Friday, 7 November 2014


I'm on Instagram but I don't post much (a bit like this blog, but my intention is to do more) and therefore do not have many followers, but that doesn't worry me. However the other day I posted a picture of my old Hasselblad film camera, and I got the most responses out of all my posts. Partly I'm sure because I mentioned and therefore hash tagged that as my Hasselblad was out did that make me Hasselhoff! But I think the main interest was simply the Hasselblad camera and the idea of still using it.  Someone from Russia asked me how much film costs here. Turns out it's cheaper for a roll of TriX 120 in Russia than it is here.

Screenshot of Hasselhoff Instagram post
56 likes is lots for me
As I consequence of this post and a landscape photo I also posted from the Hasselblad, I now have more followers, even the Hasselblad site are now a follower of mine. There is something about the look of a picture on 120 film taken with the Hasselblad that looks so different to anything else. The Zeiss 80mm lens I use is wonderful, it seems to gather the light in a particular way. It's sharp but not too sharp, hard to explain really. Also the 120 format does wonderful things with the out of focus areas.

As I've said in an earlier post, it's not the easiest of cameras to use though. It's heavy, it's slow, it has no meter, (you can get a metered viewfinder but it adds to the weight and is so expensive) and for me the hardest thing of all is that because I need to wear glasses its really hard to focus. But maybe for all these reasons, it slows me down and therefore makes me produce a particular kind of picture I wouldn't otherwise.

View from the Church in Freshford

Take this picture above for instance. The camera had to be put on a tripod. It was snowing, my hands were freezing, I said to myself, just take a phone picture or use the digital, but I feel the result would have been very different, and although it's hard to see on a computer screen, there is a certain quality to this which I just love. A friend of mine some time ago told me to sell the Hasselblad. I won't be doing that anytime soon.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Now that it's November I expect to receive some Christmas cards soon!

Christmas Post

This is a picture of Gordy the postman who dressed up as Father Christmas every year to deliver the post in the build up to Christmas. Until recently I used to live just round the bend in the road, and loved seeing Gordy dressed like this. He's retired now so unless another postman carries it on, this sight will no longer exist. 

This picture was taken on some expired Tmax film I don't normally use, but it was all I had at the time. The negs are rather flat, but I've managed to get a reasonable scan out of it. Where I'm living now, there is no room for a darkroom, which is such a shame as I now have the time to print. Where I used to live, I had a darkroom, but little time to use it. I had thought, well that's it for film, I'll just have to shoot digital and learn to print that squirty stuff called 'inkjet'. But I love film too much to give it up. 

Friday, 25 April 2014

After 30 Years 

Still Getting Away With Murder

30 years ago this month, PC Yvonne Fletcher was shot dead whilst on duty outside the Libyan embassy in London, and nobody has been charged with her murder. It must be so hard for her family, friends and colleagues who gathered together in St James Square for a memorial service on 17th April, the same day she was killed back in 1984.

The photograph I took on the Time cover is the policewoman's hat, not the men leaving the embassy. The whole area was cordoned off very quickly after the event, but I remember being given access to a corner of the square very briefly. I saw what I thought was Yvonne's hat still lying on the ground. It was a long way away from where I stood, so I put on the longest lens I had, a 300mm, and no doubt added a converter to extend it a little more. I remember that the hat was still very small in the frame, but managed to squeeze off a few frames. Film would have been Kodak Ektachrome 200 slide film pushed one or two stops. Not a very good film, and even worse pushed! I was working for an agency in Parish called 'Gamma' at that time, so the film would have been shipped unprocessed. The image you see would have been pulled up quite a bit, but it worked, and helped to tell the story.

Friday, 31 January 2014

Friday, 24 January 2014

Love the Square

Sometimes I just have to get away from people, I need silence. Although in my photography I like to make pictures of people, there are times when I just want to be on my own. On these occasions, I often pick up my old Hasselblad, a 30 year old camera that was made in Sweden. A big heavy awkward box of a camera, that uses roll film that has only12 frames, the negs are square, and for these reasons it slows me down. I really enjoy composing in a square, I love the square.


Sandcastle Bigbury-on-Sea

Jug on Windowsill

No 4 Birdhouse

Friday, 17 January 2014

Healing Hands 

I used to love finding my own stories. No editors breathing down my neck, more freedom and time to do what I want, and shoot the way I feel. This is one such story. My wife at the time was working for a surgeon who specialised in plastic surgery, and she told me about
children who suffered from Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) sometimes called 'Skin-blister children.' It's a rare skin disorder  in which the top layer of skin doesn't stick properly to the lower layer, therefore the slightest knock can bring the child up in blisters. Fingers and toes can fuse together. More information at the charities website here

Samantha before the operation to separate her fingers which have become fused together

Trust is so important with stories like this. First of all the surgeon had to believe in the reasons why I wanted to do this story, believe in me as a person, and trust me with his patients. I then had to gain the trust of the parents and their children.

Robert preferred to keep himself to himself, staying on the family farm. Animals do not seem to worry how we look unlike humans!

It was such a privilege to do this story, and a huge honour to be allowed into an operating theatre and to see the skill of the surgeon and the team.

Samantha's hand being operated on

Doing a story like this without a commission always carried the risk that nobody would publish it. By the time I travelled around the country photographing some of the children, plus the film and processing, it could get quite expensive. But I believed in the story and thankfully so did the Observer Magazine who published it over three pages. 

If I remember correctly, all shot on Tri-X film an a manual Nikon and a 50mm lens. This was my favourite way of working, simple.

Part of the three page spread in the Observer Magazine

Friday, 10 January 2014

Film Is Alive

Alex in his garage darkroom
This is a photograph I made of Alex just over a year ago when he was 18. Alex loves photography, especially film. His passion is street photography using a Leica M6 loaded with Tri-X rated at 1600. Alex has a great eye, check out his blog here

He made a temporary darkroom in his parents garage, and just loves the whole process, and it appears he is not alone, as I've read there is now a steady growth especially in black and white film based photography including papers and chemicals. I gather new darkrooms are opening up in London. I still love film too, the whole digital revolution came in after I stopped being a professional photographer, but I'm sure I would have embraced it  as it is amazing. The above photo was shot on film in my Hasselblad which I processed then scanned and tweaked only slightly in Lightroom. That strange mark bottom right hand corner is actually on his black out material, which I could have removed, but didn't. The digital revolution is amazing, we can now share photos instantly, and I can read your blogs and you can read mine. But, I still love film.

This is the first blog entry I have written for over a year. During that time, I've struggled somewhat with the place of photography in my life. Currently I am a full time vicar which contrary to popular belief is a 6 day a week job not just Sunday's, and it can be long hours. During this last year I've decided to do a photographic project which I have called 'People of the Parish'. Not an imaginative title I know, but nevertheless something I can do whilst I work. The idea is to photography people within their environment, people that just catch my attention, Alex is one of them. Trouble is I've been 'flip flopping' ( A term I use to describe how I constantly change my mind, drives my family mad!) from doing it on my Hasselblad, to 35mm on the Nikon, to even digital and converting to black and white. I have photographed four different people now on a mixture of film types and digital, so my project does not have the uniformity that I wanted.

There is a lot to be said to shooting it all on digital and then converting to black and white. So much easier, no processing, scanning or darkroom work. Thing is, I went into a professional digital printing lab recently and compared some black and white prints I had made some while ago with some prints that the lab had made from digital files, and I  preferred the darkroom prints. There was a depth, a roundness to the darkroom print that I didn't see in the black and white digital prints. But the digital route is so much easier.

I think I suffer from nostalgia. I learnt the craft of shooting film, black and white and colour slide, and processing and printing. I love and grew up with the photography of Eugene Smith, Bresson, Koudelka, Bruce Davidson, and many others. I have their books, I love looking at their black and white work knowing that it has been shot on film. Nostalgia might not be a good and healthy thing and yet I still love film, and how it communicates. I have several Michael Kenna books and have handled his prints, and they are beautiful. I love the fact that he is out there using a Hasselblad like mine, and enters his darkroom and waves his hands under the enlarger light, hand crafting each individual print. It just seems so much more sexy than digital!

There is so much interesting film based photography and information out there on the web, so much enthusiasm. A blog I visit most days which I highly recommend is the online darkroom do check it out.

So I shall share my journey with you, which will include some new negs as well as  some more old negs from back in the day!