Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Hang 'Em High (The Tinsel And Baubles That Is)

Morning Folks - in the words of me old mate Noddy,

and the time is ripe for the peculiarly Antipodean Ritual of . . . Mulled Beer!
Actually that's just paraphrasing Pete and Dud from a Private Eye magazine flexidisc from the 1960's:
". . and the wife plunged a red hot poker into my ice cold jug of beer . ."

So, sit yourself down, get that poker in the coals and crack open a bottle of the finest Winter Ale in the world - Broughton Brewery's Old Jock, and away we go!

Well, to a man and woman the epic strain that is T' Festive Season is upon us again and the big question everyone is asking is where the hell did that year go? 
It's been quite a year actually, not just for me and mine, but for the world in general. 
Chaos, madness, intolerance, bigotry . . and that's just the journey into work on the bus in the morning! 
A wise man once said that there was enough good stuff in the world to outweigh the bad stuff or something like that, and there sort of is. But then again is there?
Well, I'll follow the wise man's advice and hold my bile in a special Chrimbo Bile Bag (available from Amazon Reseller Gǒu shǐ huò) and keep my fingers crossed that what seems to be a gradual re-awakening (with regard to political machinations and especially the environment) continues.
Hope springs eternal - that's what my old Mum used to say, and God bless her soul for it.

Anyway, enough o' t'guff, because the round robin (that is starting to flesh itself out): 

Ye Annual Olde Sheephouse Yuletide Newsletter 

has creaked its way off the digital presses and is ready to be stuffed through letterboxes - please feel free to read it, tear it up, set fire to it, feed it to the chimp or whatever . . but it is here and it is now
Strangely we had a convo at work recently about 'round-robin' Christmas things and the general concensus was that they were overwhelmingly crap, narcissistic and all about Me Me ME!
Well, that is true, but, in my defence, The OSYN is also a way of getting a lot of stuff that hasn't been written about during the year up there, so stick that where the sun don't shine (and a Merry Christmas to you too 😆).
You came here for photography didn't you? 
Well, by jingo, that's what you'll get . . . but not nearly enough!
However, ahem, despite the lack of output that hasn't stopped me thinking about it and indeed writing about it.


The year started off with a bang, not a real one, but the intent of doing MORE this year, so, 3rd of January, there I was with t'Asselblad, round t'back o' t'Art College, taking (ahem) Vintage Sheephousian photos in dark dull weather . . 
I really wish I hadn't bothered actually, because the results weren't great. 
I did discover though that with a decent shoulder bag, it is quite feasible to rest the Hasselblad on it, lock the mirror up and take a 1/2 or 1 second photo though, so I suppose something was learned.
FIlm was ancient TMY 400 at EI 200 in Pyrocat

Weird Afternoon
Hasselblad 500 C/M, 60mm Distagon, TMY 400, Pyrocat HD

Did You Book Us For Your Kids Birfday Party?
Hasselblad 500 C/M, 60mm Distagon, TMY 400, Pyrocat HD


Ah yes, February wasn't as cold as previous years and the prospect of longer days made me feel optimistic about photographing lots and printing lots and maybe start gearing myself to thinking about doing an exhibition . . . but it was not to be. One can only dream!

I discovered a weird haze in the finder on the Summaron, so knew I had to get it sorted, but such things require thinking - I had to mull it over first.
Anyway, amazingly, in examining the M2, I discovered I still had a forgotten, half-finished 35mm film from September 2016, which I duly processed. 
The film was FP4 at roughly EI 50
I tweaked the development in Pyrocat and wasn't really chuffed with the results - to be honest they were droppings - not the development, but the photos - a more insipid and uninspired bunch you could not find!
Should have opened the bottom of the camera and exposed the lot.

The Caged Birds
Leica M2, 35mm F3.5 Summaron, Ilford FP4+, Pyrocat HD


The Summaron finder - not a job for the faint hearted - beware - there are two lenses in the finder - one normal convex and the other a weird bridge-like convex arching over the other one. When you've broken your way into the rather precisely machined 'holder', taken the screws out, and been astonished at the use of shellac, you come across two lenses, held in a holder, fixed together at the edges by shellac!
Triple gulp. 
Clean (I used residual oil cleaner and some stuff designed for telescopes) and reassemble, but don't assume that when you've put them back together they'll be fine. It took several goes involving a tripod and a tape measure!
Close up focus was spot on, but from about 50ft to infinity, it seemed out again on the lens scales - and I wonder if this is a 'thing' of wides? Obviously you don't need to be too spot-on at greater distances with a wide because of the inherent DOF . . just a thought.
Anyway, I had to test it out, so parked up and did my Blinshall Street Triangle blog photos - it was a fun session, blazing through a whole 36 exposures in about an hour and a half and the chaps standing around outside , smoking, waiting for news, were relieved to hear that everything was fine.
4 year outdated TMX 100, EI 50 in Pyrocat again.

Anyone For A Solero?
Leica M2, 35mm F3.5 Summaron, TMX 100, Pyrocat HD

Mysterons Attack Phone Box
Leica M2, 35mm F3.5 Summaron, TMX 100, Pyrocat HD

At the end of the month, I went mad, smashed the piggy bank and bought myself something I have been promising myself for YEARS. A decent Carbon Fibre tripod - a Gitzo GT3530S. As new condition with a tripod bag from Ffordes for a small amount of money. I was chuffed as hell and celebrated with more Blinshall Triangle photos. 
If you've never held a CF tripod - try and do so. Having lugged large and small metal ones for a long time, being able to feel your fingers and not ending up looking like a soldier crab makes a massive difference. Oh and fixing the Arca ballhead atop it, not only made me feel rather special (??!!) But the two of them went together like cheese and pickles . . . made for each other and solid as a rock.
4 year old TMX 100 - EI 50, Pyrocat.

The Area Is Really Coming Up These Days - Dundee 2017
Hasselblad 500 C/M, Hasselblad 60mm Distagon 


Ah season of mists and mellow fruitlessness - yes it's April, beloved of fools and me. 
Had a bloody good hillwalk, lugging MF gear. 
It was peasy-pie with the CF tripod, the easiest fully laden hillwalk I have ever had and I documented it HERE
A really wonderful day out.
I managed to take 2 films, both fresh Delta 400, shot at EI 200 and once again developed in Pyrocat.

Contact Sheet 1

Contact Sheet 2

Abandoned Caravan
Hasselblad 500 C/M, Hasselblad 60mm Distagon, Delta 400, Pyrocat HD

One thing the hillwalk did point out to me, was the need for a backpack dedicated to a format!

"Oh you BIG BABY", I can hear you saying, but, in my defence, when you have optimally configured your backpack for your camera (and in the case of my 5x4 Tamrak backpack, that included camera, lenses and film holders, loupe, spare outdoor gear, dark cloth . . och you know the list goes on) anyway, to accomodate the Hasselblad I had to rip the inserts out and redesign! 
If you ever find yourself in this position, take a picture of your optimal set-up. It is never easy to repeat. Failing that, save time, and buy another one - it's going to take you three days at least to get it back to normal.

Anyway, not long after the Araldite had set on the piggy bank, I smashed it again, bought a Kata HB 305 backpack and whilst I was at it and because they had one in stock with a 1 year guarantee, a 150mm Sonnar CF.

The Kata was designed for video and broadcast professionals - it has a great, comfortable harness, proper good protection where it needs it and, after a good bit of rejigging, fits the Hasselblad kit very well.

The Sonnar - well what can you say - the 'bokeh' on this lens is like nothing else through the VF - you can stand and look at it all day. I detailed the lens HERE

At the end of the month, me and t'missus had a short weekend break in my most favourite of places. We ate like kings, visited the usual spots and shook our fists at the weather, which was OK, but not great. It was darn cold actually. 

I took 2 MF cameras and shot 4 films - the whole thing was detailed (extensively!) HERE

Abandoned Van
Hasselblad 500 C/M, Hasselblad 150mm Sonnar, Ilford Delta 400, Pyrocat HD


Major DIY started and as with all DIY it takes far longer than you ever expected it would.
No photography done, but plenty of thinking about DIY. I did discover though that the nicest, easiest to use house paint I've ever used is manufactured right here in Scotland, by the esteemable (and very long established) company of Craig and Rose in Dunfermline. 
B&Q used to stock it, but never promoted it, so now (pending a Homebase contract) they sell directly. Postage is reasonable. 
The paint could be considered expensive, it isn't as much as Farrow and Ball, but it is more than Dulux or Crown. This is more than compensated for by a superior finish in the acrylics. Goes on like a dream and highly recommended. 
Their website is HERE
I have no connection, just like the paint!


Ah, June, loveliest of months - not too hot, not too cold, just right. Well, June saw us accompanying my parents-in-law to the wonderful city of Dubrovnik. If you've never been, you should, if only to get utterly exhausted and suffer heat-stroke from walking the City Walls. Seriously, start as early in the day as possible. That way, when you get to the end and are gasping for a pint, you can marvel at the hardy souls who are just starting out.
We had a marvellous time and whilst I chickened out and only took the Sony A6000 with a 35mm Nikkor-O, I took plenty of photographs, some of which I actually liked.

The Pavement Cat
Sony A6000, Nikkor-O 35mm f2

Weird Museum In Montenegro
Sony A6000, Nikkor-O 35mm f2

Peace For A While
Sony A6000, Nikkor-O 35mm f2

Rush Hour
Sony A6000, Nikkor-O 35mm f2

The Defences
Sony A6000, Nikkor-O 35mm f2

Small Stitched Sony A6000 Landscape
Sony A6000, Nikkor-O 35mm f2

Beautiful Evening In Croatia
Pie Phone 4S

We flew back through incredible thunderstorms over Germany - absolutely astonishing and completely beautiful. The power of Nature firmly cemented my respect for her.


Coo - disappointed by the POV of the 35mm lens on the A6000, I hunted around and found an incredible 1971 24mm F2.8 Nikkor-N - it's single coated and bloody marvellous. Nikon's first lens with Close Range Correction and quite an optical marvel for the time. It also takes a really nice photo.

24mm f2.8 Pre-Ai Nikkor and appropriate Nikon F
Yes, I know that's a pen lid supporting the camera

Sadly for us this month our trusty old Honda Jazz (or Fit as it is known in the rest of the world) came to the end of its life. It had been starting to rust (not from itself but as a result of some poor accident repair work courtesy of a well-known Scottish car retailer) and there were a few things starting to get the better of it. We were about to head off on a long journey, I checked the levels as you do and discovered that there was no coolant, nor was there a puddle in the garage, or anywhere I had seen it, so can only assume we'd lost it in the month or so since I'd last checked it! So, driving around in traffic, with no coolant at all and the engine was as smooth as a baby's bum. Not only that, but in 11 years of ownership the only mechanical fail was one wheel bearing. He had 120,000 miles on the clock, 98,000 of those driven by us. Remarkable. Oh and he was called Chaz.
This is the only photo I have of him from 2009 . . .

Chaz The Jazz And Us


August is one big blank in my notebooks, so, referring to a calendar I realise that I spent the whole of my weekend spare time decorating!


You know when you overcompensate for a lack of something - well, the month of September was mad camera overkill whilst on holiday.
I packed a 2 lens Hasselblad outfit, a Rollei T, a Nikon F with a 24mm, two tripods, 2 cable releases and a dreaded digicam - the old Panasonic (which I realised this morning is surprisingly about 10 years old). I took about 12 rolls of 120 and 5 rolls of 35mm . . . for a seven day trip!  Oh and backpack, large shoulder bag and a small one too . . . 
Every day had a photographic element and I ended up exposing 4 120's (2 in the same epic session) and 3 rolls of 36 exp - this all despite the fact that it rained fairly solidly (no exaggeration) for pretty much the whole week
I also utilised an ancient PiePhone and made some more videos (you might need to be sitting for these).

A Pie-Phone Video Is Worth A Thousand Words . . . . Or Something Like That

I had a number of adventures in the rain at dusk-ish, which I thoroughly enjoyed - the simplicity of navigating to somewhere you've not really been, having an explore and getting back home (albeit in the near dark) is something I would thoroughly recommend (though obviously, be judicious!). Oh and because of the nature of t'PiePhone's auto-exposure thing, I know that the videos above look like they were taken in bright light . . .they weren't.
I was pleased with the results from the holiday though, especially the two 120 's shot over an epic 2 hour session on a waterlogged, abandoned railway line - it was great to be 'in the zone' as it were. The railway wasn't a Beeching-abandoned one, but had been running up and into the 1970's. It is incredible what 40 years of wild growth can do, transforming a neat little cut of about a mile long into an abandoned portal, overgrown with trees and redolent with the overwhelming smell of fallen crab-apples. IT WAS HEAVEN!

Sadly though, apart from contacts, none of the frames have been printed . . remember that DIY stuff? Yep . . me too.

The images you'll see below, are direct scans off the contact sheets (resin coated paper too, so none too exceptional on the fine details) - I've isolated each frame and scanned them individually at 3200 dpi. 
Normal printing will be resumed as soon as possible, but given I am under the self-imposed cosh to get this done for Yuletide, then scans it'll have to be. 
A modicum of very light light adjustment and retouching dusty bits has been done with Apple's Photo.

Flooded Abandoned Railway Cutting 1
Hasselblad 500 C/M, Hasselblad 60mm Distagon,  Pyrocat HD

Flooded Abandoned Railway Cutting 2
Hasselblad 500 C/M, Hasselblad 60mm Distagon,  Pyrocat HD

Flooded Abandoned Railway Cutting 3
Hasselblad 500 C/M, Hasselblad 150mm Sonnar, Pyrocat HD

Where Walls Collide
Hasselblad 500 C/M, Hasselblad 150mm Sonnar, Pyrocat HD

And the 35mm ones - all Nikon F and 24mm f2.8 Nikkor - a right nice early 1970's combo! I actually reckon with a slight tweak in film, ie. not FP4, but something more gritty like Tri-X, I could get that lovely late '60's/early '70's photojournalist look. What a great lens, and especially for a tad under £100 . . .well, try buying a Leitz or a modern plastic wonder for that price . . . .
Oh and the heft of the old F really makes a difference in light conditions like I had that week - most of these were on a 1/15th. I did utilize the Leica TTT as a body brace.

Eagle-Eyed Readers Might Recognize This Boat Shed
Nikon F, 24mm f2.8 Pre-Ai Nikkor, Ilford FP4, Pyrocat HD

The Most Other-Wordly Place In Scotland
Nikon F, 24mm f2.8 Pre-Ai Nikkor, Ilford FP4, Pyrocat HD

That's A Rowing Boat, In The Middle Of A Vegetable Garden
Nikon F, 24mm f2.8 Pre-Ai Nikkor, Ilford FP4, Pyrocat HD

A Chambered Cairn With A View Of Heaven On A Dreich Day 1
Nikon F, 24mm f2.8 Pre-Ai Nikkor, Ilford FP4, Pyrocat HD

A Chambered Cairn With A View Of Heaven On A Dreich Day 2
Nikon F, 24mm f2.8 Pre-Ai Nikkor, Ilford FP4, Pyrocat HD

Bridge Reflection On A Dark And Rainy Afternoon
Nikon F, 24mm f2.8 Pre-Ai Nikkor, Ilford FP4, Pyrocat HD


Well, I finished off a roll of FP4 which had been in the Nikon with the 24mm, and realised that in the 24mm I had a bloody fantastic lens!

Visceral Phonebox 0
Nikon F, 24mm f2.8 Pre-Ai Nikkor, Ilford FP4, Pyrocat HD

Verdant Works
Nikon F, 24mm f2.8 Pre-Ai Nikkor, Ilford FP4, Pyrocat HD

Posh And Peeling Phonebox 1
Nikon F, 24mm f2.8 Pre-Ai Nikkor, Ilford FP4, Pyrocat HD

Posh And Peeling Phonebox 2
Nikon F, 24mm f2.8 Pre-Ai Nikkor, Ilford FP4, Pyrocat HD

Visceral Phonebox 0.1
Nikon F, 24mm f2.8 Pre-Ai Nikkor, Ilford FP4, Pyrocat HD

Visceral Phonebox 0.2
Nikon F, 24mm f2.8 Pre-Ai Nikkor, Ilford FP4, Pyrocat HD

The Chinese Are Coming
Nikon F, 24mm f2.8 Pre-Ai Nikkor, Ilford FP4, Pyrocat HD

The results were developed in December in my usual Pyrocat, 1+1+100, 21 Centigrade and 22 Minutes (standing from 17 minutes).
It has seriously made me wonder why I've bothered to invest so much in a Leica system when a lens that cost 10 quid shy of £100 (with postage) can deliver such stunning (to me) results.

Anyway, after I finished the film in the F I thought about it, and realised I hadn't used the M2 in a while, so took advantage of some bargain Tri-X (£4/roll!) and loaded it and fitted the old Canon LTM 28mm with Finder. 
It's a compact little package, and I had a good tootle around with it in St Andrews and Perth, didn't finish the film and like I say, time being time . . . .


The Tri-X was STILL in the M2 (on about frame 25) but time being time I had no time to finish it - the push was on, like the Battle Of The Bulge, but in DIY terms. I had to throw everything I had at it.

I was however heartened by the fact that the BBC's Blue Planet II has made people start thinking and talking about ocean-borne plastic pollution - thank goodness - wrote about it HERE FIVE long years ago.


Well, that's now isn't it!
I finished off the roll of Tri-X I had left in the M2 . . . and had something happen to me that has never happened before - you know that cold snap we had? I'd rewound the film, taken it out of the camera and was putting it into a canister with the end bent over (I do this to distinguish that I have actually exposed that roll) and . . the leader snapped! I was really surprised - imagine if it had been colder and that had happened mid-roll. I've read about it happening with sprockets tearing through film like it was nothing, but, like I say, it was new to me.
Anyway, here's the pics - usual developer . . .

I'm Sure I Widdled Here Recently
Leica M2, Canon Rangefinder 28mm f3.5, Kodak Tri-X, Pyrocat HD

Visceral Phonebox 1
Leica M2, Canon Rangefinder 28mm f3.5, Kodak Tri-X, Pyrocat HD

Visceral Phonebox 2
Leica M2, Canon Rangefinder 28mm f3.5, Kodak Tri-X, Pyrocat HD

Mennies On A Cold Morning
Leica M2, Canon Rangefinder 28mm f3.5, Kodak Tri-X, Pyrocat HD

Some Bloke And His Dug
Leica M2, Canon Rangefinder 28mm f3.5, Kodak Tri-X, Pyrocat HD

St.Josephs RC Primary Dundee - R.I.P.
Leica M2, Canon Rangefinder 28mm f3.5, Kodak Tri-X, Pyrocat HD

The results weren't too bad - quite like the Visceral Phonebox ones actually, but how much of that is Tri-X at work?
When I started using the M2 again, I also discovered that the vertical alignment of the rangefinder is a bit out . . so . . a trip to the doctors methinks . . or else sell it. But then again, the tactile experience you get from using a camera like a Leica . . well it goes a bit beyond the bounds of pounds and pence doesn't it? 
Doesn't it??
The money tied up in that camera and all the lenses I have for it, could buy me a Rollei 2.8F. 
Hmmmm - (mad) thoughts for the New Year.

Oh, and before I go, I've discovered there's one word I truly find objectionable in photography . . .

"His work is great!"
"If only I could organize my work better."
"Can you justify spending so much money on your work?"
"You have to be careful with juxtapositions within your work; you don't want it to seem too linked to the past, and yet getting your own work confused with someone else's work is all part of the nascent regeneration necessary in any art construction . . ."

You know what I mean?
Unless you really are scraping a living or earning mega-bucks from it, it isn't work, it's a hobby, it's FUN; it is enjoyable
It's not work - the connotations of that word are so tied up to me with doing the do:

Digging holes in roads
Shifting dustbins
Wiping bums
Sitting at a PC for 8 hours
Working on a till
Feeding cattle
Brick laying 

 . . . you know WORK, not tripping a fecking shutter (fer goodness sake) and then organizing your photographs into some semblance of pleasing order!
Work indeed, he said, muttering and cursing . . . 

Anyway on a final note I will leave the final words as something we should all strive for as photographers, not just the making of images, but the making of images that can alter perception, that can live with you and make you think and feel. 
For myself, with my deep love of the natural world, my viewing of this image turned my thinking on its head. It is so quietly powerful in ways I can't even being to understand.

Del Monte Forest, 1969
© Wynn Bullock Estate

And a statement from its creator and discoverer, Wynn Bullock:

"The work of the last two years is more archetypal than my previous work. I think that it comes from a source that I feel deeply, that I myself can't rationalize and have no particular urge to rationalize. I just feel it. I'm still exercising the disciplines that I've given myself in terms of how I spatially arrange events, use tones, and so on. Therefore I can let myself go in this new way. I feel that I'm getting nearer to some of the things that I never [have fully] understood about myself and the world about me. Many of those…relate symbolically to some of the deepest [realities] of life: birth, death, order - the universals. These are Everyman's - not just the way in which I see them personally, but perceivable by all of us."

And that's it folks - thank you for reading!
As a New Year approaches will it be chaos and doubt, fear, hate and mistrust? Or will it be, as a wise man once said, time for change, time for truth, time for love and time for action.
Only you can decide, but remember, Many a Mickle Maks a Muckle, even one small, positive step in the right direction by anyone can lead to a better place.

To all regular (and irregular) readers, friends, commenters and general odd-bods (well you must be if you read this tripe!) TTFN, have the most peaceful and wonderful Festive Season and remember to keep eating your peas.