I’ve started a photography evening class, to try and make sure that some of what I do with my free time doesn’t resemble work. When I was a teenager I did quite a lot of black-and-white film photography. I was not a terribly happy teenager at boarding school, and like many teenagers I used to retreat to a dark room to get away from myself. There was something I really liked about the methodical nature of the work: developing films, finding my way around in complete blackness and in red light, and watching the images appear like magic in the developing tray. Later me and my dad built a darkroom in the attic at home, using a family friend’s ancient cast-iron Soviet enlarger and his home-made timer box, complete with indecipherable buttons which, after much head-scratching, turned out to be simple on-off switches, each one corresponding to a binary digit in seconds.
Film photography, besides being old hat, is also a very expensive hobby. Proper black and white paper has a high silver content, and even back then used to cost an arm and a leg. And while digital can’t match the pure mad-scientist fun of film, or recreate the smell of the fix solution (which was essentially incredibly strong vinegar), or the freezing cold wash water, or picking your prints off the drying racks, there is something quite fun about post-processing and working out whether you have shot something that works, and whether you can turn it into something better.
Digital also allows the cool tricks factor. Now that my mum and dad have got a blog, I feel I have to raise my game to get one up on them. Below, you’ll find the results of my mucking around with a photo stitcher and Flash, to try and make a 360° scrollable panorama. This was Ivinghoe Beacon last Saturday, looking out over the Vale of Aylesbury and (it’s behind you!) back to the Ashridge Estate. You can click and drag the picture with your mouse to move it around. I haven’t yet worked out how to add buttons and zooming.
I’ve also decided to remove all my photos from Facebook and Google+ for the time being. I was spending hours after each photography session pissing off my flatmates by hogging the bandwidth to pointlessly upload them to several sites. Neither Facebook nor Google needs access to my photos, and I’ve always preferred Flickr (I’ve even had a couple of my photos licensed, to my astonishment!) But my Flickr feed was cluttered with mountains of crap holiday snaps, overwhelming the good ones. So I’ve made everything on Flickr private and will gradually make a selection public, as well as posting some new ones here. This is also why the ‘recent photos’ sidebar to the right has gone blank – it picks up public shots from Flickr.
Back to the evening class, and my photo assignment, which is why I’m up nights after long days, editing photos and putting them into something resembling an order. The assignment this week was street photography. The thought of wandering around in the street taking photos of people I don’t know gives me the heebie-jeebies, and it took some doing to go and do just that last Sunday. The photos had to have a theme, and so rather than actually make one up out of nothing, I decided to carry my camera around till something came to me. Luckily, my friend was selling his cider at a farmer’s market, and when I went along to meet him, I noticed another trader with an amazingly grumpy face. So I started to take some photos, and because I was at a market, decided my theme was markets. I then enthusiastically cycled off to Borough, only to find that the market there is closed on a Sunday. But here are some shots, as many as I’ve had time to do, themed instead around food. Click on a photo to enter the gallery, then there are ‘previous’ and ‘next’ links as you would expect.