Venice is great to visit – but every bugger will have taken every conceivable picture there is to be taken. That’s not to say you shouldn’t take photos, try to find something different to shoot or just decide to visit somewhere and record what’s there. I didn’t do the usual slow shutter speed shot of blurred gondolas parked on the lagoon with San Giorgio Maggiore in the background (no tripod anyway..) but with a bog standard film camera / prime lens and cheap monochrome film you’ll get something different from the thousands of smartphone grab shots and selfies.
All photos shot with the Ricoh KR-5 on Oriental Seagull 100, developed in Ilfosol 3..
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.
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.
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.
Ueno Park is a large green space in central Tokyo and a great place for a walk around the city with the camera. There’s temples, museum, a zoo, entertainment – including Taiko drumming blogged here, flea markets and plenty of people. It’s also beside a large shopping area, the Ameyoko Shopping Street so you can easily fill a day here. And like Tokyo there’s any number of JR and metro stations in the area to get here.
All shot on the Nikon F60 and Kentmere 400 or Kodak Tri-X
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.
There aren’t many places you visit just to cross a road. We’ve loads of crossings in Northern Ireland – press a button, wait until a green man appears then dander across the road. Occasionally this will involve a car or two stopping and perhaps a few other pedestrians. Certainly nothing for tourists.
The Shibuya district in Tokyo has one of the biggest crossings in the world. Roads from all directions get a red light and then it’s a pedestrian free for all.
It is of course best seen from above – there is a ridiculously packed Starbucks overlooking the crossing – the phone is best to record this this.
There is of course more to the Shibuya district than a pelican crossing no matter how big assed and busy it is. It’s a vibrant shopping, eating and socialising area making it great for street shots.
When travelling it’s always a pleasure to check out a local football club. On a visit to Düsseldorf, the grandly named Fortuna Düsseldorf were playing the lowly 1. FC Heidenheim 1846. Or Düsseldorfer Turn- und Sportverein Fortuna 1895 to give the home side their full unedited title. (The book Tor! by Uli Hesse explains the background to the glorious naming conventions of German football).
As to the match itself, it was a cracking 2-2 draw ending up with a mass brawl between both teams, coaches and substitutes – and a referee who clearly lost control and the general ability to referee a football match.
From a photographic point of view however, armed with a 1970’s Ricoh KR-5 and a few prime lenses, it was going to be some documentary shots to give a flavour of the matchday experience.
The Espirit Arena is a big multi-function trade fair venue (Messe) and sports arena in an anonymous looking industrial estate. It does however hold over 54,000 and the Rolling Stones have played here. For a 2nd tier yoyo club, it’s an impressive home stadium.
And with typical German efficiency, getting to the ground and around the stadium couldn’t be easier.
The regular train service connects the city centre and the stadium with a loop to get the train heading back out again while the next train comes in.
Unlike many city centre stadia, there’s plenty of space when crowds start to arrive – ticketing and queing is all very efficient.
Of course, being in Germany the onsite food and drink is top quality and decently priced.
The last pre-match task – the Club Shop. For a hat.
Kit: The robust and utilitarian Ricoh KR5, 50mm f2 lens and a roll of Kentmere 400
I’ve had the good fortune to visit the US on 3 separate occasions in recent years – and most of that time has been spent in Indiana.
These were working visits – it’s one of the more unlikely holiday destinations if you’re heading across the Atlantic but it has a quiet charm and warm feeling that makes me want to return.
The city of Indianapolis is a smart place with an accessible downtown area, the speedway and is home to my weekly dose of NFL.
I spent quite a while at two of the state’s Universities – Ball State and Taylor – and travelled around some unheralded places.
Gas City – the smallest ‘city’ I’ve ever been to, but home to Friday speedway. Noise, fumes and fried food.
One of the most striking visual features I noticed was the signage. Sometimes grander than the actual place, sometimes unintentionaly funny but something we’ve lost over here.
Baseball. If ever a sport is more enjoyable watching live rather than on TV, it’s baseball. This was my first experience at Fort Wayne.
I hope to go back to Indiana next time I visit the US. It’s an unassuming place with warm, friendly people, incredibly photogenic and seems to exude a laid back form of conservatism. Sometimes, though you have to be immodest, especially if you are the best damn sports bar.
Summer in Indiana and I got to experience that colourful cultural experience – the County Fair. We have, of course, fairs in Ireland – it’s usually cold and wet, they’re often like outdoor shopping malls, and they’re a bit… two dimensional. Now whether it’s the novelty of travelling or enjoying a trip to somewhere like parts of Indiana that are well off the tourist trail, there are things you just don’t get at home.
Forget Healthy Eating
There was a serious diet and a gym membership organised after this trip. It wasn’t just the grilled/fried everything – it was the sheer size and volume of portions. All delicious, of course.
We The People With the fine weather and good food, everyone seemed chilled.
Bit of Politics
I have to say that these guys had considerably less attention than the food, agricultural shows, sports and entertainment. The Tea Party strangely had no tea.
Tractors we have at home. Horses at agricultural shows, ditto.
Demolition derbies and pig wrestling, not so much.
Sorry about this Dave, but we were on the lookout for you the whole time.
Hancock, Grant and Delaware County Fairs, I salute you. Every conceivable type of food and entertainment, everyone enjoying themselves and so, so much to photograph.
ColorEfex Pro was used to punch the Raw files taken off the Olympus E450. It’s a great free tool.
It was while watching a recent documentary about Magnum Photos, a segment on Dennis Stock’s photos of James Dean reminded me I’d been to his home town of Fairmount on a trip to Indiana. Due to lack of time, I ended up in Fairmount early on a Sunday morning, had a walk, took some shots of the town and some James Dean related sights with the Olympus E450, and in the absence of any other souls or open cafes, headed on to my next stop.
I then forgot about Fairmount and the photos sat on a hard drive for a few years. Looking at them now and running them through a quick Color Efex filter, Fairmount looks to these European eyes exactly like how a mid west US town should look. with added James Dean.
It doesn’t take long to find visual sightings related to Fairmount’s most famous son, and it’s all reasonably tasteful.
I never got to the James Dean gallery, museum or his grave site – it was a fleeting visit at an early unsociable hour – but I’d love to go back. I’d orginally had a look at these shots in black and white but a town like Fairmount deserves colour – and Kodachrome would have been wonderful. Sadly like Fairmount’s most famous resident it’s another much missed Amercian cultural icon.
The inherent risk of bringing your 40 year old film camera on holiday is of course that it decides to call it a day. Before loading the Trip, I always give it a quick check to ensure that it responds reasonably appropriately to light – particularly that the wee red underexposed marker appears in the viewfinder. Day 2 of a trip to Tokyo and before the Fomapan was loaded, it was clear that the Trip meter had finally given up the ghost. However, before putting it back in the suitcase and relying on the Nikon F60, I remembered the manual aperture settings – a quick check showed these to be responding.
So, a pretty useless 1/40th constant shutter speed in a bright summer Tokyo day and it was Sunny 22 to see how the Trip would go on manual only. F22 for the bright outdoors and guess for the shade and indoors.
And… it went ok. Fomapan 100 is pretty forgiving anyway and with the bright harsh sunlight and deep shadows, I couldn’t really complain with the results from a 40 year old malfunctioning compact and a £3.50 roll of budget Czech film.
It would have been a challenge getting any sort of shadow detail here given the contrast between the umbrella and background.
Of course, with an aperture setting now to consider on the Trip, there was the added risk to forget about adjusting the zone focussing from “mountains” to “2 blokes“.
The Trip of course, is a great street camera, all you have to remember is to set the zone focus. My immediate reaction when the meter went was to retire the Trip and have a look on The Bay for a replacement. But doing a quick Sunny 16 setting of the Aperture is no problem, and you can learn to live with the constant 1/40th shutter. The lens is as sharp as ever (after remembering to check the focus) and frankly there is no better looking 35mm compact out there. My meter-less Trip hasn’t had its last holiday just yet.