Monday, November 09, 2015

Stepford City (On With The Future)

Boredom Police Intervention:

There was far too much navel-gazing shite - we've removed it. This is by far his worst read Blog post you know - only 18 readers in over a week, so we've cut the fluff and on with the show.

Now this is a statement of fact, but (whisper it) there's someone works for Dundee City Council Graphics Department, who is fond of big heads.  
Honest - it sounds bizarre doesn't it, but it is true.
For years they've appeared on hoardings and advertising for the Council and to be honest, they're utterly surreal
Strange thing is, they look kind of ordinary too, melding into the general scene so you're not really aware of them too much. This was certainly the case with me, but when I started looking at them properly, I found them hilarious, sadly missing out on many generations of different heads through sheer lack of observancy.
Anyway, here's a semi-recent one from the Seabraes; a slowly changing white elephant area with a modern "wtf-does that mean?" subtitle of "Digital Hub". It occupies an area that used to be a maze of tenements, railway lines and coal yards (long since demolished and dug-up).
This particular Big Head was (for a while) the thrusting modern face of Digital Dundee advertising "Dundee's Creative Media District" but sadly he became a magnet for vandals and was eventually almost entirely defaced by very very very tall graffiti artists and was then, two Winter's back, wrenched free by a powerful storm.
I found half his face in some bushes afterwards - he'd landed safely, in between some lovingly coiled dog muck.

The Man From Seabraes Yards
(Nikon F2, 35mm F2 Nikkor)

The Man From Seabraes Yards
(Wista DX, 203mm Ektar)

The Other Side Of The Man From Seabraes Yards
[This Is The Rear Side Of The Hoarding]
(Leica M2, 50mm Elmar)

The Skeleton Of The Man From Seabraes Yards
[After He Was Wrenched Free, This Earlier Poster Was Underneath]
 (Leica M2, Canon 50mm)

Death Of The Man From Seabraes Yards
(Koni Omega Rapid, 90mm Super Omegon)

I suppose I developed a relationship with this stupid hoarding because it was so interesting. and now he's been replaced by a very nice bridge!
He used to occupy the space where the crane is to the right of the picture below.

Seabraes Bridge, Dundee

And this is the completed bridge - its made quite a difference to a hard-to-get-to area, but I still miss The Man.

Seabraes Bridge Completed

Anyway, On With The Future.
The photographs below are all courtesy of the Council Graphics Department (God Bless 'Em!). They are so Stepford Wives like in their plasticity and sinister falseness I had to photograph them. 
Luckily they're getting quite vandalised now, so I can see this as an on-going thing till the new hotel (!) and station (!!) is built.
They were made with the 500Cm and the 60mm CB Distagon - quite the most remarkable lens I have ever used. They're real prints too - printed at Grade 4 on ancient Agfa MCC paper. Developer was Fotospeed which does a great job, and they were archivally processed and given a final toning in Selenium for good measure.
Sadly the scanning has washed them out a bit, but the full nuance of greys are there in the originals . . you'll just have to pop around and see them . . . remember to bring some biscuits.

I'll say TTFN now, simply because Blogger won't let me add any more text at the bottom of the page . . . TTFN.

"I Love It Here! Really . . . I Do . . . Don't I?"

"Me Too. It's Great And Can Only Get Better With The New V&A Dundee"

"You Ain't Seen Me . . . Right?"

"They Can Be Just Like Us, Can't They Darling"


  1. Well now,
    As there have been no comments, even for the navel-free version, I'll have a go.
    This is a photography blog, at least nominally, so may I ask: Is there something bit odd about the exposure of these interesting images?
    There now! "Images" even.

  2. Yes - and hello again David - they're a tad over-exposed, however the scanning has imparted a rather nasty edge to them which isn't present in the prints.
    Also, they're printed on 10 year old Agfa MCC, which has had to be exposed on Grade 4 (100 Magenta) in order to extract anything from it at all (if you go Grade 2 with it and even into Grade 3, you get mud).
    They were quite hard to expose properly at the time too as it was early morning, very strong directional sunlight, so I think to have captured any form of balance at all with the sky and decent contrast in the subject matter is a plus.
    The film was 4-odd year out of date Fuji 400 too . . so there you go . . completely out of date . . that's me!
    Oh and I was using Rodinal too . . .

  3. Nothing wrong with senior Rodinal.
    I'm fascinated by people who always have some ten-year-old film or twenty-year-old paper to hand. Are they like wine, so you must foresee, in 1995 or earlier, that you'll want to print in late 2015?
    I only ask, as there's another chap near to you who seems to do the same thing. I suppose that I do the same; I've got an unopened box of 5x4 Technical Pan. And did you ever hear of Agfa Contour?

  4. Well I bought the Agfa off of a SP member for the price of a Waterstone's token - he had no darkroom so I thought it was a shame to see it go to waste, and if you are prepared to take a few chances (like printing everything at G4) then it can work - the surface is beautiful.
    The Neopan 400 I loved as a film and was miffed when they dropped the normal version so I picked some up from ebay.

    Never used Agfa Contour.

    If you mean Bruce (as in near me) he'll be nearer me by the end of this week . . literally over the hill!

  5. Bruce over the hill? Surely not. You might let him into the darkroom, if only to sniff the fixer.
    Only enough, yesterday, the little group I attend in Sussex touched on the matter of old paper. One person even had some Record Rapid, the paper of choice in the Good Old Days before Seagull. Before Silverprint, even. Those were the days – Goldfinger and the Goldfinger Craft Book. You may remember it, but the PDF has vanished from the new, improved Silverprint website.
    And we saw some interesting prints, too, not all of them digital.

  6. I'll maybe get him to help me refit mine!

    Record Rapid - sadly I never used it, but would love to get some, albeit for a play. Like Forte . . sad the day - these papers were superior to anything now I think.

    I think I have the Goldfinger pdf somewhere . . .

  7. Well. Superior? Perhaps. These things seem to go in waves and fashions. RR was distinctly brownish and might not find such favour today. Nowadays it might be mistaken for something done in EfX Pro (?) It was certainly a very nice paper.

  8. I think they were - take good old Polywarmtone - the surface of that is the most tactile beautiful print surface ever (I think) and whilst I love modern Galerie, I just don't think there's much out there to touch the older papers. Even the surface on this old MCC is wonderful - they just have 'something'.

    The RR brown tone - it's a wonderful look and I didn't really get it till I saw a few vintage prints.

  9. Yes, you're right. RR was king when we were used to seeing actual, physical, hold-in-your-own-personal hand prints. Things have changed (as you may have noticed) and the subtleties of print surface are lost on screen.
    I find it interesting that there now seems to be a wider choice of paper surface for digital prints. You will understand that I mean the texture of the paper itself, not the nature of the image imposed on it. Opinions on the image quality, as such, vary widely, as we know.


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