Month: November 2016

Book review: On the Night Bus. Nick Turpin

Title: On the Night Bus. Photographer: Nick Turpin Reference: ISBN 978-1-910566-16-9 First published:  2016 by Hoxton Press. Web site: www.hoxtonminipress.com Size:160mm x 228 x 17mm portrait format Comprising: An introduction by Will Self followed by Photographers notes from Nick Turpin and then 49 colour plates I’ve followed Nick on Twitter for a while. During that time there have been glimpses of the ‘Night Bus’ work. So, when I saw it was to be turned into a book and I could pre-order a ‘collectors’ copy and by so doing get a free print… Well, the hook had been baited and I took it. I purchased the collectors edition which is beautifully bound and cased with  a small loose leaf print included. My version is signed, being a pre-ordered edition. The finished book more than lives up to the teasers on Twitter. Forty Nine colour plates of people travelling on night buses in London. The images are haunting with more than a little of Saul Leiter’s work  about them. Elegant use of colour and abstraction  produced with more than …

Minox sub-miniature camera.

Minox was designed and first made in pre-war Latvia by Walter Zapp , a Baltic German. The company made cameras during the war finally moving to Wetzlar, Germany post war. Though originally designed as a camera for everyman, the high manufacturing cost moved it into the luxury camera market. Of course, we see it more now as a spy camera. Indeed it featured in many a spy film and in reality it was heavily used by  secret services across the globe. It was a very small camera for its day with an excellent lens and close focus ability, making it perfect for document photography. The negatives being only 8mm X 11mm are tiny and could be easily hidden. The perfect spy camera in fact. The model shown here  was made in the mid 50’s. It’s missing its carrying chain. The chain was a vital feature as it’s length was set at the perfect focusing length for document photography. The film comes in a cassette. It’s easy to load and unload. Because of  the small size …

Masterji of Coventry

Jason Scott Tilley, a photographer from Coventry, first properly heard of Masterji from his daughter Tarla Patel, though he had seen him around previously as they shared the same processing house. Subsequently, working with Masterji and his daughter what Jason discovered was a photographer, previously little known outside of his own community in Coventry, together  with a fascinating collection of pictures providing an insight into the migrant South East Asian community in Coventry reaching back into the 50’s. Maganbhai Patel, better known as Masterji migrated to Coventry from his native Gujarat, Indias most western state,  in the 50’s. Keen to follow his passion for photography he set up a studio in his house and started to produce images of his family and friends within his community. You can read here the full background on Masterji written by the curator and producer of this exhibition, Jason Tilley. It’s a heartening story about one man’s passion for photography. The exhibition I visited -now closed – showed 100 or so prints, some in colour, of people in this …

From a continuing project on ‘smokers’.

In this hectic world we rarely get time to just stop and do nothing. And if we did we might look a little odd amongst the scurrying throngs. Smokers, on the other hand, have that ability. I envy them that peaceful, self indulgent moment or two. Not that I’m advocating smoking. I’ve never smoked, but I can see the appeal in those few quiet moments they achieve.

Did it all really start from here…

It’s hard to imagine but the magnificent digital cameras of today started out from this very humble Casio of  1995. Yes! 1995. Only 20 years ago. Odd too isn’t it the manufacturer of the first consumer digital camera  with an LCD screen was more synonymous with calculators than with optical equipment. The Casio QV10, by todays standards was an appalling device. Many people accused it of being very badly designed with bad software and even worse results but, at the time it was the proof of concept that was required to take digital imagery forward. Yes, even by standards of the day the result compared very badly to even those from a cheap film camera. And the cost! I remember buying one and wondered at the time why I was wasting my money on something so bad and expensive. For it’s day, so formative and important was this camera that Japan’s National Museum of Nature and Science branded it as being… “Essential historical material for science and technology”. I remember being scoffed at by a …

Book review: Humphrey Spender’s Humanist Landscapes

Title: Humphrey Spender’s Humanist Landscapes Author: Deborah Frizzell ISBN: 0-300-07334-8 Softcover: 70 pages of introduction plus 100 plates Images: 100 Publisher: Yale centre for British art Language: English Product Dimensions: 28 x 1 x 23 cm Landscape format. As a precursor to Spenders images Frizzell, the author, discusses where the images sit in the panoply of images of the time and of the era in which they were made, providing, as she does, social and historic reference for the works.  Some 70 excellent  pages are taken up with this explanation. To set the scene: Spenders images span the decade 1932 – 1942. He came from a a middle class family in fashionable Kensington. His father, Harold was a Journalist and his mother Violet Schuster was a painter and poet. His brother Stephen, later to become Sir Stephen Spender, became a poet and essayist who concentrated on themes of social injustice and the class struggle in his work. Stephen Spender was close friends with many famous literary figures from the time i.e. WH Auden. Clearly the …