Monday, March 19, 2018

Street Level Photoworks B&W Weekend Course

It's taken me since early 2008 to get around to this.

At last, this past weekend, I've learned how to develop and print photos properly thanks to Street Level Photoworks & our tutor Alicia Bruce. On Saturday morning it was the basics of how an SLR works, (you can see my hands in the bottom right of the first photo, here, and my Nikon F in the second one); then we went out and took photos. In the afternoon we developed the negs. None of this was new to me, but it was still useful to go through it all again, professionally. I didn't let on, for example, that I've never used stop bath, I've always just got by with washing up liquid.

The negs dried over night, and on Sunday we went into the darkroom with the enlargers and this is all new to me now. It got really paradoxical: making a test strip, contact sheet, and then the actual print was all pretty straightforward, once you get the hang of obvious no-nos like leaving the photographic paper out of the box, and dipping the dev tongs into the stop... But getting it right was much more difficult. I mean, getting from clicking the shutter in Glasgow city centre, to a print that's good enough to go on the wall - that was not achieved by me, at any rate.

You can tweak with the enlarger, change the aperture and contrast. And there was a brief look at dodging and burning. But these things require much more skill in the analogue process than they do in the digital. Mostly, I realized that the negative must be good: unless you're very lucky, being snap-happy just won't cut it. I raced through 36 exposures in less than an hour. But to get exhibition-quality prints will take more thought in the planning and care in the execution, regarding subject matter, light, framing and composition.

So the next stage is to stick with 35mm B&W using only the Nikon F. It might take weeks or months to get to the standard I want. Thing is, I don't feel right going off into other projects, like developing decades old film found in second hand cameras, until I've got to grips with this. 

Friday, February 09, 2018

My Fed-4: it's alive!

I have a Fed-4 which apparently I've never used... Just now did a bit of research and worked out as best I could, (no one has published online a comprehensive serial no./production date schedule) that it dates to some time in the 70s. It carries a contrary (for a Soviet camera) Queen's Silver Jubilee sticker on the case, so that suggests it was in the UK at some time before 1977.

I thought the ASA/Shutter speed/aperture dial on the top left was some kind of analogue sunny 16 reckoner, when... the needle to the left of it was working! Put my finger over the sensor on the front and... it dropped to nothing. It's alive! Forty years and counting. Makes you wonder how the Soviet Union ever collapsed.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Jupiter 8: numpty

Why oh why did I sell my Jupiter 8 lens when I was 'having a clear out'?  Not like it took up a lot of space. But at least having a blog meant I could find out where it was, save all that searching through boxes and wondering what I'd done with it.

Today has been getting re-acquainted with the FED-2 day. See these resolutions I made in 2013. That's where I'm picking up from. I somehow managed to mend the diopter without entirely getting the top off the FED-2.

Monday, February 05, 2018


"The last 'proper' photo I'm going to take for a while, all the spare energy is going into learning the piano.  I'll dust off the cameras after I get to Grade 8."

UPDATE: I didn't get to grade 8, (though I could probably now do grade 1 if I put in the effort). But I have dusted the cameras off after a break of almost 5 years. Watch this space.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Standing Water and Allotment Drainage

There was a lot of snow, slush and ice on the ground until last night. There's been a rise in temperature and some rain, so if the drainage is going to work, this morning was the time to find out.

The pond was over full, the overflow to the Council's drain being a bit blocked. I was able to clear it easily, with the result you can see in the video. There was some waterlogging in the beds adjoining the pond, (see below) and I'm hoping that was a result only of the blocked overflow. Otherwise, I might have to dig another 15 feet or so of drainage ditch, around the NW corner. Or maybe not: the sudden thaw has left standing water all over Glasgow.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Compost warming up as weather worsens...

Cleo assumed this position at the allotment gate the second we arrived: none of her usual sniffing around. Hates bad weather, that dog. So I didn't hang around. There was a new bag from the florist, approx 10kg of green material. I dumped that by the heap, not taking the time to turn it over and mix in the new stuff. There was also a large amount of kitchen waste - a bag of split peas past their sell-by date, and a bag of frozen peas which had been pressed into service as a cold compress, plus the usual teabags and turnip peelings.

But the headline news is in the photo below: ambient temperature 3C, (on a thermometer nearby) and the compost thermometer showing 15C.

Still a long way to go: I've read that with regular turning a heap can get to 50 or 60C, (though I've never seen that myself), so maybe it's on the way. I was turning it every other day, but this week have left it alone since Tuesday. I'll turn it again with the new material over the weekend.

The ideal situation will be that it warms up to 40C+, and stays that way over winter providing a small local microclimate for various wildlife, (near the pond, incidentally), and breaking down at such a rate that it remains at a manageable size as approximately 10kg of material per week is added. It could be like a volcanic vent in the deep ocean of an allotment winter. Or something.

I say 'approximately... per week', I have only just started keeping a record of when I get bags of florist offcuts and guinea pig litter; and I'm estimating the 10kg too - casual work at a Royal Mail sorting office years ago has made me aware of what a 20lb/10kg mail bag feels like.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

I have to blog about composting because...

...I've noticed people's eyes glaze over when I try telling them about it face-to-face. What's wrong with them? This is fascinating stuff!

To recap, there's been a compost heap in the far NE corner for 18 months or so now, nothing new added to it since the summer. I'm resisting the temptation to tidy that up and put what must now be fully degraded compost onto one of the beds because that corner will be a winter refuge for frogs and invertebrates.

Nearby, I started another heap, between the fence and the pond. The reason for the location was that I'd noticed when I was away in 2016 that that area got heavily weed infested, not to say jungle-y, and one way of scuppering weeds is to make their corner of the plot into a work area, in a "these boots were made for weeding" kind of way.

This heap was made up mostly of the florists offcuts, and guinea pig litter, which seems to have led to a really good C: N ratio because it composted really quickly.  I turned it regularly, and left it alone for a while, too, and was always surprised at how quickly it was breaking down and shrinking away.

I left that heap alone for a while because the florist's offcuts were going to the mulching operation. When that was done, I started using this heap again. The photo above shows the heap, a turned mixture of the existing almost composted material, 3 bags of recent (last couple of weeks) florist offcuts, and 3 (smaller) bags of guinea pig litter. Also household vegetable waste, but that makes up a relatively small amount by volume.

The disk near the top of the heap is the thermometer. I'm turning the heap every other day, and it seems to be beginning to work - it's a couple of degrees warmer than the ambient temperature, (12C versus 10 this morning).

I'm taking the time to blog about this because there's not much else to focus on at the plot until I get around to starting work on the shed, and I want to record it for future reference. The heavy mulching with raw florists offcuts is a good technique, but only really usable on a bed that's been set aside. I want actual compost, and plenty of it, for no dig mulching, for example between rows of growing plants. I have a feeling that one large-ish bag of cutting per week, (which is roughly what I get) is going to be just right. In any event, it's not going to be too much.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Vocative Function Research: preliminary lit rev

 A very, very brief search has given me the refs below for initial reading. I'm starting with the grammar and pragmatics. Haven't even tried to search, yet, for CDA angles.

Aikhenvald, A.Y., 2013. Imperatives and commands (Back Pages; Appendix: Imperatives and commands: how to know more: a checklist for fieldworkers), Oxford: Oxford University. Press.

Anderson, J.M., 2007. The grammar of names. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Davies, E.E., 1986. English vocatives: A look at their function and form. Studia Anglistica Posnaniensia, 19, pp.91-106.
Downing, B.T., 1969. Vocatives and third‐person imperatives in English. Paper in Linguistics, 1(3), pp.570–592. 

Formentelli, M., 2007. The vocative mate in contemporary English: A corpus based study. Language resources and linguistic theory. Milan: Franco Angeli, pp.180-99.

Zanuttini, R., Pak, M. and Portner, P., 2012. A syntactic analysis of interpretive restrictions on imperative, promissive, and exhortative subjects. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory, 30(4), pp.1231-1274.
Zwicky, A. 1974. Hey, Whatsyourname!. CLS 10, 787-800.