Any trip to Rome should really include some Roman sites – as in ancient Rome. There are numerous sites across the city, but as it was my first trip to Rome the easiest thing to do was the Forum and Colosseum. Oh, and a quick travel tip – go early (obvious) and buy your combined ticket to both at the Forum entrance – everyone seems to queue at the Colosseum for a ticket, with your pre-bought ticket you can just walk smugly by.
For photography I had the sturdy Ricoh Kr-5 with a roll of Oriental Seagull 100. After one shot, it was obvious that the Ricoh’s batteries were done – I’d no metering so it was Sunny 16. And as it was very, very sunny, basically F16 at 1/125 or 1/250 for toning it down a bit.
The forum was at the heart of ancient rome – market places, temples, government buildings, courts – if it was happening in Rome, it happened here. The remains date from around the 7th century BC to around the 3rd century AD. The sense of history and place is amazing and more than I’m capable of describing, but for a tourist with a camera it’s a delight to take a slow walk around the ruins and try and capture some essence of the place. Even on a 40 year old camera with a dodgy meter.
The Forum is well worth a visit, and actually makes for a much nicer photo walk than the Colosseum – which isn’t too shabby either.
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.
Photos shot on Ricoh KR5 with Oriental Seagull 100
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.
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.
There is, however a memorial to his chief of staff and future Fine Gael leader, Richard Mulcahy.
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.
(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.
The Pentax K1000 is always declared to be the camera to learn photography. But is it any different from any other manual camera?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
It may one of the lower budget sports competitions in Europe, but Northern Ireland’s domestic football league – the NIFL Danske Bank Premiership – is as exciting as any. I have the privilege of doing the matchday video camera for video analysis and YouTube channel highlights, as well as a bit of photography with Crusaders FC – a fan-owned club in north Belfast. 14 years after nearly going out of business, Crues are one of the top clubs in Ireland. On 28th April 2018, after a neck and neck chase to the title, Crusaders pipped Coleraine FC to become winners of the Irish Premiership by winning away at Ballymena and also gaining lucrative entry to the qualifying stages of the UEFA Champions League.
Most of the players in the league are part-time professional, training 2 or 3 times per week while holding down full time jobs. There is a strong sense of community within Irish football in midst of all the rivalries as the league competes with round the clock multi-platform coverage of the English Premier league and the other large European leagues.
These photos are of the post-match celebrations on winning the title – taken while also running around with the camcorder videoing the event..
The great thing about football is that as the season ends – on a high or in disappointment – we get to do it all over again after the summer.
Kit: Canon 6D, tweaked in Color Efex Pro pretending to be Portra 160
Osaka is a nice city to visit and works well as a base for trips elsewhere (Kyoto, Hiroshima etc) albeit without an overwhelming must-see identity of its own. It is however clean, safe, friendly – and has a Universal Studios park. I’d only a few days in the city armed with the Nikon F60 and Huawei P9 and got some shots.
A good place to start is downtown at the Shinsaibashi shopping street, 600 metres of covered shopping.
There’s also every conceivable eating place, including a bit of crab.
One of the main sites for a visit is the Osaka Castle in its large gardens. It focusses on local history and art as well as some viewpoints of the city.
Osaka is also the site for Japan’s Universal Studios theme park. Cue lots of Minions but I was particularly taken with Hogsmeade, Asian style.
Practicalities – we stayed in the suburbs at the wonderful Rainbow Hostel near Imazato train station about 20 minutes from downtown. The area was nice and quiet and you’ll not go hungry
And of course in Shinsaibashi there are plenty of camera stores. Nice that film is still widely used in Japan.