Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Already on the wall

I saw this one of The Brother in The Archives the other day and thought I would (as Garry Winogrand would say) see how it looked in print.  Aged about 16 I reckon.  Forty-odd years ago, give or take.  Funny how in nearly every shot in those days when he is seated he's got his legs crossed.  And he's slouched - I mean, just look at that posture.  Typical teenager.

The Brother around 1977, Ilford Warmtone paper, sepia&selenium

Unfortunately the scan in no way does it justice, but that's the best I can do given the time available and the fact that I have no interest in learning the finer details of scanning...

Monday, 29 January 2018

Food...or maybe not

I've been trawling through The Archives recently.  Trying to get the old negatives into some sort of order and see if there are any masterpieces lurking amongst the plethora of cats, dogs, trees and rabbits that seemed to fascinate me as a teenager. The answer, of course, is "No, there isn't" but there were one or two that I wanted to print so that's what I gone and did anyway and now I'm going to show them here.

First up then we have my mother and me:

Mum and I, 1976.  Eating outside and there's a squeezy milk thingmy on the table, so clearly not at home.  I suspect we were on 'The Continent'. France, most likely. 
Now I was thinking of entering this print (Ilford Warmtone paper, if you care, with sepia tone followed by selenium) into my local Photography Club competition next month (Theme: Food).  But it's not that simple.  First off, the Northern Ireland Photographic Association (NIPA), the body what runs these competitions, specifies that the remit for 'Food' is a 'still life genre' and so this shot is not appropriate.  And also, since that is I myself in the foreground and therefore I did not take this snap (must have been The Brother - with my camera!) and so that again rules it out.  And, while B&W prints are allowed to be toned, only a single tone is allowed and so the fact that I have toned using firstly sepia and secondly selenium rules this print out a third time.  Not doing too well at this club thing, am I?

Friday, 26 January 2018

The Hot Sausage Company

This vendor sits at his pitch here most days of the year, so he certainly wasn't not going to open up on the first night of the Bath Christmas Markets:

Just in front of the Roman Baths, November 2017.  HP5+, Adox paper
I thought he was a good advert for his produce - a bit larger than life, a jolly sort of chap he looked.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Stew in a Box

Roll up, roll up!  Stew in a Box!  Yes folks, pitched just in front of the world-famous Pump Rooms in Bath was this Festive Christmas Offering:

Outside the Pump Rooms, Bath.  Nov 2017.  Pentax ME Super/HP5/Adox paper.
The Pump Rooms - the place where you can experience the quintessential English Afternoon Tea for just £26 per person. Bargain! Check out the menus here.  If you're lucky you'll get a String Quartet to boot. And if you really really want you can get a glass of the warm, too-minerally Mineral Water pumped up from somewhere down below.  I jest but it is a grand place and while I take the mickey about the prices and the pretentiousness the history is undeniable and to be honest I love it all - although probably best avoided during the tourist season, which as far as I can tell runs from about early March until late December. I have actually done Tai Chi on the roof of the Roman Baths - how many people can say that, eh? One of the many, many benefits of having Ankylosing Spondylitis and frequenting the Royal Mineral Water Hospital, in case you were wondering.

Anyway, back to Stew in a Box - prime pitch or what?!  But the great unwashed  weren't exactly queuing up for their offerings, as you can see from the snap.  Still, it was the first night of the Christmas Market and it was cold and wet and horrible - hopefully trade picked up.  I heard that pitches cost £3000 for the 4 weeks of the markets and this one perhaps even more, given the location.  Hmm.  From what I could ascertain, the foodie pitches were doing well (notwithstanding the above)...mulled wine, pulled pork things, sausages (more of that to come).  The knick-knack cabins (of which there were plenty) were doing substantially less trade and I reckon profit would be hard fought for in those cases.  I did hear from a reliable source, though (that would be the taxi driver back to Bristol Airport.  Ah yes, no longer do I do the trek from The Min to Bath Spa railway station, train to Bristol Temple Meads, Coach to Bristol Airport, plane to Belfast and then an hour by car until I reach the sanctuary of The Liberties.  No siree.  I used to, until quite recently.  But hawking a couple of bags on and off public transport for several hours is alas no longer something that Yours Truly can do with any degree of confidence, hence the taxi to Bristol Airport which makes life a lot easier) that they bus folk into the Bath Christmas Markets from all over...hoards of them expected every day from start to finish and he was in no doubt that money would be made and lots of it.  I'd like to think so, as from what I could see any ££ made would be well earned...sitting in their little cabins for what, 12+ hours per day in the freezing cold trying to persuade people to part with their hard-earned cash.  Fair play to them, eh?

Monday, 22 January 2018

Union Street, Bath

Like some giant brightly-lit bird of paradise is about to land:

Christmas Markets, Nov 2017.  5x7 print. Sepia and selenium.

Friday, 19 January 2018

Sister Morgan

The view from the entrance to The Mineral Water Hospital, Bath.  Etched forever in my memory, this view:

The Min, 2017.  Pentax ME Super, HP5+, Adox paper.

So in the mid 1980s when I started attending The Min for physiotherapy all of us patients with ankylosing spondylitis stayed on Cambridge Ward, up on the second floor.  Of course we weren't sick per se and we were encouraged to get out and about whenever we weren't being stretched or pulled in the gym or the hydro pool.  And naturally, being young and adventurous types, in the evenings we did our fair share of exploring the local hostelries - of which there are many within staggering distance of the hospital.  Drink was taken. And, on occasion, it is only fair to admit that perhaps one or two more beers were consumed than absolutely necessary...

I recall one such evening when we all came back to the hospital in even higher spirits than usual.  Of course it was (and still is) a hospital and there were patients who were genuinely ill so we were trying our best to calm down as we came in through the front door.  At the top of the stairs in the print above was stood Sister Morgan, hands on hips with a face like thunder.  Sister Morgan was pretty scary at the best of times, it has to be said.  'This is not a hotel' she hissed at us as we shuffled sheepishly past her en route to Cambridge Ward.  From memory that did little to dampen our spirits - it probably had the opposite effect, truth be told.

By the time I was due in for another course of treatment a couple of years later they had put all us AS patients into a dedicated house in Trim Street, just opposite the hospital.  Good plan.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018


Bath Christmas Markets, 2017.  Is it just me or does Christmas seem like an age ago?  I mean, it's only the 17th Jan (16th as I write this), so it's not that long ago, right?  I dunno...there's so much happening these days that life is just whizzing by.  I can barely get time to do any photographing, let alone darkroom work.  But I did get into the dark place this morning and managed to print a few more from the Bath series from November.  This was one of them:

Bath Christmas Markets, 2017.  Pentax ME Super, HP5+, Adox paper.  Toned in old-ish sepia and then even older selenium.

I was actually fair-to-middlin' happy with this one. Makes a change. I don't have much of a strategy these days, other than snap on and print on and hopefully have a little fun on the way.  Maybe that's the best strategy anyways.

It's a little over a year since I made the decision to only show scans of darkroom prints on this place.  It's gone better than I expected. As you might have noticed, I've kind of settled into a Monday/Wednesday/Friday posting routine.  Yes there are times when the tail (this place) starts to wag the dog (me) but sometimes it's good having a bit of a push to actually get on and produce something...anything.  Yes on occasion I do feel myself 'knocking one or two out' just for the sake of the blog, but when I have time and if I think the negative warrants it I like to experiment a bit and see what gives in the darkroom.  That usually involves making a series of prints - ideally each one better than the last but as we know it doesn't always work that way.  I'm still drawn to lith in a big way.  And I'm drawn more and more to toning.  I tend to tone pretty much every print nowadays and while up to now I've used off-the-shelf toning kits (mostly from Fotospeed) I've just bought myself a bunch of raw chemicals to get really down and dirty.  Actually, I can't wait to see how that goes. 

Monday, 15 January 2018

Bird feeder

One I printed a while back - a feeder in our garden for the blue tits, great tits and any other little feathered friend that chooses to visit us.

From the 'Blad, HP5 and Warmtone paper, sepia tone.

Friday, 12 January 2018

That's what happens, sometimes

The wee one, in pensive mood the other day when we were out for our tea:

Missy in Truva Restaurant, late 2017.  Via the rangefinder - handheld at some stupidly low speed, as you do.

Truva was the name of the establishment, in case you were wondering.  Turkish.  Eh? In the Liberties?  I know - we're getting all sophistimaceted in Ireland these days. Where will it all end, eh?  I wonder if they have Irish Restaurants in Istanbul.  I bet they've those themed Irish Bars...y'know - the O'Briens and those sorts of places that bear no resemblance at all to any bar in Ireland I've been in.  Ah well, can't knock them for trying, I suppose...

Anyway, yer man the proprietor of Truva was some craic, I can tell you.  I mean he came up to us just as we were finishing our meal and introduced himself and what have you.  Honest to goodness, he can talk for Ireland, that one.  Not bad considering he's from across the water - and then some.  I mean, he can really talk. 10 out of 10 for effort, I'll give you that, but sometimes you just want a wee quiet night and while a bit of banter rarely goes amiss there are moments when you just think, Jeez Louise will you give my head peace.  But we'll be back as the food was good, the prices were keen and well, we just liked the whole thing, really.  Loads of interesting (and tasty) veggie options, which makes a pleasant change around this part of the world (meat&potatoes, piled high).

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

The Huntsman

The Huntsman cellar bar by Orange Grove in Bath was a frequent haunt of us students back in the early 80s.  Nowadays the cellar bar is closed, but upstairs is still open and looked particularly inviting all done for Christmas:

Monday, 8 January 2018

By Bath Abbey

Looking up from Abbey Green on the first night of the Bath Christmas markets:

From Abbey Green, looking towards Bath Abbey, late November 2017, HP5, Adox paper

It was just after I snapped this scene when me film ran out.  Memorable not for the getting to the end of the film, rather the complete hames I made of loading the new film into the Pentax.  Was it the fact that it was pretty dark?  Perhaps.  Loads of people around? Maybe.  More likely that the loading mechanism in the Pentax is non-standard...well, different to that in the OM-1, FM3a or M6 which might normally be in my sweaty palms.  The take-up spool has some sort of plastic attachment which presumably is meant to make it easier to load.  Not in this case it didn't.  I can put it down to lack of familiarity, but if anyone was watching I'm sure it was good entertainment.

Friday, 5 January 2018

Flowerfield House

One I've printed before (here) but this time on Foma 131 and via Easylith developer...Flowerfield House.  The very first Arts Centre in Northern Ireland, apparently - and just down the road from us here in The Liberties, in the lovely little seaside town of Portstewart:

Flowerfield House, Portstewart.  Hasselbad/80mm/HP5+/Foma 131/Moersch Easylith

Now the question is - or might be - is this really a lith print?  There is some debate about whether or not the said paper (Foma 131) is as lith-able as it's previous incarnation.  I don't know - I mean, I'm only a relative newcomer to this thing.  All I can say it I rather like the overall effect - it's very different to the 'vanilla' print I did last year (which you can see by clicking the link at the top of this post).

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Christmas scene

Somewhere downtown Bath, the night the Christmas Markets opened:

Pentax ME Super, 50mm, HP5+ on Adox paper