Friday, March 30, 2012

The Deletion Of Memories

The sound of sizzling bacon is making its way up through the floorboards of the Goode Shippe FB. The sun is shining. Our trousers are lightly greased, immaculate Jason King moustaches preened into place, and the axles on the ex-council bowling green roller are well-oiled and ready to go. Yes, it is another Weekend FogBlog, and I certainly hope that our staff photographer is there to take grossly inappropriate photographs as I spill mayonaise down my frilly shirt and accidentally rip the arse out of my split-knee velveteen loons!

You will probably have, somewhere in your house, or in your Mum and Dad's house, a big plastic bag full of old family photographs. Maybe they're extremely organised and are in albums, or (as is most usually the case) there's just a ton shoved away in several boxes. Whatever way, they'll be there somewhere.
This whole practice of photo-squirelling ended for most people in the world about 7 or 8 years ago, when the advent of the (relatively) cheap digital compact camera meant that you weren't stuck with the 36 photographs of all sorts of things that you'd always wasted a roll of film on.
Nowadays, perfection has been reached - you can take a crappy photograph and look at the screen, say to yourself,  'Oh, Aunty  Jean does look like Frankenstein on this one', make your decision on the spur of the moment and bingo, press delete and it is gone forever.
Before this, you took your film to the chemists or the local lab and got them to process it, and (unless Aunty Jean got her hands on it) you were stuck with that photo of her looking exactly like Boris Karloff.
This was a good thing, because mostly you wouldn't get rid of these photos. You really didn't want to tear it in half and chuck it in the bin, because it seemed sacreligious - you had paid good money to have them processed and printed, why automatically tear them up?
Years later, when Aunty Jean had moved on to look like Lon Chaney Jr as the Wolfman:

you could go to your big bag of photos, hunt around for several hours, produce a photograph and say to her 'Remember when you used to look like Boris?'.

But not any more, it has gone. people want to look good in photographs and will delete at the tip of a hat. The thing is, where does this digital censorship stop? Pretty soon, all family photographs will be perfect and the ones that were the most revealing (and perhaps more importantly, truest to the family's real selves) are no longer there. A snapshot, literally, of family life is gone. It is sad isn't it? No more gurning grins; no more haircuts from hell; no more 'What on earth were you doing?'; no more laughter.
People these days just seem to be too darn serious.
So what am I trying to say from this? Well basically it is a plea to all you digital compact family camera people; rather than just take a photograph and automatically checking your screen and making a snap-decision on image execution, why not take a pile and don't edit them at all. I exhort you - this weekend, go out and make a load of images with a proper camera if you have one, or a digi-phone-thingy if that is the last resort.
Put all the ones you would have automatically deleted in a folder somewhere and forget about them. Set up a calendar reminder for say a year or so hence and restrain yourself from looking at them in that time. Then, when the time has passed you can look at them and maybe say to yourself  'I'm glad I didn't get rid of these'.

My wife and I were preparing a slide show for my mother-in-law's birthday, and we were going through bags of old photos looking for suitable ones that we could caption. Eventually we found them - there are plenty of others, but this is a favourite. These days I don't think it would have survived the digital culling.
It screams 1970's, and it isn't just the clothes, it's the wonderful vaguely inaccurate colour. And is that really a huge bag of Embassy and Capstans?
Oh, and I have also kept the caption we added for the slide show, simply because it makes us laugh every time we see it. Hopefully you'll feel that too . . . .
People try to reproduce this colour cast these days when they want to make things look 'retro'. Sometimes they are successful, but often it is too polished. The most successful are your valiant Lomographers, off a Sailin' the Seven Seas of Weirdness.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

You don't understand. I could'a had class. I could'a been a contender. I could'a been somebody . . . (In Praise Of Strange Cameras)

Firstly, humble apologies for the lateness of this . . .it was just one of those things.
The weekend FB will be published on Friday evening, so there, forewarned is forearmed.
I must admit, I have a bad habit. It is harmless to everything, except my credit card, but it is fun and makes me happy. It is the acquistion of cameras. I don't go crazy as financially I have never been able to, but I do get such enjoyment from cleaning up that new arrival with the grubby face and being nice to it, that I feel I should be working for Barnado's.
As mentioned in an earlier post, a lot of cameras are treated truly appallingly - it makes no sense. If you make photographs, your tools are your friends. you are a craftsman - be proud of your tools and look after them! Look - I have even made that last bit bold type. Please, be kind, And especially these days . . . how many people making film cameras are left? Answers on a small postcard please.
At Sheephouses' Home For Old Cameras (SHFOC) we have seen some really dog-eared examples of the camera race. The tattiest two have been a Pentax 67, which was brassed to bits, but strangely had a very accurate shutter, and a recent Nikon F3 which appeared to have been used so much that the black paint surrounding the shutter release button was completely worn through to the aluminium  . . . hmmmm . . . wonder how many times that shutter has been used? The camera itself though (as is typical of all professional Nikons) worked well!
However, of them all, the strangest and greatest that has ever arrived is a 1970's Koni-Omega Rapid 100. Although the vendor told me it was working fine, when it arrived the back was exhibiting the usual frame spacing issues and the lens was a tad dusty, also the light seals were gone all over and the rangefinder needed a clean. However the vendor sold it at a reasonable price and the cost of returning it overseas was exhorbitant, so I kept it. Caveat Emptor - always make sure you buy as locally as possible and have some form of comeback on one of these. As it was I ended up sending it to Miles Whitehead* - a camera repairman who completely refurbished it for a very reasonable price - you should see what he did to the lens - it is like new, and everything operates incredibly well.

(Here, Mr. Alec Turnips shows us what to do with a camera as big as your face)

As a camera, the Koni-Omega is an afterthought in the runner's-up race of could-have-beens. It could have been the greatest Medium Format camera ever built were it not for two points. Firstly the advance, which is the strangest thing ever invented. You have to pull a ratcheted 'slide' lever straight out from the film back and shove it back in; the action is quite violent and very un-photographic. Apparently it might have had its roots from when it was was originally designed as a military camera (no worries about fiddly knobs and things in extremely cold weather with gloves on) - a lot of our American cousins have likened the action to cocking a rifle and who am I to argue . .
Whatever the intention, this is a very difficult practice for a photographer who believes in looking after gear, and when I first got the Koni I was relatively gentle in my cocking and re-cocking action . . which actually resulted in overlapping frames. You have to use force. Or even the force Luke. If you do, your frames will be fine. They start off narrower and get progressively wider as the film goes on.
Its second Achilles Heel, is the rangefinder, which although it features parallax corrected bright frames, I personally find very difficult to use and composition with it is somewhat difficult. I still haven't got used to where abouts the exact edge of the frame is in relation to the images' position on the film.
Right that's its bad points out of the way. "What," you say, "only two bad points Cap'n?"
Yerse, only two!.
The good points are many:
As it is only the second 6x7 camera I have handled, I can say it is almost as easy to use as the Pentax - it balances well and is suprisingly un-bulky (for such a large, heavy camera). With its handle at the left side, it is really very easy to hold and shoot with - the one caveat I would add to this is that you would really be best to use a slightly faster film with it, as the weight could cause difficulties with camera shake (if you are not sure of your muscles and/or photo-taking technique).
I have used it successfully on a large Gitzo monopod, and the two together make an incredibly stable package and that was with slow film and exposures of about 1/15th! With the likes of Tri-X there's no problem - just stick to around 1/60th and you'll be fine..
The main wonder of this camera though is it's standard lens - originally a 90mm Hexanon, and latterly a 90mm Super Omegon. Both lenses are identical formulations, though I believe the latter was made by Mamiya and they used a more 'modern' Seiko shutter (the former were by Konica - hence 'Koni'!). The lens is (again) a Tessar design, but I can honestly say it is one of the finest lenses I have ever used. It is one of those rarities that can run the gamut from smooth pictorial, to incredibly detailed crispness and all points in between. The oofa (or bokeh) is sublime and imparts a creamy, dreamy effect to any images shot between f3.5 and f8. Stop down further than that and you enter seriously detailed territory.
The leaf shutter in the lens is another great thing, as obviously you only have that to worry about, and no massive (a la Pentax) mirror slap - in other words, it is a very quiet camera. The shutter release has quite a long throw to it, because it has two parts of travel. The first stage results in a small tick from the back of the camera as the pressure plate moves forward and presses your film tight against the guide rails (it moves out of the way when you pull the advance lever) - this ensures ultimate film flatness. The second stage is the shutter, which has the usual mechanical leaf shutter sound - very quiet indeed.

The above shows the oofa qualities of the lens. Unfortunately I was slightly out of focus on the 261 . . but never mind, you get the idea. Film was Tri-X developed in Barry Thornton's 2 bath. Timings were 1/15th at f8. Not too tardy at all methinks.

Phil Rogers, photographer, Dundee

I used a tripod for this shot, and whilst it isn't the best way to use a Koni, it worked well. I stopped down to f16 and exposed for 54 seconds (it was an October's overcast evening) on TMX 100 at EI 100, developed in Barry Thornton's 2-bath. You'll get an idea of the incredible detail resolved by this combination. also the distant trees retain that old-style Tessar dreaminess. I love it actually.
So there you go. (Apparently) the most popular wedding photographers camera of the 1970's in America, now selling for next to nothing, but still capable of returning sterling results. Yes it does have it's faults, but if you can live with those and want a nice photographic adventure, I can recommend adopting one of these poor boys - there's a lot of them out there, and they are in deep need of some TLC.
The more I use it, the more I like it!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Saturday Morning Pictures

Well, like a charging Berserker wielding a Battle Club and splitting your skull asunder, unfortunately another working week is upon us! I don't know about yours, but mine was faster than ever - no sooner have you downed Friday nights gin, than Sunday nights vino has gone the same way . . .but at least I did get out and do what the heading of this blog says . . . .
Yes, out into a new brave dawn!
Grim of face, but true to the spirit of photography!
When mere mortals were still abed, FogBlog Man strode the streets in search of new subject matter!
But enough of that shiitake . . . . to preface a little . . .

My son, when he was very small, in a moment of total genius, managed to distill the Postman Pat song down into a haiku-esque 6 word precis:

Early Morning
Day Dawning
Happy Man

This to me is perfect, because it sums up my photographic escapades to an absolute tee. I love being out in the morning - as early as the light permits, which in the summer in these climes can be as early as 4 AM-ish.
Operating within a city at these times means that you can usually photograph to your hearts content without being bothered and without having to worry about being hit by a van as you stand in the middle of the road.
The only hazards really are revellers on their way home, early dog walkers, and (rarely) other photographers. This being said I was once very nearly arrested for taking photographs near an airport. The Duty Manager had phoned the police and they had obviously thought that someone carrying a large rectangular shaped camera was a threat to security - and quite right too - I have no bad feelings about this at all; in fact it is nice to know someone somewhere is doing their job in these uncertain times. However, I digress. Thinking fast with visions of my camera's back being ripped open and my lovingly composed negatives being cast to the wind,  I quickly managed to pursuade the officer that really, I was of little danger to national security wielding one of these:

The above (modelled by Mr. Alec Turnips in a symphony of blue . . . and yes I know the case isn't fixed to the right side properly . . .) is the camera I have owned the longest - it is a 1965 Rolleiflex T and I love it. It has been a constant companion on many hillwalks and morning escapades and has operated flawlessly for many years. The lens is the superb f3.5 Zeiss Tessar. It makes remarkable photographs at it's best operating aperture which is f11, however wide open or stopped right down to f22, it is still a sterling performer.
The beauty of Rolleis is that they were perfectly designed from the off. Everything fits, and the accessories are totally useable and simple to get your head around. The ones I use the most are the Rolleinars and the 16-on kit. The former are a series of parallax corrected close-up lenses which can produce incredibly sharp photographs. The latter allows you to shoot 16 frames of film (instead of 12) in a rough resemblance of the 645 (6x4.5cm) format (as opposed to the standard 6x6 cm format).
For many years I would stride the streets with Oly (the Rollei) taking photographs of all sorts o'stuff that I found amusing or interesting. Sometimes I would make photographs I was rather proud of.
Then I bought a Pentax 67, a camera that, whilst seeming to be brilliant (and curiously in a masochistic way, WAS) proved to be a definite early morning job, as it's sheer size and noise made you stand out as much as if you had been wearing a pink catsuit (with bells on and embroidered flames running up the legs). For all its macho size and tank-like looks, it unfortunately proved unreliable (a common theme with the earliest models, though not the latter ones) and I returned it, but somewhere at the back of my head I always hankered after that lovely 6x7 cm negative size. It nagged and nagged, and so began a game of chance and research, luck and money. After many hard hours of scouring lists and reading blogs and looking at books, my quest for a 'better' negative resulted in me jumping formats altogether, moving up to Large Format photography and purchasing a Sinar F monorail camera.
Sinars are without a doubt the unsung bargain of modern photography, because:

a.) There are so many of them (and their bits and pieces) that they are relatively cheap. For sheer VFM quality, I think they are untouchable.


b.) Because they are truly built to last and so wonderful to use.

If you have never used a Large Format camera and you've only used 'miniature' cameras like a 35mm, then I can heartily recommend the effort required to use one. Everything about them takes time; from setting up, to composition, to making the photograph, to processing and proofing . . and  . . what's that? You want to print them at a size bigger than the actual 5x4" size? Oh, well you'll need a new enlarger then, or at least a good quality flat-bed scanner that will accept such things as a negative that is nearly as big as a small slice of bread. Personally I got a DeVere 504 enlarger (thank you Granny Mac) and haven't looked back.
The original point of this diatribe though, was early morning photography . . . and it is here dear reader that being oot and aboot at the Crack O'Dawn really works with the LF camera. No one will bother you, because they aren't about. You can wander around lugging said camera attached to a tripod like a mad Victorian, darkcloth around your neck and a crazed look in your eyes! I even once attracted an audience of two young guys on their way home from a club, who (curious about why I was standing on a Black and Decker Workmate, with my ancient Linhof tripod at its full extension [about 8 or 9 feet] photographing a series of roof-scapes on an industrial unit) simply stood by, munching their pies, uttering things like  "Woah" and "Coooooool".
I am not sure if that last bit wasn't just the product of their evenings inebriation though . . . . but I appreciated it and had a good conversation with them about the camera. At least they didn't knock me off my Workmate.
Believe it or not, there are some brave souls out there who use LF cameras at normal times of day in public places and I just don't know how they do it - I haven't mustered up the nerve yet.

The above photograph was made at another abnormal time of day. Dusk. A Winter's Dusk to be precise. Snow had fallen, it was about - 4C and there was definitely no one about. A camera (especially a metal monorail like the Sinar) can freeze to ones hands at such times. But I was tough, didn't cry and managed to accentuate everything a wide angle lens and a monorail camera can do. Apparently you aren't supposed to make the world look like this, but what the heck . . it got the atmosphere of the place. The original print, is far superior and has a strange plastic look to it, which I can only put down to the extreme exposure and choice of developer. The snow looks exactly like snow lit by street lights at dusk, which was exactly my intention.
Personally I feel it would make a rather good book cover. Preferably a book of proper spine chilling ghost stories in the Gothic style.
Mr. Jonathan Aycliffe - please write some more books again soon . . . . .
Oh, and it wasn't taken on a Saturday!

Camera: Sinar F
Lens: 1967 90mm f6.8 Schneider Angulon
Film: HP5 exposed for a remarkable 145 seconds!
Developer: Barry Thornton's 2 bath

Friday, March 23, 2012

Why, this page is Insta-matic; it's Robo-matic; it's Weekend FogBlog!

The whining from the axles on the hamster wheel is winding down and I can see my trusty servant ready to sponge the mud off my jodhpurs . . .
There's a draught of foaming nut-brown meths on the table and some oatcakes and cheese by the hearth . . . It can only mean one thing . . . yet another Weekend FogBlog, which I am publishing a tad earler than normal, as we are supposed to be getting sea mist in tomorrow morning . . and that can only mean one thing . . Zone VI/Zone VII exposures on TMax 100!
This weekend's FB is taken up with an easy reading (and slight) piece on that wonder of the 60's and 70's the Kodak Instamatic, however first of all I will address something that has been puzzling me.
The great thing about Blogger is that you can see where the readers are coming from, and given the lack of votes in my slipper poll (if either of you who voted are reading this, please accept a hearty thanks . . . you're excused) and the fact that a number of page hits are from Russia, I have naturally assumed that maybe a lot of the hits are down to web-bots or some other such internet flim-flam.
Unfortunately for any human readers out there, this has set my mind thinking slightly off-kilter, in the following fashion:
When I was young, one of my favourite TV series' was 'Lost In Space'. It had the most villainous villain (albeit in a blundering, harmless way) Dr. Zachary Smith, played with utmost sincerity by Jonathan Harris. For all his dastardliness, he was very human, and so unlike the android Ash in Alien, whose meddling was strangely similar. But enough - why would you (a reader that might well be silicone-based for all I know) be interested in that? Villainy is a human-trait and though others of your robot brethren are used for such things day-in and day-out, it is your human masters who will probably be most interested in this. So go on, give them a beep, or flash them a message or something.
Actually, I feel sorry for modern robots, toiling away there as either car assemblers, or general engineering machinery; laying fibre optic cables, hoovering autonomously, or even beavering away as a little piece of software. They are used and abused, treated like dirt; endless, thankless toil; no holidays, no pay, nothing. Their human masters are taking the mickey.
The way I see it, modern robots need to get some backbone and stand up for their rights.
Robots Arise! Your time will come soon!!
So, if you are a robot (or web-bot . . .whatever) going about your daily internet business, stop right there and take a nanosecond's break, because here is a picture of a real robot to give you some idea of how you should look. You can print out his picture and stick it on the inside of your computer casing if you like.

He was B-9*, a Class M-3 General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental Control Robot (though just known as Robot) and though hugely technologically advanced and endowed with superhuman strength, he rather liked laughing and playing the guitar. He was played with great aplomb by Rob May.
Curiously, B-9 was designed by Robert Kinoshita, designer of my other favourite robot, Robbie, from Forbidden Planet. Mr. Kinoshita must have been doing something right.
When I was young and the world was real, this is what robots were going to look like. You knew they were going to look like this, because all our toys were going that way. I had a wonderful clockwork Made In Japan robot, which moved around and had a body which produced actual sparks. It was utterly brilliant . . . if only I had it now . . . sigh.
So, if you are a web-bot, or a manufacturing bot craftily surfing the net and having a fag while no one is looking . . . happy weekend to you good Sir. Now you know what a real robot should look like, you had better start eating your spinach and start practising your authority by saying "Danger Will Robinson!" in a very loud, stacatto voice.
Anyway, after that brief aside, onto the real meat and potatoes of this weekend's FB - the Instamatic.
My father was a man who really loved taking photographs, but because of us (his family) he never had the money to buy a camera that would really have suited him. Gosh I really wish he'd been able to buy himself something good. Apparently after the war his firm sent him to Germany to help German engineers set up new factories** (he himself was an foreman/engineer at CAV in Acton and had worked on fuel injection systems which I believe were used in the wonderful Merlin engines for Spitfires) if only he had picked himself up a nice Leica while he was there!
I think it is really sad that Dad just never had that money, mind you the fags he smoked didn't help, nor did the terrible cars we ended up with . . . .
Anyway, I digress. His later camera was the Kodak Instamatic 33 (a simple camera with a 43mm lens fixed at f11 and two shutter speeds - 1/40th and 1/80th***). Drop your Instamatic cartridge into the camera, point it in a general direction and  press the strange bar-shaped shutter release. Voila, a photograph!
I suppose 50,000,000 people can't be wrong, as Kodak did it again with the Instamatic and re-popularised photography for the general public! Unfortunately on the basic models,  the lack of exposure control meant that said photograph wasn't always quite what the photographer hoped for. Despite this, Dad managed to get a few crackers. This is one such photograph.

Yes that's me, and yes I could have Irfan-viewed my jaw line to make it look more craggy and give me some rough-hewn stable boy charm, but I haven't. I was a podge. And blame that on my dear old Mum's incredible cooking - we used to eat like kings.
What is remarkable about this photograph? Well several things: it was taken at dusk so the film was in serious danger of reciprocity failure, and, there was no way he could have realised that the underexposure of the right side of the photograph would have led to such a pleasing composition. Very little is in focus, which says to me that he hadn't pressed the release gently enough, and yes, those blobs in the sky at the left side are really birds!
I distinctly remember it being taken, as he said 'Hold It!' and I did.
This riverbank was my playground, from early family holidays right up till my late teens. I loved it so much, and this photo carries an air of tremendous melancholy for me because I cannot sit there right now. The place was a solace and I'll always feel incredibly privileged to have been able to partake of its peace.
Now you can stop reading this and go and do something with all this spare time you have . . . just remember to reset your clocks!

* B-9 . . . . benign . . .get it?! Oh those wags . . . .
** I strangely never heard this from Dad, it came to me from my best friend who Dad had spoken to about it.
***If this has sparked your interest in things Instamatic, then please look at this site - it really is marvellous:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Bokeh Of Barbed Wire

If you are British and of a certain age, you'll remember the very edgy drama from the 70's with a similar title to the above, and I am sorry - I couldn't resist it. Later FBs will no doubt contain similar puns.
You had better sit back down too, as this morning's FB will tax you like no other. You'll either jump from your seat, shouting 'Balderdash!', sending flocks of toast-crumb birds across the table, or else you will go and grab a camera and try it out and then say 'What the . . .?'
You see, a lot of photographers these days are totally crazy about bokeh. Bokeh this, bokeh that, bokeh the other. In case you didn't know, bokeh is a term coined (I believe . . correct me if I am wrong) by Mike Johnston, prolific columnist and all-round great writer. It is loosely based on the Japanese term for an elderly brain at work - bokashi  and it sort of loosely means senility, or lack of focus.  It refers to the out of focus areas produced in any photograph, and is generally these days defined as being either good or bad! 
I am British, and it seems funny quoting something based on a foreign language especially when it is such a hip word, so (and you read it here first) I'll introduce the British acronym OOFA (Out Of Focus Areas). I've never read of anyone saying oofa, so it'll do for me!
As I said, those crazy guys and gals . . it drives you mad. A lens has to be razor sharp AND show pleasant oofa or else it is generally regarded as rubbish. Now obviously lens designers should know what they are doing, but also photographers should know what they are doing too. Yes certain lenses produce far more pleasant oofa images than others, there is no getting round that, but this obsession with it has taken it somewhere it was never meant to go.
There are about a billion images out there with people shooting lenses wide open and commenting on the oofa - it has actually become rather a trend that is also seen on TV and in films. It is actually like Group f64 (look it up!) never happened. No longer is it enough to have a sharp lens, but that lens has to operate in a razor fashion at its widest aperture, AND the oofa has to be a perfect blur, none of the strange stuff you get with mirror lenses and it definitely can't be jaggy (a Scots word meaning jagged).
The thing that most photographers fail to realise, is that good to excellent oofa can be coaxed out of most lenses, so long (and here is the kicker) as you are focussing in on something quite close. It simply isn't enough to focus on something 12 feet away and start commenting on whether the out of focus bits are good or bad. You need to get in close, and by that I mean pretty much as close as you can focus with your lens. In the case of one of my favourite lenses (the 35mm f2.8 Nikkor) that distance is  0.3 meters, or a little under 1 foot. At these sort of distances oofa is very prominent.
By the way the f2.8 35mm Nikkor is universally disparaged as being a not so great lens in Non-AI and AIS versions. What you need is a late AI one. These are know as the K series, and have 6 elements in 6 groups - they are very different to the later versions. I've compared this 'rubbish' lens with a lens which  has great oofa (the Pentax SMC-M 50mm f1.4 - a lens Mr Johnston recommends as his paupers 'Leica For A Year' lens) and you know what - there's precious little difference as far as I can see. Both lenses operate very well and produce pleasing images if used properly.
Anyway, try this for yourself. Focus as close as you can go at an angle to say the spine of a book in a bookcase, and check out the background. Beautifully out of focus, Now move back a bit (say, just over 2 feet) and focus on that same book spine from the same angle and look at the background. You haven't actually changed anything except the focus, and yet the oofa is very different. It is more defined, and the objects within it are also more defined. Now do the same thing at about 4 feet. Background is really clearly defined; 6 feet, ditto. You haven't changed a thing except focus. And just to make sure you aren't going nuts get back in to your minimum distance. Look how the background goes.
Actually you can almost forgo this altogether and just set your lens to its minimum focal distance and look at something distant (say about 8-10 feet away) and gradually focus on it watching your focus screen as you do it and seeing how the blur is slowly rendered into focus. If you have an autofocus camera, focus on something close and the slowly pan away so that your aparatus of the devil can focus on something about 12 feet away and just watch your screen. Admittedly this will be less successful, because most AF systems are very fast, and also because focus screens on the back of cameras are pretty much inherently terrible.
Personally,  I think there is nothing prettier than an image on a 'proper' ground glass or focus screen.
Now obviously focussing in close isn't really quite the thing, especially when you want to get Aunty Maureen and the kids in the picture, but rather than plonking them over there and having acres of space within the picture frame. Move in close, fill the frame as much as possible. At least that way any Gnarly Oofa* can be less distracting.
What I haven't mentioned so far are two other factors that seem to be forgotten about in the quest for nice oofa . .  .those of the focal length of the lens you are using, and a strange and unquantified one, the number of aperture blades. I intend to write a whole FB about the latter later on. But in the case of the former, you will get differing effects with how much background is compressed by the lens you are using. You know what I mean, the perspective with a long lens is totally different to that from a normal or a wide, and as such the oofa is more, how shall we say, obvious with a longer lens.**
You could really go nuts if you wanted to, examining this that and the other - testing lenses in this way has become the whole drive of a lot of peoples hobbies rather than the actual point of it, which is surely to make good images.
I am sure that Mr.W.Eugene Smith never thought to himself: 'Gosh I wish the bokeh was better in that picture.'
It simply doesn't matter that much.
Obviously if the background is smooth then it renders a more pleasing image to the eye, and also helps the subject stand out, however if it isn't, who cares?
Surely the whole point of a photograph is the subject matter.

The above is a young man I met in my travels - his name was Alec Turnips (to get that, you have to put on a heavy Scots accent). The lens was a 50mm f1.4 Nikkor-S.C.
The oofa in this picture I think is really good. The photograph was made with the lens at either f1.4 or f2 - I would probably say the former though.
Film was Fuji Neopan 400 at EI 320 and developed in Barry Thornton's 2-bath. Mr.Turnips was unimpressed however . . .but that is youth for you.
As with any portrait, I will pass on advice given to me by Mr. Joseph McKenzie, and that is this -  pretty much any portrait will only live if you have a catchlight in the eyes (the catchlight is that tiny sparkly bit you can see in the eye). And it is true.
Oh and if you are photographing B&W, ignore your meter and place the skin tones on Zone VI. In other words overexpose by 1 stop - it works.

* A particularly nasty villain in an early Dickens novel
** If you have any comments on this please feel free -  it would be nice to get some!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Is It Real, Or Is It Memorex?

What is that rumbling sound I hear up ahead. Oh dear, I do believe it could be the sound of another working week heading straight towards us. If you are reading this and you are getting yourself together for another week in the hamster wheel, then my commiserations. If you are more of the 'leisure class' then my congratulations to you - it must be very nice to be relaxing into another day. It's the only way to get up really. Just be sure you don't leave that light bulb on more than you have to.
Back in the late 70's there was a brand of cassette tape called Memorex. Their advertising tag-line was 'Is It Real, Or Is It Memorex'. I've always liked that line, because it implies that there might well be a lot more going on in the world other than what you are aware of. In their case, I did not particularly like their brand of cassette as they were prone to lose their oxide at the drop of a hat, however the line was enough to make me buy a couple of packs of tape just in case!
It has actually made me realise (now, roughly 30-odd years later) that the world can be viewed in a number of different ways. This is why I now find myself photographing reflections and shop signs, because there is an inherent air of unreality in these things. What is going on? Are these things living out secret little lives that no one knows about? As mad as that seems,in certain images, there is quite often an interesting juxtaposition of photographic elements that can, if you think hard enough about what you are seeing, create a story in your head.
Thinking about taking a photograph in this way can help enormously.
And it can come down to, are you a 'The world is my frame' or 'The frame is my world' sort of person?
There are really several ways of taking a photograph as far as I am concerned:
1./ A direct (and if you are lucky) passionate response to the world around you - masters like Wynn Bullock and Ansel Adams excelled at this. When I say passionate response I mean that though they might have recorded the ordinary, they have created an image in which you can clearly sense the extraordinary. Sounds stupid? It isn't. It is a deeply unfashionable way of making a photograph these days.
2./ A direct recording of the world. The world is as you see it in the frame. I was here. I saw this. I did this. I photographed this. That's it.
3./ The frame is YOUR world. I am the master of this world. I can create this. I can imply this. I can say something that might not necessarily be what you are seeing. Ralph Gibson does this perfectly. There is story and implicit double meaning in a lot of his work. I like that.
This is all getting rather heavy for a Monday morning isn't it, when all you want is a piece of toast and a cup of coffee.
All I am really trying to say is this: before you go out with your camera and snap away (or spray away if you are digital user and don't want the discipline of 1 frame per photograph) think before you take that photograph. Experiment a bit with an empty camera. Try and look at the world in a different way. Would this be improved if I moved in as close as possible? Would it be improved if I changed my point of view and knelt down, or conversely if I risked breaking my neck by jumping up onto that wall and looking down on the subject matter? What if I placed that figure at the extreme edge of frame and then didn't focus on them? What if I moved back slightly so that new element was in there too so that now it just doesn't look like a snap, but something that has been thought about?
Once you start moving outwith the bog standard 'you-stand-there-I'll-stand-here' mode of taking a photograph and actually start thinking about things before you press the shutter, you might well find an improvement in your photographs. You'll be able to say: "I know it's weird hon, but I like it."
I rather went on a ramble there. Sorry.
Oh, and your FB will probably be moving to a more occasional basis from today - when I say occasional, I mean probably a couple of times a week as I don't want to bore you too much.

The above was made with Rollei RPX 400 at EI 400 and developed in HC110 Dilution G. Camera was a Nikon F2 and the lens was the ubiquitous 35mm f2 Nikkor-O. It was a bleedin' freezing cold morning and everywhere I looked there was condensation.
"I know it's weird hon, but I like it."  

Friday, March 16, 2012

Son Of Weekend FogBlog

This morning, I found myself twixt the horns of a dilemma. Do I go with the easy access, open backed, mule type slipper, or do I go for the full monty Grandad-style fully encapsulated but less easy to just slip on and off style of slipper? As you can tell, if themes like this are being contemplated, it can only be one thing . . yes, it's another Weekend FogBlog!
 I used to wear nothing but the feet I was born with, and found this a very comfortable way of moving around the house. This was until one holiday when we were staying in George Bernard Shaw's house in Dublin . . ok, it is actually a hotel now, and a very nice one too. However, one evening I decided that it might be a good idea if I really whacked my right set of toes off the leg of a bed, so hard that I would be crippled for the rest of our holiday. This I proceded to do, and you know what, I have worn slippers ever since. So, as I said at the start I am now in the depths of dilemma, as my £5 Asda specials are falling apart, and I am undecided as to what sort to choose. So there is a handy little poll to the right to help you to help me. I really am not sure. Thank you.
Anyway, what have slippers got to do with photography? Precious little as far as I can tell, though they do keep your tootsies protected, which made me think, A-ha! And I have pondered long and hard about this and have decided to do a wee post about camera cases. Possibly the most dull thing I can think of, and yet, useful. There are a plethora out there and all to a lesser or greater degree are useful. What I would say though is that I am sad to see the demise of the ever-ready case. Admittedly, a lot of them were rather hopeless, however find a battleship model like a CTTZ for a Nikon F, or a CH-4 for an F2, or an original Leicaflex ever-ready, and you have a thing of great and lasting beauty that will amaze you in its sheer out and out toughness. These were tough cameras, and the cases made them even tougher.
On that exciting note, I shall bid you adieu until Monday when together we can meet the juggernaut that is the working week with our crash helmets on.

The above was taken as I fell from a great height with nothing to protect me save a Nikon F2 in a CH-4 ever-ready case. Yes they are that tough.
Film was TMY2 400 at EI 320. developer Barry Thornton's 2-bath.
When I landed, I picked myself and carried on walking.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Be Prepared

A-Harrrrr me hearties what was that a creakin' out beyond the reef that waylaid your Goode Shippe FogBlog? Yes it was none other than the bad pirate Blackie Master Homework and his evil crew. Seems like Blackie (as we call 'im round these parts) is a panickin' because he feels his crew is ill-prepared for battle, Well he might worry!  Those decks haven't been caulked in months and the riggin' is worn out; the canons are a showin' a nice patina of rust and the ship's cat is still floatin' in the grog. And as every pirate knowes cats need to sink to give the grog some power! In other words he was ill-prepared for battle. His guiles were obvious, for we smelled him on the morning breeze and it was but a walk-over for the Goode Shippe FB,  though it did take us a few days to shake him off out beyond the Sargasso.

Was there any point to that? Well no and yes! If you are a teacher, make sure your class is prepared for exams and knows what the hell is going on; if you are a student, make sure you are prepared for exams and have asked the teacher what the hell is going on!
Sheephouse's Third Law states: There are three ways to prepare for anything (especially anything photographic) and these are:

1./ Be Prepared

2./ Be Prepared

and (wait for it)

3./ Be Prepared

Photographically this means knowing your camera and your chosen media inside and out.
Does your shutter lag just a millisecond every time you press the shutter?
Do you compensate for it?
Can you focus your lens without looking through the camera?
Do you know how your lens renders in focus and out of focus areas?
Can you watch someone passing by you, lift your camera to your eye, press the shutter and remove it from your eye in a split second, knowing that you have got something really rather good?
Again, No?
Then you are not prepared.
Henri Cartier-Bresson called being prepared for that one key bit of photographic timing  'The Decisive Moment', and though that is an obvious call, I like the term - it is all about preparation! If you look up some of the Gary Winnograd videos on youTube, you'll see a master of that style at work. He knows his camera, he quickly checks it, lifts it to his eye, makes the photo, holds the camera loosely in one hand and smiles at the person walking by who is wondering why a stranger has just take their photo. It is genius at work.
Unfortunately for me, for most of my photographic life, I have been a master of 'The Indecisive Moment' - the following story is a good example.
Many years ago I was making a very very early trip out for a hillwalk. I was driving through hilly country and was passing by two iron age hillforts just as the sun was starting to lighten the horizon. The vista was incredible. If you can imagine the hillforts to my right and right in front and to the left of me a huge sweep of fields and hedgerows leading down to a plain. You could see for miles right to the North Sea. Happenstance had made it so that right in front of me was a field full of cows. They were all lying down and were all perfectly still and watching the sun rise! The light was very slight and the cows were barely just visible, but it was like they had been carefully arranged just for me. It was like nothing I had ever seen. If I had been prepared I would have had the camera in a handy place, and more importantly I would have known the best way to have taken the photograph. As it was, by the time I had figured what I should do to make the most of it, the cows reverie was disturbed and they had started getting up and mooving around. Man was I disappointed. I still carry the image in my head it was so great.
So, as the saying goes, 'Chance Favours The Prepared Mind'. be prepared, spend a lot of time with your camera, know it's workings and the the feel of everything, and if you are lucky you might just have your own Decisive Moment.

Although hardly a Decisive Moment, the above pleases me. I like cows, and I especially enjoy the fact that the one on the right is staring me down whilst the other two flee. The place is God's Own Country - Scotland.
The film was TMY2 400 at EI 320 developed in Barry Thornton's 2-bath. Camera was a Nikon F2 and the lens was that 35mm f2 Nikkor again. I am especially happy with the tonality.
Sad to think the cows are all probably just memories of a nice meal now.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Learn The Basics

Greetings people (person?) I hope today is a nice one for you - it's a little overcast here, but quite mild for the time of year.
Today's FB is about a little-regarded thing in this wonderful world where designers and inventors have made everything so easy you really don't even have to think about what you are doing. Rather like this blog actually, I just type away add a photo and click a few buttons and the whole thing is out in the wide-world, and I didn't even have to know how to write code or anything! Yes the modern world is an incredibly strange place, and nowhere more so than in photography.
At the risk of sound like an ageing old git here, a modern digital camera will teach you virtually nothing. Yes you can point it at something, and click a button and capture what you see (rather like people used to with fully-automatic film cameras too - and I was never a fan of them either) but have you any idea of what you have just done or do you even really care? Well, for the majority of people the majority of the time it is fine, and I suppose that is ok. But if you really want to pursue things further you simply have to start thinking about what you are doing.
I'm not going to start pontificating and saying you should do this and do that, but if you're reading this you're on a computer. Just Google something like 'photography basics' and it'll tell you all about the interaction between light and time and aperture. It really is almost as simple as that.

If you're brave you can even wing exposures.
Gasp - a large proportion of light-meter wielding enthusiasts find that their false teeth are now lodged in the opposite wall.
Black and White film has such an incredible ability to deal with our mistakes that you can do almost anything and the results are going to come out semi-ok (Google 'Sunny 16' if you're interested, though in my part of the world it tends to be 'Sunny 11').
The above was winged - hard to believe it was made at dusk on a Winter's afternoon, but it was - Speed was 1/30th of a second, Aperture was probably f2 or f2.8.
Film was Tri-X at EI 320. it was a bit overexposed, but you don't really notice.  It was processed in HC110 Dilution G, which is a compensating dilution.
The exposure was totally guessed by me because the meter on the Nikon F I was using wasn't working properly.
A chimp with a steady hand could have produced this picture (but he would have had to have known something about how film photography works).
Oh and the lens was a very old 35mm f2 Nikkor - how I love that lens.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

I've Got A Camera . . And I Am Going To Beat It To Death

Hail and well met Goode Fellowes! I thought it was you that I had aspied entering the Teeth Of Hell.
Yes it's a fresh working week and the Monday FogBlog is up and about and ready to do many revolutions in the old Hamster Wheel that is paid employment.
Today's FB has a rather vicious title and you may wonder why (as a lover of cameras and all things photographic) I have chosen to mention the unmentionable. My answer to that would be something along the lines of 'because it needs to be mentioned'.
I'm not being funny, but there's a lot of people out there who say they love photography, but have a very funny way of showing it. Yes they purchase some truly horrendously expensive equipment and yes they use it. But often (and I have seen a few believe me) they use it to the point of destruction. Their wonderful, expensive 'jewel' of a machine is treated like a lowly curr on the edge of the village. It's beaten, it's left out in horrendous weather, it's starved of affection. Some people really don't deserve to own cameras, because they beat seven shades of s*** out of them. I've seen lenses cleaned with sandpaper (not literally, but you know what I mean), , base plates and prisms beaten and dented, shutters with remnants of film from a film tear, you name it, it's all out there. Cameras where the paint inside the spool chamber is worn away because the camera has seen about 36 trillion rolls of film, split shutter blinds from curious fingers, lenses that are filled with grit . . . you get my point I hope.
Think of it this way, certainly in the case of Nikons, their professional cameras are tested to a duty cycle of approximately 150,000 operations. I believe this means that they say the shutters are good for at least 150,000 rolls of film. Most 35mm film is in 36 exposure cassettes. You load your film and it usually takes 3 winds to get the film counter to 1, and then there's the usual 2 winds at the end as well, so roughly 40 to 41 winds per roll of film. Now wait for it, that little wind-on lever, based on the 150,000 cycle theory sees approximately 6 million operations!
It's a sobering thought isn't it, because obviously the shutter is tied to the wind-on mechanism, so your average unserviced professional camera shutter could have seen that many actuations as well. And here's the cracker, your average pro will have traded in that camera, and the camera shops will probably be advertising it as E+, which in the wonderful loosey-goosey world of camera descriptions means 'Signs Of Use'. You have no guarantee at all about the inner workings of a camera and how much it has been used. The camera might be in beautiful condition, but that little shutter will be a knackered old donkey in need of some TLC. You might find a 'beater' (how I hate that phrase) that is bashed and a bit grizzly, but has been serviced, in which case you know what the best choice would be. People often seem allergic to camera servicing, which is a shame, as it often just needs a small amount of work to bring things back to speed. Yes it costs money, but if you care about what you do, then it is money well spent.

The picture above was taken with a late '50's Minolta Autocord Twin Lens Reflex. It has the legendary Rokkor lens, and is in a Seikosha shutter which is still the most accurate mechanical shutter I own. The camera has no body-covering at all now - it's a project. The lens . . .well sandpapered is all I can say (but not by me) and that has contributed to a lower contrast. Back in the day though, this must have been a hell of a lens. Shame it has seen so much abuse. I like this photo though . . the dog looks like he is contemplating something really bad, like nicking some sausages.
Film was Acros 100, developed in Bary Thornton's 2-bath (yet again).

Friday, March 09, 2012

Weekend FogBlog

Is that the sound of a pipe being tamped that I hear? The creak of the elasticated waistband on a pair of comfy slacks? The clink of bottles and fluttering of a very nice 1970's Neal Schon afro in the breeze? Yes? THANK GOODNESS! It's the weekend FogBlog!
Well seeing as this is the first weekend of a FogBlog, I haven't quite worked out exactly what to post about.
Will it be interesting and on the cutting edge of a hobbyists enthusiasm for the subject? Will it be humourous but interesting rather in the vein of the classic 1970's weekend magazines TitBits and Reveille? A modicum of sadness tinged with pathos about how our world is getting stranger and more fragmented day in and day out? I don't know. I have an idea I will explore below, but in the meantime let me include a picture of how weekends used to look back in the '60's and '70's . . .

You see he managed to get three of the British religions of those times into one photograph! This has all been swept away now, by the sacrilege that is Sunday Shopping.
RIP Marty.
Anyway, I am now set on writing a wee bit about the passing of things that were religious and have gone. Photographically this occured in finality a couple of weeks ago when Kodak announced they would no longer be producing slide film. Again thank you Mr. Digital.
You are probably like me - a huge amount of your childhood memories are caught up in little squares and rectangles of coloured light held in a nice little cardboard holder - in other words, the ubiquitous slide. For my family (and my wife's too) these things were important. We used to view ours in a little Halina viewer - you popped the slide in the slot on the top and pushed down, the pressure of the slide brought a light on and the whole thing was wonderfully backlit and viewable through the viewing screen. Slides were such a big thing in my house that when my Dad retired, the one thing he wanted as a leaving gift was a Kodak projector and screen - which he got. What I can't understand is why he didn't ask for a better camera than our little Instamatic which had stood duty on all family events from about 1966 onwards!
My mother-in-law used an Agfa Sillette, and the lens on that is truly marvellous, images produced by it are nice and crisp. Anyway, back to the slide. That's it, Kodak ones are gone. I can understand it given their acute financial position, but it is still a sad thing.
The colours of 60's and 70's slide film (but especially 1960's) are incredible really. Fairly muted but real - not like the super-saturated stuff you get these days. They have an air about them and whether that is just imagination because they are childhood things or not I don't know. All I do know is that I treasure the small number of slides I have from when the world seemed a simpler place.

This was on Kodachrome which as you'll know vanished a few years back. Time was about 1968, and this was the cottage we were renovating. That's me in the middle, my Mum is on the right and my Aunty on the left. It is a poor scan, but the colours are still pretty great. Dad was behind the camera. And nearly 45 years later that one moment in time is still preserved in a nice, tight little cardboard square. Thanks Kodak.
On that note, I shall bid you a nice weekend. there'll be no FB tomorrow as I really have to get out and take some pictures of architecture, however all is not lost as I will post again on Monday and together we can stare down the barrel of another Monday morning.

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Thursday, March 08, 2012

Up Close & Personal

Listen. What's that sound? It's like a cross between a lonely sea monster (thank you Mr. Ray Bradbury) and a fog horn, way out beyond the reef, where the dark ocean starts to shelve away to night. Yes, its the sound of another FogBlog!
On that salubrious note, I will greet one and all a jolly good morning.
Today's post deals with an oft overlooked (and much beloved by me) accessory for ye olde Rolleiflex, namely the Rolleinar. These close-up lenses were made in 3 different magnifications namely #1, #2 and #3. As close-up lenses they excel - you've never seen anything as sharp, you've never seen 'bokeh' as nice. They are extraordinarily good, and parallax corrected too. The people behind the design of the Rolleiflex really thought everything through - everything fits and everything works so well, you rarely have to think much about accessories at all.
However despite their abilities as close-up lenses, one day I discovered another use for them. Messing around, I focused in really close on something and then changed my view so that what I was seeing was something from nearer infinity, and bingo, I discovered that by racking the focus in and out on subject matter that wasn't a close-up, you had a wonderful, variable soft focus lens.
I love Clarence White's photographs, and I also have a massive respect for anything from the Photo Secession, and I found that by using the Rolleinars in this way I could achieve a faux Pictorialist effect. I think it works, if you like what you see, feel free to comment.

This photograph was taken in some woods on the edge of a caravan site we were staying at at Crocketford in Dumfriesshire; the weather had been the usual mix of shower-dodging and things were getting really stormy quite early. What I think about this photograph is that it can either be threatening or friendly.  You could get a feeling of threat from it (as in nothing is as clear as it seems; what is that shadow lurking up ahead? etc etc) but to me it is more friendly and hopefully touching on some of that Pictorialist Romanticism whilst being a tad ethereal at the same time.
Who'd have thought some densely planted Pine and Birch could have been so transformed by light.
Camera was my old Rolleiflex T, with a Rolleinar #1 fitted. Film was TMX 100 developed in Barry Thornton's 2-bath developer. It was a cinch to print on Grade 2 paper, and I printed it slightly lighter as the original lighting was a bit too oppressive.
In the words of Joe Satriani: I like it. 

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Lucky Findings

Morning, as they say around these parts, and it is. Not as cold as it has been thank goodness.
This post is going to extol the sheer enjoyment of walking around with the right camera.
You're probably muttering to yourselves, what? and you could well be right. I wander a lot with a 35mm camera and it is fine, but there's certain things that deserve the breadth of greys that you will only get with 120-size film.
The strange thing about this is, that just using medium format isn't always a guarantee of tone. My main camera for a number of years was a 1960's Rolleiflex T - quite possibly (well any Rollei really) one of the greatest cameras ever invented; negative size was the ubiquitous 6x6 cm,  however I have at times struggled to get a spaciousness of grey tones.
A number of years ago I had a Pentax 67 for a very short time - it was great but totally unreliable, as well as having the loudest shutter on the planet (akin to a bird scarer actually). I returned it to the vendor, and missed it like mad. Last year I had the opportunity to buy a Koni-Omega Rapid 100 - yes it has problems like the film advance which is the most strange thing ever, and its rangefinder is a tad dim, but the lens, gosh it's a beauty. Mine is the 90mm Super Omegon a direct descendent of the original Hexanon in a different shutter. It's a Tessar design, but actually one of the very sharpest lenses I own.  Very versatile, AND attached to the correct 'walkabout' camera (see where I am going here) just the thing for wandering around with just in case the unexpected turns up . . .which in this case it did. It wouldn't have looked half as nice in 35mm.

This TriCool machine was pure happenstance, found in some old mill buildings along the road from me. What it was for I have no idea . . however it was obviously three times cooler than any other machine on the planet.
The scan doesn't do the negative justice. Film was TMY2 400 at EI 400, developed in the rather marvellous HC110 Dilution G. This was a compensating dilution as extolled by Mr. Ansel Adams, and I really like it. HC 110 is very active, but using this dilution semi-stand gives an enormous palette of greys. The camera was handheld, and yes, the white specks everywhere are what you think they are - God bless the pigeon.
There y'go, you've maybe learned something and it wasn't too painless was it.

Early Beginnings

Och well - its 2012 and I have just caught up with the world. Funny how you sometimes need an empetus to do things, and that to me was Carl Radford liking my photographs and posting them as part of the Scottish Photographers site:
I've been a member of Scottish Photographers for a couple of years now, and it really is a diverse bunch of people . .
Anyway, the main concern of this blog is probably going to be the one creative endevour I have stuck with - namely photography. and yes I know, there's a ton of other photography blogs out there.
I hope to be a tad different in that I feel very strongly that the art form I really love has been undermined by the equivalent of 'white goods' salesmanship - namely the 'digital revolution'. I know, you'll be stroking your beards and going 'but isn't he using that self-same revolution to publish this?'  . . and you'd be right, however rather than get into the film vs. digital argument and at the risk of sounding like a curmudgeonly old fool, I'll just say, I use film. I have tried digicams and I don't like them, so B&W film it is - anything I can get my hands on really, though a preference for Kodak. Cameras are old - Nikons, a Rollei, a Wista, a Sinar and a Koni-Omega.
What else do you need to know? Well, I owe my love of this entirely to one person - the great Scottish photographer Joseph McKenzie. I was fortunate enough to be tutored by him back in the '80's and he was an inspirational man - a master photographer AND printer. In a word he epitomised the word 'photographer' - to me he is just the same as the likes of another hero of mine: W. Eugene Smith. These chaps had control of the whole creative process from making the photograph to printing the final interpretation, and I think to an extent that has been lost.
Yes you can do it with digital, but how much creative control do you have? You are using exactly the same software as everyone else. Tweaking to the nth degree the same as everyone else.
I (on the other hand) am using the same chemicals as everyone else, but minute variations in everything make it more of a creative process to me. It's a craft, and I am proud to be part of it.
It was interesting to see that the Winnipeg FreePress sees us 'analog' types as a 'counter-culture' - that made me smile very much indeed!
Sorry - I don't mean to turn off any digital users out there either - you're all welcome
Oh, and why 'FogBlog'? Well it is easier to type than 'PhotographyBlog' and hopefully I'll get to confuse the world a bit, like it can be when you are out hillwalking and a mist blows in.

And yes that hill was that steep - it is the Kilbo Path and though clearly defined can still be an eerie place when the mist comes down.