Something to Believe | Glasgow | 35:Chronicle

black & white, personal, photography, structures

Reflective Practise | A Personal Narrative.


During a wander along the Clyde towards Glasgow Green, just past the Jamaica Bridge, I came across these two buildings. I stopped, of course. While the traffic buzzed past me and people nudged against my arm as if to criticise me for standing still, for not going with the flow like everyone else, I stood. Still. As I looked left then right, taking in each structure, silly questions entered my head, such as, I wonder if the city’s planning department sanctioned the building of one to complement the other, in some perverse way? Coming from a conservation area myself, local councils would seldom allow the building of one that didn’t in some way fit-in with the buildings nearby and then I wondered, was the glass building perhaps some kind of reminder? An existential nudge to passers-by?

Religion is not a part of my life and never has been, at least not since my infant school told me that I was C of E – I wasn’t; only, the son of C of E parents for, at five years of age I knew nothing of the concept of religion. Still, I have grown up always wanting to be not only aware of my limitations but, also of my potential. Like the implied good, reflecting back at me. As a result, I began to wonder again, as if to confirm my thoughts that, no matter how well we think we’re doing, we can always be better. Reflect and, project.

Now that, is something in which I can definitely believe.

R.

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I.

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‘Between Moments | PT.III | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, personal, photography

A Protracted Hiatus, Perhaps?

It’s so very seldom that I should take such a long break from posting and, for this, to my regular readers and followers, I do apologise. In truth, in my silence, I have been giving much thought to future potential projects and, have also been working with some new equipment. I’m still feeling my way and, considering creative options, but my attention has not been as stagnant or motionless as my right foot might suggest. To all of you who read and enjoy my posts, I appreciate and thank you hugely for your patience with me. I hope to extend that, new things are  potentially (ahem!) afoot. 

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No Raw Neglect? | 35mm f1.8.

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Three Little Steps | 35:Chronicle

black & white, colour, personal, photography

… To the Light.


I. | Twist & Open.

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II. | Open & Lean Out.

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III. | Lean Out & – Breathe.

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‘Between Moments | PT.II | 35:Chronicle

50mm, black & white, close-up, colour, macro, nature, personal, photography

(A Little More) Backyard Buffoonery.


Okay, nothing serious here – just a few frames I managed to snick from a mess-around this afternoon in the garden, with various Ricoh set-ups. 

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Waiting for the Bumble (that Never Showed) | GXR & 50mm (EFoV).

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An Unfolding Gladiolus | GXR & 50mm (EFoV).

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(For a Four-Legged Friend) Sweet William | GXR A16 & Hoya +10.

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Gladiolus | GXR A16 & Hoya +10.

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A Bridge Too Far? | Personal Narrative | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, landscape, personal, photography, spring, structures, trees

Kinclair Viaduct | Pinmore.


This post is a little more personal to me than many of my others and, it’s a little difficult even trying to figure out how best to introduce it. But introduce it I must, and, with important reason. When I say that I consider my 35 to be the lens for life, I mean exactly this. For all aspects of life. I suppose that the same could be said of any passtime or endeavour whereby the passage of time and (or) memories are recorded and, here, with my one prime, again, I have both. It’s wide enough to see and record the periphery of the life in front of us, yet narrow enough to preserve the little details there too, which, should not be forgotten. Hence, they can be perfectly preserved, in time. If I’m making no sense, perhaps I can be clearer. 

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I. | The House Under the Bridge.

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II. | Nine of Eleven.

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These images are from the second time I ever saw this structure; they were taken on Monday, this week. I drove a round-trip of over 200 miles specifically to photograph it. Whatever the weather was to be, I would capture it. That is why, during mid-morning, I packed a waterproof jacket, my camera gear, my lunch, a flask of coffee and an extra pack of menthol cigarettes, and set off to Pinwherry and, just north, to Pinmore. Yes, I carried memories with me and couldn’t help but feel thin air from the conspicuously empty front-seat in my car, amplified by the knowledge of the direction in which I was now heading.

The first time I ever saw this structure, the passenger-seat to my left was occupied and, we were on our way home, passing through Girvan and south along the A714, returning from a visit to Ayrshire, (which was memorable itself by the mini-rant I had had that day about less than stellar customer service and charging punters full admission price to a place that was only half-open and, had not been advertised as such upon reviewing the relevant website the day before. I still believe my point to be valid, however, I digress). That late-afternoon journey home was in fact, for me at least, the most enjoyable part of the day, not least for the company of one special to me, but also for the beautifully scenic landscapes under late-afternoon sun and, the ability to simply – share the feeling.  Then, we arrived at Pinmore, still heading south and, passing under this incredible viaduct, (eleven arches in all) I scanned frantically for a place to park whilst conscious of the BMW behind me, trying to ‘push’ me along and around the ever present s-bends. Failure to find a suitable stopping point was inevitable and all that we could do was to marvel at the enormity of the thing as it vanished steadily, behind us. I vowed that we would go back. But I am one half of we, now. And even so, without we, I – would never have seen this place and so, it seems unfair, morally wrong and, emotionally impossible for me to not acknowledge the fact. 

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III. | Ten of Eleven.
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IV. | From the South.

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On my return, I noted a few things to myself. One, there is only one space at the roadside anywhere near here, big enough to park the car off the road and, good luck finding it empty if I should return; two, in spring and summer, the trees are so thick and tall as to almost hide this structure from the roadside, probably until late autumn (so I shall head back then, too or perhaps even during winter); three, from ground-level it is so difficult to appreciate just how majestic and huge this viaduct is and so, I shall need to find higher-ground when I return to Pinmore, which I will. From closer distances, the stonework can be better appreciated, for certain, and, though the light was occasionally tricky, I still, on review, enjoy the vantage-point. Even though I did have to quickly jump into the roadside scrub to avoid being mowed down, I didn’t feel rushed – just a little, half-there. There should have been a familiar voice hollering, “Car!” whenever my back was to the tarmac. Whilst the views were fabulous, to me, there was an inevitable notion of – hollow. But I was glad to be back. Though tricky to photograph, it is an amazing feeling to even stand beneath one its arches. 

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V. | From the North.

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Alas, life is how it is, but it is served no purpose by forgetting what it was. The way I see it, to photograph life is the best way to capture, remember and appreciate just that – no matter in which direction we’re heading. 

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A Little Bit of Delicate | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, close-up, colour, nature, personal, photography, spring

[…and a Smidgen of Rustic]


Okay, so I have been completely lazy here. With little by way of an agenda today, I spent my time titivating the garden and enjoying a little more sunshine, while we’re fortunate enough to have some. (Good weather for six days straight has to be some kind of a record in the UK but, I’m loving it). As the afternoon wound down, I followed suit soon after and, took another appreciative look around this little corner of my world. I never tire of its rusticness, the ever present multi-layered birdsongs, the sound of the brook just past the front of the house and from the outskirts of my garden on two sides, there’s plenty of attractive woodland with, among many others, tall pines audibly filtering the occasional breeze and straining the sunlight. I decided to grab my camera, to take a short stroll and, make a few frames before the light dipped for the day. 

There’s no real artistic merit here – just a small handful of hand-held grab-shots, still, it’s a lot less predictable than, ‘Dear Diary, Today, I did next to bugger all except to sit on my arse!‘. Besides, simply capturing life is exactly what I’m loving about sticking with one focal-length and just – going with it. It’s a lot more liberating than I’d ever imagined it would be, in more ways than one. 

(And, no – I’m not a Walton, but, on days like today – there sure is no place like home!)

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I. Beneath Filtered Rays.

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II. The Loner.

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III. Almost in the Shade.

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IV. Potted…

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Internal Affairs | PT.II | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, close-up, Indoor, personal, photography

A Long Time Empty.


No.2

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I Can See Clearly, Now the Label’s Gone…

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Tiptoe Through?

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The Importance of the 35mm Lens | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, close-up, colour, Indoor, infrared, landscape, nature, personal, photography

The Most Versatile Lens in your Bag.


The first lens I ever shot with was a 35mm, back in the day when I began making photographs with a film camera. In those days, zoom lenses had only been popular among casual shooters and enthusiasts for around ten years or so and my pocket was way too shallow to be able to afford anything more than my 35. So, it stayed with me and I made the best possible use that I could have with it. For over two years I used that same lens and the more I did, the more I loved it. It was almost as though I could predict how it would render, no matter what I was photographing; in essence, it’s frame-lines had begun to become branded into my brain, through my eyes. Of all the lenses I could have learned with, I am so relieved that my first lens was that 35. In later years I would come to prefer a 50 – a more natural focal-length for me, but whenever I spent time with this slightly longer lens, something often felt like it was missing. It took me years to figure out what that something was.

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Horse-Chestnut Bud

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After saving (and hammering my credit card on occasion) I acquired a number of other lenses over time, G.A.S took a firm hold of my psyche and, I kind of got lost. Though I loved all of the choices I was giving myself, I was only becoming more confused as to the ends I was trying to reach. Telephotos and mid-long zoom lenses made me want to go out and shoot wildlife; wider lenses had me scouring locations for old ruins and run-down buildings and kit zooms, the standard nowadays being the trusty 18-55, shot everything in-between; which was in honesty, almost everything. But even the useful FLs of a kit zoom weren’t really doing it for me because the something that I missed was this: scene and subject interaction. In other words, I was beginning to feel like a casual observer of the scenes or subjects that I was trying to capture rather than as an integral part of it. To me, this felt like a crime given how much I love and always have loved photography, but not only this, I wanted to be close to or even inside my frame – I wanted to be a part of the creative process that I absolutely love so much rather than as a bystander or worse, a casual voyeur on the perimeter, casually making frames of a world, or a scene – that was passing me by.

 

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Stumped | 720nm Infrared

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Shadowed

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It took me years to realise that I was killing my own creativity by trying so hard to cover every base by carrying way more glass than I could possibly need and, that no matter what lens I had mounted at a given time, I would always feel as though it was the wrong one, or, be at least concerned that it might not be the right choice at the time. Doing away with so much choice, essentially, does away with equal amounts of worry and concern. Furthermore, when we can make any and all possible images with any working lens, the only consideration needs to be how best to frame with that one chosen chunk of glass. To see in that focal-length and move around it and, through it, according to our own vision, whether unique or not. This does also mean that the legs get more use (particularly for prime glass) which in turn, puts me back in the centre of the process. But I hear cries and, they’re getting louder. They are cries of anguish and perceived enlightenment that are trying to tell me that I can’t shoot wildlife without a tele-lens, nor can I shoot wide landscapes or industrial frames without a decent wide lens. The 35 is neither one nor the other. So, what the hell am I doing? Well, I know these arguments well and I’ve been doing this a long time so, the ol’ saying about grandma proverbially sucking eggs may well be extremely relevant here. I don’t carry four or five kilos of gear any more and, I am still able to capture images that make me not only happy themselves, but also happy that I am back in the middle of my art. I simply had to revert to one main, workable focal-length and, get to know it again like I once did. The learning never stops but it’s amazing how quickly you can place yourself in the right spot for any shot when you only have to think in one perspective – the chosen prime perspective, that is. Before I have even lifted my viewfinder to my eye, I know where I need to be when an inspiration strikes. It takes away the guesswork, the trial and error, the faffing with lens-changes and the worry about crud getting inside the camera body. And yes, the bag is shedloads lighter and I can move about more freely, for way longer and, I don’t get home and reach for the Deep Heat anymore.

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Submission

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Cherry Blossom

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The 35mm focal length is considered to be at the longest edge of the wide-angle lens concept. It is also regarded as being pretty close to the natural focal-length at which we humans see. Neither of these ideas do I argue with. In contrast, I believe that these two elements are what truly make a 35 the most versatile lens for the way that I shoot and make photographs. Here are just some reasons as to why a good 35 should be a definite consideration:

  • Not only do most if not all 35s focus pretty close, they have little if any distortion (providing you haven’t got a dud).
  • They are inherently sharp (usually, even wide open – I’ve used many and never had a soft shot at f2 that wasn’t my own stupid fault).
  • Primes tend to open up more than zooms (though if you have deep pockets and you want, need and can justify the purchase of that mean looking 18-600mm 1.0 constant (you get the idea?!) then go for it). A fast 35 is a total joy to use when the light levels dip. If you haven’t tried it – you should.
  • The costs are relatively a lot lower than for good or high-quality longer or wider primes (so, much cheaper to replace if you drop it from a height).
  • They are small, light, often very well constructed and a joy to use. Because of the size and weight, they really don’t get in the way of my thinking. It’s a tool. I trust it. It works. Make photographs. Move on and, stop thinking about the gear!
  • 35 is wide enough to capture life as it happens, socially, environmentally, intimately – back in the 70s and 80s it was pretty much the only lens used by press photographers and if ever a lens finds itself in a tough proving ground, that’s probably it, right there.
  • Construction is largely such that it remains reliable for many years of service.
  • It’s the best middle of the road lens (alongside a nice 50 prime, depending on how you ‘see’) for learning and capturing whatever you want.
  • Whatever single focal-length one chooses to befriend, the mainstay of all of these points apply. I simply feel that a 35 is the true Jack of all’.
  • I’ve shot weddings, portraits, land & waterscapes, close-ups & near macro, stills and fine-art, visible, full-spectrum and infrared, the lot. The 35mm FL has seldom if ever left me wanting. My ageing legs too, are grateful, because they get a reason to keep working that little bit harder than a slightly sedentary brain would usually require of them.
  • Bag: Light + Bank Balance: Healthier (potentially).

If you’re considering venturing into a single focal-length for the first time, choose wisely and justify your choice, stick with it and, persevere. The benefits of restriction will present themselves quickly and, your eye will improve with enough frames. If you’re not sure about which FL to plump for but can’t get the idea of self-limitation for the sake of freedom out of your head, just go for a 35, mount it, forget it’s there, and simply enjoy making pictures – for the sheer love of it.

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Light & Love

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Old Flames | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, close-up, colour, Indoor, nature, personal, photography, sunset

Light, is Light.

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