Showing posts from March, 2009

Podcast live!

I met Andy Howell at the Outdoors Show and he tells me that the podcast he made with me at the Focus on Imaging exhibition in February is now available for download from Bob Cartwright's Backpacking Light UK website

The Outdoors Show

Well, yesterday marks what will probably be the last time I visit the annual Outdoors Show at the NEC in Birmingham. I have attended this show since the first time it was staged and have seen a steady decline in the quality of the event to the extent that my visit yesterday was little more than a disappointing and wasted day. I don't blame the exhibitors. I have exhibited at NEC shows in the past and I am aware of the exhorbitant costs involved and fully understand why the major players and most smaller manufacturers and specialists now seem to boycot the event.
Unless the organisers revue their planning, I feel the Outdoors Show has now run it's course. The future may well lie in smaller, more specialist events held on different dates around the UK.

Birchen Edge

Mark Richards' three well-known walking guides to the Peak District are amongst the most well-thumbed books I have. They are a few years old, but the walks are all good and well researched. The hand drawn maps are clear, detailed and accurate and the text has an easy and informative style. Last Monday, I decided to revisit walk no.8 from White Peak Walks The Northern Dales.
It's been a good while since I walked along Birchen Edge and this route is an easy circular walk that takes in Jack Flat and Gardom's Edge with expansive views throughout. There is plenty of interest and the walk can be extended to include Curbar Edge and more. It makes a very pleasant afternoon out with the bonus that the start and finish are close to the Robin Hood Inn, which just happens to serve some of the best ales and home-cooked food in the Peak!
The monument above commemorates Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson and was erected in 1805.
The Three Ships:
from the left, Victory, Defiance and Royal Soverin. The gritstone outcrops were named after the three principle ships of the Royal Navy at the Battle of Trafalgar. HMS Victory was Nelson's flagship.
This outcrop near Gardom's Edge is quite dramatic when the late afternoon sun catches it. Time things just right and the polarised light is perfect for defining cloud detail. Although the tree on the far right is slightly separated from the outcrop, I felt the inclusion of it adds a little tension to the image, almost as if it is wanting to climb aboard to join it's neighbours! The 14mm focal length exagerrates perspective and makes it possible to pull in the whole scene from quite close up. I really like the Nikkor 14-24 f2.8, it is a powerful lens for landscape and architecture.

Fellow Travellers

The last time I encountered a herd of Highland cattle was when we were sea kayaking in the Outer Hebrides a few years ago. We had paddled to the island of Great Bernera and stopped for lunch. I went off to explore the island's ruined chapel and found myself surrounded by about a dozen over-curious bovines. They were quite agressive and determined to see us off their turf, which they did. We weren't going to argue! These Peak District cattle were rather more friendly, but it seems to be a characteristic of Highland cattle that they are naturally inquisitive.
I came across this herd near the Eagle Stone which can be seen on the distant left of the middle image.

Newcastle upon Tyne and Ford Anglias

This is where the Leica is a joy to use and where it really excels. As a travel camera, it's difficult to beat. Ok, it's uses film. That could be a drawback for some, but it doesn't need batteries and it is quiet and unobtrusive. I'm no HCB, but I understand the great man's high regard for his Leicas. I took it to Newcastle with me on a job yesterday. Not that I used it for the job, I simply used it for my own enjoyment. Processing film is definitely a step backwards but I don't have to do it these days. When I do get my hands dirty, it's because I want to. The Ford Anglia above was an appropriate subject for the MP and 35 Summicron asph. Funny to think that this was the car that most working-class people drooled over in the 60's. Simplicity of engineering is not always appealing. I never liked the Ford Anglia much back then, let alone today! The shot of the Tyne bridges was taken on the 90mm Elmarit. Film was Iford delta 100 in ID11.


Cameras and photographic equipment are the tools of my trade and not something I usually get sentimental about and neither do I spend time dreaming of owning particular cameras or lenses. There is one exception and that is my Leica MP and my three Leica lenses. When I first saw the MP on it's release several years ago, I wanted one instantly. No, I didn't need a Leica MP, I simply wanted one in the same way a collector of watches would want a Breguet or Rolex, perhaps. There are probably several reasons for wanting something like a Leica MP and I daresay none of those reasons are particularly wholesome or even very sensible, but I bought one anyway. If nothing else, my MP and the awe-inspiring Noctilux f1 lens that I paired it with are a constant reminder of my dear old late Gran. I only wish I could have used it to take a photograph of her. My Leica may have been expensive, but a photograph of my Grandmother would be priceless.

Llynnau Mymbyr

Suffering for one's art as a landscape photographer is easy. Just expose yourself to clouds of midges on a calm, warm and humid morning! Being eaten alive on this beautiful June morning in Snowdonia left me feeling suitably artistic. How can a creature so small as to be barely visible inflict irritation on such an extreme scale? I admire the midge. Despite 54 years of perfecting my own irritation skills, the humble midge leaves me in awe.

Rangefinder magazine in the US are preparing a feature about me and my landscape work and this image of Llynnau Mymbyr in Snowdonia is being used as a header to the article. A significant percentage of my sales come from overseas, including America, so I am both flattered and grateful to Rangefinder for the exposure that has been given to me. I only wish the clouds of midges had evaporated as rapidly as the mist on the lake did at sunrise!

Fuji GX617
RVP 50 (25asa equivalent with centre nd grad).