Autumn: coming, ready or not

This seems to have been the week that we’ve moved from the tail end of summer, enjoying the last of the sunshine and moderately-warm temperatures even when not sunny, into sub-10 degrees mornings and breath clouding the air when going out to feed the birds.

Still, autumn has it’s positives: as I type, a male greater spotted woodpecker’s dangling off our suet feeder, stocking up for the chilly night ahead, and this afternoon I had the pleasure of attempting to burn some leaves that I’d swept from the drive:

Moist leaves + heat = smoke (19 / 365)

Once the heat of the fire pre-leaves had dried them out, the smoke desisted and they burnt up nicely. Quite a lot of time and effort for not getting through a great many leaves though, although it did give me my photograph for today.

A good Quidco cashback offer for Wex Photographic tempted me to invest in a LED panel this week. I’ve been considering one for a while, and finally went for this. The 365 project is no doubt going to require a moderate amount of indoor photography during the winter months, and using a constant light source seems like a good way to learn a lot more about lighting at the same time. Win / win… hopefully!

Evening's Reading (18 / 365)

(Bye bye woody – he’s just gracefully departed)

Unfortunately I’ve not yet had the opportunity to start the street photography course that I’ve mentioned in a previous post, it keeps being pushed back as week by week my lunchtimes disappear in a blizzard of keystrokes, rather than wandering around with my camera. The discipline of having to take and post a photograph each day is moving from onerous to an enjoyable challenge now, so long may that continue.

Wishing you a happy photographic weekend!

354 / 365 to go!

It’s a lovely, sunny Thursday afternoon, and I’ve reached double figures in my 365 photo challenge. Today’s image is the eleventh of the series. Hardly any to go at all then… oh.

It has been fun so far, and photographic opportunities widened by visiting Croydon, Leeds and Nottingham over the past 4 days. I’ve no more trips planned for the next couple of weeks, which is going to challenge me to try and find subjects of at least some interest within reach of home. It’s a challenge I’m looking forward to.

One potential subject is sleeping soundly behind my in my office: Portia is in her second week with us, and she’s been fantastic. Lots of fun, but the combination of a tendency to not keep very still and coming out in low light isn’t an ideal one, even with a camera that produces usable images at high ISOs. I suspect that Portia will feature as several entries within the 365.

However, today’s photograph is another sign of Autumn, a fallen begonia.

Fallen Begonia (011 / 365)

A short post this week because of the focus on work, but with a weekend free to recuperate, relax, then to explore more photographic info there should be more to report next week.

Happy photographing!

New week, new project, new resident

It’s been an exciting week.

It started with a lovely couple of days at Swinton Park, a beautiful hotel near Masham in North Yorkshire. Whilst we were there, Mrs G read an interview in a “homes and gardens”-type magasine with a guy who was in the midst of his third or fourth year of a 365 photography project. It may have been feeling rested after a night away, inspired by the beautiful surroundings, or perhaps still enlivened by the wine from the night before, but I decided that I should finally undertake a 365 project, and kicked it off that day.

Today is day three:

Autumnal Feeling (003 / 365)

Over the first three days I’ve realised how much more I’m going to have to think, and how much that’s going to benefit me, so looking forward to seeing how things progress over the next few months. However, as we’re moving towards darker days, perhaps some lighting kit may be in order, we shall see. It will be interesting to see how many times over I can shoot, process and post a 365 image on film.

One of the highlights of our visit was sampling Swinton Hall’s resident cocktail expert’s Espresso Martini. Whilst I’m a big fan of the more standard Martini, and had already enjoyed a pre-dinner Bloody Mary, this was a new experience but one that took little persuasion. Rightly so, as it was absolutely delicious, so much so that either we’ll have to return soon or more practically find a recipe.

Espresso Martini

An hour or so after we returned from the Dales, we happily added a baby Syrian hamster to our household and named her Portia. She has only been with us just over a day, yet has made it quite clear that she knows her own mind, and as her home is in my office I can hear her rustling around in her nest as I type. I’m very much looking forward to Portia’s first appearance in the 365 project.

The return to work today is the first of a particularly busy series of days, involving go lives and client visits. It will be interesting to see what photographic opportunities can be unearthed once the real work has been done.

Happy photography!

Work invasion

Over a week since my last post, and one that has been dominated by my return to work after a week’s holiday. The resulting compression of two week’s work into 5 business days, with a further day to come tomorrow, has left little room for photographic endeavor.

However, before returning to work my imagination was refreshed enough to come up with a new photographic project covering the subjects that I am most interested in: people. The project, “A year of visitors”, will catalog the visitors to our home for a year, starting from 2014-09-14. Whilst it’s disappointing that I didn’t come up with the idea the previous weekend, as we had a number of visitors throughout the week, I was pleased that our visitors on Sunday, relatives from Texas, USA, were the first to be awkwardly photographed. I’m looking forward to being able to judge my improvement over the coming year, even if this does mean that we’ll have to try and be more sociable!

The joy (aka anguish) of film

A sunny Wednesday afternoon, half way into our week off work. What better time to develop a roll of Tri-X 400? That was what I thought, especially having used this blog post to work out how to more efficiently use my Kaiser film leader retriever.

Film, spiral, developing tank into the light bag. Film wound straight onto spiral, the hair drier having done the trick before spiral went into the bag. Much satisfaction and looking forward to seeing the images, until I realised that I’d made an error with the easiest, but most crucial element, and had reassembled the tank incorrectly. The result? One totally exposed roll of Tri-X 400, and one unhappy photographer. Also an unhappy wifey, who’d been looking forward to seeing the shots from Rotherham Fair that I took on Sunday, particularly of the hamster show.

The only positive I can take is yet another lesson learnt, and a mistake to ensure that isn’t repeated. Sadly these are rather stacking up.

Yesterday’s visit to York is still in the camera on a roll of HP5+, so intending to shoot the remainder of the film tomorrow and develop that on Friday, hopefully with more satisfying results.

Monday evening brought dinner with my old photography teacher, and some experimentation with the Canon kit. Not sure that I have ever had so many photographs taken of myself, so it’ll be interesting to drop the images into Lightroom and check out some professional, if not entirely sober, portraits.

Time to fire off the remaining HP5+ and load in another roll of Tri-X, not sure that the first roll was really a good way to evaluate it.

Happy snapping!

Sunny Friday afternoon

The second of my weekly posts follows a mixed photographic weekend. On the plus side, more frames of film were exposed (Ilford HP5+ pushed to ISO800) and then developed. Unfortunately, I think that the development attempt was made significantly more tricky by the spirals being very slightly damp, and the emulsion sticking as the film wound further into the spiral. Eventually it was loaded, but had to be split between two spirals after the sprockets became damaged. Pushing the second spiral into the light bag clearly caused some accidental exposure, as approximately 50% of the film was either completely exposed to white, or fogged.

It was disappointing, but part of the reason for doing this is to learn these lessons, and do as much as possible to ensure that if ever there’re critical frames of film being developed, I’ve honed the process to ensure these types of issues don’t occur.

Out of the shots that did make it out of the developing tank in reasonable shape, this is one of my favourites

Whilst I’ve not taken many shots this week so far, I’m hoping that some photographic opportunities over the weekend may arise to allow more developing practice. A roll of Tri-x 400 is now in the camera, so looking forward to comparing that to the HP5+ when it’s not been pushed.

Away from taking photographs, I’ve been reading “On Being a Photographer“, by Bill Jay and David Hurn. One of the best, probably the best, £3.82 I’ve ever spent on photography. I found it inspiring, although occasionally daunting, and the “q&a” format of the majority of the book flows very well. Highly recommended.

The weekend and coming week have plenty of opportunities for photography, so looking forward to relaying them next week. Have a photographically-fun weekend.

It’s a blog post, it’s the first of a regular thing

The life of this blog so far has been intermittent, which somewhat overstates its output. It has briefly sparked into life when we have been to an event, taken a series of photographs, and handed out some cards to competitors so that they have a way of finding where the images will be uploaded.

However, I have recently had my enthusiasm for photography rekindled by a combination of circumstances. Firstly, our local gallery, Pomfret Gallery, advertised a photography competition. A very open-ended one, with the criteria simply an “eye catching” image taken in West Yorshire. It had previously been suggested to me by Andrew Scriven that a good way to develop my photography would be to enter some competitions, so I decided to try and come up with something for this, and I knew that I wanted to submit a photograph taken with the competition in mind, rather than peruse my collection for one that would be suitable.

Friday, 8 August was traumatic for many people in this area of West Yorkshire: I noticed around 1600 that rain had started to fall quite heavily, then when it was time to collect Mrs Gosney from the railway station around 1745 the rain was pouring down. I grabbed the Canon on the way out of the house, anticipating that there might some interesting images to be had, but the weather was too bad to get out of the car with the Canon, and instead we drove home and I grabbed the baby Fuji, my walking boots and a cagoule. Some imperfect shots of the bad weather were picked up from Twitter by both ITV Calendar News and our local newspaper, so I felt that getting drenched was worthwhile, and two of the images made the front page of the Pontefract & Castleford Express the following Thursday.

The Pontefract Grand Prix cycle event was scheduled for the Sunday following the heavy rain, and we’d already decided to go along to take some photographs, but we were even more determined when I managed to grab two VIP passes on Twitter. It was great fun to photograph, despite the rain, and was only 10 minutes walk away to allow for the occasional dry off. Reaction to the photographs was very positive (images are here, and whilst shooting I realised that one of them could become my competition entry: taken after the competition’s launch, in Pontefract, on an exciting day for the town.

Pontefract Grand Prix 2014

After many weeks of on and off attempts at us organising something, my old photography teacher and I finally met up for a couple of drinks. It was great both from a social perspective, but from a photographic perspective to talk to someone who is prepared to be bluntly critical. The flip side is that appreciation of images is worth significantly more when you’re confident that there would be no hesitation to provide constructive criticism should it be needed.

The combination of these situations has really fired my enthusiasm for photography, and specifically going back to basics with a camera that I treated myself to last year and which has been so far very under-used, my Leica M6. Having shot b&w film at school (certainly not with a Leica), the attraction of having the option of film that I could develop myself briefly fired before we moved house, and it is now back: a roll of Ilford FP4 that was mainly shot in London either side of a customer visit was developed at home and scanned with a Plustek 8100 (eventually selected after months of debating the economics of commercial processing / scanning against short term costs of scanner to go with the developing kit already purchased).

London - street veg stall

I’m now determined to continue to enjoy the Leica, and enjoy the relaxation of shooting with film and a light, fully manual camera. I’m hoping that documentary photography, primarily focusing on our local area, will drive my engagement with photography even further forward, helped by some great online resources and inspirational photo books. Further to this, the intention is to publish a blog post once a week with an image or two, and some observations on where I’ve got to and what’s planned. This weekend a brief trip to York’s on the agenda followed by an evening with friends where I suspect the merits of digital vs film will be heavily debated over a bottle or two of wine.

Enjoy the weekend!

Strongman Competition at Atlas Fitness

We’ve just returned from our first Strongman competition hosted by Hulks Strongman @ Atlas Fitness in Rotherham.

Lovely day watching some very strong guys have a crack at what looks like some nastily-tricky events.

The link to some shots from the day will be posted in the next couple of days, but in the meantime here’s one of Liam and two of his fellow competitors:

Strongman Competition