The Working Man

The Working Man live at The Napier, Blackburn 10th June 2017.

Sony A7 freelensing (lens whacking) a Bell and Howell 50mm fixed aperture f1.2 projector lens. The lens is housed in a macro extension tube and focused by moving the lens manually in-and-out while held in the tube. 

I did a couple of videos using this setup as well, which you can watch below. 

The Working Man: Hardcore Pooern

The Working Man: Big Bad John

Billinge Woods and the Pentax 6x7

Billinge Woods in Blackburn Lancashire, 19th February 2017. 

A rainy, dreary day… quite a bit of mist. Pentax 6x7 medium format SLR with 105mm lens, loaded with Kodak 400TX. Film developed in Ilford Ilfosol 3, 1:14 dilution, 9mins at 24ºc. 

Leighton Moss with a Voigtlander Perkeo

A family day out in Leighton Moss and Silverdale in Lancashire. I have Voigtlander Perkeo I medium format folding camera in my bag loaded with Kodak 400TX. The light isn’t brilliant, very flat with little contrast. Still, an opportunity to messy about and have fun with a great little camera and get some snaps from the day.

The viewfinder on the Perkeo is awfully small making framing tricky. You only ever have a rough idea of what you might get. This is a fully manual camera with old shutter speed settings. Taking a picture is not quick, but involves thought and care…. do a light meter reading, adjust aperture and shutter speed on the lens to suit, cock the shutter, frame the shot and fire. How many times I forget to cock the shutter is anyones guess!

The film loaded is Kodak 400TX shot at 400asa. I developed the film is Ilford Ilfosol 3. 1:14, 9mins at 24ºc.

Preston Town Centre and the Pentax 6x7

Preston City Centre, January 2017. Testing the Pentax 6x7 with the 55mm f4 lens.

The Pentax is a beast of a camera! This is not a candid street camera setup. This type of camera forces you to slow down and check and recheck settings before firing a frame. The camera is very heavy and the shutter speed dial is easily knocked when the camera is strung over your shoulder. Having said that, the viewfinder is fantastic to use, and the sound the camera makes when firing the shutter is very satisfying.

For these photos I used Kodak Portra 400 and cross processed it in Ilford Ilfosol 3. 1:14 dilution, 7mins at 24ºc (Ilford HP5 400asa standard development time). I do a lot of C41 cross processing. It’s not ideal but I’ve found a solution that works well. The negatives were scanned with a Sony A7 and flash with home-made light box and edited in Adobe ACR. 

Twisted Ankle - Sunbird Records

Twisted Ankle live at Sunbird Records, Darwen 27th January 2017.

Twisted Angle describe themselves as a “jazz trio for the deaf.” A superbly apt and brilliant description of a band who delivered a great ‘in-your-face’ performance that had to be seen.

Hailing from Cardiff, Twisted Ankle brought to the stage a great sense of humour with Monty Python-esq sensibilities, all underpinned by very capable musicianship. If you enjoy performers like Frank Zappa or Primus, you get some idea of what to expect seeing them live… pastiche, silliness, moments of musical madness, moments of great tenderness, improvisational craziness….. this is a band that you have to experience live to truly get. Currently on a mini tour of the UK with Amy Grindhouse, this band know had to put on a show that will leave you grinning from ear-to-ear. 

Twisted Ankle can be found on Facebook and Bandcamp.

Amy Grindhouse - Sunbird Records

Amy Grindhouse live at Sunbird Records, Darwen 27th January 2017.

Describing themselves as a “two piece instrumental twinkle band with jazzy/emo/punk influences…”, this stripped back duo of Connor and Matthew delivered an entertaining and fun filled performance of self penned compositions that weaved effortlessly in-and-out of intricate, texturally rich guitar driven compositions, full on hardcore pulse driven noise, to completely free ‘probably-making-it-up-as-they-go-along’ silliness.

At no point though do you feel this is purely self indulgent music for the sake of it. The two protagonists can play well, and looking beyond the crazier side of the performance, you can clearly observe a great deal of non-verbal communication between both musicians as they deliver their ideas and compositions to an expectant audience. Great stuff.

Amy Grindhouse can be found on Facebook and Bandcamp.

Delirium - Sunbird Records

Delirium live at Sunbird Records, Darwen 21st January 2017.

After a frustrating day of photographing a particularly uninspiring band at an event, I was in need of seeing some quality live music. Something, anything to lift the spirits and give me hope that there’s still some talent out there in gig land!

Delirium had come highly recommend from friend Russell Russell, bassist of Sky Valley Mistress. That’s all the endorsement you need really and I wasn’t left disappointed. Hailing from Sheffield, this young band clearly have something to prove and left you in no doubt about their skill and proficiency as musicians and songwriters.

What was immediately apparent upon hearing Delirium was how accessible the music was, but dig a little deeper and there is clearly capable songwriting skill in there. The music was far from four-to-the-floor beats, making use of mixed up crazy time signatures and dramatic shifts in timbre and texture to great aural effect and delivered with joy and excitement from the three young protagonists. 

From Hendrix and Led Zeppelin inspired guitar licks, to serious Jaco Pastorius groove laden bass lines, to full on sonic assaults that Sunn 0))) would be proud of, this band delivered it all. A fantastic group that did the trick of lifting the spirits and restoring my faith in live music after a particularly challenging day!

Snow Burial - The Napier

Snow Burial live at The Sir Charles Napier, Blackburn 20th January 2017.

What can I say, The Napier goes from strength to strength in booking exceptionally talented live bands to enjoy. This week saw the arrival of Snow Burial “a hard-hitting and dynamic metal-infused experimental rock trio from Chicago”, currently on a mini tour of the UK. 

Snow Burial list their influences as Mastadon, The Melvins and Russian Circles etc. I personally picked up hints of Godflesh, Napalm Death and King Crimson too. These are big names and shoes to fill, but these guys have the ability to play very well, and know how to deliver a sonically dense and immersive listening experience for their audience. At no point do you feel that their technical ability as musicians, got in the way of their musical vision. The performance was and is about music.

Loud, aggressive, in-your-face music delivered with superb musicianship and superb technical competence. This band knows how to put on a show. Highly recommended. 

Snow Burial can be found on Facebook or their own website.

And So It Goes - Sunbird Records

And So It Goes live at Sunbird Records, Darwen 20th January 2017.

Hailing from Brighton, ‘And So It Goes’ delivered a powerhouse performance of self penned compositions. Consisting of three very capable musicians: Hope, Sadie and Jamie, ‘And So It Goes’ know how to weave a composition into an interesting and beguiling soundscape, delivered with captivating gusto.

The music was laced with sonically dense and rich aural textures, creative use of feedback, angst filled vocals, quirky time signatures, powerful drumming and a no-hold-barred ‘fuck you’ attitude that was a delight to behold.

And So It Goes can be found on Facebook and Bandcamp.

Land Wars - Sunbird Records

Land Wars live at Sunbird Records, Darwen 20th January 2017.

A delightfully quirky and fun band hailing from London who like to describe their music as “sprinting full-speed down a steep hill”. An apt description, but doesn’t quite do justice to their true musical ability. These guys can play well. 

I found their performance to be warm and engaging. For only two musicians on stage, they delivered a rich soundscape of witty compositions full of crazy time signature shifts, dramatic pauses, rich textures and delightful melodies. It was interesting to note that both musicians took lead and support roles equally. There is no room here for the typical support drummer and lead guitarist format found in most rock bands. The music wouldn’t work and the performance would suffer as a result. 

Speaking with Cris and Sean afterwards, it’s clear that they simply enjoy creating music and performing it live. They’re passionate not just about what they do as a band, but who they work with as well. They are clearly keen to push live music forward, where ever it may lead them, and support those that support them on the way. I look forward to seeing them live again soon.

You can find Land Wars on Facebook and Bandcamp.

Party Like it’s 1999

A New Years Eve party at The Cellar Bar in Blackburn Lancashire hosted by Gypsy Carrot Productions. I was commissioned to document the evening.

In between working I did some documentary style photographs using a Pentax SMC 30mm f2.8 manual focus lens with the Sony A7. Really nice lens with loads of character. I worked the camera and lens like I would doing street photography and rendered the images to feel a bit more film-like… Suited the atmosphere and feel better. Annoyingly I did have my Olympus OM2n film camera with me, but just never got the time to get it out and start shooting a roll.  

St Helen’s Church, Waddington

28th December 2016. On a quick jaunt out and about with the family and we stumble upon Waddington near to Clitheroe in Lancashire. I have a few frames left to shoot on the Pentax 6x7 with the 105mm lens. Ilford HP5 is loaded into the camera.

We make our way through the picturesque village and happen upon St. Helen’s Church. Quite beautiful and quaint inside. The lighting is as you would expect, subdued and dark, but inviting and painterly. Shafts of light penetrate through stained glass windows illuminating small areas within the church.

The film within the camera has already had some frames shot at 400asa, so I’m forced to seek out areas within the church where light falls favourably to allow me to take some shots with such a relatively slow film speed. 

All the images were shot at 1/60sec at f2.4 at 400asa. The film is developed in Ilford Ilfosol 3 at 1:14 dilution, 7mins at 24ºc. 

Huncoat Power Station (with a Pentax 6x7)

Huncoat Power Station in heavy fog. Perfect cover for exploring abandoned structures unseen. An opportunity to break in the newly acquired Pentax 6x7 medium format SLR camera with the 55mm, 105 and 200mm lenses. 

The camera is loaded with Kodak 400TX overrated to 1600asa. Light is flat and quite dull with no real shadows. The power station is dark and broody. My trusty Weston light meter hangs around my neck and I get to work exploring, looking, observing.  

I take the opportunity to try zone focusing with the 55mm lens (28mm equivalent on 35mm) with fill flash using Ilford HP5. The flash grip/arm gets dropped bending the cold shoe mount, making the grip unusable. I hand hold the flash and camera instead, working on regardless. The weight of the camera is heavy, but it’s not a big issue.

As the light starts to fade, I take the opportunity to try slow shutter speeds to test how shutter vibration and wide apertures affect exposure. 1/60s and even 1/30s are useable. The 200mm lens is surprisingly lovely to use. 

The image below is my favourite. I think it speaks for itself and shows off just how good and versatile the Pentax 6x7 system is. 

*Kodak 400TX was overrated to 1600asa, developed in Ilford Ilfosol 3 at 1:14 dilution for 24mins at 24ºc. Ilford HP5 was rated at 400asa, developed in Ilford Ilfosol 3 at 1:14 dilution for 7mins at 24ºc.

Razorrawks Photoshoot

Nighttime. Winter in Darwen. A meet-up at Sunbird Records. Jonathan Lindley, Graham Aspinall, Martin Rawcliffe (aka Razorrawks) and and myself in tow. No plan. Let’s make ‘something’ happen.

We scour the streets for improvised locations for a photoshoot. We stumble upon an abandoned rooftop carpark with industrial halogen lighting.

I use Sony A7 freelensing a Bell and Howell 50mm f1.2 projector lens. No auto-focus. All manual. Johnny uses my LED torch and handheld reflector. The space becomes our studio.

Visual improvisation with light, shade and form. No dialogue. Work quickly, think later. Keep warm, keep moving. 

A improvised video shoot. One continuous take. No script. Martin singing into an empty space as taxi’s and nighttime revellers go by overhead oblivious. Graham working the camera, Johnny the lighting. I’m documenting. 

We made ‘something’ happen. 

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