Camera Porn!

Thought that title might get your attention! I have recently been adding to my collection of cameras (ones that I use, that is…) and have added the two cameras shown here – firstly a beautiful hand made pinhole camera made for me by my friend Dr. Jim Lycett, also a very accomplished photographer himself. It was also designed by Jim and is made from Laburnum and Mahogany with stainless steel and brass fittings, also made by Jim. He terms it his monobloc camera, and this one has two focal lengths of 23mm and 38mm, the former achieved by removing the front panel and replacing the lens panel on the camera’s main body. It is shown here (on a cheap Les Paul copy guitar I bought as gamesroom decoration, but I thought a better background than a piece of cloth….) with a Graflex 6×6 120 film back. I have also coming from the US a Graflex 6×9 back, and it will also take a Mamiya RB67 back.

The second addition, rather less esoteric, and shown against yet another cheap copy guitar, this time of a Strat, is my Ferrania Ibis 6×6. Definitely in the lo-fi mode, I am hoping for similar results to those obtained with my plastic Dianas, but maybe utilising less blackelectrician’s tape to minimise light leaks! We shall see…..

Cornish Capers

No, not the county, but the man himself – I have been invited to do a show of work at the Joe Cornish gallery in Northallerton later this year; provisional date from December 1st but yet to be finally confirmed. I am currently preparing work for this, so if you are in the area at that time and wish to visit, keep watching this space! It would be good to meet new people and catch up with old acquaintances!

Also, for some time now my rock music work has been with Getty Images, based in London and formerly Redfern’s Music Picture library. They have had the work some years, resulting in a good number of them being published in various music/guitar related magazines (Paul Kossoff by FAR the best seller), but there seems to have been a resurgence of interest lately. You can see some of the publications online – there were some of my landscape images used in a special publication of Classic Rock Presents…..Whitesnake, after the publishers approached me for shots of ‘grim up North’, since David Coverdale was born and grew up around here, then they discovered it actually ISN’T so grim up here! I was able to supply them with some gritty images and also a great deal of background to DC, having still got contacts around here from those days, and shots of him in the early days of Government, his local band at the time. Still available I believe, but since it includes Whitesnake’s latest album, is £14.99. Here:

http://www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk/classic-rock-presents-whitesnake-forevermore/

Also, Kossoff was on the front cover as well as inside of the June edition of Guitar Techniques (they managed to add not only colour !!! but also his right elbow) to the cover shot, here:

http://www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk/music/guitar-techniques-magazine-back-issues/Guitar-Techniques-Jun-11.html

There are others, but I shan’t bore you any further!

Contacting Me

Another short note to say that I am more than happy for people to contact me through the site to talk about the various aspects of my work, but if you do so PLEASE make sure that you input your email address correctly; I have had a number of messages sent to me recently, mostly by students whom I NEVER ignore, asking about my methods etc. but have been unable to reply as their email addresses are incorrectly entered. Rebecca try again! Also, many people automatically assume that I MUST be using computers to get the results that I do; this is most definitely NOT the case; every print that is made is produced by myself, by hand using traditional ‘wet’ photography methods in the darkroom. Why is it that just because computers are widely available and easy to use that 150+ years of traditional photographic methods are instantly forgotten? Odd; I can’t fathom it out at all. Rest assured, if you purchase a print from me it is printed by me as above and NOT churned out of a computer printer ad infinitum!!

New galleries update

Just a note to say that new galleries have recently been added as regular visitors will have noticed, including Nudes and Burlesque, Commercial etc., Documentary and World. The latter three of these are currently being worked on and prints either specially produced or needing to be scanned for upload, so will go live in the very near future. The documentary gallery will feature among others a project I was working on a few years back, featuring a local bunch of extremely talented guys making custom motorcycles, calling themselves Extreme Machines – they were great blokes who looked like they’d fill you in if you looked at them askance, but were fantastic characters with phenomenal talents, making virtually all of the bikes’ components themselves and painting in-house to a stunning standard. Their work was often featured in national custom bike magazines, such as ‘Back Street Heroes’, to great acclaim. Sadly, they went out of business before I could complete the work, a great shame. Other work will be added as I get time to print, and I am currently in the progress of pitching for another project in a similar vein which will take around a year, if I get the go-ahead, so keep watching!

New News!

Last year, local rock guitarist Al Harrington commissioned me to shoot some pictures of him for his then upcoming new website. This I did mostly down at South Gare, being a great location albeit rather windswept most of the time. It is as you may gather from browsing my galleries, one of my favourite haunts for shooting landscapes too; seemingly there is always something different to find there…..

Anyway, after much time his website finally went live to great effect, here:- http://alharrington.co.uk/

A selection of the shots will be uploaded in the next few days.

Again, much of this work was undertaken on toy cameras, mainly one of my trusty Dianas, and may appear on Al’s next CD cover, both back and front images.

I also submitted some of this and other toy camera shots to the new Toy Camera book being produced through Blurb by a team in the USA, and one of the shots of Al was selected for inclusion, page 106, here:-

http://toycamerabook.com/

Unfortunately, this doesn’t bring any cash in, just the kudos of being involved!

So I guess I’lljust have to get on with my next book (apart from the new Redcar JazzClub one) – all taken with toy cameras, and also produced through Blurb. Watch this space!

Other news on the Rock Music front is that many of my classic rock images are now marketed by Getty Images, and the latest use is in the current issue of ‘Classic Rock Presents’….Whitesnake, with a number of my shots, both landscape and an early David Coverdale pic from Redcar Jazz Club. This magazine also has a fair few pieces of ephemera from the RJC, a little taste of what is to come when our new RJC book is published later this year……

New Range of Nude and Burlesque images.

Over the last year and a half, I have been shooting a new range of nudes, a subject which I had not tackled in the past. Much of this was made possible by having access to the old HSBC bank building in Saltburn as it was being converted into a new gallery, but was in an amazing almost derelict state, as much of the space had not been used by the bank for around 50 years! This provided me with the most fantastic backdrops imaginable for the work I had in mind, and over a three month period late in 2009 I shot a variety of work here.

I also wanted to do some off beat kind of images, and had brought back from Venice some superb carnival masks, which I used for a number of the shots.

Much of the work was done using toy cameras, although ‘proper’ cameras were also employed, mostly my Mamiya rangefinders and Hasselblad X-pan. I am currently in the process of uploading these images – some are already on the site; others are due to be put up soon.

The prints can also be viewed at Castleton in my gallery, Montage, and also at Profile Gallery in Saltburn, newly situated in the old tourist information premises in Saltburn station buildings. What has been particularly gratifying to me that all the feedback I have so far received about this work has been positive, and without exception from women.

More of this work will be undertaken this coming year and I am always interested in finding new models; experience not particularly necessary, just an appreciation of the type of work I am doing and a willingness to be involved. Contact me through the website or gallery if interested. Obviously, it would help if you are fairly locally based…..

Redcar Jazz Club Book – New edition

Many of you are still interested in obtaining a copy of the RJC book that was published some years ago now to coincide with our exhibition at Kirkleatham Old Hall museum, Redcar, but which sold out around a year or so ago. I constantly get enquiries through this site about it, but it is proving very difficult to obtain on the secondhand market; the last one I found in a second hand book dealer’s a few months back was priced at £20 and vanished pretty quickly…..

With this in mind, I approached Bryan Goodall with a view to funding a reprint, to which he readily agreed, having an interest both in the music, the photographs and the acts, as he was for some time a committee member of the club. However, we have also managed to get many of the original committee members involved, not the least of whom is Brian Smith, who was club treasurer for much of the club’s life, from 1962 to its demise in 1973. He has retained a vast amount of archive material, and is also in contact with other ex-committee members, so we now have a huge range of ephemera to draw on, from all of the newspaper adverts, many of the programmes, advertising posters, car window posters etc., etc. He is also writing an in-depth history of the club. Add to this Roger Barker’s band contracts plus other material, and there is too much!

Because of the large range of material we now have access to, it is looking as if there may actually be two new books – one in the vein of the original book, image-led with many more photographs of mine and Dennis Weller’s and much of the above Brian Smith archive and will be a hard back edition with a basic club history, and a second published after this one, revealing the full history of the club. We are aiming for publication of the first book this coming October, so keep watching here for news of progress, and to order advance copies if you wish.

My Techniques and Equipment

Since I often get asked about the methods I use to produce my work (mainly through customers coming into my gallery), I thought I’d write a few words for those of you out there in cyberland about the equipment and materials I use. It may be of interest to some of you.

For starters, EVERYTHING is shot on film (no damn digital tomfoolery here!), and hand processed by myself. Beginning with camera gear, most work is shot on medium format these days, using Mamiya 7 rangefinder equipment for the ‘normal’ stuff, with a full range of lenses, although I do tend to favour wide-angle optics. I do employ 35mm gear on occasion, anything from rangefinders to SLR, but almost all ancient, Leicas to the Nikon ‘F’ range of equipment, Hasselblad 500CM occasionally, and a Hasselblad X-Pan, also a favourite of mine, which produces stunningly sharp results. All prime lenses too. With the exception of the toy cameras (more of these later!), I always use red filters when shooting, preferring the contrast I achieve in this manner, and virtually everything is shot on Ilford Delta 400, rated at 50 ISO to take into account the red filter.

I tend to prefer rangefinders for their ability to be hand-held at pretty low shutter speeds, without running into camera shake territory, and I can’t be pestered to cart a tripod around with me. (My wife also insists that any shot of mine is taken very near to a road, as walking and carting loads of gear about isn’t my thing either..there might be some truth in that. In fact, I’m not too keen on walking at all!)

However, despite owning and occasionally using quite an armoury of decent, fairly expensive camera gear, in the last few years many of my pics have been taken on an array of toy cameras. In fact, so taken am I with the superb atmosphere that they can produce, I often wonder WHY I have an armory of expensive stuff, when many of my favourite images of recent years have been shot on toys. These include Dianas, (my absolute favourite for its image quality being an original 1960s model, taped up to the gunnels to avoid light leaks, which arenít my thing), Holgas, (for one of which I have a 35mm back, which exposes across the whole width of the film), a Fujipet, the image quality of which is amazing, and a Lubitel. I often only carry around a case with this collection in, leaving the fancy stuff at home. I have also added to this crowd, the recently re-introduced Diana, made by Lomography, and featuring many new innovations over the originals; interchangeable lenses for one, 35mm multi-format backs another, and a pinhole option too. I have all four lenses for this camera, and testing is underway!

I also purchased earlier this year a Speed Graphic with Kodak Aero Ektar, which is a second world war optic designed for use (as you might guess from its name!) aerial reconnaissance work, with an astonishing 7′ focal length but maximum aperture of

f2.5! This has yet to be used in anger, mainly because of opportunity, with the dire weather we’ve had in Britain this summer (2008), but I am very much looking forward to getting it fired up. This combination has gained the name the Burnett combo, as

it is used to great effect by the photojournalist David Burnett. You should check out some of his images too!

When it comes to the darkroom, I use Kodak HC110 as my soup, dilution ‘B’, which I have stuck with for years now. However paper, (all resin-coated, as it is faster and therefore can be sold for a more reasonable price than fibre-based, and gives excellent quality), has been a minor problem since the sad demise of Agfa (RIP), whose Multi-contrast Premium I used almost without exception, for its excellent high contrast and beautiful toning properties. Lately, I have been using Ilford (thanks for keeping going lads!) Multigrade Warmtone RC, either toned or developed in warmtone dev and left ‘as is’, for

B&W rather than thiocarbamide toned, and some Ilford Portfolio, although this also appears to be discontinued.

This covers most of the work I do. You will spot quite a few shots taken with infra-red film, which is another lamented item in the form of Kodak High Speed IR, but again recently discontinued. If anyone has questions they feel I may be able to answer/help with, I would be happy to do so, emailed via the site.

New york

My recent trip to New York was the culmination of a long-held desire to visit what is in my opinion one of THE most iconic places on the planet. For one thing, I think it has some of the greatest looking buildings on Earth, the beautiful Chrysler building being the most amazing structure, and the Flat Iron too, both being a gift for the photographer. We stayed on Lexington Avenue, in an hotel which is rather small by New York standards, being only sixteen floors high, but with the advantages of being roughly mid-way between the Chrysler and the Empire State buildings, both viewable from the rooftop bar. The staggeringly high drinks prices precluded me from visiting this too often however, but I did manage a few shots, one or two at night when there was very low cloud over the city, resulting in very atmospheric views.

I took a range of equipment with me on this trip; not having been before I wasnít really sure which gear I would be likely to use most, but one of the obvious pieces of kit to take there was my Hasselblad X-Pan, used of course vertically in panoramic mode! I only took with me the standard 45mm lens, as since I also had my Mamiya 7 with 43mm and 65mm lenses, a Yashica 124G TLR and an array of ‘toy’ cameras, I didn’t need any more weight!

The toy camera kit comprised an original 1960s Diana and two Holgas, one of which has a 35mm conversion (the latter bought off ebay from Hong Kong for the princely sum of 99p plus shipping!), which allows shooting across the full height of the film by about 60mm, the width of a standard 6x6cm neg. Although the kit includes rather more cameras than this, (it’s become something of an obsession, since I discovered quite a few years ago what great atmosphere and image qualities these cameras can give), it was a matter of space, and I also think that having TOO many cameras with you can be detrimental. Also, having found my bearings by travelling around on the open top buses for the first day, I walked almost everywhere, so weight definitely was an issue. (New York is approximately ten miles long!).

Film was exclusively Ilford Delta 400, used in the Mamiya and the Yashica with my usual red filters, and so effectively rated at 50 ISO to take account of the filter factor, but no filters used with the toy cameras.

Film was burned in all cameras I took, and in order of preference, I liked the images produced with the Diana most and the X-Pan ones next. As I have said, I love the atmosphere these cameras impart to an image and am particularly happy with the two images which are made up of two consecutive negs, the first being Manhattan from Brooklyn Bridge (at least it was worth the walk across the bridge to the Brooklyn side in rather high temperatures! – I don’t do heat very well!), the second being The Manhattan Bridge, which was taken from underneath the high level road along the river.

Another unique characteristic of New York streets seems to me to be the high level street signs and overhanging traffic lights. I find these visually very striking, and incorporated them into many of my images, rendering the architecture as a backdrop to them. Again, although I shot these on both Mamiya and Yashica in addition to the Diana, I preferred those pictures made with the latter. Maybe I should just take the toy camera outfit next time and save myself the exertion!

I hope you like the results. I am in the process of preparing a book of my work taken with the toy cameras, which should be available

in the not too distant future.

Evolution of my Career

I guess my involvement with photography started when I was around ten years of age, with the gift of a Ross-Ensign Fulvueflex camera from my father, who was himself a keen amateur at the time. Suffering a prolonged hospitalisation at about that time, my earliest efforts were of a visiting circus troupe, many casual portraits of the nursing staff and a shot of the lad in the next bed to me, who at the precise moment that I pressed the shutter, mistakenly let his pyjama bottoms drop, so that I obtained a rather memorable image of his suddenly bare rear. The chemist who processed the latter warned my parents (in jest, I’m fairly sure, this being about 1958!) against my producing images of this rather saucy kind in future! Must look out the negs sometime! the circus ones, I mean.

Fast forward to around 1966, yes, I’m THAT old, and I started to shoot pics of the rapidly expanding rock music scene. I’d always been keen on guitar music, since I heard Bert Weedon playing ‘Apache’, (later covered by The Shadows, thankfully!), but didn’t have the grit and determination (and probably the talent) to learn to play myself, so my response to the music was to shoot pictures of the bands. Most of these were taken at the now long-defunct Redcar Jazz Club and inspired the production of a book in 1996. Sadly, many of the musicians I photographed are now dead, but both those and many of those who managed to survive the rigours of the rock music lifestyle are now music icons, and so the images are sought after, having been published worldwide and are in many private collections as original prints.

Late 1967 I enrolled on a professional photography course at Blackpool College of Art, studying Industrial and Commercial photography, and entered the world of professional photography early in 1971. It was the landscape which truly got me inspired though, and I eventually returned to my native North East England via a succession of jobs, and having taken a full-time post lecturing in professional photography, got to work building what has become my now fairly extensive folio of landscape work. These images too are in many private collections worldwide.

At the same time, I became involved with Montage Gallery in Castleton, North Yorkshire, selling my expanding range of landscape work from there to begin with, and after the original owner decided to retire, took it over as my own, from where I now work. The gallery has gained an excellent reputation over its sixteen years since foundation, for providing a high quality range of contemporary art, and latterly for my extensive collection of photographs for sale. If you’re ever in the area, look us up; you will be assured of a warm welcome, and photography chat if you wish!

By the way, my pastimes include collecting/restoring vintage Italian motorcycles, and as well as many other collections, (my wife says I have a collection of collections!), an ever growing army of pinball machines which I also enjoy restoring and playing, and of which I think I have around 25, so these topics are always open for discussion too!