April, 2012

...now browsing by month


Oxford: Lincoln College Ball 2012 part 1

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Last night I was fortunate enough to be given permission to photograph at the Lincoln College Ball here in Oxford (thank you Rachel Savage). Despite the cold howling wind and rain I think a good time was had by all. I enjoyed it but due to the weather there wasn’t much opportunity for outdoor photography which meant doing lots of flash photography (not my favourite) or trying to make use of what little ambient light I could find. As a photographer we work with what we have in any given situation and I enjoyed the challenge even if it was so dark that I could hardly tell whether my subjects were in focus most of the time. In the top two shots below you can see the rain dripping down from the edge of the marquee.

There was a great diversity of outfits being worn last night and I couldn’t help noticing so many photogenic people that I’d love to have the opportunity to photograph again in a less busier setting. Please get in touch if you like my photography and would like to do a test shoot with film and old cameras.

Below is a little taster of some of the images I captured during the evening. These are all from my digital camera, the film shots will follow on later once I’ve processed and scanned the film. I ended up using my digital camera more than I would have liked simply because the light levels were so low and it’s handy to see a preview when using flash. All of the images below were made without any flash, I searched for the places with the best ambient light and waited for willing subjects. More to come.

[Tech info:] Nikon D700 with Zeiss 50mm/f1.4 lens (used wide open).

students at the lincoln college ball in oxford

A fun time was had by all.

Oxford: 10×8 large format camera

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

I’m a huge fan of large format photography and I bought my first large format camera (a 5×4 inch Wista) back in 1990. At the time I was an assistant in a commercial photography studio where a lot of the work we did was car advertising photography for Rover which was shot on a 10×8 inch camera. The photographer I worked for has since retired from commercial photography and he’s been kind enough to let me borrow the same 10×8 inch camera that he used for all of the advertising work. It’a a big camera (four times the size of my 5×4 camera) and it’s also quite heavy. Only recently have I been able to find a rucksack big enough to hold it and last weekend I was finally able to take it out on the streets of Oxford which was lots of fun. I was only able to take 4 sheets of film with me on my outing because the combined weight of the camera, rucksack, lens and tripod all added up to quite a hefty load to be walking for 45mins into town with. I made it there and back in one piece and I can’t wait to do it again.

[Tech info:] Wista 10×8 camera with 300mm/f5.6 lens. Adox 100 film processed in Rodinal (1:50 dilution).

Wista 10x8 camera with a smaller lens than the one I took out on my session.

Here's the camera with a smaller lens than the one I ended up taking with me.


Ground glass screen

The view that I see from underneath the dark cloth. Image by Paolo Polzella.


Negatives drying in the darkroom

Negatives drying in the darkroom.


First shot, Turl Street, Oxford.


Street portrait

Street portrait, Turl Street. I made this shot in a hurry because this guy had to get back to work at the coffee shop down the road .


Morris dancers

Morris dancers, Broad Street, Oxford. Unfortunately this one has a processing problem where I didn't add enough film developer to cover the sheet of film.


Oxford: lunch time session

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

The weather forecast turned out to be wrong so instead of a week of endless rain we were fortunate enough to have some nice sunny weather during the past couple of days and when the sun is out so am I. These shots are from the first roll of film through my Rolleiflex SL66 camera. It’s similar to a Hasselblad in that it uses the same Zeiss 80mm lens design and the image format is 6x6cm square but that’s where the similarities end. In my opinion the SL66 is a lot more versatile and has features the Hasselblad can only dream about. I breezed through a roll of film in my lunch break and because this camera is lighter than most of my other cameras I was able to cover a lot more ground than I usually do when carrying heavier cameras.

[Tech info:] Rolleiflex SL66 with 80mm and 150mm lenses. Ilford HP5+ film (expired in 2005) processed in Ilford DD-X.

rolleiflex sl66

Rolleiflex SL66. The previous owner was a food photographer who recently retired, he used this camera for 30 years.

a dog sitting in a shop doorway

Going nowhere. Shop doorway, Little Clarendon Street.

James (aka Cowboy Mod). Wellington Square. You can see me reflected in his sunglasses.

I love the way the background here looks like a painted theatrical backdrop. That's the Ashmolean Museum in the background.

Waiting for the bus outside the Randolph Hotel. The man was very pleasant and told me he used to work in the photo trade many years ago. We chatted about photography.

Ship Street.

A quick grab shot to see how well the camera coped with moving subjects. Turl Street.

Lunchtime at the coffee shop.


Oxford: rain stopped play

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

This image just about sums up the weather this week – a total wash out. We’ve had a lot of rain and more is on the way. I didn’t want to let the rain put a dampener on my lunch time photography session so I decided to go out with a digital camera today because it’s weather proofed.

[Tech info:] Nikon D700 digital camera loaded with a compact flash card. Processed in Adobe Lightroom 4.

A girl standing in the rain holding an umbrella

Rain check

Experiments: Kodak barrel lens

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

I recently bought an old Kodak barrel lens (Kodak No.33 Anastigmat 4.5 7 1/2 inch) for an insanely low price and these are some of the first test shots made with it. From what I can tell the lens is from the 1920’s or 1930’s because there’s no serial number on it so it’s certainly pre-1940’s which was when Kodak started to add them on their lenses. There’s no shutter which is where my Speed Graphic 5×4 camera comes in handy because it’s got a focal plane shutter built into the back.

So far I’ve been quite rushed when doing my tests with this lens because I’ve only had time during my lunch breaks to do any testing and so far I haven’t quite found its sweet spot yet for achieving nice bokeh. These images were all made on Fuji FP100-C instant pack film (just like Polaroid) and for a change I’ve scanned the negative after removing the black backing with household bleach. The prints look very different to these.

a double exposure

This double exposure was an accident and I was a bit gutted when I peeled the print but it's grown on me.

This is Richard who works at Clements & Church on Little Clarendon Street. It's a new men's tailor that recently opened. This shot was at least 1.5 stops underexposed but the negative seems to hold a lot more detail than the print.

Radcliffe Camera

My first shot with this lens. I decided to pick a subject that wouldn't move.

Stone masons

These are stone masons working on St. Mary's tower. They were very patient and we chatted about photography as I set up the shot. In my rush to get the shot I miss-framed it.

Bird feeder

Bird feeder. Another very underexposed shot that was rescued from the recovered neg. The light level was low and I chose a fast shutter speed to freeze the moving branches.

Oxford: lunch hour session

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Something a little different from my usual lunch hour sessions here because I don’t usually go to the pub at lunch time. A meeting I had at work ended up running over by almost an hour which meant my lunch break was later. I took this opportunity to break from my usual routine of walking into town and instead I explored the neighbourhood around where I work. The benefit of this was I had a lot more time to shoot because usually I only get 30mins to shoot as my walk into town and back is 15mins each way. The relaxed change of pace was nice and as it was a sunny day with a clear sky the light was very harsh and contrasty which resulted in great shadows around.  The following day I was back to my old routine again but I think I might mix things up a bit from now on.

[Tech info:] Mamiya C330f and 80mm lens loaded with Fomapan 200, processed in Rodinal 1:50 for 11mins at 20c.

Concrete staircase

Stairway to...

Tree shadow

I love this shadow

The Rickety Press pub interior

On my travels I ended up going inside The Rickety Press pub which was recently renovated. The light and shadows inside were fantastic.

old books

Old books on display and for reading.

old book spines

I liked the ornate spines on these books.

classic old penguin books

Penguin classics behind the bar.


Back to work.

radcliffe square oxford

Day 2. 'Cool camera' they said as I walked past. 'Thanks' I said, 'let me make a quick portrait of you with it'. Click!

Outside Brasenose College where some construction work is going on.

I thought the 3D glasses were cool and the contrast of outfits. On the steps of the Clarendon Building.

A men's tailoring shop recently opened in Little Clarendon Street and this is one of the tailor's working there.

Oxford: lunch hour session

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

Some random  images made on expired Kodak Tri-X film during my lunch hour. I started the roll off by photographing the window typography in the windows of the soon to be burger place but the first time I went there the sun was shining on the buildings across the street and the reflections in the glass were too distracting. The next day I left for work earlier than usual in the morning and the overcast light was perfect. I went back there again in my lunch hour that same day to ask if I could photograph from inside the building looking out but the boss wasn’t there and the construction worker standing in the doorway said he couldn’t give me permission so I ended up making a portrait of him instead. There’s so much construction going on around Oxford city centre at the moment. I feel a construction worker portrait project coming on.

[Tech info:] Mamiya C330f with 80mm lens, Kodak Tri-X processed in HC110 dilution b (1:31).

Be here typography in shop window

I love the way this typography has been done. The dark areas allow you to see in through the glass

Shop front typography. George Street.

I like the frontage of this building on George Street.

Construction worker

Construction worker in doorway. He was very reluctant to be photographed at first because he thought I wanted him to 'pose'. Instead I told him not to move


Here's the work being carried out around the back of the same building

Hand painted Fire Exit sign

Hand painted sign, Broad Street

Construction workers

The three construction workers that I pass almost every day on my way back to my office. A friendly group of guys

I photographed this girl some months ago so it was nice to bump into her again. She's one of the most photogenic people I've come across

Construction workers

This is the following day from the shot above. Little Clarendon Street



Acting: headshot

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

A little while ago I was contacted by Andrew McCormack, a student studying here at Oxford University. He said he’d decided to give acting a serious go and wondered if I would do an acting headshot for him. I had previously photographed him during the dress rehearsal for POSH at the Oxford Union and he really liked my shots from that. I really like making portraits so of course I said yes but I wanted to do it on film, no problem he said so we arranged to meet up at his college to do the photo shoot in the grounds. It was the end of the day and the sun was dropping in the sky so we had to rush a little before the whole of the college quad was covered in shadow from one of the buildings. I decided to use a medium format camera for the shots and as there are only 10 frames on a roll of film  with that camera the shoot didn’t take very long at all.

Andrew was very pleased with the final shots and so am I. Hopefully they’ll play a part in helping him secure some great jobs in his future acting career. If there are any other aspiring thespians out there that require a headshot do please get in touch.

[Tech info:] Mamiya RZ67 camera with 150mm lens loaded with Kodak TRi-X film, processed in Kodak HC110 dilution b (1:31).

This was Andrew's final choice. We shot this in the shade against an off-white wall

Frame 10. After 9 shots I knew I had it in the bag so this was the last shot on the roll. A more pensive portrait.

Vintage: glass plate photography

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

This is the first blog post I’ve made that doesn’t feature any of my own photography and to be honest I don’t know who the original photographer is. All I can tell you is that a box full of these glass plate negatives was on sale at a local charity shop here in Oxford and last week they were purchased by a gentleman visiting from the U.S. – he has been very generous to allow me to borrow them so that I can make some contact prints. I only borrowed them earlier today so I was keen to make some scans to see exactly what was on them.

All of the images in the box are of window displays for a tobacconist called Lewis. The name Lewis is handwritten in pencil on the outside of the box lid and some of the plates have reference numbers written along the edge as well as location information. One of them has Luton written on it. The measure approximately 6.5 inches x 8.5 inches and I can only assume that the original photographer was photographing these shops as a commercial job, commissioned by Lewis to do so or it was a personal project. It makes me a little sad to think of all of the work that went into making these images however many decades ago and they end up being donated to a charity shop.

Many thanks to Ken for the loan of these glass plates. I really enjoyed scanning these and I look forward to making some contact prints from them in the coming weeks.

The lid of the box the glass plates were in

Shot 1

Shot 2. The exposure time for this shot must have been quite slow because there is motion blur from the men inside the shop

Shot 3

Shot 4

Shot 5

To show how detailed these images are, here's a crop of a small part of this image that's less than half the full resolution of my scanner

Oxford: Expired film

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

These few images are a bit out of sequence. They’re from a roll I finished over a month ago but I’m not sure where the other shots are at the moment. To save time I’m posting them today ‘as is’. The funky look to the images is because the film was very old. I’m not sure when it expired but I bought it as part of a large batch of expired film so there’s more where this came from. The mottled look is I think from the paper backing being in contact with the film for a long time and the film not being stored in optimum cold/dry conditions. I could be wrong but that’s my best guess.

[Tech info:] Mamiya C330f camera loaded with Ilford Delta 3200 film. Processed in Ilford DD-X developer (1:4).

I saw this gentleman waiting with his bike on Broad Street. I was on my way back to my office at the end of my lunch break. I thought he had a cool moustache.

Another fellow film photographer. This was lit from a small window in the stairwell near the darkroom that we use.

The Covered Market. I've never seen so many butchers in one place.


Test shoot: Hai Lin #2

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

After the photo session with Hai Lin and my Aero Ektar setup (here) went so well I arranged to do another session a couple of days later because the late afternoon light was really nice and I wanted to test out a different camera, this time a medium format one that was more portable and faster to use than my 5×4 Speed Graphic. I shot a roll of colour film as well as b&w but I haven’t processed it yet.

[Tech info:] Mamiya RZ67 with 110mm and 250mm lenses on Kodak Tri-X film. Processed in Kodak HC110, dilution B (1:31) for 7:30 at 20c. Processed and scanned by me.

Looking towards the sun with the shadow from the Bridge of Sighs

Looking towards the Clarendon Building

I like the shadow on the ground and how much detail there is in this shot despite Hai Lin being backlit

The sun was starting to get quite low at this point

I really like the vintage look and feel of this image. It feels like a movie still or promo shot to me.


Lunch hour session: Oxford

Friday, April 6th, 2012

At the beginning of March I was fortunate enough to be granted permission to photograph at the Balliol College Ball but I didn’t know that the ball was even taking place until the day before! As usual I was on my lunch time photography walk around Oxford when I noticed some dodgem cars being unloaded into Balliol College on Broad Street. I stopped to shoot some pictures and got chatting with a couple of the guys. It turned out that they were a family run business that specialised in fairground rides and they mainly dealt with colleges in Oxford and Cambridge, it was then that they told me about the ball that was happening the next night at Balliol. Below are some pictures from that day and the lunch time of the following day. The end of this roll of film has shots from the beginning of the ball. It’s nice to have all of these shots on the same roll of film because it’s a nice time line for me when looking back through them.

[Tech info:] Nikon FM2 loaded with Ilford XP2 film. Processed in a Tetanol C41 kit and scanned by me.

These two guys were really fun to chat with

Unloading the dodgems

Unloading the dodgems

Dodgems controller

Setting up the dodgems in Balliol's quad

A little break from shopping, Broad Street

I love the light the comes around this side of the Sheldonian Theatre

Photographer using a Diana F Lomo camera

Another film photographer. This girl had only just got this Diana F Lomo camera.

I love this shadow and the way the light bounces around in this passageway

One of the ground crew workers currently working on the building project at the corner of Walton Street and Little Clarendon Street

One of the ground crew workers currently working on the building project at the corner of Walton Street and Little Clarendon Street

One of the ground crew workers currently working on the bulding at the corner of Walton Street and Little Clarendon Street