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The main Blog for Ed Sprake Photography

A little something to round off the year…

No particular one subject for this post really, 2012 has been a very busy year indeed, so I thought that I’d go through the best that I’d shot of the year and choose roughly 20 or so to sum it all up. Of course, being me, I completely failed to choose 20 photos, so here’s just over 60 (digital and film from a variety of cameras…) that sum up 2012 for me…

They’re not necessarily all tack sharp, but for me, every one of them says something about that moment, portraying the atmosphere; the fun; just the stuff that was happening around me over the course of the year.

After all, in 2012, we’ve had another child, a loft conversion, the other child’s grown a year older, I’ve been to loads of pretty damned awesome gigs, met some bonkers people and spent a lot of time with a lot of good friends and my brilliant family. A pretty busy year all in all!

Thank you 2012, you’ve been great, now, bring on 2013!

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Of course the other thing that happened was Movember, when I shaved off my usual Mo to grow another. I only got the first 18 days of stop MOtion (sorry) growth, but I reckon that was enough, so here’s a little special treat(?) for you all!

The first 18 days of (re)growing my mo!

18 days of mo growth is enough for anyone!

Have a great Christmas and New Year and I’ll see you all in 2013!

Also posted in Digital Photography, Film Photography, Opinions Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Lou and the Llamas and the Levy Jamboree!


Levy Jamboree Flyer
Been a little while since I last posted, very remiss of me I know…

So I thought I’d catch you up with a little something that’s going on as part of the Levenshulme Festival this year, The Levy Jamboree.

It’s a little gig on Friday the 9th of November at the Klondyke club in Levenshulme , organised by Lou Armer who organises the Levy Uke Up that I’ve mentioned previously on here, and featuring all local artists. Weirdly enough, I’ll actually be playing the banjolele as part of the Levy Uke Up (as will my better half on her uke) so do feel free to come and heckle, it would be lovely to see you!

Conveniently enough, Lou’s band, Lou and the Llamas (although you could have guessed that, right?) played their first gig a week and a bit ago and I shot a few frames of film while I was there. I’ve just got them back and well, now seems like the perfect time to share. All of the Black and white shots were taken with an Olympus OM10 on 35mm Ilford XP2 Super 400 and the lone colour shot was taken on a 1920s (I think) Voightlander 6×9 folding camera on Portra Pro 160 VC.

If you do come down on Friday, do come early as all of the acts are good, and if you enjoy live stuff with real instruments of the more gently acoustic persuasion, you’ll be in for a right treat. It may only be the Llamas’ second gig, but they play beautifully together and create a wonderful sound. So, I’ll stop wittering on now and let the photos speak for themselves.

Enjoy your week and maybe see you on Friday? I’ll be frantically practising till then!

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Also posted in Film Photography, Gigs Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

This City Is Ours

 

Blood Boy, DJing at This City Is Ours

This City Is Ours.

Well, that goes without saying really, we live here after all.

It’s a wonderful, friendly little phrase which invites you in with this lovely feeling of warmth and belonging.

Quite a coincidence really as there’s a regular monthly club night of the same name that engenders precisely the same kind of feelings.

For me, This City Is Ours is one of Manchester’s hidden musical gems. Small, yes, but bright enough with talent, aesthetics and a wonderful sense of the not quite normal that it can sometimes outshine the sun with all of it’s twinkly goodness.

Run by a collection of local artists, this night draws on the talent of the electronic underground in Manchester and across the UK (and occasionally the world) bringing a wide selection of wonderfully glitchy, different electronica to your ears. I’ve heard influences from mid 90’s ambience to post-dubstep to glitch to breakcore to stuff that I wouldn’t dare categorise. All of it, however, has been of a quality that you don’t often find in one place, let alone on a single night. And all done without the slightest hint of pretentiousness.

Anyhow, suffice to say, it’s well worth seeking out if you like your electronics. Oh, and they seem to have a record label too, you might want to check that out I reckon.

They also have a wonderful VJ who’s bonkers projections turn the drabbest of spaces into their own special brand of psychedelics, just see the photos below…

 

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For the full set of photos from this night, please see the gallery on my facebook page.

Also posted in Club Nights Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , |

A small exhibition at Trove

Just a quick note, if you’d like to see some of my photography in person, there will be some up for viewing at Trove Foods in Levenshulme.

A couple my photos taken in Trove are below, it’s a lovely, friendly little place with hand made artisan bread and local organic produce, one of Levy’s hidden gems and well worth a look!

The photos will be up for the next month or so (from September 12th 2012), so do feel free to pop in, sample some of their lovely food and take a look!

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Also posted in Events, Exhibitions Tagged , , , |

An accidental panorama

A Birthday Panorama

12 exposures, some of them multiples in the space of about 9 or so…

 

 

 

 

So kids, this is what happens when you don’t pay attention to your camera settings!

It was a friend’s birthday last week, so I thought that I’d take the Holga along, of course I’d got the single frame setting on the thing wrong and it was showing me numbers for 16 frames per roll. I had the 12 frame per roll mask in place. Oops…

Still, I got it developed, asked the lab not to cut the roll for me, so as well as their attempts at getting individual frames (see below…) I could also put it on the flat bed scanner at home and get it in its entirety! The whole panorama scanned direct from the negative at 2400 dpi was just over 60,000 (yes, that’s right, 60,000!) pixels wide. So, not a small file… You can click here to view a version on Flickr that’s roughly 30 times smaller than that and still not viewable all at once on a normal monitor…

All good fun though 🙂

 

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Also posted in Film Photography Tagged , , , , , , , , , |

Pride with the George House Trust

Sometimes, as someone who takes the occasional photo or three *ahem*, you get asked to cover something very worthwhile that you just can’t refuse…

Recently, a friend of ours, and fellow Levenshulmite, who works for the George House Trust was asking whether there was anyone who would be willing to take some photos of the GHT participation in the Manchester Pride parade. Sounded like a cracking chance to get some wonderful photos for a very good cause indeed!

If you’ve never heard of the George House Trust, they’re a Manchester based charity with a very clear mission, to provide support to people living with or affected by HIV. So, a very worthwhile cause indeed.

If you would like to find out more about what they do, how to help support them through volunteering or otherwise, or how they can help you, please do go and have a look at their website at http://www.ght.org.uk/

Here’s a quick selection of a few of the photos I took at the parade, hope you like them! The full set can be found here, or through the George House Trust’s Facebook page.

 

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Also posted in Events Tagged , , , , |

A Voightlander visits the Gower

My late 1920's Voightlander Bessa

My late 1920’s Voightlander Bessa folding camera.

Just a quick post this time, just to say hello after being away for a week or so in South Wales. It’s the first time that any of us had been to the Gower peninsula, and you know what, it’s an absolutely gorgeous part of the world. Stunning scenery, just a shame we couldn’t say the same for the weather. It was, at least, warm all of the time. It was, however, windy and windless and scorching sunshine and cloudy and foggy and light rain and torrential rain and thunder and lightning… So, a typical summer in the good old British Isles…

Anyhow, I took a couple of film cameras with me, the first being a 1920’s Voightlander Bessa folding medium format camera. It takes 6x9cm negatives on medium format 120 roll film and I can honestly say that it’s the most difficult camera that I’ve used so far.

You see the little square bit to the top right of the lens in the picture? That’s the (tiny!) viewfinder… It’s also distance scale focusing (I love distance scale focusing…). Still it is medium format, it’s got a nice 11cm f4.5 Anastigmat Voigtar lens and should in theory be capable of taking 8 very lovely 6×9 pictures per roll. Yes. Eight.

Not much chance to get things wrong then…

Although to be fair, I did get seven well exposed negatives out of eight from the roll of Ilford XP5 (B&W) that I loaded it with, and from the couple that were in focus, you can certainly get some stunning quality from it. It was, however, incredibly difficult to get accurate focus with. The lens takes a full (very stiff) turn to go from 3 feet to infinity focus and at around £2 per picture for develop and scan, when compared with the success rate, it could get rather expensive…

Still here are the 7 shots from it taken over the course of a very lovely week in the Gower. It was wonderful to get away from it all for a little while 🙂

Wood turningThe Gower Heritage CentreThe Mumbles beachThe mumblesPort EynonThe MumblesThe view from the campsite.

 

My Olympus OM10 SLR

My Olympus OM10 SLR

The second camera I took with me was an Olympus OM 10 with a Zuiko Auto-S 50mm f1.8 lens.

The OM10 is a complete contrast to the Voightlander. It’s very simple to use and even has in built metering and manual focus that you can check through the viewfinder. All the mod cons!

This has got to be the easiest film camera I’ve used so far (apart from the no control point and shoots) and is an absolute joy to use. Manual focus is generally quite easy as well due to the large viewfinder and focus confirmation point. So here are a few of the shots from that as well. B&W shots are on Ilford XP2 Super 400 and the colour ones are Kodak Ultramax 400.

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Also posted in Film Photography Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Are two lenses better than one?

My mint condition Seagull 4B-I TLR

My mint condition Seagull 4B-I TLR

Well, as I go on holiday tomorrow down to the Gower Peninsula, I thought that I’d post a very quick blog before I go and soak up some of that lovely south Wales sunshine (I hope!) and leave you to your own devices for a week or so.

Now I’m not one for broad sweeping definitive and ill considered statements, so I thought I’d address a nice simple question, are two lenses better than one?

Specifically, Twin Lens Reflex (TLR) vs. Single Lens Reflex (SLR).

Discuss…

 

So far I’ve put two rolls of film through the Seagull. This camera came to me in mint condition with only one film ever put through it, and that was still in the camera! Apparently, this was bought new in the 1960s and never used, unfortunately, the film that was in it had degraded so much that there were no pictures on it at all, just fog.

I have to say, I’m not sure why it wasn’t used, the viewfinder ( a 6×6 square of ground glass with a magnifier) is beautifully bright, clear and easy to focus with, as long as it’s light. Of course, the first film I shot with this was in the dark, in a club, of several bands… Got some wonderful multiple exposures but this was before I’d found the magnifier, so I wasn’t having a brilliant time focusing… A few examples of that film are below, some shots of Salford band Trojan Horse, one of Rapid Pig, and one from outside the gig of a dude with an awesome afro…

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The second film that I shot was a little more varied and in situations with considerably more light! These shots cam out very sharp indeed in the focused zone, and gorgeously smooth in the fall away to distance. Take a look at the shots below for film number 2…

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So, are two lenses better than one? In short, I really can’t answer that.

The quality of picture is so different from medium format to 35mm film that it kind of renders my observations irrelevant as I’ve never shot a medium format SLR (anyone have a spare?…). The depth of field that you can get when using wide apertures on medium format is so beautifully narrow and the out of focus areas so smooth, the colour that the Portra Pro 160 imparts to the images are all just stunning and not really something I can compare to 35mm or digital in any meaningful way.

At the end of the day, a TLR is just a slightly different way of taking the photos, it seems to be the format that you use that makes the difference, be it digital or analog. Each to their own.

Now, if someone would just give me a Hasselblad or a Bronica, I could start making proper comparisons…

Also posted in Film Photography Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Zorki 4 and the unfocused ukelele invasion

Another brick of a russian rangefinder, the Zorki 4, complete with a Jupiter 8, 50mm F2 lens.

Another brick of a russian rangefinder, the Zorki 4, complete with a Jupiter 8, 50mm F2 lens.

I may well have mentioned that ebay is a very dangerous place to be in a previous post. Especially when you’ve just got into film cameras and you’re all excited and fresh faced and everthing on there is just SO DAMNED CHEAP!

Ahem.

Aaaaaanyhow… One of my recent purchases (for less than a tenner I hasten to add…) was a Zorki 4. The name itself sounds like something from a different planet, but in reality, it’s a slightly (but only slightly) more polished version of the Fed cameras of the same era and is essentially a Leica copy. Which, knowing the reputation of Leica, is a very good thing indeed!

So, this lovely shiny brick came to the door beatifully packaged in the customary cardboard box and as much bubble wrap as humanly possible. I unwrapped it and it was such a thing of beauty that I had to find an instruction manual on the internet, figure out how to load a film and then shoot some test shots…

This camera handles beautifully. It’s heavy, yes, but the Jupiter 8 has a wonderfully smooth continuous aperture adjustment and the focus is wonderful on it. Again, smooth as… as a very smooth thing at any rate, metaphors seem to have escaped me tonight. The rangefinder, like the Fed 2 was a little off vertically, but after the results from the Fed 2, I wasn’t deterred at all.

So I’d taken a few shots around Levenshulme taking in the local delights such as the bit underneath the tracks at the Levy train station, bits of the Antiques Village, the fence keeping you out of the derelict shop sites on the A6 and some others, when I realised that we were all going to the Levy Uke Up at POD, so I thought that I take a few shots there as well and see what happened.

If you’re wondering what the Uke up is all about, it’s a bunch of very lovely people with very small guitars getting together to play some tunes, sing some songs, drink some beer and eat some food. It makes for a rather lovely way to finish of a Sunday evening and ready you for the week. This was the first one I’d attended, and it would seem that I now need to get my wife (and myself) a ukelele. So it goes…

Finally got the film back from processing and it seems that the rangefinder might be somewhat in need of adjustment. Either that, or I was consistently missing focus by quite some distance, though that isn’t beyond the bounds of possibility by any means. I will be taking the Zorki (and the Fed…) to get properly calibrated at some point soon. I’m still quite chuffed with the photos even if I was a little surprised at the point of focus in some of them… As usual, there’s a few shots below from this roll, with a few more on my Facebook page for good measure, feel free to let me know what you think 🙂

 

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Also posted in Film Photography Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

A Retina Re-visited

Tenzing Norgay achieves the summit of Mt. Everest, May 29, 1953. Photograph taken by Edmund Hillary.

Tenzing Norgay achieves the summit of Mt. Everest, May 29, 1953. Photograph taken by Edmund Hillary.

Have you ever seen the somewhat iconic image of Sherpa Tenzing taken by Sir Edmund Hillary on the first successful expedition to the top of Mount Everest? Well just in case you haven’t, here it is reproduced on the right, click the pic for some more info if you’re interested… This photo was taken on a Kodak Retina (model 118) which he apparently picked up at a second hand shop, not knowing a great deal about cameras.

The Retina model 118 is actually quite a rare model with only just over 9000 units ever made. And as it happens, one of those 9000ish cameras was among the 6 camera’s given to me by one of the guys at work.

Considering that one of it’s kind made it all the way to the summit of Mount Everest and still worked should tell you that it’s quite a robust little thing. It’s small and solid with a petite little folding bellows which pops out on it’s own when you press a small button on the bottom of the body. They were made between 1935 and 1936, had a tiny viewfinder and distance scale focusing, so not the easiest of things to use when you’re used to autofocus, or at least a rangefinder at a push…

My Kodak Retina Model 118

A small piece of the 1930’s, my Retina model 118

The Retina series of cameras (model 118 being the second variant…) were also the first cameras to take the modern 135 format cartridge, which of course meant that I could use it, or at least try!

My specimen, however, has quite clearly been well used and I hope, well loved over the course of it’s 76 year life and the shutter wasn’t firing at all speeds, so a trip to a camera repairer and a bit of a wait later, I got it back in perfect working order. The optics were wonderfuly shiny, the shutter fired on all speeds, the aperture was smooth and not sticky and the bellows seemed to be intact. To be fair, that’s about all there is on the camera, so I thought that I’d throw a roll of colour 135 through it and see what happened.

So, below are some of the images from that test roll. it’s actually really quite a good lens, it’s quite contrasty, I assume helped by being an uncoated lens. Unless of course you under-expose (on purpose, of course *cough*) and it’s left to the scanner to bring out the detail, although I even rather like a couple of those.

I’ve not included the ones where I accidentally fired the shutter and the shots aren’t framed at all (it’s a VERY sensitive shutter!). Or the one’s where I’ve quite blatantly forgotten to focus. There were a few of those, it’s very easy to forget when it’s just a very small pointer on the side of the camera you’re generally not looking at…

It turns out that the Retina is still a very useable little compact camera, so it’s definitely not the last roll I’ll put through that one! Anyway, here’s a selection of 16 of the ones I liked from that roll of 24, do feel free to let me know what you think, I rather like them, hope you do too…

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