50p camera

One that got away.

Emancipation.  Olympus XA2 35mm film compact camera. Kodak T-Max 400 b/w film. Developed in LC29.

Apologies first for being a Flickr and click whore.  I’m well aware how shallow and meaningless that is.  So don’t go thinking that I’m not concerned myself, how we are all directed to respond to Likes and Faves in our day to day life.

That out of the way, I’ve selected the above photo for this post.  It’s one that got away on Flickr.  Not much in the way of clicks or likes, but I “like” it myself.  I guess it is the opposite phenomena to some of my photos that have made it into the Flickr Explore category, even though I think that they are horrible.

This photo is part of the 50p Camera Project – having been taken on my humble and very abused Olympus XA2 compact camera.  It was taken in Wisbech at the Thomas Clarkson Memorial.  Clarkson was an English slavery abolitionist, born here in Wisbech.

I’m not sure what the woman’s posture was about – probably struggling to use a mobile phone while carrying shopping, but it seems to me to say something with the image of a manacled slave next to her.  What it says is up to you.


We Live Here

Behind the fountain. Olympus XA2. Kodak Tmax 400. Developed in LC29.

I’ve created a new Flickr album today, called We Live Here.  An awful lot of my photography these days seems to revolve around that theme.  I always want to capture the atmosphere, create a b/w film window into our corner of the planet.

I did try to think of a better title.  Maybe something like Car boot sales, small town, lurcher shows.  However, I lumped with something a bit more straightforward.  I guess that the idea has been in the back of my head for a while, but brought forward by Eric Kim’s blogpost.  I think that it is important to make the best out of where ever you live.  You don’t have to live in New York to shoot street (or whatever you want to call it).


Ten Years on Flickr

Bronica SQ-A camera. Zenzanon PS 150mm f/4 lens. Ilford Delta Pro 400 film. Home developed in Kodak D-76 at 1:1. Scanned film on V500.

The above photograph was taken of a rather “arse about tit” gargoyle at Outwell Church.  A naughty and rather rude demon it appears.

Yesterday marked my Flickr 10th birthday.  I uploaded my first image to Flickr on 19th May 2005.  A pair of Fennec Foxes, taken at Colchester Zoo, using a Canon Powershot A60 (or was the A85, I “upgraded around that time.).

At the time I was using digital compact cameras.  I don’t know if you could call them point & shoot, as they were surprisingly well equipped, with f/2.8 lens, shutter priority, aperture priority, and I think full manual exposure modes.  It was later that this sort of class of digital camera seemed to be dumbed down.  My photography was pretty much snapshot and family stuff, as it had been since I started snapping away on Kodak Instamatics many years earlier.  However, my brother had inspired me years earlier with his Canon AE1, and had given me some insight into composition and technique, so I wasn’t totally green.

Flickr at that time was a part of the Web 2.0 initiative of interactive websites entering the WWW.  I had previously hosted my digital images on my own website.  Flickr was not a part of the Yahoo group.  It still belonged to a Canadian firm.

Since then, I’ve uploaded 5,738 more images to Flickr, which have received 4,296,832 views.  Does it all really matter though?  The positive thing about my Flickr experience has been that it provides me with a lot of inspiration – or rather the other photographers there provide me with inspiration.  It encourages me to actually take photographs – sad as that sounds, but it is true.

Now, despite my recent block, I’ve forced myself to use up a couple of HP5 films in the XA2.  I need to go and develop them.  Time to get off the pooter.


Do I like it?

Bronica SQ-A. Zenzanon PS 150mm f/4. Foma Fomapan Creative 200 film. ID11. V500

My name is Paul, and I am a Flickr Whore.  I have to be honest about it sometime.  I’ll soon reach my 10 year membership of the website.  I have over 5,600 images uploaded there.  I admit, I’m weak.  I do care about my stats on Flickr.  I’ll even admit to getting a kick out of my images falling into the Flickr Explore category.  Shallow and vane.

Funny how we see our “self” through the eyes of others.  We unconsciously judge our “work” by how others judge it – or more often, how we imagine that others perceive our photography.  I’m holding my hands up here.  Sometimes we have to check ourselves from this kind of thought process.  I often e-publish images, that I like – but maybe, either others do not, or perhaps, they published at the wrong time.  I shouldn’t worry about it.  As long as I like an image, what does it matter?

Olympus XA-2 - 50p camera project II, Rants and discussions


Under the Bridge. A tourist captures the lines on his digital camera, as I capture him on the 50p camera! The 50p Camera Project. Olympus XA2 compact camera. First Call / Agfa Gevaert 400S 35mm film. Developed in Ilford ID11.

Someone recently asked the question on a Q&A group: “Why do people work so hard to take photos then publish them for all to see on Flickr?”.  My initial response was that I enjoy sharing, and does he prefer to keep his photos locked up in a safe, away from prying eyes?  Still, it made me think.  As a self-confessed Flickrite, with over 5,300 photos uploaded for public view, why do we do it?

Sure, I enjoy sharing, and my ego gets a thrill when I view my stats, see positive comments, and count my faves.  Is that sad?  Why do we like to exhibit at all?  Even before the masses got their chance with online websites – there was the photography club exhibition, and the gallery exhibition.  But it wasn’t just the enthusiast that liked to show off.  Visits to a household often secreted the family photograph albums, or just boxes of old photos.  You may have even been bored by someones recent holiday photos, and desperate to politely make haste.

Ok, here goes.  My idea.  Sexual selection.  I’m sure that some real anthropologist has suggested this before.  I think that we have an innate desire to show off, and that this may well have been triggered by our ancient hominid ancestors, desperate to impress an attractive member of the opposite sex, by inviting him/her back to view their etchings.  Or maybe it was simply social – impressing other members of a group, in order to elevate status.  I prefer the sexual selection idea though.

Thank you for your Faves.

Dogs and animals, Internet, Monochrome, Rants and discussions, Zenza Bronica SQ-A

New Flickrites – what not to post


The dog that drinks Mexican beer. A distinguished dog on the streets of Norwich. Bronica SQ-A camera. Zenzanon PS 80mm f/2.8 lens. Ilford HP5 Plus medium format film. Home developed in R09.

I said in yesterday’s post, I still consider myself to be a very much a novice, and I’m perfectly happy to be an amateur photographer.  I have no pretences of professional status.  I prefer to climb around in power station boilers than photographing poxy weddings.  But that is my choice.  So what’s provoked this post about even more novice photographers on Flickr?

I’ve had a popular week on the old Flickr website.  Six of my meagre, poorly exposed and scanned photographs (or rather their digitalised representations), have made it into that mysterious Explore category.  Subsequently lots of misguided new Flickrites have started to Follow my Flickr persona.  And a few more experienced members I might add – perhaps in order to chuckle at my attempts to produce images.  Thing is, I do try to be a good community member, and therefore I check out every new follower, and their photostreams, and usually pay the compliment back.  Subsequently I’ve been exposed to more than usual, lets call it,  fresh talent.

Some of it is genuinely good, and in the majority of cases, I can find an image or two that I’m happy to Fave and add to my highly valued (I’m serious here) Flickr Favourites stream.  Now, there are some bloody good images in there to share company with, by Flickr photographers and artists with far more skill than mine.  However, having scanned through so many new Flickrite’s streams so much lately, I’d like here to lay down some guidelines as to what I would not add to my valued favourites stream.

  1. HDR.  Ok, sometimes, if done correctly with a number of independent exposures, sometimes it works.  Personally though I think it too often looks fake and awful.  In fact I loath most of it.  It’s done too often, too much, too badly.  It’s a trend that will go away.  Just like mullet hairstyles.  Future generations will snigger and date an HDR photo to our period.  Well that’s my opinion anyway.
  2. Colour splash.  Another trend that is struggling to die away.  Again, it was cool for five minutes.  Hands up, I’ve done it in the not so distant past.  But open your eyes, does it make a dour photo any better?  In same cases, its utterly horrible.  Pale grey faced models with badly colour splashed dresses.  Ugh.
  3. An extension of 1 and 2.  People should be forced to take tests and have a licence before being allowed to use post process software.  So many badly chopped up, messed up, photocrap images!  Back off of the software.
  4. Subject.  A common Entry Level failing.  Does the photo have a subject?  Is it interesting?  A car park is rarely interesting. Don’t e-publish photos of car parks, uninteresting foliage, grass, etc.  Ok, I’ll admit, I’m sure you’ll find plenty of dross in my photostream.  But please!
  5. Imagination.  It’s my number one problem.  I don’t have enough of it.  Neither do many other novices.

Ok, enough moaning.  Just please understand that photography is not only a way of Life, but also a journey.  Peace to you.


Film, 35mm, and scans, Monochrome, Olympus XA-2 - 50p camera project II

SLF to Love, FirstCall film, Caffenol, Gdansk, Leningrad

Screw Love. Olympus XA2 35mm film compact camera (cost 50p from a car boot sale). First Call (Agfa) 400S B&W film (low budget b/w film). Developed in ID11 stock 10.5 minutes.

My latest photo in Flickr Explore.  I’ve seen far better from others not make it into Explore, it really is a mystery.  Taken on my infamous 50p car boot sale camera, a pocket friendly Olympus XA2, loaded with FirstCall 400S film.  It was the first time that I’ve used this film.  Resold by a UK based photographic supply distributor called FirstCall, the plastic 135 film cassette states that it is made by Agfa-Gevaert Belgium.  It’s a low budget b/w film, only costs a few quid a 36 exposure film, which is about as cheap as I’ve seen for true black and white film recently.  Development times were a bit long – ten and a half minutes in full ID11 stock.  Not sure if I like it, it ain’t HP5 +.  Still it is cheap, so might buy some more.  Certainly suits budget 35mm cameras as a true b/w film.  I don’t really like cross processed C-41 in Ilford results.  They leave too much to the digital scanner to correct.

I’ve settled for another film process project.  I’ve not yet tried alternative home recipe developers.  I’ve been looking at Caffenol, the umbrella name given to home made developers based on coffee granules, and usually vitamin C powder, and washing soda.  I’ve even bought a jar of cheap coffee ready for the project.  Where am I going to get the other ingredients here in the UK?  Couldn’t see vitamin C powder or washing soda in the superstore just now.

Other news?  Ok, Iain Stewart is right.  My recent medium format exposures have been poor – often over-exposed, sometimes under-exposed.  Thing is, I broke my only light meter.  It was a cheap old Capital selenium thing that I got at the local car boot for 50p, after three Sundays of haggling down with some travelers (I can be tight fisted).  So I’ve ordered a similar used but this time, a Soviet light meter (a Leningrad 8) from an online auction site.  Hope it arrives before my flight to Gdansk!

Rants and discussions, Zenza Bronica SQ-A

Atmosphere, Cultures, and Tackiness

Abandoned. Unloved. Baby in town centre. Spotted in a back alley of Wisbech. Bronica SQ-A camera. Zenzanon PS 80mm f/2.8 lens. Agfa Rollei CN200 120 film. Developed in Rollei Digibase C-41 chemistry

I don’t just take photographs and share them digitally online.  I love looking at other people’s photographs online.  I’m a huge voyeur on Flickr.  I browse through Contacts uploads, and through the streams of the so-called Flickr communities, on an average of more than daily.  Over the past year, I’ve also finally got the Flickr thing that I long missed.  You should add absolutely loads of contacts.  That way your stream is enriched.

I’ve said this before.  I have no formal training in photography nor art.  I come from a rural working class background of  “I don’t anything about art, but I know what I like”.  With online social photo-sharing sites like Flickr, the art just flashes across in front of you, as people all over the World upload their work.  You like what you like – it’s not going to be the same for you as for me.  It’s like people’s art – we all share, whether in the UK, China, India, USA, Japan, or Russia.  Each contact sees the World in their way, captures it through a lens and shares.  I can see regional trends.  Beautiful medium format portraits from Russia and Eastern Europe.  Photographs from young people in China, of colours, girls, smiles, and huge cameras.  Dusty, gritty film photographs of the tacky side of Mid West Life in the USA.  People of every shape and size at festivals in India.  Fine art and conceptual photography from Europe.

Each is a window into another person’s experience of Life on this World.  I love that.  I want my photography to grow in that direction.  I want people to see what I see, in my corner of the planet – tackiness and all.

Rants and discussions, Uncategorized

What Flickr Photography Do I Enjoy?

Paintball at a festival in Wisbech. Taken with my ickle 50p Olympus XA2 zone focus compact camera, loaded with Poundland film.

I don’t just post images to the image sharing website Flickr, I also spend a LOT of time viewing the works of other’s, especially those of my contacts and in Flickr Groups (now being renamed Communities), that I also belong to.  I’ve never been a chatty social networker, but I do like to Fave what I like, and to add to my ever growing Favourites Gallery.  What sorts of photos do I fave the most?  What do I like to look at?

I especially like to browse the medium format and film Groups, but not exclusively.  What about the subject though?

I like images of people.  Street, candid, studio, glamour, erotic, but especially portrait.  When I look through my favourites, it is dominated by photographs of people.  People attract me.  I think that people are the best subject for photography.  I’d guess that the best part of my favourites are of people.

Following a distant second, third, and fourth place to people are cameras, dogs, and motor vehicles (mainly motorcycles).  All are solid subjects.  After that, other animals, colour, lines, negative space, framing, the quirky, landscape, and buildings.  However, add them altogether, and they wont equal to the number of photographs on Flickr that I like, of people.  I wish that I photographed people more.

I like photos to have good light.  I like them to have had some effort and thought put in to them.  I like originality, even in a portrait. I like imagination.  I like atmosphere.

What I don’t like is lack of subject.  I’ve mentioned before, my revulsion at bad photos of trees.  I also don’t like too much digital post process editing.  I frequently use software to enhance digital images, but you see so many decent images  shattered by bad or over-the-top editing.  I don’t like HDR images, they belong to photographic Satan.  I try not to fave photos of other people’s art (such as Graffiti – unless it’s message needs spreading).  It feels like third party theft.  I don’t often fave highly polished, digitalised, studio images.  I prefer a bit of quirkiness, imperfection, grain and contrast. I try not to fave too many street photographs of people’s backs.  Street is supposed to be close and up front or it’s not street.  Neither do I like the fluffy and posed grinning and often soppy romantic, photography generated by western youths, that see “professional photography” as their benchmark.  It’s horrid, it makes me want to vomit.  Mentions of western school – I do like so much medium format portrait photography produced in Eastern Europe, particularly in Russia.  I also quite like some of the colourful medium format photography from Japan and the Far East.

There you go, that’s what I like.  Imagination, light, effort, people, and quirk.

Internet, Lubitel 166B

Flickr Explore with a two quid camera

Bonne – Explore. Taken with a USSR made Lubitel 166B TLR camera, loaded with Ilford HP5 400 medium format film. developed in Microphen.

It surprised me, but this quick snap on the Lubitel recently made it into the Flickr Explore charts, and has raised over 11,500 views over the past six days.  Maybe I shouldn’t call it a quick snap – as that would be pretty difficult on the fully manual Lubitel.

Other news:  I think I’ve finally cracked how to successfully transfer 120 film in a changing bag to a Paterson tank.  More on that later, if it continues as a success.  Maybe I should make a Youtube video.