Where Is Everybody?

The place is here. The time is now, and the journey into the shadows that we are about to watch, could be our journey.

A man in an Air Force flight suit is alone on a dirt track, with no memory of who he is or how he got there. He stumbles into a nearby diner, and although the jukebox is playing, there are no customers. In the kitchen, he finds a pot of hot coffee and freshly made pies, but there are no other people besides himself.

He wanders into a nearby town. Like the diner, it is also deserted, yet he has the feeling that someone’s around and he’s being watched. A telephone rings in a phonebox, but when he rushes to answer no one is there. In the police station, a lit cigar is in the ashtray. In the cells, a recently used shaving brush and razor. Across the street in the ice cream parlour, he finds a rack of identical books, each one titled The Last Man on Earth. As he wanders around he becomes increasingly distressed and anxious to find someone to talk to. He thinks he’s dreaming and wants to wake up.

I’d like to wake up now. If I can’t wake up, at least I’d like to find somebody to talk to.

As nightfall approaches, he becomes progressively paranoid and anxious, eventually running and stumbling through the town in a blind panic. Finally, he comes upon a pedestrian crossing and desperately pushes the call button again and again, begging for help.

The call button is revealed to be a panic button and the man is actually in an isolation booth being observed by a group of senior servicemen. He has been undergoing tests to determine his fitness as an astronaut and whether he can handle a prolonged trip to the Moon alone; the town was a hallucination caused by sensory deprivation.


Where Is Everybody {watch} is the first-ever episode of The Twilight Zone. It was first broadcast way back in 1959, but I probably saw it in the late ’70s when the BBC ran the series late at night. It was one of a handful of episodes that really stuck in my head. Little did I know that 40 years later I’d be living it.

Things in my little town are desolate. As I go for my Government-mandated daily exercise each morning, the streets are pretty much devoid of people and cars. There are more joggers around than usual, though. Nevertheless, the number of people jogging is expected to reach a peak in the next two weeks, after which the curve will flatten and eventually 80% of the population will develop lifelong immunity.

For most of my daily walks and runs I’ve been taking my Polaroid SX-70 Sonar. But I wanted to capture the emptiness of the streets, and so for the last couple of days I’ve taken my beloved Pentax KM with the ultra-wide Miranda 24mm F/2.8 lens. I bought the lens from Dan James for a snip. Whilst not a great performer, stop down to f/8 and beyond, slip on a lens hood, and you’ll get some decent results. That’s the lens, not Dan.

I’m a bit of an introvert and I’m used to living alone, so I thought I’d get through this fairly easily. But it’s week three of not physically interacting with another single person, and I’m finding it a bit harder than I thought.

The barrier of loneliness: The palpable, desperate need of the human animal to be with his fellow man. Up there, up there in the vastness of space, in the void that is sky, up there is an enemy known as isolation. It sits there in the stars waiting, waiting with the patience of eons, forever waiting… in The Twilight Zone.

Chertsey in lockdown / Pentax KM / Kodak Tmax 100 / Developed in Kodak D76 1+1

Chertsey in Lockdown

Chertsey in Lockdown

Chertsey in Lockdown

Chertsey in Lockdown

Chertsey in Lockdown

Chertsey in Lockdown

Chertsey in Lockdown

Chertsey

Chertsey in Lockdown

Chertsey in Lockdown

Chertsey

Chertsey in Lockdown

Chertsey in Lockdown

Chertsey

Chertsey

Chertsey Lockdown

Chertsey Lockdown

Chertsey Lockdown

Chertsey Lockdown

Chertsey Lockdown

Chertsey Lockdown

Self-Isolating At Brookwood Cemetery With Film Ferrania P30

I’ve been expecting the zombie apocalypse ever since I first saw Dawn Of The Dead on a hookey VHS tape around 1980. I went on to watch all of Geroge Romero’s zombie documentaries, as well as training videos such as 28 Days Later and World War Z. I’m not entirely convinced that Life After Beth was based on fact though.

What I’m saying is that if anyone is prepared, it’s me. I know all the rules. Shoot them in the head; always look in the back seat of the car; you’re at your most vulnerable in the bathroom etc etc. So it turns out to be more than a little annoying that come the apocalypse, there’s no actual zombies. The Coronapocalypse just sounds like something you wake up with after a heavy night on the beer. I assumed at this stage I’d be failing to light a fire with twigs, and trying to remember how you harvest fresh water with a plastic bag. The reality is more mundane. Like many others, I’m scraping around for dried pasta and toilet paper, and wondering if I’ll be able to pay my mortgage in the coming months.

One thing I am prepared for is social distancing. As an introvert, this is something I’ve been practising all my life. And although going to a place where there are thousands of people who aren’t in the best of health might seem like the opposite of government advice, it’s probably OK if it’s a cemetery.

I’ve been keen to try out the latest version of Film Ferrania P30 for a while. I thought I’d read that the contrast is a little more tamed than the alpha version. Well, I’m not seeing it, guys. Turn away now if you’re sensitive to scenes of a highly contrasting nature.

When I first held the negatives up to the light, my heart sank. They were incredibly thin. I assumed I’d screwed up the developing. But then I noticed that actually some of them were fine, which seemed strange. So I asked Google, and Google answered by telling me I’m a twit. I’d used an orange filter to darken the skies in some shots, and because of P30’s lack of sensitivity to red light, you need to compensate by the relative filter factor. I’d underexposed them. But given everything that’s happening, I think this is what people often describe as a first world problem.

Stay safe everyone.

Nikon F100 / Film Ferrania P30 / Developed in Kodak HC-100 1+63 for 12 minutes

Film Ferrania P30

Film Ferrania P30

Film Ferrania P30

Film Ferrania P30

Film Ferrania P30

Film Ferrania P30

Film Ferrania P30

Film Ferrania P30

Film Ferrania P30

Film Ferrania P30

Film Ferrania P30

Film Ferrania P30

Film Ferrania P30

Film Ferrania P30

Film Ferrania P30

Film Ferrania P30

Azerbaijan Roll Out Part One: Fast Train To Ganja

By the end of 1993 I was 27, flat broke, jobless, and had no idea what to do next. I’d spent the year in Zurich, mainly because of a girl – most things back then were due to girls – but I came back to London sadder, wiser, and possibly harder-hearted than before I’d left.

I don’t really recall what led me to apply for a job at the airport. But I was living just a few miles from Heathrow, so it made good sense. I remember having this clunky old manual typewriter,* and I started to crank out application letters to all the airlines.

*A manual typewriter was bit like a computer, except you couldn’t access the Internet, install apps, swipe right, or delete anything you’d written.

After many rejections, I was eventually asked in for an interview, and on January 17th 1994 I turned up in Heathrow’s Terminal 3 for my first day.

Over the next six or seven years I had numerous operational jobs including Check-in Agent, Pushback Driver, Load Controller, Aircraft Dispatcher and Traffic Coordinator. But in 2000 things took another significant turn and I got a job in the DCS department.

Departure Control Systems are the IT applications that airlines use for check-in and aircraft weight and balance, and feed all the other airport and airline systems. It was a good move for me.

In 2005 I moved away from the airline to one of the key suppliers of these systems. These days, when an airline wants to move from their old (inferior) system to our new (vastly improved) system, I’m the guy who project manages the implementation.

A typical project takes anywhere from nine months to three or four years. I’ve been working on this one for 12 months so far, and now it’s time to go live.

We normally go live with a very small airport initially. That way we can catch all the problems and keep any impact to a minimum. The wonderfully named Ganja in the west of Azerbaijan seemed like a good choice for the pilot airport.

I left London with my colleague Monika late at night, and arrived in Azerbaijan’s capital city Baku early the next morning. There’s not even a daily flight to Ganja, so we ending up tearing through Baku in a perilously traumatic cab ride to the station. From there it was four hours on the train to Ganja.

The days of taking film on work trips are over for me. I don’t want to subject it to multiple x-ray scans, and you can’t rely on everywhere allowing a hand search. These were all JPEGS shot on my Fujifilm X100F using its fantastic built-in Acros film simulation. No post-processing required!

All photos Fujifilm X100F

Baku Train Station

I could have taken loads of pictures as we sped across the country, but they all would have looked like these next three photos. There’s not a lot out there, but I do get a closer view of those mountains on the way back.

Ganja Azerbaijan

Ganja Azerbaijan

Ganja Azerbaijan

I don’t blame Monika for flaking out. We’d been awake for over 24 hours at this point.

Ganja Azerbaijan

And we arrive in Ganja. The official language of Azerbaijan is – unsurprisingly – Azerbaijani, a form of Turkish. But as a former Soviet state many of the older guys speak Russian. Which means I can say hello, goodbye, thank you and yes. Not entirely useful when getting a cab. Everyone does seem to understand the word vodka though.

Ganja Azerbaijan

Ganja Azerbaijan

The view from my hotel room

Ganja Azerbaijan

Ganja Azerbaijan

Ganja Azerbaijan

I’m not convinced they have a word for diet in Azerbaijan. Or vegetarian. The food blends regional influences from Iran, Turkey and the Mediterranean. Dishes tend to be meat-based, especially lamb and chicken. This is all washed down with lashings of vodka, which these guys can put away as if it’s water. I don’t have the same superpower, which I found out the hard way on my previous trip. The second half of the evening was a blank and I woke up next morning on the floor of my hotel room. Top Tip: Don’t go out drinking with an Azerbaijani. It won’t turn out well. And even if you do have a good time, you won’t remember it.

Ganja Azerbaijan

Ganja Azerbaijan

Ganja Azerbaijan

And here we are; Ganja International Airport, with the first flight on the new system being to Moscow’s Vnukovo airport.

We just had just 30 minutes to take a look round the city, so I can’t tell you much about it. But like Baku, it has a very laid back atmosphere.

Ganja Azerbaijan

And flying back to Baku, over those wonderful snow-capped mountains. Now it’s time for things to get serious…

Ganja Azerbaijan

Winter Walking On Pound Common

When it comes to walking, if I had to make a choice between an overcast summer’s day and a bright but chilly winter’s day, I’d chose light over warmth every time. As for the dogs, I don’t think they really care.

This was a five or six-mile walk that took us across Pound Common and other parts of the South Downs. I took my Nikon F100 with me. It’s pretty much become my standard 35mm camera these days. That’s partly because of the Nikkor 35mm AF-D lens I use. It’s super-sharp and contrasty and has a close focus under ten inches. And 35mm is a great all-round focal length. A little bit wider than standard to get a bit more stuff in, but not so wide that it makes shots of people look like they’re being sucked into the vortex.

I’m in search of the perfect 35mm 100 ISO film at the moment. Tmax 100 has been my go-to slow film for many years, but I thought I’d remind myself what some of the others can do. Ilford FP4 is certainly not as fine-grained as Tmax, but it’s no slouch either. I’ve also gone back to using HC-110 as a developer as there’s still half a bottle under the sink that I’ve had for ages. I’ve been mainly using it for the occasional stand developing of medium format film, but it’s a good all-rounder. It also seems to have an incredible shelf-life; I’ve had this bottle opened for at least six or seven years. I decanted it into glass wine bottle and I use a Vacu Vin to extract the air. The perfect gift for the film photographer and boozer in your life.

As all Sunday walks should, this one ended up in the pub. Unfortunately, I’m doing Dry January at the moment, and although this isn’t as bad as I thought it might be, I’m definitely looking forward to Off Your Face February.

West Sussex including Pound Common / Nikon F100 / Ilford FP4 / Developed in Kodak HC-110 1+31

Pound Common Nikon F100 Ilford FP4

Pound Common Nikon F100 Ilford FP4

Pound Common Nikon F100 Ilford FP4

Pound Common Nikon F100 Ilford FP4

Pound Common Nikon F100 Ilford FP4

Pound Common Nikon F100 Ilford FP4

Pound Common Nikon F100 Ilford FP4

Pound Common Nikon F100 Ilford FP4

Pound Common Nikon F100 Ilford FP4

Pound Common Nikon F100 Ilford FP4

F100 Ilford FP4

Pound Common Nikon F100 Ilford FP4

F100 Ilford FP4

F100 Ilford FP4

Pound Common Nikon F100 Ilford FP4

Pound Common Nikon F100 Ilford FP4

Pound Common Nikon F100 Ilford FP4

F100 Ilford FP4

Bertie News | Episode 07: 7 Months Old – Ilford HP5 Edition

OK, so it probably looks like Bertie and Coco spend most of their time loafing about. But the truth is, this is the best chance I’ve got of a getting something in focus. I’ve got a stack of photos that consist of little more than a blurred tail leaving the scene.

I’ve been shooting a few rolls of HP5 lately, after years of mainly using Kodak 400 speed films. The contrast is a bit more subdued, and as such I had some good results on New Year’s Eve pushing it a couple of stops.

These ones didn’t come out too bad either. I think Bertie was rather pleased with his tonality, but Coco just rolled over on her back and wanted her tummy tickled. I sometimes feel she’s not taking it seriously.

Bertie (with added Coco) the working cocker spaniel puppy at 7 months / Nikon F100 / Ilford HP5 / Developed in HC-110 1+31

working cocker spaniel puppy 7 months

working cocker spaniel puppy 7 months

working cocker spaniel puppy 7 months

“Don’t let the puppy on the bed Gerald….”

working cocker spaniel puppy 7 months

working cocker spaniel puppy 7 months

Check out all episodes of Bertie News here