Monday, January 30, 2006

A new love for an old format

Does anyone still remember film cameras? In today's digital age of megapixels and cameraphones, you'd easily be forgiven for having a reminiscent look on your face. But for some, film is thriving.

As most visitors to my blog will know (all too well in some cases!) I love my photography. I started with the Canon 300D and was amazed to find that even I could find a degree of creative expression that was tucked away inside. I started to look for forums with like minded people on the internet and that's when I stumbled across something very interesting indeed.

Its kind of a mix between the big SLR camera's that we see the pro's with and the 35mm compacts that we see the parents with and its called a Rangefinder. Yup you can change the lenses but it still has a separate viewfinder and, shock horror! There's no CMOS sensor in sight!

It doesn't take memory cards and you can't plug it into your computer, rather its back to the good old days of taking film to be processed and waiting with the due sense of hesitancy and dread as to what your going to get back. Will they turn out? Will I have 'quality control' stickers all over them or will I just pay my money for some black shiny pieces of paper? (Lens caps can be tricky!)

It was into this 'olde worlde' of photography that I found myself, yet I was amazed to find I wasn't alone. No; hiding in the undergrowth of silicon chips on this global 'island', I found a whole community of users like me and even in this digital world where film has been elbowed out, there are those who yet still thrive on the use of fully manual film cameras. I was so amazed that I bought one myself. I couldn't question their passion of phototography and was curious as to what film looked like.

The first thing that strikes me is how different it feels to use a traditional camera. Gone are the times of 'mere' point and click and a feeling that your using a fragile plastic box of tricks. Instead, I found myself holding what feels like a precise instrument of engineering, a tactile link with light itself. I also found myself forced into thinking about things like exposure times, focusing issues and depth of field possibilities. Things which would often only register loosely in the back of my mind on the digital shoot. With the rangefinder, I think about how I can make the most of my film and how I can use my skillful imagination to figure out what's going to work. I'm forced to see it in my minds eye rather than a 2 inch LCD screen.

Its the combination of these two formats, old and new, digital and darkroom which I think has helped me learn much quicker than by just using modern 'point, click, delete and try again' digitals. The amazing thing is that by going back to how things where, I've learned how to get the most out of how things are today. So to any photographers out there who know nothing but digital. Believe it or not, you really don't realise what you are missing!


for more information on rangefinders and for one of the best photo communities online, check out:

Rangefinder Forum

To see my Rangefinder, film based gallery, visit

Rangefinder Pictures

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Shameless plug for my website (click)

I know its been a while since my last post but I have good reason.

For the past few weeks, I've been hard at work reprogramming my virtual home at

My site now includes more info and examples of my work plus another (much shorter) blog which deals with some of my journalistic work.

Feel free to 'mosey on down' and your comments are welcome :-)


Thursday, January 12, 2006

A Picture of Manchester (Click here for pics)

For the last few days I've been clicking my way around Manchester in order to make a start to my local image gallery.

Manchester is a great city and there's plenty to photograph and I've made it one of my missions to try to capture some of the places and maybe some of the people too.

I'd like to encourage any visitors to my blog to click through some of the photographs and if your local to Manchester, maybe you have a suggestion of a place to include in what could end up being quite a large task.

In the Meantime, I'll leave you in peace but you can expect some updates on my visual journey in the future!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Questioning the question mark? (click for audio)

Anyone who listens to Jeremy Vine on R2 is used to hearing lively debate and stimulating conversation and listeners weren't let down recently when Jeremy turned his attention towards religion.

I was always told never to discuss religion or politics as arguments are never far behind so the battle lines where drawn when Jeremy introduced Professor Richard Dawkins, the 'pope' of atheism. The topic was religion, is it really the root of all evil?

From a war on terror which rightly or wrongly includes Islam at its core to hard line Christians who seem intent on destroying anything they don't agree with, one could be forgiven for initially thinking that this may be an open and shut case for the prosecution. In fact, I have lost count how often I have heard this said by people who are generally irreligious themselves.

It seems that in this age of mass globalisation and consumerism, religion may be bearing the brunt of critisism towards problems which consistently 'nag' at the worldwide community. But despite lots of pretty damning evidence against faith full stop, I'm not convinced its an open and shut case.

It's my opinion that fundamentalism promotes intolerance. Its also my opinion that 'hard-liners' often mistake understanding with acceptance. Surely its possible to understand something and then tolerantly choose not to accept it? Maybe people of faith feel the need to protect their beliefs no matter what the cost? After all, if they don't stand up for what they believe in, who will?

If I was to end my blog at this point, even as a person of faith myself, I would have to concede total defeat. It would appear that if faith is of fundamental importance (and it can't really be 'moderately' important) then anything which seems to question its message would be a threat and worth fighting against. Its this exact pattern that has blighted the Christian Church many times during its 2000 year history but that isn't the end of the blog, or the issue.

Equally intolerant as people of faith can be those with none. There are those who ignorantly dismiss the notion of God or Spirituality with one or two flippant comments which not only show a complete ignorance of the issue but also a complete intolerance to faith and the faithful. In a complete dichotomy, its quite possible to be religiously atheistic.

The problem then, would seem to be common to both camps. Those with faith in something and those who faithfully believe in nothing. Both can feel the need to defend their position and both can feel threatened by those who don't believe what they do and its into this mix that Jeremy Vine along with Professor Dawkins and some evangelical Christians decided to thrash out the issue before the nation.

The more I listened to what everyone was saying, the more I thought that just as Professor Dawkins showed little interest in considering the good things that religion has accomplished (countless schools, hospitals and charities) so the Christians showed a complete ignorance of the Professor's valid arguments towards the dangers of faithful intolerance. In the Midst of all this was Jeremy Vine who tried to officiate appropriately.

Of course, you may listen to this for yourself by clicking on the title of this post (please be patient, its a big file!) but I wanted to leave this post on what I see as a positive.

I firmly believe that my faith demands me to 'love my neighbor' and this means that even if my neighbor chooses to hate me and my beliefs, my beliefs shouldn't change. An Almighty God can fight his own battles, he doesn't need me to do it for him.

It may seem like the Christian God does need help. After all Didn't he come to earth in Christ and heal and teach? And wasn't he a victim of hatred, betrayal and religious intolerance himself? Didn't it cost him his life? The Christian God certainly would need men to bear arms against unbelievers if the story ended there.

But it doesn't.

Monday, January 02, 2006

A extraordinary new birth for the new year

2006 has got off to a flying start for one new mother as she flew from France to India. She gave birth at thirty-odd thousand feet and the flight gained an extra passenger.

Its not uncommon for pregnant ladies to travel on commercial planes however some airlines don't allow mums-to-be over seven months to take to the air. In this case, its thought that a flight attendant became concerned for the safety of the lady passenger after she had been in the loo for quite some time.

Although the lady was not visibly near the end of her term, Elfayed was delivered with the help of the flight attendants and a doctor who was also traveling on the flight.

hundreds of thousands of children are born each day but most are delivered at ground level so as we enter a new year, I thought it was nice to hear of this story which seems just plane crazy!

My best wishes to mum and baby, and for that matter, to all my blog readers for 2006!