the Knowledge that all Black Cabs have to take. So I feel well placed to take people to areas rich in what they are looking for, such as people, architecture, street shooting etc. You can see the results of the past 10 years at the following url’s.

Now with that in mind I have created three different walks, each with their own characteristics. If you are interested in participating on any of the walks you can contact me at: tom.ricesmyth@gmail.com.

NB = F* indicates full

Soho, Central London

NB = F* indicates full

Walk #1 ICA to Photographers Gallery (2-4 hours, cost £15.00 per person)

Dates:

  • May 5th, 12th, 19th, 26th
  • June 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd, 30th

To secure a spot contact me at: tom.ricesmyth@gmail.com.

Itinerary

The walk starts at the ICA and concludes at The Photographers Gallery via Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Sq., Chinatown and finally around Soho.

Carnaby Street, Soho, Central London

Chinatown, Central London

Soho, Central London

TRI-X + Rodinal 03

Nikon F3, 50mm f1.4, TRI-X, Rodinal 1:50

Again, I’m a lazy shit, actually I hate writing so it takes me a long time to sit down and type. Actually I’m really good at doing nothing and I mean nothing just sitting around and staring into space.

This is the last batch of 3 rolls in my calibration of TRI-X developed in Rodinal 1:50. I have now shot and developed 9 rolls of film and have decided on a provisional normal development time/dilution/agitation etc.

To recap (I have not listed stop and fix times as they remain the same for all batches):

First batch of 3 rolls:

  • 9 min development time, 1 minute of pre soak, first minute of development time with continuous agitation then 10 seconds in each min thereafter. Note that all times in this batch were timed with chemicals being poured in during the development time.

Second batch of 3 rolls:

  • 9 min development time, 1 minute of pre soak, first minute of development time with continuous agitation then 5 seconds in each 30 seconds. Note that all times in this batch were timed with chemicals being poured in during the development time.

Third batch of 3 rolls:

  • 9 min development time, 1 minute of pre soak, first minute of development time with continuous agitation then 5 seconds in each 30 seconds. Note that all times in this batch were timed with chemicals being poured in before the timer is started.

The final batch gave me a very good starting point for a normal development time. There is lots of shadow and highlight detail and good separation throughout the mid tones. This is by no means the end of the process as I will continue to refine the normal development process and at the same time start to create times etc. for N+1, and N-1.

Please remember that your times/results may differ but it gives you a place to start and then you can go through the process yourself.

This will be the last post for a while on developing film unless I start another round of work to refine the N+1 and N-1 times.

Nikon F3 + 50mm f1.4, TRI-X + Rodinal, Scanned on Minolta Scan Elite 5400

EXCESS BAGGAGE 02

4×5 Arca Swiss, Schneider 120mm Super Symar

I thought, it maybe about time I talked about photobooks.

First, I need to get something off my chest re the naming of photobooks. People seem to be racking their brains for anything that might be obtuse, opaque and altogether only relating to the images in a post-rational way. I collect photobooks, not in the way, say, someone who is wealthy but I do have a library of about 100 or so books and as time goes by the titles have become so much more abstract and as such could relate to any images that are between the covers. I find this practice to be very off putting although; it hasn’t stopped me from buying them.

Actually I will talk about the books I have bought in the last six months, not in an in-depth way, just in terms of would I bother buying them had I known what was between the covers. I usually buy on the Internet based on recommendations.

The following list is the last 6-8 months, which turns out to be a bit scary, as I have bought way more than I thought. I think I should now keep my hands in my pockets. The list is in alphabetical order.

Recent book list:

You will notice I have gone a bit overboard with Luigi Ghirri. I did this based on first reading his writings which were published by Mack. I haven’t regretted it once and continue to source as many as I can afford. Unfortunately most are out of print and those that are available can get quite pricey, case in point was the Luigi Ghirri, ‘It’s beautiful here, isn’t it…’, an Aperture publication and you will see from my links above it is very pricey at least for me. If you haven’t seen his work I would recommend getting his book titled Kodachrome, it’s a really good primer and covers a lot of his early work.

In the mean time a few words about my Nikon F3 + Tri-x + Rodinal project. I have 3 more rolls to develop and I will post scans from them as soon as I can. A few words on the Nikon F3, did I say it was a Tank? Well it really is a tank, heavy clunky and for me a bit inhibiting. So I’m now looking for an FM2n, smaller and less brick like. Actually missed out on one on eBay last night, got beaten by a late bid it was £5 more than my bid?!@?”.

Will start next time with either the F3 project or review of some of the books listed above. Also please forgive the amazon links above, if you do buy from my link I’ll get a few pennies towards more books which is very helpful.

EXCESS BAGGAGE 01

Canon 5D, Covent Garden, London

So… the title above will in future denote a post about everything that is swirling around in my head. Sometimes it just gets overwhelming and you just have to have a BIG DUMP, switch that pinball machine off and drain the life out of it, just so you can start again with a clean slate.

This world seems to be in a fucking terrible state at the moment. Mother nature is trying to tell us to smarten the fuck up, if you know what I mean. Really, we have natural disasters happening everywhere in the world, it’s a bit terrifying if you really think about it.

Then there are the prevailing governments of the US and UK. I realize compared to the US we are small fry here in the UK, but dam we make up for it in stupidity! Where are all the visionaries and why aren’t they leading us into the future, are there none around at all. Here’s an example of the type of politicians we have, our PM and Mayor for London are all about banning diesel cars and replacing them with electric cars. So if that isn’t short sighted, it’s the same as when they touted diesel as the future fuel. None have looked to the future and thought about what it might lead to.

An example would be the battery pollution. The disposal of batteries is the elephant in the room, even if they developed a battery that lasted years and years, because at some point the car owner will trade it in and then it becomes worthless junk and goes to the scrap heap plus its battery. Also where the hell are all the electrical points to plug them in on the streets? London house design does not really allow for cables from each house stretching across the pavement and if it did just think of all the fun teenagers could have with a cable cutter! The power points won’t sprout like mushrooms overnight and who pays for it (there’s an entrepreneurial opportunity!) and where does all that additional electricity come from? Do we build more nuclear plants with their inherent waste fuel problem?

If they were visionary they would have the answers already but the don’t because they are only reactive politicians not proactive. All I ever hear is we have heard the voice of the people and we are going to do something… what? They will say and do whatever keeps them in power and while in power they tell you why you cant have what you voted for!

Thinking out of the box I would say, that they should legislate that all new homes that are built starting from now must be electrically self-sufficient. The builders would be obliged by law to provide, install and sell solar panels along with the house just as they pay for the shingles on the roof. It would just be another building material. I’m sure that would eventually go a long way to lessening the strain on our existing energy grid. They would also be required to install an outside electric car power point on every new house. This will lead to a future not reliant on dwindling fossil fuels. All this can be done starting today and for those who have existing houses like myself, the cost of installing would be deductable on my personal taxes and the materials would come out of the government. I think that there would be a very tidy profit for the government when you consider the financial costs and waste disposal issues of nuclear power plants.

While we are on the subject of dwindling fossil fuels, when was it in the best interest of the population to put all our energy needs in the hands of a few profit generating private interests, even more so when those private companies are foreign owned! I would have thought, that from a simple-minded security perspective, it would have been in our interests to keep our electric generation and drinking water under one umbrella to protect us from any disaster, war etc. .

I want my leaders to be dynamic, thinkers who know history and can think for them selves, within the sphere of making a better place to live for everyone! By everyone I mean all black, white and yellow and every shade in between and surrounding, ALL the people on this planet.

I don’t want leaders who I’m either ‘embarrassed for’ or ‘find embarrassing to me’. I want them to be motivated by a genuine goodness for the people and not what they can suck out of the people.

Now to my photographic dump.

First I must state that I shoot digital about 97% of the time and analogue the other 3%. So I have come to realize and accept that when I’m gone there will be no remains of my life’s work, or my family growing up. Perhaps there will be the occasional print that I had made but that’s about it! No one will be able to go to a car boot sale, in the hopes of picking up some ones photo album. All there will be are used and abused and deleted hard drives, nothing you can look at, nothing you can touch or smell, nothing, nothing at all.

However, I do love the air and colour of optical analogue prints from analogue negatives. All you have to do is look at some of Luigi Ghirri’s prints. This does NOT include digital printing on analogue paper.

So does that mean I think analogue is the way to go. Not sure either way, it’s a hugely wasteful medium, water in particular and silver polluting of the ground water. It’s not too cool for the environment. I used to work as a lab manager for a commercial custom photolab in Canada and the amount of water that went down the drain each and every day was obscene.

I just came back to this post a few days later. I’m going to have to finish it later. I’m too fucked off with the world today.

To be continued…

TRI-X + Rodinal 02

Nikon F3 + 28mm f2.8, TRI-X + Rodinal, Island of Tabarca off the coast of Alicante, Spain, Scanned on Minolta Scan Elite 5400

Following on from my previous post on TRI-X + Rodinal. I have just finished developing the remaining 3 rolls from the test set.

I developed it to the same time 9 minutes but refined the agitation cycle. If you remember I wasn’t happy with the internal contrast of the mid-tones, they just looked dirty and lifeless. To remind you, the first 3 rolls were developed for 9 minutes, with agitation for the first minute and then 10 seconds in every minute. The ten second agitation cycle was always at the top of the clock with 50 seconds standing.

So I changed the agitation to 5 seconds every 30 seconds and kept the time to 9 minutes and the 1 minute of continuous agitation at the start. The difference was subtle but better. The mid-tones had more contrast in them and didn’t look as lifeless.

Conclusion

I have decide to refine the agitation even more by not including the pouring in or out of chemistry in the 9 minute development cycle. This will allow more development by approximately 30 seconds overall and I’m hoping that will be sufficient to raise the mid-tones to my desired level. If not then I’ll have to change the total time but at least I have locked down the agitation. As you can see this is a slow process but will bring many rewards once I have finished the testing. Also I think this illustrates how small changes can have large effects. This gets back to my beginning articles where I stressed consistency.

I will continue this test and update the conclusions as time goes by. But there will be other posts between on a variety of things.

I have decided that I would talk about my photobooks based on what I have bought in the last 6 months. These mini reviews will not be in-depth but whether or not you should take a look at them for yourself. I often find it difficult to buy books over the Internet unless I have handled them somewhere before but that isn’t always practical. So I’m faced with the same issues as everyone else. I would also like to talk about my feelings regarding the photobook market.

See you soon.

Nikon F3 + 28mm f 2.8, TRI-X + Rodinal, Alicante, Spain, Scanned on Minolta Scan Elite 5400