Time for a break

I find winter a tricky time in terms of photography, this winter especially. Last year I was only working part time and the weather was mild. That meant plenty of time to get out and about taking photos and testing cameras.

This year has been quite different and quite frustrating. I have been working almost full time. That means leaving my house when it is dark and arriving home in the same conditions. On the days that I have been free it seems to be raining nearly every time. And just when I thought I was able to get out and about I have had to deal with a knee injury. Oh woe is me. So what to do when you just can’t get out? All the blogs and books I have read say, never mind stay inside and practice still photography or flash. Well, I don’t want to. I like being out and about. It’s not even that I don’t want to ruin a camera, but more that I don’t want to waste film. It has become more expensive recently or I have become poorer. I don’t want to waste it on things I am not interested in.

I know this all sounds like a bit of a rant, I suppose it is really. But I love being out and about, walking and exploring, breathing fresh air and enjoying the sounds of nature. Let’s just say, I am really looking forward to spring!

With that slight rant over I have decided to take a break from this blog for a month. A short break to recharge my interests and prepare some draft post ideas. I have never felt like I have to post something each week, but that is what I have been doing for the past 3 or so years. Time for a break.

See you in a short while 🙂

Pentax P30n

Someone asked if I was still making reviews. Well, I still have quite a few cameras on my shelf and can’t quite kick the addiction yet, but this is the last one in my draft folder. It is also the last of the P30 cameras, definitely my last of this series. I have already tried the other, very similar ones, namely the P30 and P30t. On looks alone, I prefer the P30t. On use, I don’t really have a preference. While trying this version I decided to try a film experiment of sorts.

According to this site the only real difference between the P30n and the P30t are the looks. On this website you can find all the technical details you might need for this 1988 camera and some personal stories about the camera.

As I said I decided to try an experiment with this camera. I already knew how the camera worked and how it felt, so this time I focused on the film. Recently I have been trying to process my own slide film, but it has been coming out a bit funky. I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong and it didn’t seem possible that I had the wrong chemicals, but the scans were coming out very psychedelic. A friend suggested I send one film away to be processed by someone else to see if the results were the same. I thought this was a good suggestion so I did. I loaded a roll and walked around my local area, it was a dull day so mostly the camera was set to F1.7 and 1/60th. I sent the film to John Salim Photographic, who did a great job. The film was expired, as is all my E6 film, but the film returned did look better than when I processed it myself. It was purple but not psycho. So then I got down to scanning it and…

Return of the psycho! What is it? Ok Occam’s Razor…simplest solution. It must be the way I am scanning them. I did some research and found this article. It basically said, turn off all colour correcting software as it is fooled quite easily. So I did that and scanned the film again.

With all options set to “none”

So the colours are better, but they are not amazingly sharp. I do find that sharpness is an issue with the canonscan though. One day I will get a camera set up like explained in this video.

Anyway the camera worked well and I have solved my wild colour issue, though I have to say I do quite like it in certain circumstances. It works very well for grafitti.

Here are some more shots from the rest of the film. Note the little library is now much less psycho.

Basically, you can’t go wrong with a Pentax SLR.

New Zines and Old

Part of my plan for the year was to great more zines or iBooks. In the past I have used Pages to make the layout for paper books and iBook Author for digital books. I found you can make iBooks with pages, but I preferred using Author. Personally I found it easier to use. Anyway, this time I decided to use iBook Author exclusively. When making the post about zines I found the website I used to print books needed a PDF upload, I realised I could create that on Author. That meant I didn’t have to use two programs and I could use the one I liked.

So with the last few days of the winter break I sat down and got to work….and made 3 new publications and converted my old, paper only one to an iBook.

Some of the books are free, some have a small fee which will keep me in film or go towards my new lens.

Here are the three new ones.

This one contains Cosplay photos in studios and in abandoned places. Click here to see more details.
This is the first book in a series of iBooks based on photos from different places I have traveled to or have live in. Click here for more details.
This is the second book in a series of iBooks based on photos from different places I have traveled to or have live in. Click here for more details.

Once you arrive at the details, scroll down to see all of the ones I have made. They are only available on iBooks, so you need an Apple product to view them. Or you can send me a message and I might be able to create a PDF version for you.

As I make more iBooks I will post details on the stuff page.

So there we have it, day 6 and I have completed part of my plan, whooohooo.

My Favourite Photos of 2019

I started the year being very organised and made a folder to save my favourite photos in preparation for this post. Then somewhere along the line I either got waylaid or gave up, I am not sure which. So I decided not to bother. Then I thought…wait a minute, Instagram. I post all my favourite photos there and tag the details. So if I look back at the last year I should be able to choose my favourites. Simple. Except now I have to take screen shots and include some Instagram formatting. Oh well, I am not perfect. Maybe it will spur me on the make better decision in the future.

With that said, here are my favourite photos from 2019. They are not in any order, I wasn’t able to choose that specifically.

Silver birch taken on a victorian large format camera with 4×5 sheet film

Greylag goose taken with a Nikon d750
Photo from a cosplay photoshoot at airoute studio taken on my phone a huaweip20pro
A tame baby crow taken with a  Nikon d750
A view of Nidderdale in North Yorkshire while I was out camping, taken on my phone a huaweip20pro
A view of Lofthouse in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire taken on Prinzmastermatic iii with ilford xp2
A photo of a staircase at Hive cafe in Blackpool while attending Unframing Identities exhibition, taken on my phone a Huaweip20pro
A view of Blackpool Tower from the Hive cafe while attending Unframing Identities exhibition, taken on my phone a Huaweip20pro

Despite the flaws in the film, I still love this portrait of my father, taken with a Mamiya C2
A photo take in my local pub carpark with my phone camera a Huaweip20pro
A photo of my sister taken at Camden market taken with chinon ce4 with ilford hp5plus
An image from Doncaster light night taken with my phone, a Huaweip20pro using the night mode
Photo from a cosplay photoshoot in an abandoned castle taken with a Nikon d750

Actually, I think the last one might be my favourite. It was the first time I took a photo and after processing it was exactly as I envisioned when I took it.

Lots of these photos were taken on my phone, which proves the adage, the best camera is the one you have with you.

Plus I think I love the one of my sister because of the time we spent in London more than the actual photo. We went away for my birthday and it was a super weekend.

Next year I think I will forgo the folder idea and stick to Instagram. So much easier.

Making A Zine

One of my goals for last year was to self publish a zine. If you are not sure what that is then remember, zine is short for magazine. A zine should have original content made by you. This website has a number to view and explains more about what a zine is.

I have made iBooks before, but never an actual paper copy of something I have created. The first iBook I made is featured on this post. I have made a few other which you can either download for free or buy for a small amount. You can find details of those from this link.

For my first attempts I wanted to use a platform that was free. I wanted to know about the process before investing my own money. Once I had made a few iBooks I then moved on to the next phase, an actual published zine.

First I needed a project and as luck would have it, I had just been invited to take part in an exhibition. That meant I had my subject matter, well partly. I used two models for the exhibition photos and I had a model release from one of them, but the other model never returned theirs. As they were both friends I decided only to include photos of the one who felt more comfortable with the process. I had the right to use the photos, but not the heart. It did mean I had less photos to choose from, but I felt I had enough for a short zine. If you do have a model featured in your zine, make sure you get a model release and have discussed the possible uses of their images before you start the process.

Next I needed to find a cheap and reliable publisher. I have seen some exhibition accompaniments or self published books that are stunning, obviously costing a lot of money that I could not afford at the time. My other choice was printing the zine myself each time an order came in, but the cost of ink made this uneconomical in the long run. The company I chose in the end was Mixam. There are a number of other choices, but in my opinion this one had the most intuitive platform and was very competitively priced. With this website, first you decide on the type of zine or book you want, as in the paper and binding, then you add that to the cart. Next you are asked to upload your pages. That means you make the zine first, offline, using any software you like. Once saved as PDF pages you then upload them to Mixam. I much preferred that to the websites that wanted you to make the zine online using their own software. To create the zine I used Pages as I have a Macbook.

AND then a week later…tada, you have your first zine printed. Opening a box full of your own handy work is pretty cool.

You can order a copy on my stuff page.

Now it has been a year since I ordered 50 copies, I have about 10 left. I sent some to the model, gave some away, and sold the rest. I covered my printing costs, but the cost of posting them around the world took away any profit. At the moment, for me, making zines is for my heart and soul, not for my pocket. For my small following, I found 50 enough. If I need any more than that I can log back in to Mixam and reorder more.

I am at the point where I want to make another one. The best way to make any money is selling them directly at fairs or exhibition, which is on my list of goals for the future. I went to an Etsy fair recently where I bought a zine about making zines by Kristyna Baczynski. It has lots if information inside.

Anyway, the hardest part of the process might be having a concept. I have a few ideas for my next zine and am in the process of putting something together. I will try to make the next one available both digitally and in physical form. If you do make a zine, let me know. I might not be able to buy every one, but I would like to hear about it.

Coronet D-20

Now, even though I just posted that my plans for my photolife are changing, I still have a few cameras with films inside. So I will be posting more reviews for now, but they will slowly die off.

One of the reasons for the change is because of cameras like this…I hate this camera. In fact I can honestly say I haven’t tried a coronet I do like. So this will be the last one I put a film in. I do have a few more, but due to my new plans for the future, I will not be wasting film in them.

My dislike of this camera is based purely on the viewfinder. I couldn’t see a bloody thing. It was clean enough, but you have to look through it at a specific angle to see anything. I rarely hit that sweet spot. So my test roll shot results were based purely on luck. I don’t think photography should be down to luck.

The one good thing about this 1950s camera is that it can take 620 or 120 film. That is handy, as I didn’t have to respool the film before loading it. Side loading by the way. To be honest, I also kind of liked the ratchety wind on mechanism. It clicked as you turned the knob, but a clicky knob can’t save it in my eyes.

The days I used the D-20 were dull so there was no need to use the built in filter for bright days. Oh I have to say, the plastic strap was equally annoying. It never quite went straight and was uncomfortable around my neck.

Not my favourite results. The one on the bottom, the field, was supposed to be of a cow, but I couldn’t see it in the viewfinder.

Plans for 2020

When I started this blog at the end of 2015 it was just a way to pass some time, now it has become a pastime I enjoy. But it as been over four years now and I feel I must move on or at least change.

So I have decided to sell most of my film cameras. I will keep less than 10 from the collection I have. None of those 10 will be a format that is obsolete such as APS, 127 or 620. To accomplish this I have started to post items for sale on eBay. If there is something you would like and it is not yet posted there, just send me a message through the contact page. I am open to offers on all cameras marked with a **have**. I might also try attending some car boot sales to relieve myself of a few brownies.

I want to get a new lens for my Nikon D750 that mean I don’t have to swap lenses quite so often while on photoshoots. Any money gained through sales will go into a virtual pot towards this lens. I also want to focus more on the creative and commercial side of photography. I have already started a few courses to learn more, taken part in exhibitions, and made some zines. I don’t think that photography will ever be my main source of income, but I do need to fund my hobby a bit better than I am doing now.

This winter break I undertook a photoshoot in an abandoned castle in Scotland. A friend of mine loves cosplay and we often do these kinds of shoot. I want to do more of this kind of stuff.

Captured on Nikon D750, 28mm lens, processed in GIMP

I also took an Olympus OM4 that I haven’t used in a while. I am trying to decide which cameras to keep. This will be one of them. It was the first camera I searched for, before I started finding junk cameras. I paid a proper amount for it as it was CLA’d and worked perfectly. I loved it when it arrived. It was my favourite, so it was nice to use it again. Here are some photos I took at the shoot.

It was quite dark in the castle so the 50mm f1.4 lens I have was wide open most of the time and I pushed the film from 100asa to 400asa. I should have pushed it a bit further. Anyway, that is the plan, only time will tell if I managed this during 2020.

Kodak Duaflex

Finally, finally!!!! a day with a tiny bit of sun and brightness and I just happened to have camera fully loaded and ready to try. This is the very smart looking Kodak Duaflex which was available in the UK between 1949-1955.

If you want a closer look at this camera, I found a really neat 3D model of it here.

Mine is in pretty good condition considering the age. It has a 75 mm Kodet lens with a fixed aperture of f15. I would guess the shutter speed is about 1/50th or less. There is an option for bulb setting, but that is it really. I have seen a few posts on instagram or blogs about attaching a digital camera to the enormous viewfinder. My example is a little dirty, but still very bright and clear. I might be tempted to clean it and try this type of photography. The square shape of the camera means this type of photography might not be too tricky…now I am even more tempted, but I think I will wait for the spring and longer, brighter days.

As for this camera in its current state, I like it. I liked using it, I like how it looks and I love how the shots came out. They have a definite look to them, a real tapering off of sharpness. I used mine at a local park during a few minutes of sun.

I am definitely going to try this camera again, maybe some portraits to really show off the bizarre focusing effect.

Here are a couple of the images quickly processed using the Snapseed app on my android phone.