Archive for the “Photography” Category

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I won some tickets to an event at London Fashion Week through Vodafone VIP (Richard Nicoll showcase) so I thought I’d put my 5D to work:

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I’m planning to combine two pastimes and get a bit more into taking photos at some of the gigs I go to through this year. First up Wild Flag who rocked the boat at Thekla on the first night of their UK tour. With low light levels and a lot of movement, gig photography presents some very particular challenges. For this attempt I went with the 5D (classic) and the trusty 50mm f1.8 prime and made sure to get in nice and early to take up a front row position (to the side, away from one of the particular challenges – Big Jeff’s waving arms and hair).

The pick of the results are below. Carrie Brownstein, all lips and hair, was striking a lot of poses which helped to get some good shots! Cranking up the ISO resulted in a fair amount of colour noise which means I’ve converted a lot of them to black and white. I’m quite a fan of the high contrast black and white look anyway (T-MAX style!) so not a big deal.

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Colourful old buildings – mostly Nyhavn (New Harbour) where you can easily imagine a bustling scene of sailors, taverns and “women of ill repute” a couple of hundred years ago…

Nyhavn, Copenhagen

Some impressive modern architecture – glass, wood panelling and angles…

Pretty girls on pretty bikes – it’s noticeable as you wander around that Copenhagen is a city with an above average concentration of beautiful people…

Allegedly, the private yacht of the guy that invented Microsoft Excel (according to my boat tour guide)…

Hans Christian Andersen – every other statue…

Hans Christian Andersen

A televised mermaid – live from the Danish Pavilion at the World Expo in Shanghai…

Browsing the beautiful Scandinavian design in the furniture and homewares departments of Illum, I came across this quote…

Don’t make something unless it is both necessary and useful; but if it is both necessary and useful, don’t hesitate to make it beautiful.

…which seems, from my short time in Copenhagen, to give some insight into the Danish (or maybe just Copenhagen) philosophy. I saw it reflected in their design, their architecture, their clothes and their general approach to work and life.

An interesting place to spend a relaxed weekend pounding the streets but for a city break I think I’d take Paris or Prague if I was paying myself. Some of the prices were painful. I don’t think I saw any beer at less than £5 a pint.

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My Polaroid one600 was delivered today (I’m sure if eBay died it would take Royal Mail with it). Here it is…

polaroid-one600

A few blemishes as you can see but it came loaded with a film pack that had one shot left in it so I used it to make sure it was working after its journey, the result of which you can see on my photo blog.

Coincidentally, Polaroid was in world news as well as Jon news today as a company in the Netherlands have bought one of Polaroids factories with all the contents, hired some ex-Polaroid employees and are hoping to restart production of integral film. Their website suggests that they won’t be manufacturing 600 film (probably the most used Polaroid film) but will be creating something new. Seems like a mistake to shun all the people who’ll be hoping to get fresh film for their old cameras but if they can create something good perhaps they can persuade that market to transfer over to their new integral film format (and sell them all new cameras while they’re at it).

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I bought a Polaroid 600 camera yesterday! I think I might be a little behind the times since they stopped making the film for it (the iconic square film with a white border) last year. Fortunately there’s still remainder stock available on ebay so I decided I’d get in at the end before the world says goodbye to Polaroids forever.

As photography options go Polaroids have been doomed for quite a while. The film cartridges themselves now cost around £15 each on eBay and can only produce 10 photos. The photos they produce are generally lacking in sharpness and contrast. All this makes for expensive, poor quality photos compared to digital (or even standard 35mm film). Unlike your standard camera, a Polaroid 600* camera doesn’t have it’s own battery and is instead powered from a battery within the film cartridge. This and the fact that the chemicals in the film dry out mean that there’s probably no use stockpiling the remaining stock as it will not survive in the same way that expired 35mm film can.

mondaine_pola_sm

All that said there is something brilliant about Polaroids which is worth celebrating and will be missed. You take a photo and 90 seconds later you are holding it in your hand. Even the top of the range digital SLRs can’t do that**!  And though objectively the quality is poor there’s something special about a Polaroid. We all recognise a Polaroid and the associated foibles and that photo taken in that moment is totally unique – you can’t reprint a Polaroid. That photo becomes part of the grand history of the Polaroid name such as Warhol’s celebrity portraits, Hockney’s composites, 18 years of one man’s life and special or random moments from the lives of  thousands of others. It’s a moment in time instantly and irreversably recorded, printed and preserved. It’s hard to get that enthusiastic about a digital photo which comes and goes at the press of a button.

Also I like the way it makes everything look like it’s in the seventies!

So this year is (probably) the last year of the Polaroid era and it’s the first and likely only year of my Polaroid era so I’ll be trying to capture some of this years’ significant events on instant film as well as digital. This is our last chance to appear in that lob-sided square frame.

* There are many Polaroid cameras with various brand names that all take 600 film – there is an interesting guide to them here.

** Unless you couple them with Polaroid’s attempt at staying afloat, the PoGo. Apparently Polaroid had plans to release a digital camera with the PoGo technology incorporated within it but that looks a bit unlikely now they’ve filed for bankruptcy (again). I imagine the proprietary printer paper for the PoGo will disappear soon too.

(Photo Note: that’s my arm and my lovely new watch that Helen gave me for Christmas but it’s not a real Polaroid)

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