Friday, 17 November 2017

Autumn light

The sun was coming in through the kitchen window the other day and casting an interesting light on the door:

I snapped it up on HP5 using the rangefinder and printed it on Adox paper.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

National Prison Museum, Drenthe

Earlier this summer (as you know if you've been paying attention) we visited my old Uni mate who now lives in Drenthe - somewhere in the middle of The Netherlands.  One of our little trips out was to the National Prison Museum, aka the Pauper's Prison:

It was a fairly sobering experience, as you can expect.  While it started out as a good and honest venture back at the start of the 19th Century it ended up something a little different.  From what I could glean of the whole thing (which may not be that accurate given both my understanding of the Dutch language and the state of my hearing at the time - my tinnitus was playing up, badly) the initial idea was to provide quality accommodation for the nation's destitute and at the same time give them land enough to grow crops and provide for themselves.  Sounds OK so far.  The authorities rounded up people who looked like they needed rounding up and brought them to this purpose-built camp...they would now have shelter, heat, regular food and do honest toil on the land to make the whole venture self-sufficient.

It quickly became the place that no-one could leave.  Well, perhaps not strictly true as we read it was possible to buy your freedom but I got the impression that rarely happened.  So it became more of a prison than a place of refuge.  Inmates were allowed to marry and have children but there was a pretty strict regime of early morning starts, long hours of manual labour, a fairly institutional environment, meagre rations and basically not a lot else.

Nowadays the whole complex is given over to a museum dedicated to the lives of the people who lived there.  Some of their images appear on large displays in the courtyard that you can see in the photograph.  The 3 cards below each photograph give basic information about the person - name, height, weight etc as well as where they were from.  I suppose we should be thankful we have their photograph - it certainly makes the whole thing more personal.  But there's a terrible sadness in their faces - they were street beggars to begin with and then became inmates in a place where there was no freedom and very little free will.  They had hard lives, these people.

Monday, 13 November 2017

(Just Get A) Grip (On Yourself)

Found this one the other day lurking in one of the boxes of prints from the 70s:

One of The Brother's, I think. Definitely his writing, anyway.  I can just make out enough of the words to recognise the lyrics of a track from my all-time favourite band of that era - The Stranglers.  Their early stuff was just right down my street and the deal was sealed when they came to the New University of Ulster (as it was called then) and I got the chance to see them live.  Little did I know I'd end up working there some 35 years later.  The lyrics are from the iconic song Grip, or to give it its proper title (Just Get A) Grip (On Yourself).  In latter years their lead singer/guitarist Hugh Cornwell left and although they're still performing it just ain't the same.  But, if you're interested, you can see the original lineup playing Heroes and Something Better Change live at the Hope&Anchor in 1977 by clicking here. It takes me back years, that one does - all that teenage sweat and what-have-you.  Flip me I enjoyed those gigs, I really did!

Friday, 10 November 2017


She's hiding in the shadows, she is:

This one was in the kitchen of my old Uni friend in Holland - the one with the hands, you might recall (or just click here).  His daughter, pictured above, is quite special.  Unfortunately this print isn't, albeit via the rangefinder on Ilford Warmtone RC paper.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Back in the day

I came across this one in a box recently, printed what - a few decades ago? Late 1970s so getting on for forty years ago.  Sounds like a long time, eh?  Wonder where all those years went...

Anyway, it was such a cracking print I just had to share it with you:

To tell you the truth I'm not even sure who the band is - not one of my usuals, anyway.  I think it might be the Xdreamysts, a local outfit who used to play in a venue called Spuds in Portstewart around that time.   If it is them, I'd be mighty pleased since they were pretty damn good back in the day and this might be my one and only shot of them.  For some reason I didn't go to Spuds very often - I was more of a Portush Arcadia man where the touring bands came.  Anyway, the Xdreamysts were signed initially to the legendary Good Vibrations label (Belfast) and subsequently to Polydor.  Perhaps they didn't quite 'make it' but they still had the honour of recoding a session for John Peel and had some of their songs covered by other artists such as Paul Young and the Q-Tips.  And I'm pretty sure they had a blast along the way.  Stay The Way You Are was one of their finest and you can hear it through the magic of the Internet by clicking here - a cracking little tune it is, too.

My mate Prof Simon would remember Stay The Way You Are well, since I played it pretty much non-stop one year we shared rooms while at Bath Uni.  I must have been feeling homesick.  We almost fell out over it, actually - but we got through the rough patch and have remained good friends ever since.

Monday, 6 November 2017


Yup, it was very windy the other day in Portrush, as you can see from Missy here:

FP4, on Adox paper.

I know - I timed it well, didn't I? Missy was most impressed...not.

This was last week - the same week as the World Surf Kayak Championships were being held in the town.  Well, not in the town per se, in the water - you know what I mean.  You can see more here if you're interested in that sort of thing.  There were lots of different folks around and I should have been down there with a camera - not for the action shots (I'll leave that to the digi-boys&girls) but for the other stuff.  But I wasn't in the mood, to be honest, so I stayed home and got on with some much-needed sorting-out-of-stuff.  It leaves you feeling good, having a right old sort-out, doesn't it?  Leaner and keener, I guess.  Anyway, it was half-term as well and Missy needed a taxi on call most of the week - I guess that is not uncommon when there's a teenager around.  And why do all her friends have to live in the middle of nowhere?  I mean, I know we live in the middle of nowhere, but why do they all have to live in the middle of other nowheres?

Friday, 3 November 2017

A. Pier View

Well, that's what it says on the sign, anyway.  I've no idea why there appears to be a full stop after the A and I guess we'll never know now, since the Bed&Breakfast establishment (Grade A, once upon a time) is long closed.

Portrush, 2017.  FP4+ on Adox 312 RC paper
On another note, I'm determined to use up this box of 5"x7" Adox paper that's been kicking around the darkroom for a couple of years.  Probably like most darkroom peeps I've a load of boxes of paper around, some with only a few sheets left in them - although the Adox box is pretty full.  It's a lovely paper to use, comes up nice and slow in the developer.