HOL18: No Place Like Rome 2

Romans  – the current ones, not the ancients – are more often than not a stylish lot as are many of the tourists, at least not the sweaty football shirt-wearing middle-aged Irish ones.    And like Paris, it’s easy to snap a more flattering street shot when you’re in such beautiful and iconic surroundings.

rome along tiber 01
Just like the banks of the Seine

 

Rome busker
Roman Busker – I suspect more aged than his youthful demanour
rome cafe
Roman cafe – bloke inside
Rome, Girl in a cafe
roman cafe – girl outside
rome trevi 3
Capturing the magnificence of the Trevi Fountain
rome fountain 1
Drinking water freely available

Photos shot on Ricoh KR5 with Oriental Seagull 100

HOL18: No Place Like Rome 1

When you get to a certain age, holidays should be a time for rest and relaxation. So this summer I decided to backpack from Rome to Munich over 3 weeks with an old film camera.  The robust Ricoh KR5 with a few K-mount lenses was the kit of choice with a Vivitar V3000 body as backup although this became quickly irrelevant when the back of the Vivtar fell off in transit.  

cof

I did have a digital option – a Fuji X20 compact and a Huawei phone – but the aim was to capture the holiday on monochrome film and with no specific photographic objective in mind other than always having the camera with me.  So first stop was a few days in Rome.  While with some cities it’s often a struggle to convey a visual identity, Rome has no such problems exuding a certain cool.  And on every street, you’ll find scooters – Vespas.

 

rome Vespa
Classical building and a Vespa
rome Vespa
Vespa.  One of many.
rome street scene 4
I love a wee European kiosk.  And a Vespa
rome casual
Woman on a scooter admiring other scooters.

It’s worth mentioning that the traffic in Rome is bloody awful and this pale middle-aged northern European would look ridiculous wobbling around the Roman vias with a well reduced life expectancy.  Unlike the natives, however who have a natural born ability to safely navigate the eternal city while remaining the smartest looking people in Europe.

Photos shot on the Ricoh KR5 on Oriental Seagull 100.

 

Revolution! Michael Collins

Walk around any of the main Dublin tourist areas and you’ll see 1916.  The major exhibitions/tours at the National Museum and Kilmainham, the GPO and its exhibition, murals and pubs with photos covering their frontages and prominent places named after the leaders – eg Pearse, Connolly and Heuston stations to name a few.  Over recent decades and particularly around the centenary in 2016, the Easter Rising has been elevated to the pivotal event in Irish history leading to independence and the establishment of the Republic.  Less visible, however is the legacy of the War of Independence from 1919-21 and the subsequent civil war between Pro and Anti treaty forces.

Central to this was Michael Collins – holder of various government posts in the revolutionary republic but effectively the mastermind in the guerrilla war against the British and signatory to the treaty establishing the Free State. He is probably the leading figure in modern Irish history yet perhaps due to the treaty and it’s aftermath and his assassination by anti-treaty forces, his presence around the capital city is a bit muted.

Bust of Michael Collins
Michael Collins. (Canon T50/Kentmere 400)

There’s no statue or memorial other than this less than flattering bust in Merrion Square alongside Oscar Wilde and Bernardo O’Higgins.

The old British Army barracks was renamed Collins Barracks in 1922 and now houses a main site of the National Museum, but there’s little of his presence at the site other than his name.

dublin museum collins 3
Collins Barracks, National Museum.   (Olympus OM20/Kodak Tri-X)

There is, however a memorial to his chief of staff and future Fine Gael leader, Richard Mulcahy.

dublin museum collins mulcahey
Richard Mulcahy bust, Collin Barracks.  (Olympus OM20/Tri-X)

Ironically, the most prominent site relating to Michael Collins is his grave at the Glasnevin Cemetery just outside the city centre. Vying for the centre of attention among the great and good (and ordinary) of Irish history, Collins’ grave is one of the most visited and tended-to at Glasnevin.

glashp5011 collins3
Michael Collins grave – English script

glashp5011 collins2
Michael Collins grave – Irish script


glashp5011 collins1
Michael Collins grave and headstone, Glasnevin

(all shot on Olympus OM20 and Ilford HP5)
As Ireland prepares for its next round of centenary commemorations, perhaps Michael Collins will be able to find centre stage in the country’s capital.

Suitable for Students. The K1000

The Pentax K1000 is always declared to be the camera to learn photography.  But is it any different from any other manual camera?

pk2

I never owned a K1000 in the analogue days, I was a Praktica user – a fully manual MTL3, a selection of Pentacon primes and a telephoto zoom from Boots.  Yet even then, it was the K1000 if you were serious about learning photography – Zenits and Prakticas were only for those on a budget.

With a rejuvenated interested in film and a mission to acquire cheap stuff from eBay, I still wasn’t tempted by the K1000 due to the often inflated prices compared to similar spec’d cameras from the likes of Chinon and Ricoh.  Then I was given a well used K1000 about to be binned as it didn’t work.  Well it did – the mirror was sticking up  – a squirt of 3-in-one down the wee rod under the baseplate sorted that and I was the finally the owner of a Pentax K1000.

First things first – it doesn’t have the “Asahi” mark above the Pentax on the prism, so it’s obviously one of the later Chinese models – not as good, apparently.  And the lens is an A series f2, again I could’ve done better.  Would it, however,  be the Praktica killer?

Well, it does look nice and doesn’t have the weight of the Praktica and less of a recoil when you press the button.  The lens was pretty sharp across the apertures and the viewfinder clear and uncluttered.

pk4
nicely under-elaborate

There’s a simple + or – for the meter reading. And here is the first niggle with the K1000. The meter is always on through the lens. If you don’t have a lens cap, the battery is going to drain quickly. So I have a lens cap.

And the next .. thing.  The shutter wind lever sits fairly neat with the shutter selector so changing shutter speed isn’t as freely done as it could be.

pk3

Compared to the Ricoh KR5 and it’s lever-resting position for both metering and selecting shutter (albeit with a smal range of speeds) these quirks would surely affect the K1000’s legendary status?

Anyway – would it work with a roll of film.  With a roll of Kentmere 400 loaded, I took a walk around Dublin.

pope merch
Pope Merch – Francis was in town

pope queue
queueing for the Pope-bound Luas

norseman
others weren’t so bothered about the papal visit

Dublin bikes
dublin bikes.  Dublin

Dublin Arlington Hotel
Arlington Hotel – the Celtic Nights show is great craic here

 

barrels
Barrels.  Probably Guinness

 

seafood cafe
Oysters no doubt served here.

So a quick photo walk with the K1000.  And the verdict?  It’s perfectly fine.  The design quirks aside it’s nice to use, looks and feels well and  – well that’s about it for me.  It’s a competent performer, I certainly don’t dislike it and would definitely use it again.  Is it the student camera?  It certainly fits the bill but you’re going to get much better value buying other less celebrated names and at 30/40 years old, reliability is hit and miss with any make.  I’m not going to sell the Prakticas just yet.

Not Overly Complicated: The Canon T50

T50 ele2
Welcome to the 1980s

I never intended to buy a Canon T50. I had rescued a T70 body from impending landfill, and after a clean and new set of batteries, it seemed to work. Needing a lens, the typical eBay rate for a 50mm f1.8 was around £30-£40 quid. So as is often the case, I ended up buying one attached to camera for a tenner. In this case the camera was the T50.

While the AE-1 and AE-1 Program had wowed the market since the mid-70’s (and continues to do so as a regular hipster choice – and at hipster prices), 1983 saw the release of a new Canon entry in the beginners market.  Gone was the sleek-lined black and chrome look the AE1/AV1 shared with it’s competitors in the Olympus OM and Pentax M ranges, and its simple, classic engraved logo .  Instead we were given the future of camera design.  It was big and chunky, plastic, noisy and a more flashy screen-printed logo.  Welcome to the Eighties.

The T range is considered to be a bit of an ugly aberration in the Canon SLR series – a short lived 1980s mistake between the classic A series and the EOS range of cameras which evolved into the DSLRs of today.   In a non-revisionist opinion however (as a young Praktica user in 1983 I seriously wanted one of these..) I have to say the T50 is not the ugly duckling of popular opinion but a beautiful design classic of the era.

It’s certainly a bit on the minimalist side.

T50 top
The new logo

It has a big black shutter button, a function selector wheel, film rewind lever, a hotshoe and a big black thumb grip.

When I say function selector though, it’s more of an on-off button.  The T50 is (almost) a fully automatic  point and shoot camera.  ‘L’ is off and ‘PROGRAM’ is on.  BC checks the battery and ‘SELF’ is the 10 second self timer, which operates in ‘PROGRAM’ mode.

T50 control
the various functions..

And PROGRAM is a glorious unknown.  There is no indication of aperture or shutter speed other than the sound of the mirror slap giving you an idea of duration.  You do have a viewfinder warning where the ‘P’ indicating PROGRAM mode flashes when you’re going to get camera shake.  Or need a flash.

The other manual intervention is setting film speed.  There’s a dial in the usual place.

T50 ISO
manual intervention – film speed

There is a slight opportunity for manual control. The A setting on the lens is for fully auto operation. But when you move this to an aperture setting, the camera responds with a shutter speed of 1/60th. No metering indication other than an ‘M’ for manual in the viewfinder, so you’re on Sunny 16 for this.

And that’s as complicated as the T50 gets.  It takes AA batteries (thank you Canon), has a remote control socket (don’t have a remote control) and takes a dedicated flash (included in my £10 bundle).    The other thing about the T50 in addition to its opinion-dividing looks is the audio.  Its built-in auto winder is one noisy fecker – no Leica street photography stealth with this camera, it’ll definitely attract the attention.  Especially if you keep the shutter button pressed where it’ll go off on a 1.4fps continuous burst.

Using it is a blast.  Stick in a roll of film, compose and focus the nicely sharp Canon 50mm 1.8 and press the button. I used  Kentmere 400 to ensure decent shutter speeds in what was overcast weather.  I was pleased with the results.

traditional
Menu includes drink

oneills
O’Neill’s, Dublin

Hairy Lemon Dublin
The Hairy Lemon, Dublin

el campello statue
Sculpty thing, El Campello, Spain

but is it art
but is it Art?  Dublin

beach costa blanca
Three trees on a beach.  Costa Blanca, Spain

bernardo
Bernardo O’Higgins, Liberator of Chile.  His Da was from Sligo

And that’s the Canon T50.  A big beautiful point and shoot with a Canon FD lens.  It’ll wind on for you but you need to manually rewind.  It has manual control but only at 1/60th and no metering.  You can get it for the fraction of the price of an AE-1 or AV-1.  But don’t use late at night – you might wake the neighbours.

The Gig Economy 2: Lock Horns

A few years back I did the first photo shoot of a death metal band, Lock Horns – and they became the subject of this first blog post.

In June 2018, they released their first album Molon Labe – spotify link – and launched it at a home town gig in Bangor, Co Down.  The band were sounding and looking magnificent with a great set showcasing much of the album.

I used the usual Canon full frame digital with various prime lenses – I brought the Olympus OM20 with Tri-X with an idea to shoot on film.  But mingling with a metal audience doesn’t lend itself to manual focussing and careful metering, so digital it was.

Lock Horns June 18
Lock Horns in full flow

 

Junior Afrifa, Lock Horns
Junior, lead guitar

Lock Horns June 18
Corey, drums

Lock Horns June 18
Rhys, bass

Lock Horns June 18
Alex, vocals

Lock Horns June 18
arghhhhhhhh!!!!

Note to self – for future gigs, don’t forget the ear plugs.

Revolution! – Arbour Hill

A century on from the decade when Ireland began the final struggle to gain independance from Britsh rule, a visitor to Dublin will see memorials, museums, experiences and physical reminders of events that have shaped the Ireland of today.  Whatever your take on this chapter of British and Irish history, it’s a rewarding experience to breathe in the history and come to your own conclusions.  The  events from 1916 through to independance are marked throughout the city – the civil war not so much, but we are still a few years from this centenary.

A good starting point is the Arbour Hill cemetery.  A former British military cemetery, it’s also the burial place of 14 of the executed leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising, you can get the history on sites like Heritage Ireland.

Arbour Hill
Sacred Heart Church, Arbour Hill

While the likes of Kilmainham Gaol, the cemetery at Glasnevin and the GPO Museum are always busy with fully booked guided tours, Arbour Hill is usually deserted.  There’s no entrance fee, no guides (except an occasional free talk at the weekend) and no shop.  Once you pass the church you’re into a fairly staid and unremarkable military cemetery.  Arbour Hill

Then towards the back, there’s the reason Arbour Hill gets visitors.  The executed leaders of the Rising were unceremoniously buried at a British military cemetery seemingly to avoid the martyrdom and pilgrimages that might stoke further unrest.  History of course had other plans for Ireland, and naturally subsequent Irish governments have developed the grave as a remembrance site.

 

Arbour Hill
Grave of the 1916 executed leaders

Arbour Hill
The text of the Proclamation of Independence in English and Irish

Surrounding the grave site are stones inscribed with the names of those buried – in English and Irish script.  Thomas Clarke, the old man of the Rising, had a floral tribute marking his stone.

Arbour Hill tom clarke

Arbour Hill tom clarke irish
The names in Irish

 

One of the more fascinating characters of the Rising was James Connolly, a Scot of Irish descent, a former Britsh soldier, trade unionist and leader of the Irish Citizen Army.

Arbour Hill Connoly
Connolly marked by the Starry Plough

Arbour Hill
View from the 1916 memorial


Arbour Hill
The 1916 memorial

Arbour Hill is located a bit away from Dublin’s main tourist sites, on a quiet street at the rear of the Collins Barracks Museum.  It is however worth a visit if you’re doing some revolution tourism –  a site of great signifigance in Irish history and you’ve plenty of further options for the tourguides, multimedia displays and souvenir shops.

Photos were taken on a robust (heavy) Hanimex 35SL (a rebadged Chinon CS) a Pallas 35mm lens (never heard of them) using Lomography Earl Grey 100 film.