Thursday, May 12, 2022

The fuse ...

The fuse, mountain climbing electricians, mother-loving plumbers, five days without a shower and keeping perspective.

Saturday: This morning there was no hot water.  I called the electrician. He was in Arthurs Pass, part-way up Mt. Bruce.

Sunday (Mother’sDay) : Down from the mountain, the electrician discovered a blown fuse. The fuse was replaced and immediately blew again. Further investigation found that the heating element in the hot water cylinder was shorting and needed replacement - we needed a plumber. The plumber was visiting his mother (it’s good for plumbers to visit their mothers on Mother’s Day - I’m not complaining).

Monday, the plumber arrived to drain the cylinder and fit the new element. The element and cylinder had been married for 36 years. Element and Cylinder did not want to be parted, and the cylinder died clinging on to the deceased body of its life-long friend. 

Removing the dead cylinder necessitated removing the door and frame to the cylinder cupboard - which had clearly been installed after the cylinder. Despite best efforts, the door frame did not come away cleanly and split in the process. By lunchtime, the cylinder was out and the plumber was waiting for the new cylinder to be delivered. 

Tuesday: The new cylinder arrived at lunchtime. The plumber came around to do the installation, which took about 2 hours. The electrician followed to connect up the electrics. There was no power on the circuit (there had been on Sunday) - we assumed that the lines company had activated the ripple control for load balancing (it had turned very cold that day), but we wouldn't be sure until later tonight or in the morning. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday: No hot water. The electrician ("oh, bugger") came and found a second blown fuse on the meter board. Five minutes later the water began heating, but too late for a shower that morning.

Thursday: We showered. It was blissful. And I realised how soft I had become. As a child, it was hands and face at the sink each night and a weekly dunk in the bath. That child had no idea what a shower was. But that same person, as an old man, found five days without a shower an inconvenience. 

I need to remind myself of the current ‘inconvenience’ experienced by those who lived in Mariupol. It’s all about perspective.

Saturday, March 5, 2022

It's fishing Jim ...

 ... but not as you know it.

Although I am no fisherman, I have often thought that photography must be a little like fishing. Whatever the skill of the one with the rod and line, some days are successful and others are not. There is an element of luck - or at least there are forces at play beyond our understanding (perhaps that's the definition of luck).

So, like the fisherman who has missed the 'big one' (again) but comes home with a satisfying bag of fish for the kettle; an hour spent at the river yesterday bagged a clutch of nice pictures suitable for printing, even if not splendid enough to displace those occupying our limited wall space.

The Waimakariri Gorge bridge
(originally built for rail, now a road bridge)

The intake

From the intake

Graffiti tryptic

Framing the up-river

Up-river from the Gorge
(yes, the water really was that colour)

Oh, and when I left for home, two fishermen arrived and cast their lines just downstream from the bridge. I wonder what their luck was like?

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Falling in love again ...

Yes, definitely in love again. It's OlyPen's fault, I just love going out taking photographs with this little camera. Five rolls of film (about 300 images) and my 'better' cameras are moping around at home feeling sorry for themselves. The latest trial was a roll of HP5 - Ilford's gritty, blue-collar, cousin of its more sophisticated FP4. It didn't disappoint.  I picked 12 shots out of the 46 I got from this roll. (Click on any image for a larger version.)

All these pictures were taken within 500 meters of our front gate, and the tight view from the OlyPen's fixed lens, seems perfect for creating these little abstractions from our home town. The familiarity of home can easily breed a sort of contempt due to its routine ordinariness but, being forced to look closer uncovers the unique, the fleeting and the juxtaposition of ordinary with ordinary, that sometimes makes for 'wonderful'.

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Olympus Pen D3


Until you hold an Olympus Pen camera in your hand, it is hard to imagine just how small they are.  Pictures show a perfectly proportioned 35mm film camera (which it is) but in the hand, it is quite diminutive - smaller even than my everyday digital Fujifilm cameras, the X-M1 and the X-E3 (themselves quite small).

The "Oly-pen" arrived just before Christmas and it took a couple of weeks to run through the first roll of film - not least of all because a standard 36 exposure film can accommodate 72 shots in the Oly-pen's half-frame format.  I had been concerned that the quality of the images, given the smaller negatives, wouldn't meet my normal standards. Usually, I get clean 24Mp images from standard 35mm film and, rather surprisingly, I found that the Oly-pen produced equally clean 20Mp files in a 4:3 aspect ratio (despite its size disadvantage).

That first roll was a resounding success - despite this photographer's mess-up. Knowing that the light-meter would be reading incorrectly (due to an incorrect voltage battery) I compensated by adjusting the ISO. Only, dingbat that I am, I adjusted the ISO the wrong way, resulting in 72 frames that were about 3 stops underexposed. Despite this, the rescued shots all turned out remarkably well and demonstrated that the Oly-pen was a very useable camera.

Manufactured between 1965 and 1969, the Oly-pen D3 makes a great street camera, it is discrete and, using zone focusing, quick to use. With the appropriate exposure dialled in (not necessarily too accurately!) and the focus set, taking a shot is a simple wind, shoot ... wind, shoot, affair with an almost inaudible 'snick' as each shot is taken. 

Given its small size, ease of operation, fast and sharp f1.7 lens, and immense 'fun' factor, the Oly-pen is destined to become my everyday, casual photography, film-favourite.

Photos (except the first) were taken on Ilford FP4, developed in 'Caffenol' for 8 minutes, scanned and processed in Exposure X7.

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Not a resolution ...

More a statement of intent really;  a new photographic focus for 2022. There's a list of reasons far too long to go into here but, in 2022, I'll be shooting mainly on film, mainly black and white and mainly developed at home. The last couple of months have been spent assembling equipment and refining processes but, for 2022, it's back to my photographic roots to reprise the past with the benefit of sixty years of hindsight.

I cut my photographic teeth on black and white film photography, but put it behind me too soon for the sake of colour and, later, digital. I'm pretty sure that I didn't learn enough of what black and white should have taught me before I moved on, so it's back to the beginning to finish what I started back in the 1960s. In part, I've been inspired by the work of Martin Henson ( if only because his outstanding work holds out the promise of the possible.
They say that "there's no fool like an old fool" and I guess that's something I'll have to wear while I make this journey. But it's a long-time itch which, it seems to me, I might as well scratch and, if not now (at 73), then when? "Make hay while the sun shines", seems quite a compelling aphorism at my age.
So, I've been testing equipment and trying out processes. These test shots were all taken on Ilford FP4 but, along the way, I'll probably try some other emulsions as well. Developing film in coffee (a.k.a. "Caffenol") seems to work quite well and, being a somewhat quirky approach, appeals to my New Zealand induced "Number 8 wire" mentality.
Anyway, I think I might have fun seeing where this takes me. Will it last the year? Will it run beyond 2022? Who knows where this path might lead.
Here's to a happy New Year, everyone!