All posts filed under: Comment

All change, yet again.

I was in Birmingham last week, the city of my birth. And just to remove any confusion, I’m talking of Birmingham in the West Midlands of England. Every time I visit there has been change. The city seems incapable of standing still for just one minute. Perhaps that’s how it should be, afterall, Birmingham is known as the driver behind the industrial revolution of the 18th and 19thC. and was for many years, the home of manufacturing in the UK earning it the aphorism of “The City of a Thousand Trades”. It’s not an old city. Its growth, fed by the industrial revolution, came as a result of hundreds of thousands of ‘immigrants’ from the farming communities in surrounding counties. My own forebears on both sides were “Aglabs”, agricultural labourers, from Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Gloucestershire, together with true ‘immigrants’ from Ireland. Birmingham is a crucible, and always has been. With that growth comes continual change. As a reason for change, added to that of growth, is development – in the shape of technology, working methods etc. …

Our rosy coloured past. Hmmm.

This picture is of a house in front of one of the gas holders at Saltley Gasworks in Nechells, Birmingham. The image was taken in the late 60’s. I was born just a couple hundred metres from here, within sight, or more accurately within ‘Smell’ of the gasworks. My dad worked there after he came back from fighting with the Desert Rats, Montgomery’s 8th army, in second world war. What’s more, those gas holders were nearly the death of him. He fell off one and survived, but that’s another story. This image is a picture of my youth. Although my parents moved to the newly built council estates out in the suburbs, many of my relatives lived in or around this area. I would return often as a child. What this image made me think about was just how much of a product I am of the social and political thrust occurring after the 2nd world war. I am the product of the time and of the policies of Labour, the  political party in power …

Differing opinions.

For me, a satisfying image has shapes and layers. I was at the SteamPunk festival in Lincoln on Saturday. This image was from the lower half of the city (where there were fewer SteamPunk attendees). I was drawn by the incongruous hat of the SteamPunker – a white military helmet surmounted and enclosed by an Octopus. I use that as the front layer and slightly out of focus, with shoppers passing in the next layer.  The layer which first attracted me contains the Irish Dance Busker making eye contact with the delighted little girl.  Finally, in the last layer of interest is the shop attendant peering out of the window. I find this image satisfying even though it’s far from perfect containing as it does elements others may believe detract from the image. As you maybe aware, my images are just for me so you may not agree. That’s OK. That’s what makes this art form so interesting – alternative views of the same thing and differing opinions.

Camera bags; it’s all bollocks.

A while back I wrote this piece on my personal, non-photographic, site. I’ve re-posted it here as the discussion has awoken again elsewhere. You may know I’m not keen on talking about camera gear.  It’s my opinion the gear you use is not what makes the image.  Just use what you want to so long as you get the picture. However, whatever you use there may be a need to carry it in some sort of bag. The camera bag industry is large, catering as it does to all price points in the huge camera market. I confess. I have had, even still have, a whole slew of camera bags. All of them stuck in a cupboard. I keep telling myself I’ll sell them someday. Really? The first bag of note was an early Billingham. I bought it over 30 years ago. It went with me everywhere. It became my everyday bag when I travelled in the Exhibition Industry. So it had been around a bit. It became that knackered on the inside that I had …

Do Not Bend: The Photographic Life of Bill Jay.

An excellent, even essential,  film over on YouTube, for all those interested in photography. Featuring input by photographic greats of the 20thC. Link to youtube video: Do Not Bend: The Photographic Life of Bill Jay.   Image credit: Bill Jay photograph copyright of Darius Himes, from SoCal PhotoExchange. The PhotoExchange.

Just how much better are today’s cameras?

The image you see above was taken on a freezing cold, steel gray day which the UK seems to get under high pressure in the winter. Light levels are low and very flat. It was under such trying conditions I decided to test a 1930’e Zeiss Ikon 515/2 camera. The test subject was the city where I live, Lincoln in the East Midlands of England. Hardly the South of France on a sunny day but… I used 400asa Ilford XP2 (c41 film) because I could take it into the local Snappy Snaps shop to get it processed quickly. I’m impatient you see. For those who may be interested, the shot was hand-held with a shutter speed of 1/50th of a second and an aperture of f5.6 It barely froze the people who were walking. This is the camera. It’s a folding camera with bellows separating the film and lens planes. It’s odd and clunky but despite being over 80 years old it’s still serviceable and still produces more than adequate images. It has a focus ring, …

Snapped by a street photographer

I am not a street photographer.

In an e-mail conversation with John Meehan, a founding member, contributor and the editor of the f50 collective, I was rambling on, attempting to explain why I am not a ‘Street Photographer’.   John asked me to flesh  out my view a little and publish, so here it is. I’ve never been happy calling myself a ‘Street Photographer’. There’s something about the term that makes me shudder – especially when the short form ‘togs’ is used. I’m old enough to remember street photographers at seaside towns and in cities across England. See the image above. My great Aunt and her family ‘Snapped’ by a street photographer at a seaside resort.