I hadn’t been on the London Eye for at least decade, maybe longer; possibly hadn’t even thought of going on it after a flurry of visits after it opened. Some friends had some kind of magic tourist pass and kindly brought us along as guests on just the right kind of day for it: blue skies, not much visible smog. I wish I had some shots from the last time I went on it, though; some compare-and-contrast of the skyline would be fascinating.
This is a great book about areas of London that have more or less disappeared from modern usage: Cripplegate, Ratcliffe, Agar Town, and so on. The writing is pitched just right: it rattles along, informs, amuses, and at the same time implies interesting parallels with modern London, while avoiding tenuous psychogeography. Recommended.
A brief break in a busy Easter allowed a trip to Dulwich for the Ravilious exhibition, which was excellent; apart from the delight of the pictures, there’s rare pleasure in being one of only a handful of visitors to an exhibition. Room to wander and look properly.
My Medium Format Experiment proved just about interesting enough to persist with; another roll of 120 has gone into the Yashica Mat 124 with a vague plan to make some more portraits.
- I finally finished A Tale Of Two Cities, after getting firmly stuck in the middle last year. This then prompted a sudden zeal for finishing various other half-read books, none of which proved particularly notable in the end. There’s a promising pile building up for May, though (and I may even finish James Yorkston’s memoirs – possibly the worst book-by-a-musician I’ve ever read).
- This Wait Until Next Year piece: Dartford, the death of a high street and the awkwardness of wandering around a town taking photos chimed with the feelings I’d had while out taking photos in Gravesend at the end of March: am I sneering at the place? Is it fair to judge a town on your first visit? Does anywhere look its best at 9am on a Friday?
- This fantastic LRB state-of-the-nation piece on Grimsby.
- No end of pre-election analysis that pretty much all turned out to be completely wrong…
I finally got round to putting a couple of rolls of 120 film through the aged Yashica Mat-124G that I’ve had for a while. I’m still waiting for high-res scans of the second roll, but here are three shots from the first film. They’re not the best photos I’ve ever taken, but it’s enough to make we want to experiment further.
I was pleased to find that the camera works pretty well; it obviously has a bit of dust in it, but the spot edit tool in Lightroom seems to work remarkably effectively and efficiently (a tool I’d never bothered with before). The whole process of using the camera – particularly on a tripod – was completely alien to my daughter (utterly used to seeing the image on the back of the camera a second after the picture’s taken), and proved to be pretty entertaining.
A new camera
Looking back through my photos from the last 2 or 3 years recently. I was struck by two things: a complete lack of consistency in style as I tried out iPhone apps and b&w conversion techniques, and that the images from my Fuji X-E1 stood out as being far superior to any others I’ve taken in recent years. The problem with the X-E1 is that it’s a bit too big to put in a coat pocket (particularly with the 35mm f1.4 on – the best of the two lenses I have), and the auto-focus is a bit too slow to catch my daughter in action – plus, of course, the iPhone is just too convenient (though it makes decent images in the right conditions). So I bought a Fuji X100T and, so far, I’m very pleased: the images have that Fuji X series feel, I like the 23mm lens, and it’s more pocketable than the X-E1. It’s prompted a splurge of photo-making, mostly Down By The River, and made me think more about the consistency of my black and white processing. Now I just need to remember to put it in my coat pocket, and resist the convenience of the iPhone.
One thing I’ve noticed over the last couple of years is that the better the cameras get, the less I need – or feel inclined – to make significant adjustments to the files during post-processing; I’m no longer using film simulations, and the sliders don’t move so far from the middle. Maybe I should write something about how I do it sometime; at the very least it might help me remember in the future.
Music and books, etc
– Surface Tension continues to draw me in and reveal new sounds and textures.
– The Handsome Family at St Giles’ Church were amusing, dark and good company.
– I’ve loved Magnus Mills’ work since The Restraint Of Beasts, and I enjoyed A Cruel Bird Came to the Nest and Looked In very much, even if I wouldn’t (quite) put it in a Magnus Mill Top 3.