Friday, April 19, 2013

Big Bunny

Morning friends. Well, firstly can I say that no one is more surprised than me that I have sat down and written this. I thought I was gone. I had no motivation for writing anymore FBs. I think I shall put that down to my weekly regime, it was too much. Trying to come up with something that is interesting to yourself (never mind a possible larger readership), every single week for a year is quite an achievement, not least to say, punishing.
It burned me out and made me feel that it was all rather pointless.
I suppose, it is pointless really.
I know none of my readers properly, though I will say a hello to you if you have made it a habit to read and comment, but at the end of the day, I am here at my wee desk in the early hours of a Scottish morning, and you are out there in the big wide world, and the distances between us are gulfs.
I thank you for your efforts in reading FB, you didn't need to really, but it is appreciated.
What my regime did do for me though, is hone my writing skills. I feel a far more confident and flowing writer than I did at the start, and to that end I have revisited several writing exploits I started a long time ago and have decided I should do something with them. It seems pointless to leave them languishing in drawers and folders . . all I need to do now is find the time and the concentration to complete them . . but I'll get there (though I have said that before).
Anyway, that is another thing. FB was pretty much always about FogBlography and it still pretty much  will be, so let me have a brief detailing about everything that has occurred since I hung up my keyboard just before Easter . . .
In a word nothing.
I haven't made a single photograph.
Now fortunately for me, I recognised something within in myself which has happened three times before in my life . . extreme passion burn-out. Sounds serious doesn't it, and you know what . . it is. VERY.
A brief aside into past-times again:
Burn-out 1:
From the year dot, I was an amateur artist. I drew all the time. It was a hobby which consumed me like a flame, and in a typical Sheephouseian fashion, whilst I wasn't brilliant, I was a solid plodder. You just have to look at pictures of me when I was young to realise that me and speed were not bedmates. So what did I do with my wonderful hobby? Yes, I went to art college. And as detailed many times before, it managed to snuff my love of drawing out as if it were no more than a small candle in a gale. The people I met were so talented and arty (quite a number of current high-falootin' major Scottish artists too) that my solid plod of line and form were as nothing against these folk. Also the whole feel of being in a mincer never did quite leave me, and pop! . . .one day it was gone. I haven't really picked up a pencil in anger since graduating in the mid-80's. I burned out, locked the door and have never returned.
Burn-out 2:
Music. Did I tell you I can play a guitar like ringing a bell? Yep, from the age of 13 when my Mum and Dad finally relented and bought me one, I was obsessed. Not a minor obsession either, but a full-blown, honest, down-to-earth whopping one. I spent vast amounts of hard-earned cash. I spent whole months of my life practicing, and I became pretty good.
It is easy to learn the guitar these days, but in those days it really wasn't.
Good players were few and far between and if you ever did meet up with another one it was more akin to Gunfight At The Rock N' Roll Coral. I kid ye not.
Anyway, for all the years of effort, you know what, the inevitable happened. Burn-out. And I have never gone back.
I stopped playing seriously when I met my wife and realised that there was more to life than sitting alone with a lifeless lump of wood and metal and trying to coax it into something akin to the flames I was feeling inside.
I haven't really picked up a guitar in anger since the early 1990's.
I will occasionally, but it is just for a quick strum and flail over the strings, check out me Al Di Meola chops, and back it goes into its case again.
Burn-out 3:
Too much, and I could feel it coming, so that is something else I have learned: if your pleasure starts to feel like a chore or a duty, stand back.
Drawing felt (at the end) like something in the world I hated.
Guitar playing felt (at the end) like a desperate attempt by me and my bandmates to persuade people how great we were . . in a word it became a chore.
And FB too. Yep a total chore, every week, like cleaning a toilet. Hence I have held back.
So where does this lead us now?
Well actually, I do rather enjoy FB, and I have missed it. Stopping felt like turning off a creative tap, so here we are again, and for the moment folks, whilst it won't be a weekly thing, I think I will approach it as more of an occasional, like that jar of Gentleman's Relish that you dip into every now and then.

I hope that is alright with you chaps.
Don't go throwing yourselves off of tall buildings or anything . . .
Right, in my break I have become a tad gear hungry again, however, that has manifested itself in one way . . . Try and make the most of what you have. I am feeling like I need to slim down my camera collection - you can only compose one frame at a time, and spreading yourself over so many formats can only mean that you dilute yourself in some way. However this doesn't mean that I am giving up on the Leica and the Nikons, the Rollei, or the Koni, but I have felt rather bad about neglecting my Large Format cameras (yes, ridiculously two . . a Sinar F and a Wista DX) so I feel I should get out and about with them again.
I also have rather a lot of film I stocked up on before Kodak made it nearly impossible to afford film (£75 for a box of 50 sheets of Tri-X these days) so I have to use that up.
I have also made a small purchase (well, actually it is pretty large). I have always struggled to carry my LF gear, shoe-horning it into the only rucksack I own (a 25 litre Deuter) and to be honest it was pain to use, and left little room for anything else important like lunch (I slimmed my hillwalking lunches down to dry oatcakes and dried fruit!), so I put my money where my pain was and bought for the grand sum of £39 from Ffordes, one of these.

Wista DX, Light Meter, 8 Film Holders, 3 Lenses, Loupe

Ready To Rumble
That's a Gitzo Series 2 Reporter tripod

It is a rather old Tamrak Summit 777 rucksack, and it fits the bill handsomely. I can now just unzip one compartment and everything is to hand . . what a relief!
Very well made (in the USA), great zips and a solid feel, and even though it is roughly 12 years old, and has been used, it is in fantastic condition still. Tamrak rather gets overlooked with regard to its bags, but I can tell you that they are second to none. Great build quality and comfortable.
So that is me, all packed up and waiting for a clear weekend, and I hope to detail some trips in detail soon as it were - we shall see. Stay tuned and all that.

Whilst I am here and on the subject, I thought I would show you what a lens which is universally disparaged, can do. 
People go nuts about lpm and all these crazy sharpness tests, and to be honest it is great to be reading about things like that, however at the end of the day it is all about the picture. If your composition is off, and the subject is dull then what is the point?
So to that end, here's a bottom-feeder of a LF lens.
The tiny 90mm Schneider Angulon f6.8, is either loved or hated. I actually love mine, it is tiny and sharp enough if you stop it down to f22 and beyond. If you are looking for a Large Format lens to start out with and you like wide angles, then they are about the cheapest thing out there, regularly selling for around £100.
As you can see it is small - that is a UK 50 pence piece, and it is on a standard Linhof/Wista lens board.
Mine is a later model and it is single coated.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Late 1964 Schneider 90mm Angulon f6.8

And to prove the point, this is what it can do. 
The scan isn't great, but the print is as sharp as you could wish for. Certainly you have no room for movements, but when doing landscapes like this you don't really need them.

The Suicide's Bridge
The Suicide's Bridge
Ilford FP4+, EI 50
11 Minutes, HC110 Dilution H, 20 Degrees Centigrade.
Ilford Galerie, Grade 2.

As you can see the lens has given the photograph a lovely 'airy' quality in the way it renders the distant foliage. I am not keen on 'smoky' water, however in this case it is quite muted and not in yer face. It has also managed to convey some of the mournful atmosphere of the setting. Whilst I am unaware if anyone has actually committed suicide from this bridge, it sort of had that melancholy feel to it, hence my title for the photograph.
So folks, again thank you for reading, and whilst I might not see you next weekend, I will see you along the trail sometime soon. 
If you want to shout words of encouragement like 'Get Off Yer Arse You Lazy B.' in your best Brian Blessed bellow, then please feel free. 
Leave a comment at the bottom.
It is nice to know I am not just propelling this out into the dark . . 
Take care and God bless.


  1. I'd rather read you once in a while than not at all, Phil. I know how it feels to try and write something of worth every week, as I've been trying to do the same for one and a half years now...and my stuff is by far not as philosophical and intense as yours. I guess I'll also switch to a more relaxed posting scheme...this should be fun after all.

    Your suicide bridge must be one of the best photos of a bridge I've seen (there's one by Atget which I enjoy a lot, but that's a mill actually). Leaving out the top is a stroke of genius, intensifying the mystery. The foreground platform is ready for the TV crews, who will flock to the scene to report the next suicide. How and why pictures work is a grand mystery, differing with every individual...this particular one just resonates with me.

    If you ever fancy a print swap in the future, you know my choice now! Another stunning one is the picture of your secret place, the one where you had to set your tripod in the water.

    Speaking of tripods, your Gitzo is a monster! Several years ago my wife refused to be called Mrs. Manfrotto anymore, and I had to get myself a smaller one :~(


    1. Bless you Omar - your comments are very much appreciated. I have never thought of print swapping before . . let me check my spares. Please remind me though . .you can get my proper email from using the Kontactr thing.
      You are right, it should be fun and when it stops being so, then things have to change.
      Photographically it was an eventful weekend. My Rollie has jammed (which is both annoying and probably expensive), I got the Wista out and made 4 photographs, and I had a happy snappy afternoon with the M2 yesterday.
      As for the Gitzo - it is big, but quite small compared to the old Linhof tripod I own!

  2. Hey

    You know I will be reading FB every week when you decide to write. Not being a serious photographer has not been a barricade to your enjoyable stories and learned prose! Plus I have learned some stuff that I will likely use, even if I am in the digital (curses I can hear flying about) world.
    So carry on when your will decides, and remember that the most important thing to do with the time you have is be happy within it.
    Canada Bob Hobbit

    1. I know you will Bob, but as we have both said before, writing has to be enjoyable - when it becomes a chore it is time for a break.

  3. Even if you never write another Fogblog, Phil, many of us have derived a lot of pleasure from your output so thanks for all of that. I don't think a blog is ever pointless because, if nothing else, it serves as a useful journal. I've been writing photography blogs for years and I still enjoy going back to see what I was up to a long time ago. And you can always write something for my blog if you need an occasional outlet.

    Maybe it's time to write a book? Or a play. I think you've got it in you to write a tear jerker!

  4. Thanks Bruce - och I will continue, but as I say, not as often.
    Want to concentrate on LF stuff for a bit - see if I can get more used to the proportions of 5x4.

  5. Another great read sir.... Keep them coming. Your new purchase looks very nice....hope it serves you well. :-)