Dogs and animals


Peterborough Antiques Fair. Bronica SQ-A camera. Zenzanon PS 150mm f/4 lens. Ilford FP4 Plus 120 film. Developed in Kodak D-76 1:1.

I captured the above opportunistic dog portrait recently at an antiques fair.  A Saluki, laying in the sun in front of it’s owners stall.  I couldn’t resist it.  The Bronica SQ-A, loaded with Ilford FP4+ was at hand.

Our lurcher appears to have a lot of Saluki heritage, judging by his build and pretty looks.  We are now a two dog household.  Those sighthounds can be addictive.  A 12 week old whippet puppy has joined our ranks.  Prepare to see some cute puppy photographs in forthcoming weeks.  Apologies in advance.

Cameras and equipment, Portrait

Mamiya C3 TLR Camera Test

Mamiya C3 Professional TLR. Mamiya-Sekkor 80mm f/2.8 lens. Ilford FP4+ film. Developed in ID11. Scanned film on a V500.

Well, yeah, that look okay to my eyes.  No light leaks.  Camera is a good ‘un.  There is a slight blemish (not fungi) on taking lens, but as usual, it doesn’t seem to have affected the images.  I’ve loaded it with another roll of Ilford FP4 Plus.

I presently have three medium format film cameras on the go – all loaded with film.  This Mamiya C3 TLR, the good old trusty Bronica SQ-A, system camera, and for share lightweight convenience, an Agfa Isolette I folding camera.  I don’t like all of this choice.

Cameras and equipment


My Newest Old Camera. Held by Anita. Taken with Sony A20 DSLR and Sony DT 50mm f/1.8 SAM lens.

I really did not want to buy any more cameras.  I’m not even sure where and when I would use this Mamiya C3 Professional TLR.  I mean, crikey, it’s such a lump.  Vivian Maier would have stooped over with this Mutha around her neck.  Ok, the bellows are fully out.

I firmly believe that there are two categories of photographers, the division even superimposing over both digital and film.  There are 1. Photographers.  and 2. Camera/Gear collectors.  Can’t I be a bit of both?


Medium Format Film Photography

Loading an Isolette folding camera with 120 medium format film. Taken with Sony A200 DSLR and Sony DT 50mm f/1.8 SAM lens.

To those who do not know (e.g. some young photographers that have not yet discovered film).

Once upon a time, when photographs were made by capturing photons of light, using an emulsion of silver salts painted onto a film of plastic, there were three bears …. I mean three categories of film size.

The smallest bear – film size, was called miniature.  This included 35mm film, which would capture light on an area of film the same size as the latest and very expensive professional “full frame” DSLR sensors.  Yes, in the Old Days, we called that miniature.  That should crush a few phallic egos.  35mm still exists and is still manufactured by several companies.  It is still very available.

The Mummy sized bear / film, we called medium format.  This included 120 roll film, that when for example, exposed in 6cm by 6cm squares, captures light on an area that is four or five times the size of that professional DSLR sensor.  120 film was introduced to the World in 1903.  Over 110 years later, there are still several manufacturers.  It is still very available.

Then there was a Daddy sized bear / film, we call Large Format.  This is so large that it is shot on plastic sheets rather than on film that can be wound.  Guess what?  Still easily available.

This article concerns that Mummy Bear (Medium Format) film – 120.  This is a roll film.  It comes on a plastic spindle.  Donkey years ago, the spindle was cork or wood and metal.  Kodak invented it as an amateur film.  Indeed, up until the early 1960s, it was pretty much the amateur film.  The actual film is a shade over 6 cm wide, and usually around 76 cm long.  It is taped at one end to a longer slightly wider strip of paper, and they are rolled together onto the spindle.  The backing paper seals the film from light while on the spindle.  It also has a series of numbers printed on the back – which can be read by various cameras through a red window – depending on the mask (size of exposure).  The number of exposures that you get off a 120 roll film depends on that masking of the camera, most commonly between 8 and 15 exposures per film.  A common choice is a 6cm by 6cm square, that gives 12 exposures.

The top image shows a 120 roll of Ilford HP5+ being loaded into a folding camera, that fits in a large pocket.  It gives me 12 squares per film.  There is a magic to this stuff.  Loading it connects you with a great tradition.

Cameras and equipment

The Animistic Atheist

Anita and the lurcher. Portrait using the Agfa Isolette I, Agnar 85mm f/4.5 lens, Foma Fomapan Creative 200 film. Developed in ID11

I’m the crustiest old atheist imaginable.  I know that it annoys Anita sometimes, but I lack faith not only in the existence of any gods, goddesses, or godlings, but pretty much in any supernature or hocus pocus.  Mr Rational, the skeptic, that demands testable evidence.  Not that I think that is boring – the World, it’s Life, and the Universe, as scientific investigation is revealing them, is far more magical than any creation myth.  Still, you get the picture.

Yet, I have to confess to some pretty innate animistic tendencies.  Lots of us have them – we become fond of an inanimate object.  It might be our car, our home, our musical instrument – we invest it with personal feelings.  We might even refer to this object as “her” (or him maybe).  When we handle them, we do so with a care and reverence.  When we change the oil, we might wonder if the car is happier.  We sad atheistic animists.

I confess.  I see old cameras this way, especially when they have been long abandoned, and have ended up at the car boot sale, in a box with old cutlery and scary looking broken dolls (now, they have a Manitou).  You wonder how it feels for them to be cleaned, and carefully loaded with a new film.  To have it’s shutter open onto the 21st Century, a second chance to live.  Sixty year old cameras are not supposed to rise from the grave, are they?

I even imagine their life, if they could talk.  I developed a found film from one, and found photos of steam railway that dated to around 1961.  The camera was last used in 1961.  A different world.  Did they expose rolls of Kodak to happy family scenes from Butlins during the 1960s?

A few weeks ago, Anita, pleased with the results of the Kershaw Penguin, encouraged me to use another of my old folders that needed testing for light leak.  This time, it was a lovely condition Agfa Isolette I folding camera from around 1954.  I actually have two of these, and have previously used the other one – but it started to leak light.  Bellows age.  I still had a roll of Foma Fomapan Creative 200, from a batch that produced some poor quality images with dark blotches.  Perfect for a light test.

So the above and below images were born last week, of that Isolette and Fomapan 200.  The camera said hello to the 21st Century.  No light leaks.  The film did have some blemishes, but I’m pleased enough with the results.

As a post script, the Isolette had a post code and house number on it’s rear.  I took a look on Google Street View at a row of semi detached houses in the North of England.  I thought about that camera and it’s history.  If only it had a memory.

The Limes Farmhouse. Isolette I. As above.


Immigration – a Photo study

This way for Lithuania. Pentax SP500 / 55mm f/2. Rollei Retro 400S film. R09. V500

This represents an ongoing project of mine.  Trying to capture the feeling of living in an immigration town – the new EU immigration, in a small town in the Fens.

First a disclaimer, and a bit of honesty.  This photo study is neither critical, nor positive concerning the new immigration.  It has no opinion.  The images are there for you to interpret as you will.  Personally, I like living in a multi cultural area.  Others do not.  It is what it is.

Shiny coats.

The above photo represents mine and Anita’s little game.  Fashions are different.  The English can be rather drably dressed, especially out in the depressed provinces, and the Fens are very provincial.  So, we spot the shiny coats.  We even score points by how shiny that they are.  Shiny coats represent the new immigration.


I’m trying not just to capture immigrants, or their shop fronts.  I’m also looking for artifacts, as though I’m a future archaeologist, searching for the archaeology of this significant immigration.  Perhaps the most significant immigration to Eastern England since the Danish Vikings settled during the 9th Century AD.  The above Polish beer can is a great example.

The Artist

How many, and where are they from?  I don’t trust any governmental agency statistics, neither do I trust the opinions of local wagging tongues.  All I can give is my best guesstimate and observations.  I’d venture to say that between 25% and 45% of the local population in this small town was born outside of the UK, or that their parents recently arrived in the UK, over the past 15 years.  That seems crazy, and maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe not.

Where from?  I’d dare suggest something in the order, starting with the largest but still significant number, to the lowest, something like: Lithuania, Poland, Latvia, Romania, Russia (ethnic), Portugal, Bulgaria, Czech / Slovakia, Hungary, Estonia.  All of these are simply my observations and best guesses from living here.

Beautiful England.

Why do people come here?  Better pay.  I keep hearing the same answer.  The wages.  Even though they often get the worse jobs, the pay is so much higher here than at home.  When the immigrants arrive, it is usually to the worse housing, the worse jobs, the worse exploitation.  Many stay it out until things get better.  I don’t know if the above apartments are at home to any immigrants, but the photo looks appropriate.


Language is interesting here.  English is the language of the land.  I sometimes hear two or more people, from different countries, translating from one language, into English – then to another language.  The other Lingua Franca is Russian, especially among the older generation of East Europeans.  The younger generations learn English.  Still, walk around the town, or the busy Sunday Market – you’ll hear so much foreign tongue.  It is also interesting to see people from different countries meeting each other here in the English Fens, through shared work and accommodation.

Lithuanian Zeppelins bombing the English palate.

Businesses.  A lot of the locals groan and moan, that so many of the town centre shops have been taken over by charity shops and foreign food shops.  I wonder if they are aware that the modern English small town centre is dying to the out of town superstores.  If the immigrants didn’t take over empty premises, would they still be empty?  Who would be paying the rents, rates, and taxes?

The Sunday Market

The local car boot sale has long been popular with both locals and the significant local Traveller community.  Now, it appears that Lithuanians, Poles, and others – love this form of popular capitalism.  A multi-cultural event – the English car boot sale.

Bulgarian and Lithuanian

The point of this photo study, is that regardless of anyone’s personal opinions on immigration.  It IS real, happening history.  It should be recorded.



Wisbech car boot sale. Looking down. Olympus XA2 50p camera. Ilford HP5+ film. Scanned with a V500.

Online photography forums can be hazardous places.  Although you can find great advice and support there, you’ll also witness plenty of disagreements.  Indeed, those threads are usually the fattest, as different posters rip into each other over such merits as “is photography art?”.

I’m not that a good forumite, indeed, I’m a bit off them much of the time.  However, I think that I’ve observed a common root to many of the disagreements.  It’s simple.  There are many types of photography and photographer.  None are better or worse, however, their equipment, aspirations, and techniques are very dissimilar.  A nature photographer will be able to benefit from the longest and fastest of lenses for their bird shots, or incredibly expensive macro set ups for their micro-life.  A sports photographer will benefit from not only fast lenses, but from the latest cutting edge digital sensor with it’s low light performance – as would the concert or gig photographer.  The street photographer needs a small, un-threatening camera.  They might even be happy to use film for a medium.  The professional wedding photographer – well, they’ll need quite different gear.

The problem is that what is best for one type of photographer is not best for the next.  That’s where the arguments start, when they fail to appreciate that simple reality.

For myself.  I have little value of sharpness.  I don’t need the latest cutting edge gear.  I don’t need technical perfection.  My photographs are not (at least in my eyes) less valuable for lacking sharpness and detail in perfect exposure.  What suits my aspirations may not suit yours.