Friday, 31 October 2014

World Toy Camera Day Recap

The day I went to Harwich was actually the 18th October also known as World Toy Camera Day. I may have forgotten that at the time but luckily as well as the sensible Minolta, I also bought along my Holga 120N and the Reader's Digest Panoramic Camera that I love so much. So was is not lost. I cunningly managed to inadvertently take part in the event anyway. I'm yet to finish the roll on the Holga but recently got around to developing the Fomapan from the Panoramic beauty. These are the two best shots and coincidentally the two which I didn't unevenly develop. *Thunk.* Actually the whole of that development was a nightmare, so much so that I may just do a post dedicated to it. Ayway, without further ado, here are the pictures...

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Harwich in October

As promised, more photos from my recent Harwich trip with BadCatt and the family. All shot on my Minolta X-300 on Ektar 100. Developed by Snappy Snaps and scanned at home by me.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Ektar 100

I don't often get to use a decent colour film (and by decent I mean something that costs more than £1.) So when I had a tiny bit of space cash recently I decided it was the perfect time to buy a roll of Ektar 100. I've been looking for the perfect trip on which to try it out and as one never presented itself eventually on a recent trip to Harwich I decided I just had to bite the bullet and give it a go. This was taken using my Minolta X-300 and the negative developed at Snappy Snaps before I scanned it in myself at home. I'm only putting one photo on here for now. My next post will feature more from the same trip.

This was shot on 35mm but unfortunately I had to crop the image way down due to an errant hair over the lens. Hence the funny size. It's not perfect by a long way but look at how lovely those colours are. Sigh. This is why I shouldn't shoot on expensive film, one roll and I'm hooked. The reduced size of grain is really satisfying too. Curses!

Friday, 24 October 2014

Sunset with the Minolta X-300

A few shots from a recent trip to a local beach with my family and BadCatt.
Shot on my Minolta X-300 on Agfa Vista 200, shop processed at the local Snappy Snaps and the negatives scanned by me.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

France in the Summertime

Continuing on with my holiday theme, this summer BadCatt and I went to the south of France to visit my aunt for a few days. Whilst we were there we went on a walk in some nearby gorges, up the mountain by track and down again over rocks and through the river. I took my Minolta X-300 and some rolls of Agfa Vista 200 (I think them selling it in Poundland forces my hand rather when it comes to film choices.) These are just a couple of shots I took. I really like the water over boulders. I'm a bit of a fan of the soft and misty water you get with a slower shutter speed. The other is all for colour and the angles of the rocks.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Ferries and Industry

These photos are two more from my trip to Amsterdam. I have a long standing fascination with anything industrial. I can't quite put my finger on why but I've always been drawn to metals and rust and the colours/shapes of industrial buildings and equipment. As such, when going to Amsterdam I had used up most of a roll of film before we'd even left the docks at Harwich. Most of the shots could have benefited from using a more sophisticated camera than the SMENA 8 but these two managed to capture something I think in pretty interesting. I'd love to go back sometime soon and try out my panoramic camera from closer up to see what that can do.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Amsterdam with the Smena 8M

In November last year I took a trip to Amsterdam on the ferry for a few days armed with a couple of rolls of AGFA Vista 200 for my SMENA 8M and a matchbox pinhole. The pinhole did weird things and can be added to my list of unsuccessful attempts to get a clear image but the SMENA 8M managed a few really nice shots. Amsterdam in Autumn makes for some lovely light and the camera/film combo worked really well in it. Yellow sunlight is definitely what the SMENA 8M/ Agfa Vista 200 were made for.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Stitching Panoramic Photos

I got this idea from a thread over on the Filmwasters forums recently. For this I used three shots taken with my Reader's Digest Panoramic Camera and stitched them together with Photoshop in the most haphazard way possible. The photos were shot on Fomapan 200 and developed in ILFOTEC DD-X for 9 minutes and I'm pretty pleased with the result. Definitely something to try again in the future.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Introducing the Minolta X-300

This camera represents the most complex piece of equipment I own. It takes a battery for goodness sakes! Here is some information via Camerapedia. This was the second film camera I bought after the Smena 8M and I spent a little while building up a small collection of things like filters, a flash and a tripod to go with it. Before I even start the introduction I will say that I love this camera. All my others are toys in some way. Some are one trick ponies and all are limited in a way that this one isn't. It's my grown up camera. Because of this, I'm actually yet to shoot a roll of really decent film through it because I want to know how to use it properly first. I have some Ektar 100 sitting around that will be perfect when I am ready and when the right trip presents itself. For now I'm just playing around with Poundland Agfa Vista 200 film. Which is what all the images to come were shot on.

This is definitely my 'going somewhere unusual/ interesting camera. It's been to abandoned textile factories, feritlizer warehouses, the south of France and wooden homes in the middle of nowhere. I take it whenever I want to know I can take reliably good photos. I don't use it very often though. It's got its own bag which is more of a pain to carry around and it takes longer to set shots up so I do use it sparingly.

Old Fisons Fertiliser Warehouse, Ipswich (poor colours definitely due to my negative scanner)

Lee-Over-Sands, St Osyth, Essex 

Looking at these photos it is clear to see how far I still have to go with this camera and I look forward to experimenting whenever I can.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014


About a month ago BadCatt and I decided we were going to take our Zenit Es and head off on the train to the coast. I took the Zenit, a couple of rolls of film (Kodak Colorplus) and a matchbox pinhole camera (film did not cope well with processing) and off we went.

The weather was a bit overcast but shooting colour at an English beach is always going to yield results even with the greyness. As a matter of fact I almost prefer it for how interesting the muted colours can look.


We then moved inside the pier where the arcade lives and tested out how we could shoot in lowish light without any of the equipment we really needed to make it easy on ourselves. (Oh tripod how I don't care to lug you around.) Unfortunately, as I later discovered, somewhere between this first beach hut picture and getting inside the pier I managed to lose a screw from the latch of the Zenit. This meant that every subsequent shot was light leaking in a number of interesting ways. Not what I intended but they definitely have merit...

2014-09-04_21 copy


That did however mean that I couldn't use any rolls of film in the camera after that having no idea if what I'd shot would even yield an image and without a roll of black electrical tape with me to seal the camera up. (A mistake that I no longer make.) Still, despite my failed pinhole and the light leaks in the Zenit I think I managed some pretty unusual images and it certainly wasn't a wasted journey.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Photographic Inspiration #1 Philip-Lorca diCorcia

Whilst I'm aware that all I'm really doing with photography at the moment is learning the basics and none of the pictures I take are anything other than technical explorations, at some point or another I'd like to start shooting things and creating images that I find visually interesting. This is the first in what will hopefully be an ongoing series of posts examining photographers who have influenced my aesthetic. I did do a degree in Fine Art a few years ago and whilst most of my time was spent either printmaking or creating huge text works, I always used photographers as inspiration.

In 2006 whilst I was on my Art Foundation course we went on a trip to the V&A. I can't remember what the purpose of the visit was, all I really remember is one exhibition. It was called 'Twilight' (review here) and it was the first time I'd ever really experienced artwork viscerally. The show entirely blew me away. I'd say artistically it's been influencing me ever since. In another part of my life I am a performance poet and visually it also informed my writing. I cannot over state its importance to me.

There were a couple of standout photographers in the show who I want to feature here and the first to spring to mind was Philip-Lorca diCorcia. The works on show were from Hustlers, his series of portraits of young men working on the streets in Los Angeles during the height of the AIDS crisis. The photographs of these men were meticulously staged and lit before diCorcia found his subjects by cruising and propositioning the hustlers in the area. He would then place them into the shot and pay them their going rate for the time. Titled just with their name, age, place they came from and amount they usually charge for services, these photographs are both real and unreal. The men are there but it is not how they would normally appear. The staging gives diCorcia a chance to express their frailty and sadness but to make it beautiful and the titles remind us that despite the fictional settings, these men are real people.

 Mike Miller, 24 years old, Allentown, Pennsylvania, $25 (I've actually written a poem about this photograph.)
 Ralph Smith, 21 years old, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, $25
Eddie Anderson, 21 years old, Houston, Texas, $20

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Meet on the Ledge

More photos from my lovely little Reader's Digest Panoramic Camera. These are from the second roll of film I shot with it. As before they're taken on Fomapan 200 and developed in ILFOTEC DD-X for 6 minutes in 1:4 dilution. (Pretty much everything I've developed since has been at 1:9. I'm a fool for ever doing anything different.)

The location is a disused building in the centre of town. We explored both the building itself and also its roof and those of some of the adjoining buildings.

I'd been wondering if the first lot of photos I'd taken had been a nice fluke but it really does take lovely pictures. I adore how it has captured the shapes and tones on the rooftops. I'll have to test colour next but I'm dubious as to how that will turn out.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Take a Walk on the Boring Side

I like to take my cameras with me when I'm walking across town because

a. you ever know when you might get a decent photo opportunity and
b. sometimes walking is really very boring.

Normally I don't plan on shooting any pictures it's just as and when something presents itself but occasionally I make it part of my purpose. This walk was really to visit a friend of mine who lives on the other side of town but I decided to take the Zenit E along and have a go at finding a certain amount of interesting subjects to photograph along the way. Namely, shooting a roll of Kodak colorplus with 24 exposures. As it turns out that particular walk is just incredibly dull. The weather was overcast and naff and I was quite hot and bothered by the time I reached my destination. Also I'd only managed to use up half of the film. I think I was in the wrong mood to be looking for things. Still, I did get a few interesting shots. The first one I'm sharing is what I think was probably the best of the bunch. The colours basically turned out exactly how I wanted them to as did the focus. I read a blog post elsewhere the other day where the author had decided that he just wasn't going to shoot in colour on overcast days because it's impossible to get a decent images but I think it actually helped this photo because it means the colours that are there stand out more.


This other photo is my 'what might have been.' It was a perfect image, kid in a top the same colour as the sign in the foreground, plenty going on and lots of vibrant reds and yellows to counteract the grey sky. Unfortunately I buggered up the focus. Obviously it was meant to be in the kid and not the sign. I blame the fact that his parents had started to notice me as I was setting up the shot. Sigh.


Not a completely wasted walk but also not quite what I had intended.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Introducing the Reader's Digest Panoramic Camera

This camera I bought entirely by accident from ebay a month or so ago. I bid because it was 50p and wasn't going to go any higher. When I won the bid I was a little apprehensive about the thing. How good can something be that you first got free with a magazine? When I got it I wasn't filled with any more joy. Its plastic shell is uninspiring and here are no settings. Just point and shoot. I figured I'd shoot on Fomapan 200 in black and white with decent sunlight for my first roll and see what happened.

As you will see it's not a true panoramic camera, I think decent ones might cost me a little more than I paid for this. It shoots in 35mm film and crops the image for the pano effect. It has quite a wide angled lens which I would estimate gives you about double what you'd get with a standard 35mm setup. Look at how nice the quality of the photos are though! I entirely wasn't expecting to get such interesting shots. A fiend of mine thinks it makes things look quite sixties which is fine by me. I'm a little in love with this camera. Well what it can do with black and white anyway. Colour will be a whole different ball game. Look at it though! The contrast, oh the lovely contrast.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

First Photos from the Holga 120N

A week or so ago I went out with the Badcatt to try out my first roll of Fomapan 200 (technically I meant to buy 400 and 3 packets of the 35mm 200 but I seemed to get a lot of 200 in 120 format instead. Oops.) We didn't go anywhere special, just around town and a bit further out to explore the area. I shot the roll thinking mostly just of seeing how 200 worked in the camera. I'd read that you really need to shoot in 400 to get decent results but it was early evening and still quite sunny so I figured I'd be okay. When it came to developing, I had a little problem with getting a the last bit of film into the tank and I didn't want to damage the emulsion so I lost a couple of shots which was a shame. The rest developed fine. Some of the images came out strange for one reason or another, too dark or too flat but I did get a couple of nice shots. I like how it makes the photos look like they were taken a hundred years ago.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Matchbox Pinhole

I find matchbox pinholes really difficult to get right. It might be because I'm constantly unsure as to how small is too small for the pinhole or because I'm too impatient to steady the camera or point it at only interesting subject matters but whatever the reason I usually will only get two or three okay shots off of any roll of film. Not a great hit rate I'm sure you'll agree.  To be honest, I've made a few of these now and I'm not sure how many more I will do if the results continue to be as discouraging as these. Sigh. So that having been said, have a couple of the better photos I've managed to take with one...

View from a roof which I was definitely meant to be on. DEFINITELY. Ahem. 

Can anyone tell me what all the junk is in the foreground? I don't remember it being there. Which is in no way creepy. 

Sunday, 5 October 2014

How Not To: Load Film into the Praktica Super TL

A quick how not to tutorial. Featuring BadCatt in his human form and some light swearing from one or maybe both of us. Yeah, we're great at this. 

Friday, 3 October 2014


So yesterday I talked about finding the Zenit Es in BadCatt's mum's shed and how we also found a whole range of films in there too. Most of them had no leader showing and therefore had been shot already but there were a couple of blank rolls as well which I quickly snaffled up.

A few days later and being the adventurous cub that I am I decided that film which had been sitting around in a warm loft/ damp shed for the best part of twenty years was perfect for trying some street photography with the Zenit E. Shooting went well, except for that bit when I got to the end of the film and it snapped in the camera. Easily solved. I just casually opened it in direct sunlight to ascertain the problem followed by again in a dark bag. Oops. I still felt vaguely confident that it would yield some interesting images though (or any) and so I took it into the shop I no longer use for developing to get them developed and hopped back a day later intrigued to see the results and... um... yes...


Exactly what I'd intended. Ahem. Obviously. It turns out that what had happened is that for some reason the film still had its leader out despite being a fully shot roll. So if you look closely you can see baby BadCatt or BadCatt's brother. Not quite the street photography that I'd hoped but actually it yielded really interesting results so I can't complain too much.

Also, kudos to the 20 year old film (which may or may not have been some form of Kodak) which managed to survive the adverse storage conditions to still produce images. Good form. I've still got another roll of this to shoot at a later date which will be interesting now I know that the roll will probably all be double exposures.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Introducing the Zenit E

My next camera to introduce is the Zenit E. (Wikipedia article here.) It's been in my collection for a little over a month courtesy of BadCatt's mum's shed which we were clearing out and happened upon a whole range of different films and cameras. We found 3 of the Zenit Es labeled 1 to 3 with no indication of why and so we each picked one randomly to test out. BadCatt went for 1 and I opted for 3. The less said about the state of 2 the better. I'm not sure that it would be even capable of producing an image, poor thing.

The next day we headed off around Oxford to try out the cameras. This was a new experience for the BadCatt who had for about the last 10 years been shooting exclusively digital with no thoughts whatsoever towards film and so as a side project I was determined to at least semi convert him. We shot through a roll of Kodak Colorplus each that day and got them developed straight away (I develop black and white myself but am far too scared to attempt C41 at the moment. Maybe soon...) To my surprise it took some pretty decent photos. Once I got over the whole 'oh hell, how do I focus this thing' issue they were pretty easy to use and make very satisfying mechanical noises, Always a plus. For now, here is a shot from the first roll, which I was actually pretty pleased with overall. 

I've got way more photos from this camera to share at a later date and a lot more to talk about in regards to how it works and some irritating light leaks it has managed to develop. As for the BadCatt, he loves his. Whilst he's not an entire convert yet, his Flickr account will testify to the beginnings of a serious crush. 

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Introducing the Holga 120N

Next up in my introduction posts is the Holga 120N that I mentioned in my last post as being bought from Mr Noideaaboutcamerasthankfully.


Here is the Wikipedia article about Holgas. Plus the Lomography website's 120N tag.

History over. 

Now I've read a lot about Holgas in the past and seen a fair few pictures taken on them. They're the popular kid of the lofi lomo camera scene and produce some pretty interesting looking pictures. I've never really given much thought to owning one though before I stumbled across the bargain. I guess that medium format cameras always seemed like a bit of a hassle and I'd have to learn how to load 120 film and development would take more chemicals and basically I'm cheap and pretty lazy. Go figure. As soon as I owned it though curiosity got the better of me. Loading the film was the first worrying part but once I got used to all the strange symbols the little red window flashed at  me before the number 1 it was pretty okay. Weird but okay. Then it was just a matter of shooting a roll and struggling with loading it into my developing tank (which I definitely didn't mess up and lose 2 1/2 shots on and mess up a third. Definitely.)

Me attempting to look chill with the Holga. Look, railway bridge. Mmmmmm. 

So my camera is a little quirky, no masking frame inside, has to be covered in electrical tape to keep the back on and I'm not sure the shutter always does what it is meant to but actually it takes some pretty interesting pictures. Very lo fi but interesting. Excuse the strange scans of these. Someone (who definitely isn't me) couldn't be bothered to make them both look the same and not like one was scanned in black and white and the other in colour.

I've got another roll of film in there right now and as long as I don't balls it up hopefully there will be some more photos to come at a later date.