Resolutions 2014

Happy New Year to everyone, I hope 2014 is a good one for you all. We had a wonderful Christmas and New Year with our son and shared his first festivities with family.

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Another year and another set of resolutions. I've been making them since 2010 when I resolved to get back into a form of art, something that I had left behind in the late nineties. That was when photography raised it's head again. Since then I have made resolutions that tie into photography to direct what I'm doing, except for last year when becoming a Father seemed like a big enough challenge to set myself. 2014 is here now and I've been thinking lots about what I want to achieve in photography.

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Looking at 2013, my first resolution has to be to shoot more - it might seem like a simple resolution but, outside of my DSLR, I really didn't shoot much at all. I made a large format pinhole camera but never really experimented with it, I was out in the field with the Bronica medium format camera but the majority of those rolls still lie undeveloped, and I made cameras to create solargraphs which I have just had the results back from. I need to get these cameras out and working, and make sure the film is developed.

What I never shot a lot of last year was 35mm. I was put off after using my Nikon F60 last Christmas and then again during our trip to London. This demand has now passed since I have a DSLR so I'm going to take my favourite 35mm camera - the Pentax SP500 - and my favourite film stock - Ilford Delta 100 - and start carrying it around in my bag as well as capturing my family.

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Next up, I want to print more. Nearly two years ago I searched Gumtree looking for an enlarger that I could use to print at home. Eventually I found what I was looking for and after a 150 mile roadtrip to north of Aberdeen, I had what I wanted and lots, lots more. For the small sum of £40 I had a 75% of a darkroom and a plethora of photography books. Scouting eBay got me the rest of what I needed and I was ready to go. What I soon found was that setting up a temporary darkroom is quite a task and it took me a few attempts to get it down to a reasonable time. The truth is, it was a hassle to do and maybe one day I will be able set it all up permanently in my house.

At Christmas I decided to make a print for my wife and used my local darkroom, Stills, instead. This proved to be a quicker and far more productive time in the darkroom and I would like to do more of it.

So those are my resolutions for 2014 - shoot and print. As I said, they may seem like simple resolutions but I really want to get back into the flow of creating images and that doesn't need to be complicated

Let me know your resolutions.

 

 

Zenit-E 35mm Camera

When I first returned to film photography, it was with my grandfather's Zenit-E which had been sitting in my attic since he died in 1989. It's a Soviet camera built in what was the U.S.S.R and, like most Soviet cameras, was made as cheaply as possible and yet was hugely popular.

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It came with the Helios 44 58mm f2 lens, an imitation of the Carl Zeiss Biotar. The Soviet way of thinking when it came to cameras was to take what others had refined, strip it down, and copy it. That said, they are not to be ignored - they were cheap and flawed but in that lay their charm. My camera has a unique sounds as the shutter fires - it's almost a chirp as the shutter curtain releases and the mirror rises.

The lens is super sharp, but at a shallow depth of field there is a captivating swirling effect that occurs around the edges that I fell in love with from the moment I noticed it. Instead of an aperture preview button or auto-stop down when the shutter is fired - you have to do this manually on the lens.

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When I first looked out the Zenit from the attic in 2010, I opened the back to find a roll of film loaded. I slammed it shut and tried to rewind it but nothing - the metal teeth that help advance the film had ripped it out the cassette and destroyed the sprocket holes too. I managed to fish the film out the camera in the bathroom, put it in an empty film canister, and get it developed. I wasn't hopeful, but When I got it back I was so surprised to, not only get viewable negatives (albeit some fogged), but prints too. They were photos I had taken at a VW show in 1997 - apparently I had used this camera before. They were all overexposed and I know this was down to forgetting to manually close down the aperture before taking a picture.

 "Iain" by Matthew Deary

 "Iain" by Matthew Deary

Soon after seeing the VW show photos, I took it on holiday to the Cotswolds and used some Fujifilm Superia 200. It was a cheap film and would let me re-familiarise myself with a manual camera. When we got back I put the films in for developing and got scans and prints...they were good and I was happy. Only when I bought a film scanner later that year and went to rescan the negatives, did I realise that the negatives were almost black. Yet again, 13 years later, I was still forgetting to close down the aperture before firing the shutter.

Despite all this, these Cotswold photos remain some of my most popular on Flickr and are reblogged every day on Tumblr. Only this week did one get viewed on Flickr over 3,000 times. So, since everyone else is sharing them, I thought I would share them myself.

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The Zenit-E holds a firm place in my collection. Not just because it was my grandfather's but because it's quirks and flaws make this a great camera to use, which is a rare occurrence in today's World of perfection. I just wish I used it more.

A Machine called B.E.R.N.I.E.

I took this photograph last year whilst walking through a residential area of Edinburgh. I had actually spotted it the night before and snapped a shot on my iPhone as it was incredibly bizarre to see a bingo machine dumped on top of a waste bin. It got me thinking about who had it in their house and what events had taken place to for them to suddenly throw it out. The next day, praying it was still there, I returned with my Pentax SP500 to take a better picture.

Fast forward to earlier this year and I receive a message from Adam McCrory on Flickr, "my dad used to make these". I immediately went back to him to find out more.

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Charles McCrory started as a TV engineer back in the seventies and made a device called a Stage Safety Unit after a friend of his was electrocuted on stage. From there he ventured into raffle machines called Spinners and then finally into bingo machines and creating the BERNIE (Bingo Electronic Random Number Indicator Equipment). It was very successful but unfortunately the recession of the eighties worked against Charles and he eventually stopped production around 1984 and closed his business. He was the millionaire that should have been.

"What I love about your photo is it captures one of his greatest achievements (creating the BERNIE) and the subtle irony that it's ended up in the bin - it sums up his life in a strange sort of way"

I was touched that Adam shared the story with me - it turned a random object that I thought was "kind of cool" into something that mattered. After I first saw this bingo machine, I started to take more photographs of the random things I pass everyday, but hearing the background of it makes me look at them differently and consider the history of what I'm taking pictures of. It is proof that no picture is pointless as it will always mean something to someone.

Sadly Charles died on the 17th February 2011 and when looking at the iPhone photograph that I took the night before I noticed that it was dated the 16th February 2011. The next day, when Charles died, was when I returned to take the photograph above.