Friday, 27 February 2015

To end the week

It's time to say goodbye for another week.

This weeks photograph is one that made me chuckle for quite some time.  Some of members of Blackburn Camera Club including our Liam and Bob went off to Whalley for a spot of night time photography.  What came back is a haunting photograph now known as Zombie Bob.

Have a good weekend!!!  See you Monday!

Exciting News for Blackburn

2015 is an exciting year for Blackburn as it will see the opening of The Making Rooms, a unique facility that brings together art and technology.

The Making Rooms is a state of the art technology and manufacturing hub that will help put the town back on the map as a place for start-up businesses and manufacturing innovation.

One of the only facilities of its kind in the country it will be equipped with cutting edge equipment such as 3D printers and small scale manufacturing machinery that will allow people to test and try out new ideas.

It will also host a technology hub for new businesses to use as a work space as well as hosting courses, events and groups based around digital innovation.

In addition there will be studios, workshops and exhibition spaces for artists and craftspeople, as well as provision for artist residences for both local and international artists.

It will offer training in collaboration with school and colleges and local businesses.
Based in the Bentleys building on Museum Street, formerly a bank, it will incorporate the best ideas from similar facilities around the world and is one of only two such projects in the country.

The project is funded by Arts Council England, the Lancashire Economic Partnership and backed by Blackburn with Darwen Council.

If you’d like to get involved we’d love to hear from email Blackbur is Open on

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Happy Birthday Photoshop

Just a quick post to say happy birthday to Photoshop and congratulations to Adobe for keeping such an innovative and iconic piece of software at the forefront of photography and the digital arts scene.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

We're away from our desk

Afternoon, it would seem we are issuing some technical difficulties at the moment.  We'll be back tomorrow!

Monday, 23 February 2015

A couple of links for today!

Well, we're back for another week of news and features.  We hope you had a good weekend of shooting and a re looking forward to the week ahead.

First up.  We love film photography here at Pixel headquarters and it looks like the trend of it becoming popular again is continuing to grow.  Just this morning Amateur Photographer magazine are running an article on their website about making black and white prints.  Here is the Essential Guide to Darkroom Printing.  Not got a film camera?  Don't worry you can still make a black and white print from a digital file by contact printing a file printed on to overhead projector film (for those old enough to remember OHP).  A nice little article here!

An article in the New York Times based about Peter Lik is causing a storm in the photography world.  Have a read of the article here.  Why not have a look at his website and some of images?  Make up your own mind about his work.  Here.

Friday, 20 February 2015

To end the week

It's weekend again!  How quick does these weeks go by?  Why not get out this weekend with your camera?  You've still got time to bag a great shot for the Lancashire Open Exhibition.

This weeks featured photograph is from new Pixel friend Ian Dacre.  Although Ian is from outside Pennine Lancashire he joins us hardy hill folk by association and I would like to offer him a warm welcome.  A couple of weeks ago Ian and Liam had a trip out to Blackpool and came back with some really nice shots.  I particularly like this one of Ian's.

If you would like to see your image as our To end the week photograph then drop your pictures in to our flickr group or send us an email.

Happening tonight

Art SPACE is a monthly meet-up for local creative people to come together and share ideas, exhibit, hang out, perform and network.

Each meeting involves live music and/or performance, exhibitions of artwork and workshops where you can either offer or learn a new skill.

There is also a tasty buffet and a relaxed atmosphere to meet other local artists.
Some space will be made available to exhibit work and a digital slideshow is shown that you can submit to. All submissions are welcome- whether it is your first attempt at something or a technique you’ve been doing for years.

There is also a stage for performance- dance, singing, music, poetry etc  And while there are often acts invited to perform there is also a chance to participate in the open mic slot on the night.

Workshop sessions also include life drawing, interactive installations and photography.

This is a grassroots event – bring what you would like to find, get out what you put in!

To submit ideas or artwork email

Follow artspace here

6.30pm-10pm.  St. John's Centre, Victoria Street, Blackburn.  Entry fee £3.  All ages welcome.

And now for something a little different

This weekend the ACE Centre in Nelson is hosting a theatre production of Hansel and Gretel.

Hosted by Plugged In, a group that gives the local community the chance to see the theatre productions they want to see, the performance will be delivered by local theatre company Horse & Bamboo.

The performance starts at 2pm on Saturday 21st February.  Tickets are available for this show and others here.

On the subject of Nelson, why not visit The Shop.  Open Wednesday to Saturday 10am-3pm.  This Saturday there will be a drop in crafting session showing people how to knit and crochet.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Bewitching new residents of Nelson's Victoria Park take shape

Yesterday families were invited to Nelson’s Victoria Park to discover more about a magical trail coming soon to the park!

Chainsaw artist Mike Burgess will be giving a demonstration as he creates the first of the trail’s spellbinding characters.

The new sculpture tail will take visitors on a one mile walk around the Nelson park, with lots of different activities along the way.

Councillor Nadeem Ahmed, who represents parks in Pendle, said:

“We’re really excited about our plans for the witch-inspired trail and we just know local families are going to want to come and see it for themselves.

“Mike Burgess’s carving demo will give them a little taster of what’s to come.”

Victoria Park’s witchy trail is being funded through Up & Active, a new health improvement programme to help Pendle people improve their activity levels. Visit to find out more. 

Lancashire Photography Open Exhibition

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

We're Back!

After a couple of days off for Half-Term we return to business as usual!

This week has seen the release of the latest episode of the Film Photography Podcast.

Now on it's 119th episode the FPP has become a one-stop shop for everything related to film photography.

This episode includes features on Instax photography, Kodak Brownie Hawkeye mods, Stereoscopic Photography, Scanning negs and slides, and much more.

It's well worth a listen and is available free from iTunes or the FPP website.

Friday, 13 February 2015

To end the week

It's the weekend again and time for us to sign off and get out with our camera's.  I'm about to go and shoot some film in Nelson.

This weeks featured photograph is from Sarah Davies.  You'll see a bit more from Sarah in the coming weeks and remember if you would like to see one of your pictures featured in our To End the Week Spot then drop them in our Flickr group and if you are chosen we'll be in touch!

Have a good weekend!!!  See you Monday!

Thursday, 12 February 2015

More new models announced

Not so long ago I posted that the design of the Pentax K-S1 finally made sense to me so I can’t shocked to announce the arrival of the replacement model the K-S2.

The Pentax K-S2 doesn’t boast the futuristic designs of the K-S1 but does have a range of features that are said to ‘rival high end models’. 

It starts with a 20.1MP senor, 11 point autofocus system with 9 cross points and 77 segment metering.  The camera also has a selfie screen which is capable of rotating 180˚ and as a first in K series camera has Wi-Fi connectivity.

The K-S2 is also weather sealed for protection against water and dust making this an ideal landscape SLR.

It is expected that the K-S2 will hit retailers later this year and will be priced at £549.99 for the body only option and £649.99 for a weather sealed 18-55mm lens.  The body will be available in a range of colour options.

Sigma has also announced two new models.

First up is the dp0 Quattro.  Very little details of this camera are available at the moment except that it will have a 14mm, f4 lens.

Also Sigma announced the upcoming dp3 Quattro.  This camera includes a 50mm f2.8 lens which is the equivalent of 75mm in 35mm format.

Sigma have stated that it is their intention to have a Quattro model to suit most types of photography.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Updated: Blackburn's Cinematography Pioneers

I had a nice surprise in my emails this morning.  Barry Noon, the President of Blackburn and District Camera Club and friend forwarded an email about an 1880 camera built by Sagar Mitchell of Northgate Blackburn.

Sagar Mitchell
Sagar Mitchell
It turns out that Mitchell was one half of Mitchell & Kenyon that were early film pioneers in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

Mitchell had been a photographer and manufacturer of photographic equipment while Kenyon had manufactured automated slot machines.  The combined talents of the both of them would lead to developments and archives that still exist today.

They formed their partnership in 1897 under the trade name of Norden and the company became one of the largest producers of film in the United Kingdom.  Their first showing of a film was reported to be of Blackburn Market (that was located in King William Street adjacent to the clock) and was show at Mitchells premises of 40 Northgate on the 27th November 1897.  In 1899 a travelling showman commissioned the pair to make a film of people leaving factories for the Easter Fair.  The same year Norden released three fictional films, The Tramp’s Surprise, The Tramps and the Artists and Kidnapping by Indians.  These led to more and more commissions from travelling showman and cinemas.

Norden soon outgrew it premises and the pair bought 22 Clayton Street which would become Blackburn’s very own film studio.  Although their production of fictional films was limited they had an indoor and outdoor studio at the premises as well as using locations.

The pair made films across many genres their most famous and historically important being their ‘topicals’.  These were documentary films that depicted ordinary life in Edwardian Britain.  They feature mill workers, Easter Fairs, Temperance marches, Wakes Week holidays in Blackpool and Morecambe and emigrants boarding ships in Liverpool bound for Boston.

News also became a big part of the company’s business.  The film troops leaving and returning from the Boer War, shot war re-enactments in the surrounding countryside of Blackburn using smoke bombs and guns for special effects; they were responsible for the first crime reconstruction film, The Arrest of Goudie in 1901 which was made and show just three days after the arrest of Thomas Goudie.  Sports news also became a regular feature of their work with local football teams often being the subjects.

They also shot some slapstick comedy films that no doubt influenced the Keystone Cops and Charlie Chaplin (Chaplin performed at the Theatre Royal, Ainsworth Street, Blackburn in 1903 and 1905).  Their most famous comedy film was called Diving Lucy of 1903 and was filmed in Corporation Park.

In 1907 Mitchell resumed possession of his original business in Northgate and from here on the volume of film production began to decline.  By 1909 films were only being made in the local area with the last surviving film being made in 1913.  In 1922 the partnership was dissolved with Kenyon dying in 1925 aged 75.  Mitchell continued to runs his photography business with his son until his death in 1952 aged 85.

Many of their films were stored in the basement of the Northgate business and were uncovered by workmen.  The films have been restored and are now in the possession of British Film Institue.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

New director of Super Slow Way appointed

Super Slow Way, a major arts commissioning programme established to create a lasting legacy of arts and culture in Pennine Lancashire, has appointed Laurie Peake as its director.

Laurie will lead the commissioning of artists for the three-year project, running until 2017, which has received a £2million grant from Arts Council England’s Creative People & Places programme.  Super Slow Way will be developed by leading arts producers, working with local communities along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal from Blackburn to Pendle.

Inspired by the canal and taking its cue from the Slow Movement, Super Slow Way asks how can we use our time more creatively; bringing art and artists to this space where time slows down, to look afresh at how people live their fast-paced lives and how they relate to their environment, neighbourhoods and to each other.

Laurie Peake, Director for Super Slow Way, said: “I’m very proud to be from Pennine Lancashire and thrilled to be given the opportunity to get involved in the already vibrant cultural life of the region. I’m excited by the potential of Super Slow Way and looking forward to working with artists from near and far as well as residents across the area, using its great industrial heritage, dramatic landscapes and cultural diversity as inspiration and material. I hope Super Slow Way can spark a creative revolution on the banks of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal; one that inspires new types of productivity and offers opportunities to spend our time more imaginatively, supporting existing cultural activity and encouraging new forms. My aim is to harness the arts to look back at what shaped this area, to ask new questions about where we are now and imagine and propose new directions for where we are heading.”

Tony Hales, chair of the Super Slow Way project board, added: “Super Slow Way is a hugely ambitious project that aims to celebrate, unite and excite the communities along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. Laurie has a superb track record of running major cultural programmes, so we are delighted to have her on board.  We’re now looking forward to turning our ambitions into reality, and create a truly unique cultural project together with the local people over the coming years.” 

Influence & Inspiration - Camilo José Vergara

Vergara camilo download 2.jpg
Camilo Jose Vergara.  Photo by John D.
and Catherine T. - MacArthur Foundation.
CC Licence.
Any readers of The Guardians culture section may have come across a series of photo galleries depicting the work of Camilo José Vergara.

Chilean Vergara was born in 1944 studied for a BA in Sociology from the University of Notre Dame and MA is Sociology from Columbia University where he also completed the course work for a PH.D.

Vergara moved to new where he began working as a humanist street photographer in the early 1970’s.  His work was greatly influenced by his graduate work which highlighted an interest in the complexities of environmental influences on social behaviours.

The development of Kodachrome 64 film would also have a profound effect on his body of work and although he still recorded humanist behaviours he made a switch to documenting changes in urban landscapes.  Vergara would return to the same locations over and over again to depict the de-urbanization and reclamation by nature.  Over a decade’s worth of his photographs led to the publication of his first book The New American Ghetto in 1995 for which he won the Robert E. Park Award of the American Sociological Association in 1997.

Vergara’s photographs often depict a social decline and a return to nature that is fascinating, sad and sometimes uplifting but they also show a way of life on the margins of society.

His street photography has an almost cinematic quality to it that is reminiscent of scenes from 1970’s or 80’s movies such as Alan Parker’s Fame, Taxi Driver or Saturday Night Fever.  It’s certainly work looking at.

Monday, 9 February 2015

New models - Samsung & Canon

Now that the Christmas buying period is out of the way it would seem that the big camera companies are already looking at making your shiny new camera out of date.

Samsung NX500
First up is the Samsumn NX500.  This is a 28MP CSC camera sporting 4K and Ultra High Definition (UHD) video recording.  As with the current trend in the compact market the screen flips up for 'selfie view'.  The NX500 will be available from March 2015 however, Samsung are yet to confirm the price.

Canon have gone all out with a range of new models on their way.

Two new models aimed at the entry level of the market.  The EOS 700D and EOS 70D are both 24.2MP SLR with different designs, and are aimed at different users.

The EOS 750D is targeted at people new to the using SLR cameras such as those that are looking for something a bit more than their smartphone or compact camera.
The EOS 760D is aimed at the enthusiast market and has more manual features available for photographer to explore their 'creative freedom.'
Canon EOS 760D.
Both cameras feature 5fps shooting, a vari-angle LCD, plus a 19 (cross-type)-point AF system, full HD movie modes include the ability to share files in MP4 format and Wi-Fi connectivity
The EOS 760D will cost £649.99 body only, while the EOS 750D will cost £599.99 body only or £689.99 in a kit with an EF-S 18-55mm lens.
The third offering from Canon is the EOS M3.  This is a CSC camera that is aimed squarely at the enthusiast market.  This camera also has a 24.2MP APS-C sized sensor, HD video and Wi-Fi connectivity.  As with what looks to be the trend with the CSC market at the moment it comes with the all important 'selfie screen'.  The EOS M3 also has a hotshoe allowing it to be connected to speedlites and studio systems.  The EOS M3 will be available from April as a kit with an 18-55mm lens priced at £599.99.
At the top end of the range Canon have also announce the release of the EOS 5DS and 5DS R.  Both cameras have the same specification except the 5DS R has two low pass filters installed.  The camera both bost 50.6MP full frame sensors, 61 point AF system and 3.2 inch LCD screen.  The EOS 5DS will go on sale at £2999.99 body only and the 5DS R will be priced at £3199.99.  Both cameras will be available from June 2015.
Finally a tech announcement from Canon has indicated that there will be a new PowerShot G3X in the very near future.  Very little is know about the camera at this stage but it is likely that it will have a 25x zoom (equivalent to 24mm - 600mm in 35mm terms).  It is expected that a demonstratuion version of the camera will be ready for the CP+ trade show in Japan later this month.

Friday, 6 February 2015

For once I agree with Jonathan Jones

For those who are not guadianistas Mr Jones writes a weekly arts column and often has it in for us photographers. He recently declared that photography could never be an Art and has no place in galleries.I think he likes the abusive comments his pieces garner.

But he has just had a go at the pretentious nature of amateur photography and I'm right there with him on this one.

The Art of photography is seeing the same thing as everyone else but presenting it differently so that people see it anew not re-photographing the same old things in the same way so that one persons work becomes indistinguishable from the next.

This is obviously a theme that is going around. Not long ago we drew attention to a piece on Petapixel on a similar theme. Mr Jones goes a bit overboard at times but there is a lot to think about in his article.

His final paragraph reads:

Photography matters when it finds original subject matter. It is a record of the world, so the real art of the camera lies in discovering something new and personal or revelatory. When Richard Billingham turned the camera on his family he showed his own world, bravely, movingly. When Robert Capa took his camera to the heart of war he found unforgettable truths. Brassai discovered an entire nocturnal world of magic, desire and sleaze in his book Paris by Night. Garry Winogrand had an incredible eye for the strange and compelling and his photographs bristle with reality. Larry Burrows in Vietnam created images that seem composed by some great tragic artist yet are utterly, dreadfully real.

Full Article

To end the week

This week Bob, braved the cold and the spindrift to top off Pen-Y-Ghent  (all 2277 feet of it).  He came back with a lovely set of pictures taken with his Canon Powershot S100.

If you would like to see one of your pictures featured in our To End the Week Spot then drop them in our Flickr group and if you are chosen we'll be in touch!

Have a good weekend!!!  See you Monday!

Starting Tomorrow - Nelson Camera Club Annual Exhibition

Nelson Camera Club open their doors tomorrow to their Annual Exhibition.  The event this year is held in the upstairs gallery space of the ACE Centre, Cross Street, Nelson.  The exhibition runs until February 28th.  A review of the show will be posted next week.

News from Blackburn is Open

There are several events up and coming in the Blackburn is Open calendar that we thought you might be interested in;

Beatles Drink & Draw

Drink & Draw are a cabaret style event with a difference.  Bringing together both professional and amateur artists alike to enjoy a drink and drawing while being entertained.  This month it is the turn of The Walrus, a Beatles/John Lennon inspired tribute act to entertain the artistic crowd.

The Drink and Draw event takes place on Thursday 12th February, 6:30pm at St. Johns Church, Victoria Street, Blackburn.  Admission is £5.

Open Day @ The Bureau

The Bureau is Blackburn's newest art venue and will be opening its doors for a day of artistic intent.

The event taking place on February 19 will feature live entertainment, demonstrations and workshops in everything from printmaking to lampshade making.

Take part in a singing workshop or even try your hand at circus skills such as juggling or unicycling.
There’ll also be live entertainment from a variety of performers including Blackburn People’s Choir, singer songwriter Ian Hodgson whose band Bradford have shared stages with the likes of Bjork and Primal Scream, and folk band The Driver Brothers.

SLYNCS, a Blackburn based youth organisation, will be delivering a one hour workshop aimed at finding out what people want from an arts centre in Blackburn and Somewhere-to who support young people in the arts will also be on hand to talk about the work that they do.

There’ll also be an art auction to help raise money for The Bureau. Work will be contributed by the many artists involved in setting up The Bureau and bidding begins at 7.30pm.

The Bureau is based at the former church St Johns which until recently was the venue for the Citizens Advice Bureau.

It has now been relaunched as an arts centre and is being run by local artists, performers and event promoters to host events, exhibitions, workshops and other creative endeavours.

The event will run from 10.30am until 5pm followed by ArtSpace creative meet-up from 5-10pm.

A Light Shines in the Darkness

‘A Light Shines in Darkness’ aims to bring new audiences into churches, some of whom may have never set foot in one, and challenge them to look at the building in a new way.

It seeks to provoke discussion around buildings now often overlooked and undervalued that nevertheless have a powerful architectural presence.
“Whether you’re religious or not you can’t help but be affected when you go into a place like this and the atmosphere the architecture creates. They deserve to have life in them and for people to have access to such special places,” Mike Jones FVU, curator.
Three films from the collection will be shown at the Grade I listed Gothic church Holy Trinity, built at the height of Blackburn’s industrial might.

They include LEAP after The Great Ecstacy an examination of worship of a different nature that of a major sporting event and Stable a film exploring what happens when you release a group of horses into a religious space.

A Light Shines in the Darkness is commissioned by the Film and Video Umbrella (FVU) and the Church’s Conservation Trust

A Light Shines in the Darkness runs from 5th March until 28th March, 4:30pm - 8:30pm, Holy Trinity Church, Mount Pleasant, BB1 5DQ.

One for the Gamers

Pixel Lust, the retro gaming interactive exhibitions returns but this time with more levels and extra bonus points!

Back by popular demand Pixel Lust the exhibition dedicated to the art of gaming returns for a two week bonanza of exhibitions, workshops and of course gaming.

In a nod to the hacker movement and also a time when computing seemed more accessible for would be coders Pixel Lust II will include a whole of host of computing workshops.

Events will include Tech Jam, an opensource electronics event for people wanting to start Raspberry pi and Arduino projects and coding for youngsters with Scratch software.
“We’re getting practical with art, programming and electronics workshops and celebrating technologies such as Minecraft, Arduino and Raspberry Pi, that encourage adults and young people alike to get their hands dirty but only digitally, of course,” says organiser Alex Martindale.
And other events include a jewellery making session, a stitch a sprite workshop, a retro gaming party and a craft jam where anything goes.

To volunteer or to get more information Facebook visit the website Pixel Lust

Pixel Lust runs from the 16th March until 29th March, Blackburn is Open Art's Centre (Next to the old cinema).

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II arrives

ID: 17138The long awaited successor to the enthusiast level Olympus OM-D E-M5 has arrived in the guise of a Mark II version.

The camera has a completely new algorithm for is image stabilising system making it the 'worlds most powerful IS' which Olympus claim is an improvement equivalent to 5 stops of shutter speed.

The 16 megapixel camera has been fully weatherproofed and is now even 'freezeproof' making ideal for landscape photographers.

The camera also has a clever little trick.  It has a sensor shift IS program which combines eight images to 'deliver a 4MP image with breathtaking levels of detail and radiance.'

The camera goes on sale later this month and is priced at £899.99 for the body only option.  A kit is available with a 14-150mm f4-5.6 lens priced at £1249.99

New Pentax full frame camera announced

Pentax full frame SLRRicoh Imaging has announced that there will be a new full frame Pentax DSLR.

Very little detail has been announced so far but the camera is due to see it launch at Japan’s CP+ trade show.

Ricoh has said that the camera will be ready for sale by the end of 2015.  It will feature Pentax’s K mount lens system making it compatible with a wide range of lenses both old and new.  The camera will also feature a crop feature allowing the lenses that are designed for the APS-C sensor to work on the camera too.

The design of the exterior is yet to be finalised but Ricoh have issued one image of the camera.
There will also be some new full frame compatable lenses including 70-200mm f2.8 and 150-450mm f4.5-5.6.

The CP+ trade show runs from 12th February until the 15th February 2015.

Ilford film survey shows interesting results

Ilford, the film manufacturer has released the results of a survey they have carried out about film photography.

The survey showed that ‘support for traditional film is growing’ driven by demand from users new to shooting film. 

 Some of the statistics make interesting reading;

  •  98% of respondents use black and white film with only 2% using colour;
  •  31% of black and white film users shoot the film exclusively.
  •  Around 84% taught themselves to shoot film using books and internet for support;
  •  49% said that they print their own photographs in a darkroom;
  •  Around a third of film users are under the age of 35.

Ilford is behind the setting up a website dedicated to darkrooms.  There anyone interested in developing and printing photographs can find a local darkroom and/or tutors.

Steven Brierley, Director of Sales and Marketing at HARMAN technology/ILFORD PHOTO, commented “Thanks to the film users who took part in this survey, we have confirmed what we thought, which is that the recent growth in film sales can be attributed to the new users coming through. We are providing support to these new users and making it easier for them to find darkrooms should they wish to. It’s a year since we launched and we now have over 650 tutors and sharers in more than 60 countries around the world. Without the support and help from the film community who complete our surveys, this couldn’t have happened” 

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Artist in Residence Opportunity

An opportunity for an artist in residence has been announced.

The SHOP is a project run by Pendle Leisure Trust and funded by Arts Council England and the Portas Pilot scheme, supporting the development of Nelson Town Centre.  The project has taken over the old post office space and created a new creative and selling space for the town centre.

The residence is a partnership between Pendle Leisure Trust and In-Situ arts organisation.

They are particularly interested in process led artwork that explores Nelson Town Centre community in a sensitive manner: responding to people, place, and culture. 

The aim of the Shop residence is to develop a vibrant, creative presence within the shop and town centre community; as such, it is expected that the resident artist will show a presence in the locale: working in The Shop and the town centre.

There is a recognised lack of opportunities for the general public of Pendle to engage directly with artists and contemporary art in their locale. Feedback from local residents indicates that people are interested in contemporary art that responds to, and integrates with, the fabric of Pendle: the environment, local cultures, and social issues. In-residence creates a platform to respond to this feedback and produce engaging work in unexpected ways in unexpected spaces.

For more information contact Paul Hartley at In-Situ arts.

Is it really a stupid question?

Breakwater and Ball - Digital Monochrome, Lee Johnson
On the Amateur Photographer website they have posted a new poll.  This week it is about monochrome photography and asks 'Would you be prepared to convert one of your cameras to black & white?'  Is this a silly question?

After doing my research I still believe that it could well be.  I've read several articles about how much better the monochrome image from a converted digital camera is from a colour image that has been converted.

First, I have to admit that I do love monochrome photography.  There is just something about it and in my head I know it doesn't make sense, after all I do not see objects, people or landscapes in black and white.  I see them in colour.  I am of an age that I remember watching TV in black and white.  Would I go back to those days?  Nope, not really.  I seriously think it's more of a nostalgia thing.

The Leica M Monochrom
Of course there is an exception to this.  That is when I shoot film.  I love processing my own film and although I'm told that C-41 is as easy as black and white, I'm still a bit reluctant to try it and of course I shoot colour film nearly as much as I shoot black and white film.

One of the options in the poll is 'No, I'm saving up for a Leica M Monochrom instead'.  This option does sort of make sense to me.  Why not have a camera that is dedicated to shoot just monochrome images?  Ok, if I were going to spend that much money on a camera and lenses I would probably be looking to invest in a Pentax 645z or a quality large format film camera and not a Leica but at first the sentiment was there.

Heptonstall - Shot on Ilford FP4+ and scanned, Lee Johnson
However, as I began thinking more and more about it I came to the conclusion that it is a bit of a silly question.  My DSLR, compacts and even my mobile phone cameras all have the option to shoot in black and white.  I also have the option to convert an image from colour to monochrome in Lightroom or Photoshop.  Same with film.  I could shoot a colour neg and either process in black and white chemistry or scan it and convert in Photoshop.

Perhaps a converted digital camera may shoot a monochrome image better than some of these options (I still think a negative and a nicely made print is more beautiful than any digital image) but for me, the quality I get using the techniques and equipment I have at my disposal are more than adequate for my needs.

If you are feeling brave you can convert a digital camera to a monochrome digital yourself.  Petapixel have an article here.

Thoughts from across the pond

One of the great joys of the internet is the way it breaks international boundaries, even Pixel has an international audience.

Pre-Internet a few of us may have heard of great American magazines but few of us ever got the chance to read them but now....

There is an interesting essay in the online edition  of The Atlantic discussing, not for once on whether photography is dead or if its an art but looking at the more fundamental question of whether the nature of art and artists is changing and our current view of art as "That which you see in a gallery" is becoming out dated.

When works of art become commodities and nothing else, when every endeavor becomes “creative” and everybody “a creative,” then art sinks back to craft and artists back to artisans—a word that, in its adjectival form, at least, is newly popular again. Artisanal pickles, artisanal poems: what’s the difference, after all? So “art” itself may disappear: art as Art, that old high thing. Which—unless, like me, you think we need a vessel for our inner life—is nothing much to mourn.
Link to the complete Article

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Landscape Photography

Over on Petapixel, Ugo Cei has posted an article called 'Will the real landscape photography please stand up'.  In the article Cei discusses getting away from what a lot of photographers perceive to be the standard for landscape photography.

While I do believe that a hobbyist photographer should be happy doing what they want to do, I couldn't help feeling that what Cei is saying resonates with how I feel and approach my own landscape photography for some time.

Have a look and see what you think.

Same thing but different

Grouse Butt - Bob Singleton
A couple of weeks ago Bob and I went out taking photographs at the same time.  We were not out together but we were in the same geographical area with a similar sort of subject in mind, snow.
Bob chose to go to the summit of Pendle and take some shots there.  I was at Newchurch which is not more than a couple of miles away from Bob.  Bear in mind that we did not know both of us were out an in the same area.

I don’t think we actually class ourselves as any particular type of photographer, we just enjoy photography but that being said we both favour a documentary approach.

It is interesting to look at both our photographs from that session.  They are both documentary photographs.  There has not been any Photoshopping.  Mine had its final levels and sharpening done in Photoshop but that’s it.  I suspect that Bob’s is straight out of Lightroom.

Winter Whites - Lee Johnson
The interesting point is our approaches to a similar subject at the same time.  Bob has exposed his photograph to show the conditions as they were.  It was a bit grey, flat and not particularly nice.

I was looking for something that would make a nice monochrome image.  I wanted some strong blacks, shades of grey and then some almost paper white.  I knew that my cameras meter would underexpose the image so I dialled in about 2 stops of exposure compensation.  The result is what I wanted to achieve.

Both photographs have a lot in common.  They are in the same geographical location; have a similar subject matter (stone, landscapes and weather conditions.  They both look very cold!); and are documentary in nature.  I like Bob’s image as much as I like mine but the interesting thing is that we have the same approach and still come out with something quite different.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Now I get it!

Not so long ago Pentax Ricoh released the Pentax K-S1.  At first I thought the idea of a light up camera was simply folly, a gimmicky selling point.  Last night I changed my mind.

It's fair to say I am a Pentax fan.  I bought my digital KX because I knew there was a lot of excellent quality lens available both new and old available for it.  I knew the imaging was good, I'd searched flickr and done my homework.  Above all the KX felt right in my hand.  It actually felt better in my hand than the equivalent Canon and Nikon did (although I have to admit, it was a toss up between the KX and Nikon).  I love my KX so much that I bought a K1000 film SLR.  I love that so much that I have a Pentax Espio 115G, a 645 (both film and digital) and 110 Auto on my GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) list.

In an earlier post Liam alluded to the both of us taking part in a course on astronomy.  As part of the course we have to take photographs of the star constellation Orion and last night proved to be the first and best opportunity to do that.  So braving the temperature I set off up the nearest hill to bag a shot.

Orion - best seen on Flickr

I've done night photography before but it has always been pretty much in an urban area.  Last night it was dark, in fact it was so dark that my camera's auto-focus was useless and I hit on another problem.  I couldn't see through the viewfinder.  Well, no that's not strictly true.  The light of the rear display was interfering with my eyes own capability to see in the dark.  Of course, I could use live view or turn the display off.  Well, I could have if I could;

  1. remember which button it was in the dark or; 
  2. seen the button in the first place.

As a result I have a new mental note.  That is, 'if shooting in the dark take either a torch or phone with me'.  It helps light the back of the camera up even and I can find the buttons!  Either that or buy a camera that has light up buttons.

The K-S1 isn't such a bad idea anymore!

BWPA opens its doors to entry

The British Wildlife Photography Awards has opened to entry for it's 2015 competition.  Now in it's sixth year this competition has quickly established itself as one of the best wildlife photography competitions in the world.

Wildlife photographer and TV presenter Chris Packham said "Each year the British Wildlife Photographer Awards generates an incredible catalogue of splendid, exciting, imaginative and artistic images, proving beyond doubt that we have the richest palette of life to celebrate in our own backyard.

Anyone passionate about protecting and preserving wildlife will be inspired by the British Wildlife Photographer Awards which, in its sixth year, has done more than any other award to raise the profile of British wildlife."

This year the overall winner of the competition will receive £5000 and each category winner will receive a Canon Powershot G7X.

For more information and entry guidelines visit the BWPA website here.

For those that still like to shoot film

A couple of weeks ago we introduced you to the Film Photography Project and their podcasts.  If you want a valuable and fun resource on film photography then this is the place to be.

The new issue is out now and includes items on the Nikon F6, Nikon F2 Photomic and the Anniversary Brownie.  There is a review of some books and a large format photography report.  All good stuff.

The podcast is available from iTunes or on their website here.  Its well worth a listen.