Developing Colour Film. That’s difficult isn’t it?

 Well, put simply the answer is no.

No you don’t need a darkroom.
No you don’t need expensive equipment.
No you don’t need complicated temperature control.

The image above was developed, basically, in my kitchen sink. No darkroom. No expensive equipment apart from a developing tank you can get for under £20. No complicated temperature control apart from a washing up bowl and a kettle, and a cheap thermometer.

To prove how easy it is I’m going to be demonstrating how it’s done at Add The Colour Cafe on 17th February at 6:30pm. I’ll even let the audience take the snaps I’m going to process. We”ll start with taking the photos and hopefully end up projecting the scanned negatives about an hour later.

Obviously there’s huge scope for failure, so if you’re the kind of person who likes to watch tightrope walking or speedway then you might want to come along :)

Also presenting will be Andrew White. Andrew, known to flickr users as monkeymillions, is an avid collector of old film cameras – and he’ll be giving tips on where to find bargains, how to spot the good ones, and how to use them.

Posted in Photo Experiments, Photography, Toy Cameras | 1 Comment

Bikes And Babes

I took some snaps at the Horsham Ride-In charity bike show at the weekend at the invitation of the gorgeous Helen from ModelMayhem and her equally lovely friend Ruby. Hopefully if this gallery thing works you should be able to access them below.

I tried to get a “bike mag” feel to them rather than my more usual low-fi style, and shot almost entirely on digital. Most of the editing is done entirely in Lightroom 2, with the occasional quick trip into Photoshop CS3 where needed. There are a few that could do with a re-edit, I’ve gone a bit over the top on blackening the blacks on some of them.

Anyway, hope people like them. Remember they’re all for charity – Scope and in particular Ingfield Manor School

(Hope people like my new theme too – it’s pretty much the standard 2010 wp theme now – my old one didn’t work properly with galleries. It still needs some tweaks though – fonts in particular – it’s a bit fugly at the moment)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Vanity and Obsession

Last Thursday evening I was lucky enough to get along to the launch of Kevin Mason’s Vanity Project exhibition at Garage Studios in Brighton’s North Laine.

Thanks to Kev and Georgie for being patient enough to pose for my attempts to take a snap with the aptly named Impossible Project film

I first met Kevin Mason about 18 months or so ago when he was still DarkDaze and had teamed up with Adam Bronkhurst and Matt Halls, to start Garage Studios. Back then he was getting known for elaborate sets and lighting setups, making the maximum use of the huge Vine Street space and the talented group of set builders, make-up artists and stylists around him. There was another side to DarkDaze too though. As well as his earlier graffiti documentary work, and the more recent festival shots, and a whole body of work I was unaware of, there were always his more personal shots of his then partner and muse Sally Reynolds. Often shot in available light, and often on Polaroid, these photos always seemed more Kevin than DarkDaze.

30 weeks ago, DarkDaze started a new project. Every Thursday afternoon he would meet up with 16 year old model Georgie Hobday for a photo-session. Every Thursday for 30 weeks. Culminating in a Polaroid set taken on the 6th May. The day the exhibition opened.

He called it his Vanity Project.

On one level those 30 weeks documented a lot of changes. Changes in Georgie’s confidence in front of the camera. Changes in the way the photographer worked with his model. And the change from DarkDaze to Kevin Mason.

From the outside looking in it seemed very much like a back-to-basics metamorphosis. Almost like a photographic Rick Rubin had stepped in and stripped his work bare. But DarkDaze didn’t need a Rick Rubin, he did it by himself – and this exhibition is a fascinating record of that journey.

Walking around the exhibition the overwhelming impression is of fun. From Bunny Ears to Ballet Leaps, as we get to the later weeks rarely do we get the impression that Georgie is modelling for Kevin, more that Kevin is photographing Georgie. Maybe that’s part of his talent?

The exhibition itself takes a brave approach to presentation. Rather than a uniform set of prints hanging on walls, the 30 weeks of obsession shown here are hung from the ceiling week by week, a mixture of large and small prints and every size inbetween, colour and black & white, and plenty of original Polaroids. Some of the photos really stand out – the giant grin with the big hair, the ballet leap, the plastic lensed shot with Brighton Prom’s famous giant lobster – but they all have a place and a part of the story to tell. Picking a favourite is nearly impossible.

This is very much my personal interpretation of the exhibition. I’ve probably got facts wrong and misinterpreted motivations, but the fact it made me think about those things rather than just “nice photo” is an achievement.

Is this the end of the elaborate sets and lighting? I don’t think so somehow – but I like to think the Big Works in the future will be informed by by those 30 Thursday afternoons.

If you can’t make it to the exhibition on the last weekend of May there’s also a book available – I’d recommend either or both.

Posted in Photography | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Unfinished Business

A recent move of server meant I had to move my blog. This made me realise I haven’t updated it for 10 months!

To rectify that, here’s a few of my favourite snaps from the NY visit in my last unfinished blog entry – and I promise I’ll update again VERY soon

Steamy NY Nights

This one is my favourite I think – it’s just so Manhattan. Taken at dusk down near Pier 21.

Chelsea Hotel

I’ve been visiting NY for over a decade now, but it occurred to me that I’d never visited the Chelsea Hotel. For my generation it’s iconic for its association with Sid & Nancy, and I’ll always remember it as the place where Quentin Crisp made his home for a time, and of course for The Chelsea Girls. I could spend days just standing in the Lobby with a camera.

Boardwalk Wedding

Wonder Wheel

I adore Coney Island – from the freakshows to the funfair to the sandy beach to the long Boardwalk down to Brighton Beach and its little cafes with indecipherable Russian menus. I hope I bought some of its atmosphere home in my cameras.

Posted in Daily Life, Photography | Leave a comment

An Englishman In New York

Wall Street

Originally uploaded by AndyWilson

…or what I did on my holiday.

More photos and scintillating text to follow soon…

Posted in Daily Life, Photography, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Brighton Naked Bike Ride

At the recent flickr meet on Brighton Beach mention was made of the Brighton Naked Bike Ride, and of the fact they welcomed photographers – so I decided to pack a long lens, a Holga and a Demekin 110 fisheye and head over to Brighton on the Sunday.

Posing (by AndyWilson)

After some initial nervousness about where to point my cameras I soon started wandering around – learning that if you try to get eye contact and smile before pressing the shutter,  people are much happier. The last thing I wanted was candid shots, so I had to come out of my normal “hide behind the camera” mode and actually speak to unclad strangers!

The event was pretty overrun with photographers to be honest, and I bumped into a few people from the Brighton flickr group including Rob, Erin and (Lomo)Kev.

The amazing thing for me was how friendly the naked (and nearly naked) cyclists were, and how happy they were to have their photos taken. It made a real change, as a middle-aged bloke with a DSLR, to feel welcome at an event rather than being viewed as a potential pervert.

Anyway – to avoid the risk of offending any blog readers I’ve posted most of the photos on a seperate page, so if you want to see gratuitous nudity just follow this link….

Posted in Photography, Toy Cameras | Tagged , , , | 25 Comments

Garage Studios Flash Course

Last Sunday I loaded up a real camera bag with real cameras and flashes, grabbed my flimsy £15 Argos Tripod and headed (in my new car) over to Brighton for the Garage Studios 1-day Flash Course.

I’m not quite sure what I expected to learn, but Adam (aka the brownhorse) took the 6 of us on the course from being nervous about using our flashguns to being confident enough to tag our photos “strobist” in just 8hrs.

Garage Studios Flash Course

We started the day with introductions, and I found myself very much the amateur in amongst a group of pro and semi-pro wedding photographers. Luckily I did have a little experience of using a flash off-camera, and even my own ebay triggers! Being a Sony user I was pretty much on my own working out how my camera and flash worked with each other though, but it does seem a lot simpler than doing off-camera the Canon or Nikon ways.

After a talk in which Adam used a lot of his own work to illustrate how to use light, and an introduction to lightstands, umbrellas and the bit that connects the two, we went outside into the bright sunlight to play with on-camera fill-flash. Although I’d used “auto” fill flash before I’d never tried it in manual. It seems so obvious when I think about it – get the exposure right for the incident light, then get the power of the flash right to illuminate the subject.

A quick break for lunch then it was back into the studio and time for flashes on stands. We were paired up into -er – pairs, and took turns trying out the techniques on each other as they were introduced. I was lucky enough to get a photogenic partner while Amy (in most of my shots) drew the short straw and had me as a model!

The first shots were “hard” light from a bare flash, camera left – again leaving the camera in manual mode at 125/sec and adjusting the flash power or the aperture to get the exposure right.

Garage Studios Flash Course

Then we mounted our umbrellas, not in a Mary Poppins way I’m afraid, and shot through them to see the difference soft light made.

The immediately obvious things were that the light was diffused – so less shadows on the face – the power of the flash was effectively lowered, giving more fall-off and the grey walls – and, if you’re not careful, sunglasses can reflect umbrellas!

We had plenty of time to play with different setups – each time learning a bit more – from the relationship between flash power and light fall-off, to balancing ambient and flash lighting, to using gels to balance the colours from two different light sources. Adam was always on hand to give help and advice, as well as provide a convenient model.

We even got to experiment, and while some of the other participants explored the possibilities of undignified poses and freezing movement (mainly jumping) we decided to play with shadows. This resulted, with assistance from Adam’s hands, in my favourite shot of the day…

Scaring Amy

We wrapped up with some experimentation with rear synch / trailing shutter / shutter dragging whilst listening to the torrential rain falling on the garage studios roof. A good British end to a great sunny day.

In summary, I’d recomment this course to anyone who owns a DSLR and a Flashgun – especially if like me you’ve read Strobist 101 and haven’t quite “got it.” It’s probably even incentive enough for me to take my DSLR and flash along to the Brighton flickr meet, rather than my usual “what’s he got this time?” film camera(s) – and that’s praise indeed!

By the way, check out Adam’s amazing group shot from the end of the day – a really great idea perfectly realised!

Posted in Daily Life, Photo Experiments, Photography | Tagged , , , , | 13 Comments

Back On The Road Again

Well, it took a few weeks but I’ve finally replaced my written off Accord – with another Honda. Drove out to Herstmonceux Observatory to use their car park for some snaps on a Zenit LC-A – but when I got the film developed at Tesco I’d had some winding-on problems, so no car pics…

Undeterred I grabbed my Sony DSLR and drove back there again, only to find out it’s impossible to take car photos without them looking “Top Gear-ish”.

In the spirit of “If you can’t beat them…” I used a Lightroom grad filter to bring out some sky detail but managed to refrain from any vignetting. A bit annoyed that my carefully pixellated number plate is readable in small sizes though!

Posted in Daily Life, Photography | Tagged | Leave a comment

Damn It

Had a bit of a “knock” on the way to work yesterday. Basically the guy in front stopped suddenly and I didn’t :(

I walked away with just a little seat-belt bruising, but the guy in front was holding his neck so was taken to hospital to check for whiplash. Hope he’s ok.

The immediate problem, before I find out whether it’s repairable, is getting the 40 miles to work. The choices are:

  • Use the bike – would be OK if the weather forecasts weren’t for rain and more rain.
  • Steal my wife’s car – apart from the minor problem that she’d still need to get to work, it’s a convertible Beetle and while I’m not really concerned about looking “manly” there is such a thing as a step too far!
  • Take the train. Expensive, run at totally the wrong times, and I’ll still have to get a lift to/from the Station.

I guess we’re very lucky to have 2 cars and a motorbike in the household though, so I can’t really complain.

Posted in Daily Life | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Telegraph recommends “flipping” primary residence

The way The Telegraph has been drip feeding the MP’s expenses scandal over the last week has been interesting. I don’t think anyone could deny that they’ve tried to stick to their party political agenda – getting the outrage about Labour MPs out there first, then following with Tory expenses. I can’t really blame them – they’re a Tory paper and they’ve got a mostly Tory readership. It doesn’t in any way excuse what MPs of all parties have been doing – pushing what’s “within the rules” to almost breaking point and appearing like Orwellesque swine, stuffing themselves on the finest swill the taxpayer can provide.

It is worth, however, pointing out that The Telegraph haven’t always had such a negative attitude to “flipping”. In June 2007 they published an article with the title “Home Sweet Second Home” with the byline of Teresa Hunter. In the article readers are advised…

2. Become a butterfly and flit between homes
Or in the jargon, switch “principal private residence” exemptions between properties. All gains on property are taxable with the exception of the home you live in which the taxman calls your principal private residence. However, if you own more than one home you can elect which you wish classed as your primary residence, provided there is some evidence that you have actually resided there, albeit shortly. If you live for even a matter of weeks at any stage in your “second” home, this enables you to write off the last three years of capital gains when you come to sell.

I’ll leave it to you to decide whether there’s a reek of hypocrisy – and whether it’s any suprise…

Posted in politics | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment