Friday, August 31, 2007

La Bas

La Bas, originally uploaded by John the Monkey.

I must apologise for not posting context for my more recent images - I've been a little bit busy, largely repairing my daughter's bike (every time she falls off it, she seems to lose a piece from it).

Most recently, she managed to mess up her front brake (in that one side came off completely - the housing carrying the cable through, I think it's called a brake noodle, had also broken). Using bolts &c supplied by the excellent Bicycle Boutique (in Manchester, just behind the Sugden Centre off Grosvenor Street) I've made them good as new.

Bicycle boutique also supplied the natty new brake hoods I've fitted to my tourer (my main commuting bike). New tape for the bars will be the next treat this bike gets, I think. I rode my hybrid again (the bike to which I was fitting mudguards) yesterday, and was amazed by how sluggish it feels compared to the tourer - the seating position feels somewhat odd too, after riding drop handlebars.

This week will mark the second week of my commute to work on the bike, an experience I've largely enjoyed, despite occasional and momentary bowel loosening terror thanks to my fellow road users. I'm not sure how many car drivers read my blog (or how many people full stop), but in the interest of fostering greater understanding;

1) Yes I do know there's a cycle path. I generally prefer to use them when they aren't so pitted and potholed that bits fall off my bike when I ride through them. I also prefer not to use that one where the camber is so steep that I end up fighting it alll the way just to stay off the kerb. I also don't like using the ones with broken glass strewn liberally across them. Rest assured I do use them when it's safe to.

2) I do have to come away from the side of the road/out of the cycle path to pass parked cars. I try to do this in good time because I don't want to suddenly swerve in front of you. I'm sorry that I'm straying into the bit of road you regard as yours, but I'm not up to jumping vans/cars/lorries in a single bound just yet.

3) Yes I am quite a long way from the kerb. I do this because when I cycle nearer to it, some people (not you, I hasten to add, I'm sure you're very responsible and considerate) take it as an invitation to pass me with barely a cigarette paper's width[1] between me and their vehicle. Cycling where I do also gives me room to manouver out of your way/someone else's way should there be a need to. I might also be keeping out of glass/potholes/grids. I'm not trying to annoy you, I promise, as I'm very aware of the discrepancy between the sizes, weights, and speeds of our vehicles, and an annoyed person + their car is not a combination I'm anxious to deal with.

4) It does help if you don't roll your car into the marked cycle waiting bit at traffic lights. If I can get in there, I can clearly indicate whether I'm going ahead, left or right to you, and I know that you or another driver isn't going to turn left in front of me. Speaking of traffic lights, whizzing past me, nearly sending me flying, just so you can arrive at a red light two seconds before me seems a bit pointless, don't you think[2]?

5) If you're waiting to pass me, please do so by following about a cars length behind, if not more. Sitting just off the right side of my back wheel means that I can't turn right (I may need to), that a pothole might bounce me into you and reduces my capability to give us both room in the event of something happening ahead. Please also pass me giving plenty of room (at least half a car's width is terrific), for the latter two reasons.

6) A huge thank you to the many considerate and patient drivers I've encountered - I try to acknowledge people that wait for me to pass parked vehicles &c where I can - it is much appreciated. Sadly, I only have to encounter one person who isn't like you for something very bad to happen - hence my somewhat defensive style of riding.

[1] This happens particularly often on narrow roads - if you can't pass me where I am, it is not safe to pass me when I'm nearer to the kerb, believe me.

[2]Grey Xsara Picasso, Turves Road, Cheadle last night - I hate people who pass me next to traffic islands - neither of us have enough room in case of emergencies, and the draft from passing so close can quite easily send me into the kerb or another car.

No picture post last night, because I finally got 'round to developing the roll of HP5+ that has the last of my holiday shots, and PaD shots on it. I've decided to go back to my roots with this roll, and dev in 1+29 LC29, which you may remember (or not) was where we came in with this whole homedev lark. I'm not sure how many rolls I've done in total, but there's still something very satisfying about unspooling the negs and leaving them to dry - I guess peering at them trying to figure out what you have is the closest film comes to chimping.

I shall be scanning the cut negs tonight, and then hopefully posting the final days of the PaD challenge.

Monday, August 27, 2007

It Happened Like This...

Quarante #1
Quarante #1, originally uploaded by John the Monkey.

We start today with a nearly matching pair of photographs, both of a lovely bit of sweeping road that eventually joins the D11 (I think) heading for Remelard. This shot was taken from the saddle of the bike kindly lent to me for the week by the proprietors of Forest View (Vue Sur La Foret). It shows just some of the beautiful countryside nearby, of which you'll see more in future posts. The camera in use is the marvellous Olympus XA2, ideal for sticking in a jersey or shorts pocket for when you're out and about.

In any case, these shots have jumped the queue somewhat in being posted because of something that could be of interest to you film shooters. I've mentioned before that I quite often scan my black and white negatives in colour, largely because I like the tones it gives. The shot above is scanned normally, i.e. the scanner set to colour negative, and the scanning settings to 24bit colour. (The film being Fuji's lovely Superia 100).

Quarante #2
Quarante #2, originally uploaded by John the Monkey.

This frame has been scanned with the film type set to black and white negative, and the colour settings at 24bit colour. It gives a slightly off kilter, cross processed feel to the shot, I think.

Limite Bains Surveilles
Limite Bains Surveilles, originally uploaded by John the Monkey.

We do the PaD shots from this post in reverse date order, beginning with this, representing the 28th of July. This is one of a number of shots I took at Quiberville, a town we stayed at for one night to break the journey from Dieppe to Remelard up a little. There'll be a little more of Quiberville to come, as it's quite a lovely place.

Bon Voyage!
Bon Voyage!, originally uploaded by John the Monkey.

The 27th was the day we travelled down to Newhaven, and looked quite unpromising for the required 10 shots from the day. I took some of motorway service station picnic tables (which you won't be seeing) - however, having arrived a bit too early for the crossing, we took a break at Seaford, which is as beautiful and photogenic as one could wish for, and you will be seeing more of it. However, today's photo a day choice is this sign from the port at Newhaven, which has obviously seen better days.

One thing I keep forgetting to mention in these posts is the story of the roll of T-Max from which the shot above came. I reached the end of the roll in mid winder stroke, and foolishly tried to advance to the end of the stroke - this only accomplished pulling the end of the film from the spindle in the canister. At that point I had 36 frames of PaD material loose inside the F3, and in the interests of taking only what I needed, had left my darkbag at home :/ With necessity being the mother of invention, and all that, the camera was opened in an improvised darkbag consisting of my blackest sweatshirt, under the duvet of one of the beds in the gite, and the film taped back onto the spindle and rewound. It doesn't seem to have done any harm to the images, although I was worried that some light might have leaked in.

Darkness, originally uploaded by John the Monkey.

Lastly, we have this, from the 26th, and quite possibly the worst day of this year's PaD for me. It threw it down all day, and the only shots I got were two of this rusty lamp post in the centre of Manchester.

In other news, regular readers will be pleased to hear that the mudguards are now fitted to my bike - taking the wheels off (rather than threading the 'guards around them) really helps, and I recommend that approach to you whole heartedly. Also make sure that you have the chain and derailleur ready to go back to their normal position when you put the back wheel back on, as no one likes to hear swearing like that at that time of day.

I've also acquired a Nigel Dean touring bike (drop bars, but slightly less rigid frame than a true racer, and full mud guards &c) on which I commuted to work last week. If all you've ever ridden are mountain bikes or hybrids, I recommend trying a road bike - they're very good fun indeed.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


Shopfittings, originally uploaded by John the Monkey.

So, back to the July Photo a Day challenge, with this shot from July 22nd, now that all the films are processed and scanned. First off is this shot, taken on the Manchester Flickr group's meet a few weeks ago. I took about 16 frames at the meet, and eventually plumped for this view, down a rainy street in the Northern Quarter.

It was great to meet some other Manchester photographers, although I'm not sure that the pub/photography balance wasn't slightly off...

Untitled, originally uploaded by John the Monkey.

This is the first shot I took of this gentleman, (I really have to start asking people's names) and the one I liked the best, I have to say, which makes it July 23rd's photo of the day. A thoroughly nice bloke, and a great character.

Untitled, originally uploaded by John the Monkey.

This is the second uploaded shot from the 23rd, and I really struggled to choose between the two. Here, he's explaining to a curious customer (the F3 I was using not being a discrete camera) that grocery is only his day job, and that he's really a model "...for corn plasters..."

Larger versions of this are at the lab now, and I'll be dropping the prints off to him hopefully at some time next week.

The next two shots are both taken with the FE, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 AF-N, and Efke KB100. This isn't a film I've used before, and I think I like it. July 24th's shot is this one, a chance opportunity I spotted on the way back from the city centre.

I think I've mentioned before that I'm not overly keen on the "candid" "Street" photography aesthetic in my own stuff, I'd far rather ask, and engage with people a little. However, I do like the combination of the billboards and the guy eating his sandwiches by the canal.

I find the advertising around the "Origin" building site rather annoying, (I suspect that I'm not the target demographic, having said that). It's nice to see its pretensions punctured slightly by the lives of Mancunians going on around it.

63, originally uploaded by John the Monkey.

Another shot from the FE + 50 f/1.8 AF-N + Efke KB100 combination rounds off this post, with this photo representing July 25th. This is a fairly stereotypical urban grime shot, which I guess bookends nicely with the shot that opens this blog post.

Again, I must apologise for my absence from posting and commenting - I will, however, offer the advice that fitting mudguards to a bike is a job best left to your bike shop. Believe me.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Victory, originally uploaded by John the Monkey.

We begin today with another digital shot of the War Memorial at Aberystwyth, on Castle Point, as featured in previous posts.

This is a detail of the Victory figure on the top of the monument. For more details, and an overall view of the piece, see this post.

Chairs, originally uploaded by John the Monkey.

Here's some more Adox CHS25, souped in APH09. I really love the look of this film, and I quite like this shot. It was originally intended to be part of the "Legs" project, but I ummed and ahhed about whether the Leg-ness of it was plain enough for it to belong there. My feeling is that the subject is far more the chairs as a whole, and so it wasn't included.

The picture was taken just off Oxford Road in Manchester, outside Felcini's restaurant. The canal towpath affords a nice low viewpoint, and I couldn't resist one shot making the most of the lines in their decking. I must return here again, as their chefs a) wear whites and b) often take their breaks outside.

It Came From Outer Space
It Came From Outer Space, originally uploaded by John the Monkey.

Another Adox CHS25 shot - this time in Barbolli Square, Manchester. Not one of my best, but I do like the large sculpture that dominates the left of the frame. This photograph is an attempt to convey the otherworldliness of the stone in this setting.

Diamond, originally uploaded by John the Monkey.

Lastly, some Velvia, and a detail of Krek's piece on New Wakefield Street (you can see another part of it in "E for Eyes" and "O for Orange"). I really like this piece, it's so rich in detail that one can have any number of photographic takes on it.

Sadly, the place that the LCE on Picadilly Gardens used to send my slide film to has gone bust. Whilst I can still send stuff to Peak, I suppose, I think it's a bit of a shame, and probably indicative (although I wish it wasn't) of where film is headed.

Lastly, I apologise for my absence in terms of posting and commenting lately - I've been away for a few weeks (France, Bognor Regis, Somerset), and then busy processing the films (4x rolls of black and white of various speeds). I hope to resume a more normal pace soon :)