Category Archives: Imperial War Museum North; Salford

And through the other side to the sunny uplands… (probably)

I have come to realise that part of my problem is my continued use of film. I have used film ever since I was a boy – it must be getting on for 40 years now (More like 45… Ed). I like the way that film records photographs.

I like having a strip of plastic in my hand that has that record, there for me to look at. I like the grain. I like the lack of grain. I enjoy processing the film myself, when I have the time (of which, I don’t have as much as I like).

But…

I have been increasingly frustrated by colour film. My favourite film of all time (a slide film made by Fuji, called Astia) went west a few years ago. Normal colour negative films are hit and miss and the processing (although do-able at home) is worse. Sometimes one processor will get it just right, on other occasions the negatives come back dirty or poorly processed. Slide processing is very expensive nowadays, as is the film.

Because of these factors, I have been less inclined to take my film camera, my Leica MP with me. It currently sits there with 25 shots taken from a roll (probably black and white Tri-X) and hasn’t been taken out for probably a month. The Nikon D700 isn’t a carry around camera and so only gets taken out when using the car. I have, however, continued to take photographs with my iPhone.

So…

(some of you may be able to see where this might be heading)

I bought a new camera – my first ever Leica digital M. My dealer had a really nice Leica M9 for sale, about 4 years old but with less than a thousand shots under its belt. But, I just couldn’t bring myself to buy it. I asked him if he had any new ones in stock and I decided that the extra over cost was worth it, to avoid the worry of the failing sensor issue, if nothing else. I raided the piggy bank.

I didn’t think that a new camera was the answer – but now, I think that it might be. It is a pity, in a way, as I could have taken any of the shots below with my film camera. It’s just that I didn’t. And I wouldn’t have. Which is a bit odd.

I have to say that the M(240) has been a revelation in the two weeks that I have had it and I have really enjoyed using it. I have, once again, been bringing my bag to work and shooting at lunchtime. Last Sunday, we had a superb day in the Lakes and it gave me photographs that I have been quite pleased with. I am enjoying working out its foibles (the exposure bracketing had me foxed for a while, for example). It’s been a lot of fun.

I am fortunate to be able to go to San Francisco in a months’ time and I am looking forward to having become properly familiarised with it before letting it loose over there.

Now. To get on with the project…

Here are a few shots from the last couple of weeks IWMN Three-little-maids-and-a-swan Derwentwater-150201 Langdale Media-City The-Lowry-4

New light through old windows

Well, an old lens actually.

Whilst clearing out a bedroom, my wife came across an old Olympus XA2 camera of mine in the back of a drawer. I bought it while a student in Bristol and, while not having forgotten it, I hadn’t used it for a good 20 years. Fortunately, it had been left without any batteries in, so was in good condition.

I took it for a walk around Media City yesterday lunchtime and last night revealed 38 beautifully exposed shots on a roll of Ilford Delta 100. The results are remarkably good.

This got me thinking about old cameras (of which I have a few) in the digital age.

I don’t know where my first digital camera is. I think that it actually broke and was thrown away, but I can’t be sure of that. I do know where my first more serious digital camera is – it’s on the shelf in front of me. It doesn’t have a battery in it either, and I don’t know where the battery is (not just a case of going to Sainsbury’s and buying some SR44s…). So, it is unusable, even though it was only bought 10 years ago. In 20 years time it will definitely be unusable. Even if it were useable, it’s pathetic file size, restricted ISO range and noise characteristics mean that it would take far worse photographs than my iPhone today.

This is progress.

Yet, I can go into any second hand camera shop anywhere in the country and buy an old Nikon F, or Olympus OM1, put a roll of Delta into it and take photographs BETTER than when they were new, and FP3 or HP4 were the best film around.

Now, this really is progress.

Long live film. Long live Ilford. And long live Leica film cameras.