Baku At Night

When I was working in Baku back in July, I had only two hours in the day to look around.

This time I had only one hour at night.

The weather was comfortably cooler this visit, at around 25°C. The famous Baku wind helped keep things fresh. Baku is known as The City Of Winds, and in fact the name comes from the Original Persian for Bādkube, meaning ‘pounding winds’.

Baku sits on the western coast of the Caspian Sea, and although it was once a former soviet state, it has a distinctly European atmosphere. The city really comes alive at night, with bustling crowds, open-air cafes and restaurants, opera houses, singers, buskers, and groups of men drinking coffee and playing games.

This was the first time I’ve put the Fuji X100T through its paces at night. I think it acquitted itself quite well.

Baku At Night / Fuji X100T

Baku At Night

Baku At Night

Baku At Night

Baku At Night

Baku At Night

Baku At Night

Baku At Night

Baku At Night

Baku At Night

Baku At Night

Bertie News | Episode 04: 15 Weeks Old

It’s probably a good thing I’m not a parent

I’d just embarrass my kids.

I got a bit choked up of sand in my eye when we took Bertie for his first swim. He took to it like…..er…..a spaniel to water. I felt strangely proud, emphasis on strange.

Right, I’ll be off now. Need to get that sand out of my eye.

Midhurst Common Pond / Nikon F90X / Ilford FP4 / Developed in Kodak D76 1+1

Dogs Swimming

Spaniels Swimming Midhurst Common Pond

Dogs Swimming Midhurst Common Pond

Spaniels Swimming

Spaniels Swimming Midhurst Common Pond

Dogs Swimming Midhurst Common Pond

Dogs Swimming Midhurst Common Pond

Dogs Swimming Midhurst Common Pond


Check out all episodes of Bertie News here

Bertie News | Episode 03: 12-14 Weeks Old

These photos might give the impression that Bertie’s a sleepy, placid puppy

What they actually demonstrate is that it’s only worth trying to get a decent picture when he’s sleepy. True to the working cocker spaniel breed, Bertie’s energy levels are off the scale. The good news is that now he’s had all his vaccinations, he can burn some of that energy off outside in the fields.

Nikon F100 / Ilford HP5 / Developed with Bellini Foto EcoFilm (Liquid Xtol)

Bertie the working Cocker Spaniel Puppy

Bertie the working Cocker Spaniel Puppy

Bertie the working Cocker Spaniel Puppy

Bertie the working Cocker Spaniel Puppy

Don’t worry Coco – you’re still top dog

Coco the working Cocker Spaniel

Thoughts On Ilford HP5

I’ve probably shot most of the popular black & white films over my four decades of shooting film. In more recent years I’ve tried to whittle my choices down to a handful of films that give me consistent, predictable results. The downside of this is that I can’t always remember why I might have previously discarded certain film stocks. And so it is with Ilford HP5. Seeing Jim’s recent appraisal, I thought it was time to give it another go and refresh my memory.

You can only draw limited conclusions from one roll shot under one set of conditions. Grain is more controlled than Tri-X, with a flatter, less-contrasty look. That said, the highlights were blown on quite a few of the frames. I suspect this was down to over-development rather than poor metering. I’ve just started using Bellini Film EcoFilm Developer. It’s supposed to mimic XTOL and use the same times, but I had a similar issue with a roll of Tmax 100. I have one more roll of HP5 to shoot, and I’ll probably decrease the developing time by ten per cent. Let’s see how that goes.


Check out all episodes of Bertie News here

Thorpe Park With The Olympus Trip 35

If you’d asked me when I was a kid where I wanted to live, I would’ve said next door to a theme park would be second only to living in a sweetshop.

It’s funny how things change. These days I struggle to contain my indifference about living within walking distance of Thorpe Park. I’d still be up for that sweetshop though.

But children have birthdays. And who wouldn’t want to spend a day with three children doped up on sugar and spun round till they’re green-faced and exorcist vomiting?

Actually, it was me who turned green. After one supposedly family-friendly ride. Yeah, whatever.

The Olympus Trip 35 seemed the perfect camera to take. Compact, easy to use, and easily replaceable should something happen to it. When I wrote my Ten Photos In Ten Years retrospective I realised how much I enjoyed using it, and how long it had been since I’d last taken it out.

I had a rummage round in the fridge for some film. The day looked like being sunny, and I found a roll of Ilford Delta 100 from when I was going through my Delta-curious phase. That’ll do.

Thorpe Park / Olympus Trip 35 / Ilford Delta 100 / Developed with Bellini Foto EcoFilm (Liquid Xtol)

thorpe park olympus trip

Bellini Foto Ecofilm

thorpe park olympus trip

Bellini Foto Ecofilm

Bellini Foto Ecofilm

Bellini Foto Ecofilm

Bellini Foto Ecofilm

Bellini Foto Ecofilm

thorpe park olympus trip

Bellini Foto Ecofilm

thorpe park olympus trip

Bellini Foto Ecofilm

thorpe park olympus trip

Bellini Foto Ecofilm

thorpe park olympus trip

thorpe park olympus trip

Bellini Foto Ecofilm

thorpe park olympus trip

A Little Bit Of Development Geekery

Kodak’s D76 is my go-to developer for 35mm film. It comes as a powder that you mix with water, either in 1 or 3.8-litre packs. I use the small packs because it’s easy to mix and store.

D76 was first marketed way back in 1927, but Kodak also has a much more modern developer: XTOL. It’s used by many professional labs, and in my experience is marginally better than D76. It’s also fairly eco-friendly. But there’s a big downside. It’s a two-powder mix, which is a faff, and it only comes in 5L packs. You have to mix the whole lot in one go, so storing 5L of liquid is a pain. Plus I’m unlikely to use that amount within the shelf life.

Enter Bellini Foto EcoFilm Developer. This is a liquid developer formulated to work like XTOL. I got mine from Nik & Trick Photo Services, who are worth checking out as they have some interesting stuff. It comes in handy 500ml bottles that make 1L of stock solution. This is the first roll of film I’ve tried with it and I’m very pleased with the results. Recommended.

Bertie News | Episode 02: Eleven Weeks Old

Q: Are there advantages when your girlfriend goes on holiday without you?
A: Duh Yeah! You get to look after the puppy for a whole week

And much of that week was spent chasing him round the garden with a Polaroid, trying to get him to stay still.

Bertie the working cocker spaniel puppy at 11 weeks old / Polaroid SX-70 Sonar / Polaroid Originals Color SX-70 Film

Working Cocker Spaniel Puppy Polaroid

The Impossible Project – now called Polaroid Originals – has had remarkable success since its inception in 2008. When Polaroid announced they would stop making film, the IP founders had a Victor Kiam-esque moment and bought the company. Well, some of the machinery at least.

And as much as I’ve admired them over the years, I’ve avoided resurrecting my own Polaroid SX-70. The early formulations of the film were quite flakey, and the price continues to be expensive; roundabout £17 ($21) for 8 shots. (NB I can’t quite believe 17 quid currently only buys 21 bucks).

Nevertheless, recently lamenting the loss of my Polaroid Land Camera has made me reconsider. The latest iteration of the film seems stable, and all things considered I can afford the odd pack here and there.

I’m sure I’ll have more to say when I’ve shot all eight frames. That could be a little while yet though because, at over two quid a pop, I’m a little bit selective about when I press that shutter button.


Check out all episodes of Bertie News here