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Friday, 14 October 2011

NOTICEBOARD

'THE DOOR OPENS INTO HER FLAT AND INSTANTLY I'M OVERWHELMED BY THE FRAMED PHOTOS COVERING HER WALLS'


Squinting through the peephole, I'm startled by the sight of an eyeball pressed up to the other side. The giant retina then retreats and the form of a large man in a fleece jacket appears. 'Yes?' I call. 'You Ogden Chesnut?' the man says. 'Something like that.' I open the door. 'What can I do for you?'

He hands me a small box. 'From the old bird down below you.' I pierce the Sellotape and open it up. Inside is a Yashica 35mm film compact camera. I look up at him confused. 'That's very thoughtful of you. Are you her son?' I ask. 'Nah, mate. I'm just sorting her possessions. There ain't much. But she apparently wanted you to have that.'

'You mean she's...' 'Yeah, two nights ago.' Amid all the sirens and headlines and personal crises that occupy our days, my neighbour Rose quietly made her exit from the world with little fanfare. So good a neighbour was I, that I learned of her passing only days later .

'Does she have anyone to come by and collect her things?' I ask. 'Dunno, mate. We were just called to come and clear out the gaff so the new tenant can move in. Come down and have a look if there's anything else you want. I'll give you a good price.'

Charming Rose was quite outspoken, which is why it was so strange that I never saw her leave or people come to visit her. Her life was very insular within our building. I would see her every morning downstairs collecting post that was rarely anything more personal than a letter from the council. I often wondered if she had anyone in her life who cared about her, if she was lonely or perhaps running away, yet she always seemed happy.We traded pleasantries and regrets about the weather for most of our time together in the building, never delving beyond that. Only recently did she invite me in to her flat, but I had to decline as I was heading to Brighton that day. As I follow the fleeced man down the stairs I'm filled with a touch of regret.

The door opens into her flat and instantly I'm overwhelmed by the framed photos covering her walls. Every inch of space is used. There is no pattern or co-ordination in the frames. Instead, there is a timeline of Rose's life, charting husbands, boyfriends, colleagues, friends, more boyfriends, and then, as the photographs evolve into muted tones that finally burst into vibrant colour, Rose's hair washes into black & white and the group portraits grow fewer and fewer.

As I move towards the kitchen and the date stamps push towards the 21st century, people feature far less in Rose's photos, replaced by park landscapes, birds and street scenes. It strikes me  seeing this amazing visual record of Rose's life that as we get older and the people close to us pass on or move away, and as we slow down and wander less, the only evidence we have that we lived a full and vibrant life are the pictures on our wall.

We've often heard of other cultures who do not allow themselves to be photographed for fear that the camera traps their soul. More interesting to me, however, is the reluctance of the Amish people to be photographed, believing the camera only indulges in vanity. Perhaps there is an inherent element of vanity in photography. For some, like Rose, it may be to show that we were here and we loved, and were loved back.  For others it is to share our own personal view of the world. And for others yet it's to trap and keep a moment for ever because it pleases us.

There's nothing wrong with a little vanity, as long as we acknowledge it and know why it's there. I trap moments in time with my camera, probably because I largely failed to inspire the types of moments that adorn Rose's walls. 'I really must print more of my pictures,' I say, to no one in particular. 'Nah, mate,'  says the fleeced man. Just lash 'em up on Facebook. Easier to get rid of when you go.' He then drops the framed photos into a bin bag.

From an article by Ogden Chesnut. In the 15 October 2011 issue of Amateur Photographer magazine. An edited version appears here.

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HELLO AND WELCOME

To my Photo Blog,

All my monochrome photography is darkroom produced. This portfolio consists of photographs from several of my projects, assignments, personal and course related work. Some of these monochrome photographic prints are then selectively toned.

Take a look at the slide show, or the popular posts. Click onto some of the many excellent blogs that I have listed in my blog roll. I welcome constructive feedback (post a comment).

Click onto the links in some of my posts which will then take you to the relevant website link where you will be able to find out more about that location, charity or organisation etc featured in the post and which is relevant to that specific image.

Also please click onto my links. Join my blog and my Google + followers. If you would like to know more about any particular photograph or project then please send me an email. My email address is at the foot of this page.

Also from time to time I will post videos that are of interest to me, mainly from my military background.

Yours sincerely

Trevor David Betts BA (Hons)

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TECHNICAL INFORMATION

All the photographs featured on this blog spot were taken on Canon analog 35mm SLR cameras which included: Canon A1, Canon AE1 (non-programme) and Canon T90. The Canon A1 was rendered useless after prolonged exposure to salt spray residue, and the AE1 suffered a malfunction, and one of my T90s just packed up on me during a photographic shoot.

Most of my camera equipment was initially purchased brand new, then as the years have past I have purchased second-hand equipment. But the vast majority of equipment I currently possess is well over twenty years old.

Canon FD lenses used were: 28, and 35mm wide angle, 50mm standard, 35-105mm short telephoto zoom and a 70-210mm large telephoto zoom lenses. Also used was a loaned Mamiya 645 with 50 and 80mm lenses. My favourite combination is a T90 fitted with the 35-105mm lens with an Hoya orange filter. I use Hoya orange, red, neutral density, and skylight filters. Hoya and Canon lens hoods. A Canon remote cable. I have used a great Metz 45 CT-4 flashgun for many years. I used this for the bounced and fill-in flash for some of the documentary and portraiture work.

Studio flash used was Courtenay brolly flash (just two heads fitted with soft boxes) at Hull Community Artworks studio (sadly this excellent local arts facility closed in 2001). Billingham and Tamrac camera bags (the Billingham is a old model that I have had for years - wonderful bags). The Tamrac one is a medium sized back pack type bag. Slik Black Diamond 88, and 500 DX Pro tripods. A Cullmann touring set (which consists of a light tripod, ball and swivel head, all-purpose clamp, suction cap, and a ground spike). I presently have three Canon T90 and one A1 SLR cameras.

Film used was mainly 35mm (with some 120mm). Ilford Delta monochrome negative print film, 100 asa (a few rolls of 400 asa as well). Ilford HP5 and FP4 (400 and 125 asa respectively). Fuji Neopan 400 asa. Various Fuji colour film. Photographic chemicals: Ilford ID-11 and Microphen film developers. Agfa Rodinal fine grain film developer, and Ilford Hypam fixer.

Photographic paper: Ilford Multigrade IV VC paper, Fibre based VC paper including warm and cool tone. Kentmere Velvet Stipple and Art Document papers. Kodak selenium toner. Barclay and Fotospeed sepia toners, and Colorvir blue toner. Durst M60 and Meopta 5 enlargers fitted with 50 and 80mm Schneider lenses. Kenro negative sheets and Jessops negative folders.

Most of my photography involves the use of the camera being securely mounted onto the tripod, with the shutter set to the 10 second delay. I bracket my exposures (relying on the excellent Canon in-camera meter). My aperture settings are usually between F5.6 and F22. In the vast majority of cases the very first exposure I take is usually the correctly exposed one.

Finished photographic prints (spotted if needed). At the 10 x 8 inch size are then scanned on an Epsom 1660 photo perfection scanner using Adope Photoshop CS2 at the 5.5 x 3.5 inch image or canvas size, 150 dpi and at the 750 x 550 pixels size, and saved as for the web. The only thing that is manipulated is the brightness balance and contrast levels.

DON'T FORGET

"It is the soldier, not the minister, who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the soldier, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to fair protest.

It is the soldier, not the politician, who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the soldier, whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag."

From: "Fighting for Queen and Country,
by Nigel 'Spud' Ely. Blake Publishing London, 2007.
"