Saturday, 29 April 2017

In his ales and his cups

These days it's a rare event for me to be in a public house but I had occasion last weekend when I was out with my stepson for a catch-up and a couple of beers in Belfast.  I had the M6 with me, of course - it's so nice to carry about in terms of size and weight you're hardly aware you have it with you.  Ironically, this was the very first beer we had and the shot didn't turn out great:

The 35mm lens was fully open, which means f/2.5.  The speed was down low, probably 1/4s or something, so I set the camera on the countertop and hoped for the best with regard to composure.  As for focus, well I just set the thing to minimum focus and judged by eye where to put the camera.  As you can see there was the expected shallow depth of field.
It felt strange to be served in these round, dimpled glasses.  I remember when I was a lad these were seen as 'old men' glasses and we preferred the straight pint glasses - much cooler.  Are these dimpled beer glasses coming back into fashion?  Perhaps the old folk are right after all - everything does come full circle, given time.

Anyway, we had a good night, talked the bit out, put the world to rights and yes, probably too much drink was taken, but these things happen.  Towards the end of the night we ended up in a tavern called "Granny Annie's" where all the bar staff wear white shirts and flat caps and the whole theme is one of Steam Punk.  Although I'm never that keen on themed bars I quite liked it - it was certainly different and there might even be another snap or two to come.

More guesswork with regard to those trivial things that get in the way - like exposure, focus&composition but altogether a better result, even though it was near the end of the night.  Don't know what that means - am I'm just a better photographer after a few?  Or, is Heverlee just altogether more photogenic than Sam Adams?   Whatever the answer, after extensive tests I can reliably inform you that Sam Adams is a much nicer beer!

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Happy Feet

The other evening we ended up in Portrush, for a dander around the harbour.  It was the last weekend of the Easter break, so there were quite a few folk around&about.  It was actually nice to see the place a bit busier than normal, since in winter-time there's hardly a sinner in sight.  I won't be saying that come July, mind, when the place is heaving.  Can't win, eh? Either a feast or a famine, as Mother is apt to say.

Although there was a wind that would have cleaned you, in the shelter of Portrush Harbour it was quite pleasant when the sun was out.  Mrs NE Liberties even got the shoes off for a paddle - here she is just after:

8"x10" print on Kentmere paper; Rangefinder&35mm

Tuesday, 25 April 2017


Two of the many ornaments that live in our house - not surprisingly, more to do with my wife than me:

8"x10" print, Ilford Cooltone RC.  From the Hasselblad, 50mm lens with close-up filter on HP5+

Although it looks like these were photographed in the middle of the night it was actually around midday and the light was good - I overexposed a bit under the enlarger and burned in the edges quite heavily.  Now it looks like two heads poking up through the ground - or maybe a dustbin.  Let's call them Nagg and Nell, in homage to that Irish fellah Beckett.

Composition in the camera was tricky, since I've only got a waist-level finder and I was pointing the camera down.  Not easy to get it right unless you're a bit of a contortionist - which I am definitely not. Some sort of prism finder might prove more usable in these situations but as usual there are a lot of different choices and after a bit of poke about I feel I could write a dissertation on the subject of finders for V-series 'Blads.  The genuine Hassy ones, surprise surprise, don't come cheap - particularly the metered ones such as the PME45, which seem to fetch ridiculous prices.  But there are more affordable non-metered ones like the PM45, which get good reviews from the folks on FADU.   And then there's cheapo (relatively-speaking, that is) Russian jobs which might just do the trick, considering that it might not get that much use.  I do like the standard waist-level finder - it's very light and it's great to be focussing directly on the ground glass.  We'll see.  A less costly option might be to use a tripod and then rotate the camera 90 degrees - since it's a square negative it won't make any difference on the film.  I'll try that first, methinks...

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Old Parish Church, Ballymena

Ballymena lies between NE Liberties and Belfast - it's about a 30 minute drive away.   The name is an Anglicised version of the Irish An Baile Meanach, meaning Middle-town.  Appropriate, since it lies in roughly the middle of County Antrim.

Last time I was able to walk around this old church - this time the gates were locked and I had to be content with poking the rangefinder through them:

8"x10" print, from the rangefinder and a 35mm lens.
Ballymena is known locally as 'City of the Seven Towers' and it's always a source of amusement to people - what towers?  Well folks this old Church of Ireland Parish Church, built in 1707 is one of the original seven towers.  Only 2 others remain now.  I guess once upon a time the towers were clearly visible from the surrounding area - not so the case nowadays.

The last service here was held in 1855, so this building provided for the community for almost 150 years.  Amazingly, it's been derelict now for slightly longer.  I reckon it'll be around for a few years yet - a wonderful testament to the knowledge and skills of those early 18th Century stonemasons from this part of the world.  I'm sure that many of them would have made their way to North America during the great migration of the Ulster-Scots during the18th Century and their skills would have no doubt been in great demand when setting up their new communities in Virginia, Pennsylvania, New England and beyond.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Branching Out

Another one from the garden the other morning, when the light was nice:

Hasselblad/50mm/close-up filter/HP5+/ID-11/Cooltone/Multigrade/Sepia

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Life's a beach

Yup, here they are, the young ones:

On Portrush East Strand last week, with the Skerries in the background.  The sun was out - now that makes a pleasant change!  From the Hasselblad via a Zeiss 50mm lens, yellow-green filter and HP5+ - not that any of that really matters, but it's nice to know, for some reason.  And nice to use, too, I have to say.  The Hound, by the way, is coming up on 12 this year.
This one is on Ilford RC Cooltone - ain't it crisp?! Seemed appropriate for the contrasty light and it didn't disappoint.  Perhaps I said already, but I really like this paper.  A little sepia tone as well, for effect.

About 2 seconds after this was snapped The Hound was off the lead running for the ball - a bit like those ones who temporarily adopted Mr Karlsvik over there in Norway-land or Scotland-land where he can sometimes be found.  In spite of his age, he's still pretty fast and enjoys a good ball chase.  That's The Hound I'm talking about, just to be clear - not Mr Karlsvik, who I'm assured is still young and fleet of foot :) The Hound is also happy enough just lazing about, which seems fair enough.  He's extremely anti-social, though (a bit like his owner) - he really doesn't acknowledge the existence of another dog, no matter how much they invade his personal space in an attempt to have a play.   If his Death-Stare doesn't work the teeth get bared and if they still don't get the message after that he will snap.  Fair enough - they've been warned.  Apart from that, The Hound is a big docile, lovable, extremely hairy pet who just wants pats and treats (yes, yes, I know - a bit like his owner, apart from the hairy bit).  His eyesight isn't what it used to be, due to cataracts, but apart from the considerable expense involved I'm loathe to put him through an operation at this stage of his life.  For the most part, he's OK - just occasionally a ball gets away from him and then he has trouble tracking it down.  Not too bad, all things considered...

Monday, 17 April 2017

Horror Show

This was one of those 'last frames' that you have to take in order to finish the film that has been hanging around in the camera just a day or two too long.  Or even a week or two, given my current state of snapping.  Ah well - it'll come good sometime soon, I'm sure.

Anyway, part of one of the old wooden doors on the outbuildings:

The thing that caught my eye was the cobwebs and the wood grain - only when I printed it I saw a sort of a face-thing.  Disturbing, in hindsight - perhaps I could sell it to one of those horror genre film directors, like James Wan or someone.  I was using the 50mm lens on the Hasselblad with a close-up filter on the front, which works pretty well in the sense it allows you to focus a lot closer than normal.  Right...

On my current favourite paper, Ilford Cooltone RC - for that Art-School look.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Consistently inconsistent

Been a tad busy with other stuff recently, but I managed a quick darkroom session this morning.  Nothing new, just picking out a few negs here and there from the Archives and trying to bring them to life on 8"x10" Ilford Warmtone RC paper in lith.  Without much success, I hasten to add.

Rathlin Island sea stacks, last summer

Not quite sure what's going on with those strange-looking bands towards the bottom of the print, as you can see.  And along the bottom edge looks like a paper fog - which I'm sure it isn't.  Very odd.

Mussenden Temple, at Downhill
This one looks a bit more traditionally lithy, but I'm not too sure about the horizontal streaking visible on the building and in the sky.  Over-enthusiastic agitation, perhaps?  I've a feeling that it all stems from over-cooking the developer - maybe need to take the temperature down a notch or two.

Comparing the two prints the first one is all cold whereas the second one has that warm lith-like appearance.  Like I say, no consistency...

Friday, 7 April 2017


I had a stroll around the new Remembrance Garden in Coleraine the other day.  It did, naturally enough, make me reflect on the tenuous grasp we all have on this thing called life.  There's lots of lovely lines around the garden, not terribly well captured here, mind you:

Looks low in contrast, I know, but the print is a whole lot better.  HP5+ on 8"x10" on Ilford Warmtone RC, glossy, which is a lovely paper.
The disappointing thing about the garden was how poorly maintained it was - the paths needed a good clear up from dead leaves and other detritus from the winter, the bins were overflowing.  While I don't usually like everything to be squeaky-clean perfect with every blade of grass accounted for, this is one place where I'd be prepared to make an exception.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017


More deadwood for you, from the walk in Somerset Wood a while back.  This one on Ilford Warmtone RC, glossy, with a bit of sepia thrown in for good measure, as per usual these days:

Out of the 'Blad, 80mm lens and probably a yellowish-greenish filter on the front.  I'd imagine this was at f2.8, from the look of things.  I'm not totally convinced about this one - probably needed a bit more light shone through it, maybe a bit more contrast to give it a bit of sparkle. 

Sorry haven't been posting much lately - I'm going through a "Can't be bothered with computers" phase.  Not good enough when you've a successful blog to run.  Or even when you haven't.  I shall endeavour to do better...