Medium Format Experiment

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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.

March Antidotes

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End-of-winter distractions…

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.

 

Indie Label/Craft Brewer Market, Spitalfields; March 2015

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A Saturday afternoon trip to Spitalfields for the Independent Label and London Craft Brewers’ Market. I’m not sure how long this event’s been going, but it was pretty rammed; funny to consider that what seems a pretty obvious combination wouldn’t have been possible 10 years ago when there were only half a dozen breweries in London.

The stalls were a bit on the small size, I thought, particularly for the labels that had a decent range on offer. With a few it was hard to tell if they were presenting a particularly austere and minimalistic aesthetic, or if they really did just have a couple of 12″s and a box of CDs for sale.

My initial response to squeezing through the crowds to look at the music was that I’m now so used to trying music out online that to see it presented with virtually no explanation or context seemed almost bizarre; inefficient at least. A few samples of the beers changed that reticence a bit, but the experience really highlighted the need for record labels to have an identity and a sense of purpose in order to stand out.

The atmosphere was good: Old Spitalfields market, despite it’s increasingly chain store, extension-of-Bluewater feel, was a pretty ideal venue. There are worse ways to spend a Saturday afternoon; I’ll go back if they put it on again.

Down by the river: Greenhithe; March 2015

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Shots from the riverside at Greenhithe. The QE bridge looks delicate and quite serene from here; a contrast to the experience of driving over it. The river is wide here, the riverside a mixture of industry and the sort of new developments that allow grudging access to the riverbanks. Asda trolleys abound.

Listening: Bert And John

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On the passing of John Renbourn.

Whenever I listen to John Renbourn or Bert Jansch I always come back to this album. Two guys recording around a kitchen table, guitars mixed hard left and hard right so you can hear who’s playing what – and such incredible playing. Loose and tight at the same time, taking from folk tradition and extending the repertoire of the acoustic guitar almost casually. I feel very lucky to have seen both of them playing live (but not together, sadly).

Update 27th March: this appreciation by Pete Paphides is fantastic.
And this interviews is well worth an hour of anyone’s time:

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