Dry run

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Canon A-1 / Film / friends / Kentmere 100











Photos from a pre-wedding photo test, last spring:

My friends M and N are a couple familiar with the frustrations of the white wedding. Last year, they decided to get married at their favorite wildlife sanctuary on the Cape, and do away with the wedding – or rather, the guests. They did, however, want candid photographs of themselves, ideally taken at intervals.

Enter the so-called intervalometer.

My visit happened to coincide with the purchase of this instrument and the subsequent dry run. In other words, while they figured out how to use the thing, I would get to shoot to my heart’s content.

So we headed to Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary with a picnic basket and tools: they with their digital SLR, tripod, and intervalometer; me with my Canon A1 and (sadly malfunctioning) Contax 159mm. I’d visited the sanctuary with M and N on previous trips. We didn’t spot any fiddler crabs waving in the salt marsh this time, but we got our fair share of wind and sunshine.

Camera and lens: Canon A1 + 50mm f/1.4
Film: Kentmere 100
Lab: Richard Photo Lab

* * *

I haven’t updated this blog for months, I know, but it isn’t because I haven’t been taking photographs. I recently started a blog with my partner called Off the Beaten Bangkok, which will feature photo-stories from our travels and our life in Bangkok, and notes on things/people/places on our radar. You can sign up for our newsletter here.

The Kitchen at Spider Web Farm

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AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 400 / Canon A-1 / Canon T90 / Film / friends / Fujicolor Superia X-TRA 400 / kids / Kodak Ektar 100
Percy – Canon A1, Ektar 100

Thomas and toast – Canon T90, AgfaVista 400

Totoro Mom – Canon T90, Agfa Vista plus 400

Kate's Butter – Canon T90, AgfaVista Plus 400

Thomas and Crumbs – Canon A1, Superia X-tra 400

Mr Fox – Canon A1, Superia X-tra 400

Crumbs from a short stay with friends in CT last spring. My alarm clock, little E, called “Ampi Dom!” outside my door every morning. 14 years ago, his mother the magpie would pocket little objects she found in my dorm room, and it seems the boy has picked up the same tendency. Eyedrops, lipbalm, film canisters – poof.

These photos were taken in the kitchen, which has a marvellous skylight, lots of windows, and an in-built trash compactor.

No prizes for guessing what E’s obsession is.

Canon A1 + Ektar 100 (1)
Canon T90 + AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 400 (2, 3, 4)
Canon A1 + Fuji Superia X-tra 400 (5, 6)
Developed + scanned by Richard Photo Lab

£1 film walk: Bermondsey

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AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 / Canon T70 / Film / food + coffee / photowalk

If you shoot a lot of 35mm film or collect pre-loved cameras, you’re probably familiar with the merits of cheap film; and if you’re based in the UK, you probably know where to find it. If you don’t, well, Flickr fingers will likely point you towards Poundland.

This is Agfa Vista Plus 200, shot on a clunky, AA battery-powered Canon T70; an apt pairing for a fine summer morning in Bermondsey. When it comes to the T70, the livelier the setting, the better – it’s got a loud motor.

These photos were taken on a triple-market photowalk along the railway arches at Spa Terminus, down Druid Street, and through Maltby Street. ‘Scuse the underexposure.

Agfa Vista Plus 200 – Bermondsey tube escalator

Agfa Visa Plus 200 – Blue skies and balconies

Agfa Vista Plus 200 – Cylist on Abbey Street

Agfa Vista Plus 200 – Enid street, shot through a tunnel

Agfa Vista Plus 200 – Salmon from Hansen Lydersen

Agfa Vista Plus 200 – Brick block in Bermondsey

Agfa Vista Plus 200 – London Overground train

Goodies consumed

* Filter coffee from Coleman Coffee Roasters;
* Currywurst and Pommes Frites from Herman ze German;
* One scoop of Raspberry Ripple from Ice Cream Union.

Goodies purchased for home

* Unpasteurized Kalamata olives marinated in ouzo from Oliveology;
* Two punnets of raspberries at South East Fruits.

Poundland film / AgfaVista Plus 200 links

+ Some fantastic photos from Poundland Film and AgfaPhoto Group (Flickr)
+ Various experiments with AgfaPhoto Vista 200 (The Tight Fisted Photographer)

Camera: Canon T70
Film: Afga Vista Plus 200
Lab: Snaps Photo Services in Bournemouth

Bits of Bangkok: Pak Khlong Talat

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bangkok / Contax Tvs / Kodak UltraMax 400 / photowalk

Bits of Bangkok, shot with a Contax Tvs compact camera:

Photogenic baskets in the sun

A truckful of baskets

A cat appears from behind a basket

Walking through the wet market at Wang Burapa Phirom

Blue hues, with a sprinkle of yellow

I took these photos while wandering through Wang Burapha, one of my favorite neighborhoods in Bangkok. The area is home to a handful of markets, including Pak Khlong Talat, Bangkok’s largest wholesale flower and vegetable market. The traders supply produce to family restaurants like Thai Heng Lee. My Thai friend Yok likes to point out white tourists and say falang! – as if she hadn’t lived in predominantly white communities in the States for 18 years.

I like the neighborhood because there always seems to be bustle and activity, even during off-peak hours on weekday afternoons; but there are also pockets of stillness: quiet alleys to duck into, shophouses that snooze during the day.

Gentrification has hit this area slower than others, it seems. For the most part, shophouses in Wang Burapha appear to be rented – not owned – by their occupants. These remain largely family-run businesses and homes, unlike the yuppie shophouse bars and restaurants of Singapore and Malaysia, where shophouse conservation is undertaken by national ministries.

But authenticity, local tradition, and nostalgia seem to be driving tourism; so the question of preservation becomes tricky.

On her teaching breaks, Yok likes to wander along the verandah of the Yodpiman River Walk. The walkway runs adjacent to the Chao Phraya River and is the mall’s main feature. To the developers, it’s a Thai Heritage mall built in a Neoclassical Colonial style. To me, the complex resembles a theme park, with cart-shaped kiosks selling overpriced goods no one seems to buy, and chain outlets like Boots and Starbucks (hardly surprising though, given the high rent).

On the other hand, I can see the mall’s potential appeal: it’s clean, well maintained, well lit, and probably provides a breeze at night – a comfort in a city where temperatures can climb to 38 degrees Celsius (100 F). The developers bought over the Yodpiman Market in 2010 and re-zoned it, which explains its neat signage and orderly appearance. Yodpiman Market leads to Pak Khlong Talat, if you take the right path; this, too, has been cleaned up – preserved, if you will – but ah, I’ll perhaps continue my notes on preservation in a future post.

In any case, with the upcoming expansion of the MRT network, rents in the area are bound to rise. What will happen to the shophouses? Where will the ghosts and termites live?

Directions to Pak Khlong Talat
Take the BTS to Saphan Taksin (Silom line) and look for an express boat with an orange flag. It’s about a 15-minute ride from Taksin pier to Yodpiman pier; look out for a pale yellow building with white gates. That’s your stop.

Camera: Contax Tvs
Film: Kodak Ultramax 400
Lab: Triple D Minilab

Snow and Coffee

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Black and White / Contax 159mm / creative fuel / Kodak Tri-X 400 / travel

Faraway house. Kodak Tri-X 400, shot on Contax 159mm.

Window, snow, shadows. Kodak Tri-X 400 shot on Contax 159mm.

Icy Juniper branch – Contax 159mm, Tri-X 400

Morning coffee. Kodak Tri-X 400 on Contax 159mm

“Oh, climate change is causing the end of the world.” Oh my God. Anyone who talks like that does not understand the grandeur and the power of nature. To imagine that we can make a change in it is so absolutely absurd.
Camille Paglia, rockin’ the boat.

To spring snow and blizzards I say, let’s have another round of coffee. A good cup of hot black coffee magnifies the splendor of the snow, no?

If you’re flaring your nostrils, hang on: start with this opinion piece from 2007. Then read/watch Camille Paglia’s recent interview with Tyler Cowen for the quotation in context.

Recently ingested

One of the pleasures of reconnecting with old friends, I find, is the opportunity to gather creative fuel. In Cambridge, MA, conversations with my hosts M. and N. reignited my eagerness to tackle a project I’ve put on pause for too long. In their company, I also watched two exceptional movies. Incidentally, both films were shot in black and white. I wonder what Camille Paglia would think of them.

Embrace of the Serpent

2015, dir. Ciro Guerra
Immersive, consuming, and imbued with a quality that is difficult for me to articulate. In short, it is set and was filmed in the Amazon. I know of no other film that offers this perspective, with this much sensitivity, insight, and soul.

Just as various pieces and people have been pointing me towards the works of William Blake, I think it’s high time I read Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.

Watch Embrace of the Serpent (pre-order via Amazon Video) or pre-order the DVD
Official site
+ Read after watching: this article in milk

* A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

2014, dir. Ana Lily Amirpour

– Is it American? I asked.
– Sort of, said M.
– Not really, countered N.

We saw it one night in the living room, projected against a pale yellow wall. It was sensual, tense, moody. I understood why M. had wanted me to watch it free of context or expectations.

Ana Lily Amirpour apparently isn’t a fan of Jim Jarmusch (she wears David Lynch and Alejandro Jodorowsky t-shirts) but I find it easy to make the association. The silence, coolness, and tension in A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night made me recall Stranger than Paradise – which in fact was the last movie I’d seen projected against the same pale yellow wall, a few years ago.

I may write a future post on movies of this ilk.

Stream or download A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (via Amazon Video)
+ Official site
+ Ana Lily Amirpour’s Top 10 movies (via Criterion)

Camera: Contax 159mm + Zeiss Planar T* 50mm 1.7
Film: Tri-X
Lab: The Darkroom in San Clemente, CA