Monday 30 July 2007

Chemical romance

Tourists sheltering from a downpour in a boathouse at Wroxham, Norfolk

Black and white image making is still popular with lots of snappers and like them, I love working in the medium. There's something powerful & strong about a good monochrome image - maybe its the lack of distracting colours or something else but you just can't beat it for focussing the viewers attention.

I do use digital for some black and white work but i prefer using film and I've decided to have a look at the chemical side to see if any improvements can be made to image quality. For many years i used Kodak TMAX film ( 400asa but not the 100 - never did like that film) and liked the results that the film gave but about 10 years ago i started to use more and more Ilford until finally in 2001, I went to Ilford materials exclusively.

I still use Kodak TMAX developer for my processing of B+W film but i think i may change to Ilford's Ilfotec DX-X. My reasons are simply that i think Ilford chemicals may produce better results with Ilford film but just to make sure i will be making comparisons between the two - i do like the results that TMAX developer gives and have done since 1991. I'll probably end up using both!

Any test comparison results will be posted on the blog.

Friday 27 July 2007

Speed of life

Boat speed limit sign near the entrance to Rockland Broad

This image was taken from virtually the same position as the boat shot posted on Monday - its just looking in the opposite direction. I suppose that this shot goes to show that even this summer has had its brighter moments but note the rainbow in the background.

The broads have a 3mph speed restriction to limit the amount of bow wash from the boats, limiting the erosion of the banks, which in turn helps preserve wildlife.

The amount of wildlife around the broads is amazing and include some rare species of birds. I actually spotted my first Kingfisher not far from here, perched on a branch looking for fish.

Thursday 26 July 2007

Men of the sea

During a browse round the Magnum website blog, I came across some great work by Magnum photographer Jean Gaumy who photographed four long fishing trips to record the day to day struggles of working fisherman. He published the images in 2001 for a book called 'Pleine mer' which has been published as an english version called "Men at sea.

Gritty and powerful, Jean's remarkable work certainly captures the raw power of the ocean, his love of the sea and the hard toil of the commercial fishermen who work the sea.

This second link goes to a bigger gallery of Jean's work and includes his Pleine mer work, photography from Iran plus some fascinating work from inside a French prison.

Wednesday 25 July 2007

See gulls

Black headed seagulls in flight after being fed - Salthouse, Norfolk

No i didn't feed them but the car in front of me did, with the result that the birds swooped in for more in a rather intense flying display. I just hate people who feed seagulls.....

Feeding these birds can make them VERY aggressive and they can be very confident birds, able to snatch items of food straight out of your hands. The seagulls aren't at fault - the people are! Just try eating fish and chips in Conwy harbour, North Wales and fight off the delinquent gulls trying to get your chips!

The bank in the distance is the barrier between the sea and the land and in the early 1950's the sea broke through and flooded Salthouse.

Rainy daze

Rain soaked sign at Sandringham, Norfolk

The weather has always been a popular conversation topic for the British and as you may have seen from the news, it has delivered a great deal to talk about with the flooding of areas of Oxford, Gloucestershire and the north of England over the past couple of months. Some 350,000 people are currently without tap water and vast swathes of land are underwater making it the worst flooding in sixty years. The summer so far has been a complete washout!

The poor summer weather certainly had an affect on this Norfolk photo project. One of the more noticeable things on my trip to Norfolk was how quiet many tourist areas were. Most of the top resorts were certainly not as busy as they should be; more than likely due to the heavy rain that was frequently falling during my stay. The weather was changeable... to put it mildly!

A respite in the weather for the next few weeks is looking unlikely according to the Met office, so its more and more likely that this year will be a poor year for UK tourism.

Monday 23 July 2007

Broadly speaking

Boat makes its way into Rockland Broad, Norfolk

The Norfolk broads is one of the unique features of the county and were created by the extensive excavation of peat during the roman and medieval periods. Originally it was thought that the broads were a natural feature but in the 1960's, it was discovered that the broads were a result of the flooding of peat excavations and were indeed man made.

The broads are extensive and cover over 300km of water but only 200km is navigable by boat. The broads are made up of seven rivers and around fifty broads although only sixteen are open to navigation. The water is rarely any deeper than twelve feet throughout the whole network of broads.

This was a tricky exposure that i had to do using manual setting on the camera. Fortunately the boat was not moving fast ( barely 3mph) so i was able to do some test shots before they arrived on the scene. Exposure was 1/500th at F11 which captured the contrast of light and dark perfectly.

Sunday 22 July 2007

Home away from home

Beach huts along the sea front at Sheringham, Norfolk

The seaside holiday in Britain was an invention of the Victorians and the development of many resorts around the UK are a reflection of that era. Hotels, Piers, sea front shelters and beach huts are all due to the Victorian holiday of going to the seaside, to walk and take in the air.

In many respects, these seaside resorts haven't altered very much with many families returning year after year to the same resort because of what's on offer; a simple, reliable holiday. This is when a beach hut can become a valuable asset; a home away from home down at the beach. It's not uncommon for a well placed beach hut to be sold for around £25,000 and there's often fierce competition to buy when a beach hut is put up for sale.

Originally the Victorians saw them as just places to change for a swim but these days they are often used as small chalets down by the sea front where you can make a cup of tea, read a book, have a sleep or just watch the world go by.

Friday 20 July 2007

Sea defences II

Sea defences - Sheringham, Norfolk

Here's a second shot of the sea defence wall taken from the opposite end but this time taken with a Nikon D2H.

For the technically curious, all of the digital images are shot as RAW files on a Nikon D2H and saved onto Sandisk Extreme III/ IV CF cards. The RAW files are put through Capture One and outputted as JPEG files.

Sea defences

Sea defence wall at Sheringham, Norfolk

We like to think of the coastline as a permanently fixed boundary between the land and the sea but it is, of course, constantly moving due to the effects of the wind, waves and tides.

This wall is part of the sea defence for the Norfolk seaside resort of Sheringham but it wouldn't look too out of place in Normandy as part of Rommel's atlantic wall; designed to stop the allied invasion of France during World War Two.

The wall stretches right along the sea front of the town with a few concrete ramps included for fisherman to access to sea with their boats. Although the wall has a very important role in protecting the town from the ravages of the sea, its not exactly nice to look at with the concrete walls creating a very unnatural fortified feel to the pebble beach.

The coast around Sheringham and all along the Norfolk coast is in a constant battle with the elements and in some places, the sea is winning the battle.

Thursday 19 July 2007

Photoshop of horrors

There are times when Photoshop is just stuck into overdrive and the resulting image bares no comparison to the one taken by the photographer. Just look at this image of U.S country singer Faith Hill.

You could laugh at the 'enhancing' but people generally believe what they see! No wonder we end up having a generation of young people with low self esteem and eating disorders.

Rather strangely, the media seem to alternate between this 'pure beauty' and the ' what a mess' type celebrity reporting. its put them up on a pedestal and then KNOCK em off.....

Market forces

Fakenham Market, Norfolk - July 2007

Fakenham is an old market town in Norfolk well known for the size and quality of its market. Like many towns, Fakenham has had a market for hundreds of years, but unlike many market towns around the UK , Fakenham's has remained strong. Many old towns dating back to the medieval period and before, have allowed their markets to decline through neglect or mismanagement.

This image sums up what a market is about. People go to have a chat, meet friends, browse and buy groceries. The market acts like a social network for the local community but it also attracts customers to the town shops. Markets entice people into town and once there, the shops benefit from the increase in customers through the door.

I love markets. A market is a great place for a photographer to take pictures without being noticed too much. Most people are too busy concentrating on the stalls and the bargains to notice you. Those that do don't seem to mind that much.

A few years ago, a market like Fakenham's was common in most market towns. These days, a market on this scale and quality are becoming rare and the commercial future for some British market towns is bleak to say the least.

Wednesday 18 July 2007

Gimme shelter

Sea front shelter window at Cromer, Norfolk

This image was taken due to a sudden change in the weather. As i was walking along the sea front towards Cromer town centre and the great Victorian pier, it started to rain so i decided to take shelter and put my digital camera back in the bag.

Usually when you enter an old Victorian sea front shelter, the first thing you notice is the seclusion from the elements it offers. These shelters get you out of the wind as well as the rain but this one was lacking some important bits; i.e the glass of which only one bent and battered piece remained.

Probably the two greatest threats to the British seaside resort are from vandalism and the weather. Both can cause great damage but from the look and location of my shelter, i think it was the weather that had broken the glass rather than the attention of vandals.

During my last visit in 2005, that very sea front shelter had been getting a lick of paint and was looking great. Two years of North Sea gales and winter storms had obviously taken their toll. Hopefully the shelter will be back up to scratch again for 2008.

NOTE: The image was taken with the Nikon F5 and the Nikon 35mm lens using Ilford HP5 rated at 800asa. The camera bag i briefly mentioned is a Tamrac Pro 8 which i purchased during my trip and i'll be posting a review of it very soon.

Tuesday 17 July 2007

The Wash Monster

The Hunstanton Wash Monster returning for more passengers.

Wiley the Wash monster is a machine of course; a 60 seater LARC XV amphibious vessel used for sea tours around the Hunstanton coastline. It sounds fantastic with the really beefy diesel engine running the vehicle up and down the beach and into the water.

The image was taken using a Nikon F5 and a 35mm f2.0 Nikon manual focus lens. The film was Ilford HP5 rated at 800asa which is my usual rating for HP5. I just like the extra shutter speed and aperture range that the 'slight' film speed increase gives.

Sunday 15 July 2007

Fifty Percent confused

Digital or film? A ship anchored in The Wash off the North Norfolk coast.

I must admit that sometimes i feel like a complete photographic dinosaur when i say i still use film. I bumped into a few photographers ( amateurs mainly) during the trip and the look of surprise when they saw a Nikon F3 or F5 was surprising to me!

Digital certainly seems to be the photographic medium of today taking over from film fast but every now and again i see digital processes like High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography and i just end up thinking ' wouldn't it have been easier to shoot on film'!

Don't get me wrong! I love my D2H and the recent trip to Norfolk saw me shoot 50 percent of my work on that digital camera. However the other 50 percent of shooting was done using my F3,F4 and F5 loaded with Ilford Pan F, FP4 and HP5 and i don't see that ratio changing much in the next couple of years. I'm actually aiming at purchasing another F3HP and F5/F6 this year.

Oh and the answer to the digital or film question is.... ALL the Norfolk images posted so far were shot digitally.

Friday 13 July 2007

One in a hundred pt2

I don't know which version of this image i like best!
Both the colour and the black and white version have something going for them so i'm posting both.

I think the black and white version might reflect the 40's era better.

Thursday 12 July 2007

One in a hundred

Photography is full of surprises. Some nice and some not so nice but this image was just one of those right place, right time nice moments.
This guy appeared in a authentic U.S wartime JEEP, dressed in the USAAF uniform. He looked the part too unlike many. For me this image reflects the museum's role of keeping the past alive for future generations of visitors. Looking through the viewfinder, i felt a cold shiver down my back; you certainly felt as if you were looking back at 1943!

Norfolk in 2007 is a quiet rural county but in 1942 the USAAF arrived in the UK and started flying missions against nazi Germany. By the end of the war, Norfolk contained over 37 airfields and nearly 2000 aircraft, the vast majority of which were under U.S control as part of the U.S Eighth Airforce.

Thorpe Abbotts near Diss on the Norfolk/Suffolk border was just one of those fields, used by the 100th Bomb Group known for having the highest loss rate of any group.In one mission alone, of thirteen B-17 aircraft dispatched, only one made it home and the 100th became known during the war as the 'jinx outfit'.

The control tower at Thorpe Abbotts was renovated in 1977 by a team of enthusiasts and opened as a superb museum displaying images and artifacts donated by 100th BG veterans.

Tuesday 10 July 2007

Down at the Forum

This image of Norwich's Forum was shot on one of those days when it's sunny one minute and raining the next. About five minutes after this image was taken, the heavens opened and it THREW it down.

The Forum is one of the most impressive buildings i've seen in along time and it certainly seems popular with the people of Norwich. The atrium at The Forum in Norwich hosts concerts, jazz brunches, stand-up comedy nights and community events. The Forum is home to the Millennium Library, the Tourist Information Centre and the BBC's Eastern headquarters.

The image was taken using a Pentax S7 which is a great camera for architecture photography.

Sunday 8 July 2007

Back again!!!

It's back from Norfolk and back to the blog again! Over the next few weeks and months i'll be putting some new images of my travels on the blog and the stories behind them.

This image is of a Tiger Moth on approach to land at Burham Thorpe airfield. Just one of the many 'finds' during my stay. I've photographed some of the topics i've mentioned in previous postings but also came across some new ideas/issues to photograph.

So keep checking back for updates over the next few days and weeks.....