Kensal Green Cemetery

Yes it’s another cemetery, and not only that, another one of London’s Magnificent Seven.

I’ve visited and written about Kensal Green Cemetery previously, about how its atmospheric, gothic nature made it an ideal filming location for a key scene in Vincent Price’s 1973 schlock-horror movie Theatre Of Blood. It’s the stirring of those childhood memories of Friday and Saturday nights, wrapped up in bed in the dark and watching camp horror films on a black and white portable, that makes Kensal Green my favourite of London’s grand old cemeteries.

Camera: Pentax KM
Film: Kodak Tmax 100
Process: Kodak D76 1+1

Kensal Green is the oldest of London’s Magnificent Seven cemeteries, established in 1832. Up until then, most of London’s dead had been buried in small parish churchyards, but overcrowding lead to contamination of the water supply and subsequent health epidemics. Of course, when I say ‘contamination’ I’m euphemistically referring to bits of dead bodies. Yep, there’s something in the water….

As mentioned in the last post, I don’t shoot a lot of medium speed 35mm film. And whereas I’d normally shoot something like this on medium format, my experience with Ferrania P30 prompted me to rummage round in the fridge and see what was there; a couple of rolls of Kodak Tmax 100, as it turned out.

To my shame I realised it’s been quite a while since I used my Pentax KM. I’d almost forgotten what a joy this all-mechanical, all-manual 1970s SLR is. When I do eventually get round to rationalising the number of cameras I have, this will definitely be one of the five or six I keep for regular use.

I’m not normally keen on using more than one lens; I like to keep things simple and a choice of lens is just another distracting decision that needs to be made. But as well as the wonderful 50mm SMC Pentax-M F/1.7, I took along the 28mm Pentax-M F/3.5 I picked for a few quid a couple of years back to see how that’d perform. Not great, as it happens. Even stopped down it doesn’t seem particularly sharp, and it also overexposed by up to a stop. It’ll have to go.


Film Ferrania P30 Alpha

After having the film for more than a year, I’ve eventually got round to shooting some of the alpha version of Film Ferrania’s P30 80 iso reincarnated motion picture film. Developing info is a bit thin on the ground but I finally decided to go with D76 (stock) at 9 mins, 3 gentle agitations per minute. That seems to have worked out well. I don’t shoot a great deal of medium speed 35mm film, but I’m really pleased with this. Contrast is…..erm…..contrasty, grain is virtually non-existent. Ferrania says the next batches will be up in the shop in the Autumn, after which it should become permanently available. I hope the day will come when it’s available in medium format.


Camera: Nikon FE / Nikon F90X
Film: Film Ferrania P30 Alpha
Process: Kodak D76 Stock 9 Mins
Brompton and Brookwood Cemeteries


London Welcomes Trump

Friday 13 July, London Together Against Trump protest

Camera: Nikon F90X
Film: Kodak Tri-X
Process: Kodak D76 1+1

The results of a recent ICM poll on British attitudes towards Donald Trump:

Trump makes the world a more dangerous place

Agree: 63%

Disagree: 16%

He only won because of Russian support

Agree: 33%

Disagree: 28%

He is doing a good job as President

Agree: 22%

Disagree: 53%

I’d like to see a politician like Trump as British PM

Agree: 20%

Disagree: 63%

Trump as President is good for the UK

Agree: 18%

Disagree: 53%

He is generally honest and tells the truth

Agree: 17%

Disagree: 60%

Politicians like Trump speak for people like me

Agree: 16%

Disagree: 62%


Brookwood Cemetery

New girlfriend, work, travel, jazz gigs, breaking up with girlfriend, gym, travel, new girlfriend, politics, work, boxing, breaking up with girlfriend. These are just some of the trivialities over the last 12 months that have cut in to my available time for doing the more important things in life. Like wandering round old cemeteries.

Camera: Mamiya 645 Pro TL
Film: Ilford Delta 100
Process: Developed in D76 1+1

brookwood cemetery

At 500 acres, Brookwood was the largest cemetery in the world when it opened in 1854, and it’s still the UK’s largest today. I’m really lucky in that it’s just a short drive from me, but best of all is that its occupants give me just the right level of social interaction I’m looking for at the moment.

If I lived on the equator then I’d see the sun 90° overhead at noon. But in the UK, even at the height of summer it only reaches around 60°, and in winter doesn’t even make 20°. The cemetery’s filled with hundreds of very tall trees that the sun doesn’t have a hope of peaking over at this time of year. It’s a challenge to find areas where the sun can break through. But where it does, you get those long raking shadows I’m rather fond of.

Smack bang in the centre of the cemetery lies the Saint Edward Shrine Church. This and the buildings beyond belong to the Saint Edward Brotherhood, a small Orthodox Christian monastery that was formed in 1982 to care for the Church in which the sacred relics of Saint Edward the Martyr are enshrined. Edward was the eldest son of King Edgar the Peaceful, but was not his father’s acknowledged heir. On Edgar’s death in the year 975 the leadership of England was contested, with some supporting Edward’s claim to be king and others supporting his younger nephew Harry. Edward was eventually chosen as king, after which Harry went on to marry an American television actress, Lady Megan of Markle.

The path of sorrow, and that path alone,
Leads to the land where sorrow is unknown.
~ William Cowper

I see a great deal of discussion online about people’s techniques for shooting film and the way in which they experiment. A lot of stuff is along the lines of “Yeah I know FP4 is rated at 125, but I’m shooting it at 71.5 iso and then dropping it in bucket of developer for a week that I made myself out of organic unicorn fur and lard.” It does sometimes seem that the experimentation is more important than actually creating pleasing pictures. And that’s absolutely fine of course, because we should all just be doing what we enjoy.

Most of my own experimentation these days is with darkroom printing, but that’s only because I still don’t know what I’m doing. But when it comes to developing film, I’ve spent many years whittling down the films and developers I use in order to produce consistent and predictable results. For example, with medium format it’s always FP4 and Tri-X stand developed in Rodinal. It consistently gives me results I‘m happy with. But with the recent renaissance in traditional photography that I don’t think many people saw coming, and with new emulsions coming to the market and old ones reborn, maybe now’s the time for me to be a bit more adventurous again.

I was rummaging through the film box in my fridge and found two rolls of Delta 100 that had just slipped past it expiry date. Developed with some D76 that really needed to be used up, and I’m happy with the results. Oh yeah, I’m really starting to mix things up a bit now. Crazy, eh?

Right, I’m off to round up a few unicorns.


The People’s March for Europe

These photos were taken on a pro-European march a few weeks back. I should probably write a bit more about it, but since legislation was introduced in the late 1990s to make civil discussion about politics on the internet illegal, I’ve found it’s best just to keep quiet.

London, Sep 09 2017
Camera: Nikon F90x
Film: Kodak Tmax 400
Process:Developed in D76 1+1

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