Sunday, January 29, 2012


In my line of work, I do have little conversations with a variance of personages about all sorts of things. That's the sort of person I am. One thing that often crops up is the fact that we do not have a television at home - and have not had one for at least twenty years. I'm just waiting to see if they catch on first!
"What do you do in the evenings" I get asked, "stare at the walls?". Well no actually, we do have a pooter so I can look at things, watch an occasional film that gets sent by post, read books [remember those? ], print in my darkroom and countless other things - like talk to each other. Weird isn't it? It made me wonder how many more of you out there do not have a television.

In the meantime while you contemplate the above, I post two snaps to show you the fine grain of the Foma 400 @ 250 in Rodinal - although the choice of sand for this I now realise was a bit of a home goal. Oh well :-( 

 Look, little grain

Sand, not grain

BTW; the sun shone ALL day - bar the short time it didn't and Eve and I had a lovely stroll with my dance teacher Karmeina.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The day it rained nearly all day bar a few moments in the morning and the evening.

Rain coming by

Out Eishken way - on a dryish day

It is  quite warm for the time of year but extremely wet. The island is sodden. I mean, even more sodden than is usual. Today's walk was late - just after the rain had stopped for a while and hence it was nearly dark. It feels like it's never going to stop.

Oh dear.

Hasselblad 50mm Distagon RolleiRetro400s Rodinal 

And while you  are wasting time, check out Basic Black blog. Great stuff with lots of lovely links to blog and web photo sites [including this one !]

Friday, January 27, 2012

Hp5, Tri-x, Rollei 400s, Orwo N74, Foma400, Ilford Pan 400 or what?

I have cameras. Several of them lurking around the place. medium format, largish format and 35mm. Hang on, excuse me a moment while I peek out and see what that glow is outside....

It's the Sun. Hurrah! Not seen that for a while. There goes my darkroom sesh!
To The Croft - Tri-x

As I was saying, I have several cameras and, things being what they are - the wind from the north, the price of carrots and what have you, I am using 35mm this year a lot. I like 35mm. The cameras are generally small, light and ,,,,, cheap. For the Island Crofter series [3 years and counting ] I have virtually exclusively used 35mm. I can creep up unawares and snap the Crofter doing his thing without him hearing me. Except when I have to take a meter reading first, wipe the rain off my face and find a spot away from the 50mph wind and shout at Maclaren to stop eating my boot - most of the time really. Still, the little Zorki6 does a lot of the work - a freebee from Mr Blomquist in Sweden - along with an OM10, the Kiev II and any other cameras that I notice around the place. Not sure where they came from really.

Toots feeling happy - Tri-x

These days proper film  is not cheap. In fact what with the price of silver being what is is/has been, movies using more digital than film [except for the good ones :-) ] the prices have gone up and up. So, I'm always looking for a bargain to grab. Ilford film from Mobberly is truly excellent - HP5 being a nice 400 film although my choice of developer - Rodinal - means that it's best at 250 really. Scanned or wet-printed.

I mean, I do like grain but there is a limit! It's not cheap though - the best never is - but I bagged a couple of  out-of-date 30m rolls from Spain recently at a good price so that should keep me going for a while.

Fallen Angel - Tri-x

The same goes for Kodak Tri-x - I bought 10 out of date cassettes of the stuff for - cheap :-). Looks like a grainy HP5 to me - but I'm sure there's a better way to do it! It was meant to be THE photojournalists film after all but I'm not so keen. I've also got some ORWO n74 - which is nice too. Grainy but nice tones me thinks . Foma 400 is fantastic at either 250 [rodinal 1:50] or 1600 [Rodinal !;50]. Don't ask me why, I just like it. Ilford Pan 400 - made for the export markets [India etc] I like too but the BEST real 400 film for me is Rollei400s - works lovely in Rodinal and wet-prints beautifully. Yes, really. Pity really since I haven't got much of that stuff left. 

Mmm, maybe I need some more for 120 / Medium format!

Oh bother. The sun has gone !

Thursday, January 26, 2012

We need more rain - like a fish needs a tandem :-)

 Toots in An Lanntair

 William in An Lanntair

Norman in An Lanntair

It rained again today. It's pouring down as I write despite or perhaps because there was a wonderful red sunrise this morning coming up over the mainland mountains. As they say, "Red sky in the morning, Sheepherder's pie at night" - or something like that. Which, as it happens is wrong since we are having potato cakes and other veg.

Twas lovely despite the dampness. I met Mr Leica Man at his Hebridean Garden Machinery, then William, my former-work colleague for a Mocha in An Lanntair. Norman was there of course then along happened Toots. That's the nice thing about this place, you'll be pretty certain to meet someone you know every day.

And yes, these are meant to be blurry ! Made with Kodak Fine Grained Positive and Polypan-f film.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The day I was late in getting up as it was blowin a hoolie outside [again] and I'd been working out late the night before.

Odd colours

Yes, yes, it's colour. Odd colour mind you. Even I can see that. I think it might be the Episcopal church in Stornoway but I wouldn't put money on it. I rarely put money on anything. Not because I don't trust my judgement [I don't as it happens] but because I don't agree with gambling. There I've said it. Having said that, I must admit to putting 50p each way on some nag at the Grand National a few years back but, hey surely that's traditional. Of course the nag fell at the first fence - if it even got that far.

Oh, I didn't dream this morning. Well, I can't remember it anyway. Sorry.

Off to the darkroom now for a spot of wet printing :-)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The day I went to town to replace the broken washing machine

Consumer capitalism at work

There's wet washing hanging all over the place. Newspaper on the floor to catch the drips as the un-spun washing relieves itself of water. The machine that washes the clothes for us broke last evening. The spindle thing that holds the drum thing seems to have given up the ghost - and it's only 15 years old! Goodness, things are not meant to last these days are they?

The tunnel was long and dark with running water in the bottom. I inserted myself into it feet first and pulled my bod along, somehow floating on the water. When I got to the daylight, the exit was vertical with handrails but I managed to pull myself up feet-first without drowning myself in the process. I found myself on a roof with steps to my left, a bit drop over some windows on my right. I took the steps. Then I woke up. Eh? What was all that about then?

Time for a coffee me thinks.

And no Sir, it was not you in the green suit. Trust me. If it was, I would have never got in the bath with you :-)

Edit; I now have a new washing machine - delivered the same day and at a better price than the new discount store. From here. Highly recommended shop 

Monday, January 23, 2012

The day the sun shone - until it rained again.

You can see how strong the sun was today - it spontaneously combusted this person who'd just struggled down from the Dr's, got past the entrance to The County then 'whoosh' there was only feet left. Luckily it rained again soon after and washed the dust away. We are just not used to warmth here I can tell you.

I awoke this morning having had a bath with a man who was wearing a green 3 piece suit. It was a dream I might add. I knew the man. His daughter lives in France now. Can't blame her really if he bathes in his green suit. Must try the Roibos tea!

BTW; snap taken with Fujica SLR and Kodak Fine grained Positive film. Yes, Kodak is still here!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Archibald Ormsby-Gore and some other beings.

Oberon with Eve

The radio was playing when it suddenly caught my attention. Think it must have been Radio4 and some faux-comedy quiz show or something like that. It seems that Archibald Ormsby-Gore was the former poet Laureate Sir John Bentjeman's constant companion along with Jumbo. There was even a poem and and a book about Archie - you can see the book here - I'd just love to read a copy of that it looks so lovely and just the sort of thing that would calm my mind before sleep - in addition to my meditation.

I mean, last night I dreamt of two pet tigers wandering round a cafe while children playing on the floor. One tiger took my hand in it's mouth. I slowly extracted it which seems like it was a good idea because in no time there was a kerfuffle outside and one of the tigers had eaten a small pet dog. No-one was very pleased I can tell you.

I'm off the Camomile tea now you'll be pleased to hear - now back on the green stuff.

Oberon is always hanging about, no doubt keeping his eye [he only has one] on Jingles [aka Smeller] who is Eve's long-time companion. Lord Wiesmier, the regalled up rabbit of this parish, former Pirate and soon to be King of all he surveys [which isn't much as it happens] keeps order.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The day I spoke about a motorised settee then envisioned The Crofter sat in his hot front room in his boxer shorts, perspiring as thrash metal rattles his windows

The snow has gone

The snow has gone but the hail stones persist - along with a cold wind from the NW which fair chilled the bones on a little stroll to the village shoppe for some smoked mackerel and reading matter. I was reeling from an earlier conversation with The Crofter who had mended his ailing heating system so now his TV room is like an over-heated sauna. The thought of the crofting man sat in his boxers with his re-claimed sound system rattling the windows as a denture-less Bodach peers through window trying to raise his attention doesn't bear thinking about too much.

Hold that thought though - just for a moment. Then my waking dream of me piloting a motorised settee around the village with Eve and I on board won't seem so bad.

I must ease up on the Camomile tea!

The day it rained a little and we waited for the storm to come in. Again.

 The Great Alexander swots

Toots pretends to look at images of Mr Kenna [whilst giving me a black look ].

There's a very famous series of lovely photographs by one Andre Kertsz entitled 'On Reading'. Go on, take a look through the link while I just wait here a few moments.

Lovely aren't they? Yes, ok that's enough for now, you can go back and look at them later. Obviously there are a lot of images to gaze at admiringly. And they were properly printed on real silver gelatine paper don't you know - the sort that's light sensitive and you slosh with chemicals to get the image to show and to stick so to speak. I do that that too - only as yet these two images have not been through that process.

The Coelyns are often telling me I should do a series of snaps rather than the odd one here and there. I suppose The Croft images do that a bit but perhaps I should develop this little series. Any offers for me to come and photograph you??

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The day it snowed again and I thought about last night when The Artist formerly known as Jon came to visit with a lovely friend. They played in my darkroom then stopped for a bite to eat.

A day in Harris

I got wet this morning. The snow covered me as I strolled up through the village. it was so dark - my lightmeter registering f2/ 30th @400asa at 11am! Trust me, that's is quite dark. But Royston was welcoming as usual at his home with a warm cuppa and the snow on me melted. That's the way it is. 

The Artist formerly known as Jon came over last evening and did artisty things in the darkroom with Anne, his friend from the west side of the island. The veg stew warming on the Rayburn tempted them in from the cold dark-room so we had a fine hour of chat too. I like that. I then had to drive 70 miles for work in hail and snow. I'm not so keen on that. 

I must get out again today with the camera - perhaps a little stroll down to see what chaos is happening down at The Croft and a short drive to Bac pharmacy to do a little shopping. In meantime, here's a snap from a recent trippette to Harris with Rodney and Jane.  It was dull that day too.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Orwo n74

 A nice cuppa after rolling some film onto a cassette

....and then down to The Croft to quickly get through the short length of film

Hello, what's this all about then? Well, as it happens it's photography of the proper type. You remember, film and all that. Yep, I managed to acquire some Orwo n74 35mm cinematic film. Made in what once was East Germany, it's an interesting one I wanted to try. Not much infor available on to tinternet regarding developing but I turned to my trusty Rodinal [as that was only developer I had] 1:50 for 18 mins. 17 would have done better I think but not too bad at all me thinks.

There's a few more snaps from this roll over here :-)

What do you reckon then?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Some days

 Horses - outside

One morning

Some mornings one wakes up with a wonderful sunrise peeking in the bedroom window [I have a camera by the bed - don't you?] and the day starts very well indeed. Today was not one of those days. The van from the shoppe needed driving to Stornoway and back again after filling it with nefarious items for on-selling as it were. The run was done - albeit later since the plane with the newspapers was late - then I checked on whether I still had 'friends' on a social network. I did. I also noted the Dalai Lama was coming to do a gig at Eden Court Inverness in June, so without so much as a hows-your-father, I rang up - getting through in a mere ten minutes - and booked two tickets. My day was made. Well, the month probably! :-)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Great Alexander

The Great Alexander

This is Alexander. I work with him if you must know and a nicer, more trustworthy and pleasant workmate I couldn't wish for.  Alexander has a lovely family too with extremely talented kids to boot. Now he's into music, you know the proper stuff with violins and all that. I listen to Alexander talking about the loveliness of this piece of music and that fiddler, and then this piper and this particular tune. Tis a sad tale behind the tune and beautifully played too - all of which nere brought a tear to The Great Man's eye the other evening.

On the other hand I came across  Kimmo Pohjonen - who you may think I like because he has an interesting name. And of course you could be right but if you listen and watch here you'll know you'll not see accordion playing like this down the Sea Angling Club!

Mind you, I haven't met many who like the fella - so I don't expect to see him at the Heb Celt Fest - more's the pity.

Not with-standing that, a friend of mine - her name withheld for obvious reasons since she has to run the village shoppe - loves this sort of thing. Strange, because I find that interesting too. There's no telling is there?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Winter Swim

A pre-wetted Royston

I took myself off today to enjoy the warmish winter sun. But not before I had visited Royston . With the weather such as it was, it didn't take much to get Royston and his doggie Zig out for a walk on Gress. Tis a lovely stroll along that beach - currently piled high with seaweed after recent storms. Only, to get from one end to the other one has to cross a river. We did that using the road bridge. Then we had a little stream to cross - which we also did. However, Royston lost his footing on one stone and went down laying flat in the cold stream before I valiantly rushed forward, forgoing my chance to snap up a wallowing fellow villager, and hauled him out  - dripping. Oh how we laughed. Sorry. "Oh, how I laughed".

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Oh no, more colour

The barking dog

Ok, ok, more colour and all that! Since I have the whole roll to plough through - assaulting my senses - assuming I have some that is - you might be seeing a couple more snaps from it. Despite the poor, whatever it is.

I'm just back from a quick stroll along the beach with The Barking dog - seen above. Funnily enough, she didn't bark today. Must be something up! Bit like The Crofter where all is in minor chaos.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

This is why I don't 'do' colour [as well as landscapes]

 Mrs 'Up yours' Maciver tries out the new in stock Mr Muscle

Beth Windy sings the recipe of her magnificent cakerity Yuletide confection

Every now and again, I fall over a roll of colour film lurking in the dark recesses of the house. And as usual I get over-excited about the prospects of the this new fangled idea, pop it in the nearest camera and shoot away. Only, after the film comes back from being dragged through hairy chemicals elsewhere [I don't do that sort of chemical thing]to be bitterly disappointed with the resulting imagery. Colour is just wrong.

All the same the cake was just wonderful - it was made by Beth for Eve and myself and Mrs 'up yours' is still stronger than I'll ever be.  

No idea why the chains in the shop though.!

Saturday, January 07, 2012


Paxette sharpness

It may not please you but my voice has returned. This morning all I could do was croak and whisper. But after a quick stroll and a warm drink in a cafe, my sensibilities are reviving.

Thursday, January 05, 2012


I play.
Even though me bod is racked with a blimin cold, I'm coughing like the proverbial, I cannot sit around and do nothing. I took a quick stroll in the surprising sunshine this morning down to the village shoppe where 'Up Yours Mrs Maciver' was lurking with a smile, refusing to give me discount on my bulk purchase of one first class stamp. I noticed an ink-squirt print of two shoppe 'staff' [I use that term loosely here] has appeared on the wall - ripped off from this very same blog without so much as a by-your-leave. Eh? My lawyers are on to this as I speak and no doubt I'll be able to retire once the case has been settled :-) .

In the meantime, another masterpiece has been created after copious sloshing of liquids plus some elbow grease as I finished  a print I made yesterday in t'darkroom. My sisters both keep bees - I hate the things myself - but the wax they produce does lovely things to darkroom fibre prints. If you heat the print [on the Rayburn ] on top of a newspaper [The Guardian is obviously best but since I read that on-line and the computer screen in all likelihood would melt, the local Events rag had to suffice ] then rub a block of bees wax all over the print till the wax melts and the print is covered. Then take a piece of extra special exclusive paper - in this case kitchen towel - and rub the print all over till any excess wax comes off - whilst still hot. It's a really nice thing to do on a cold day as you keep warm doing the process and it smells nice.

Oh, excuse me while I wipe the keyboard. This cold is worse than I thought! I hope someone at work HQ is reading this as I am still on shift at the moment. Not now of course but tonight.

Once the print has cooled [and here it's best to hold the print flat with a few handy weights on the corners.  I used four cameras I found down the back of a chair ]  you can polish the print using the extra special exclusive paper again. Not sure why there's a light bit on the left -side of the print, something to do with scanning I shouldn't wonder.

Not sure the print is any better but I love doing the process. Makes me feel like a proper artist like my dear Mum who passed away last year and would often be found with paint, paper-mache or suchlike adorning her hair after an artistic session.

Gosh, I have such a sore nose!

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Back to normal

 Shop work Eh? What's that all about then?

Rodney and Jane in awe

Normal it seems is rain and lots of it. Normal is also the Muineag staying in port, rain and me having a cold. Did I mention the rain?? Seems to have come down everyday since a month last Thursday week or thereabouts. I almost need a snorkel to negotiate the garden path . Anyway, Rodney and Jane came to visit which was lovely. It rained all the time they were here but, apart from Jane buying up the Harris Tweed shop contents in Tarbert, Rodney gassing to that ex-punk FlyingMonk in Obbe, we paid a visit to Stornoway's Lews Castle where they both marvelled at the the way it was being left to fall down in order to make a ruined castle - which obviously will attract countless visitors in the future.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

All Buzzcockian - Ever fallen in love?

The Love of my life - who wasn't in the Butty Bus.

So, there we were, looking out the steamed up windows of my little car as the rain lashed down – as it had done all day. I could see my English visitors were impressed at the wetness of it all. I told them the Clisham Mtn was under that big grey cloud, the views would have been lovely had we able to see them, Luskentyre beach was the best in, in, possibly the best in or should I say on Harris and that the fact that the galleries and cafes were all closed, was not because it was Sunday – it wasn’t but because it is a special time of year when only special people bother to visit. We needed a cuppa all the same and I remembered the Butty Bus in Obbe. Dashing over to the equally steamed up bus through the wet from the car, we found a lone figure sat supping his tea. “Bit damp out there I ventured”. To which the little human nodded sagely. “ Just showing my English chums here round the place – they have never been before.” The man looked at me with a weary eye, glanced over to Butty Bus man urging him silently to deliver the ordered eggy sandwich – quickly.

Hang on” I thought out loud  ”you’re John Maher, the former Buzzcockian”. I might have included the current drag car engine maker, pixel-peeker and night walker – but I didn’t. Or at least I don’t think I did – tis all a blur now. The little man looked at me with his head leaned to one side looking again for the eggy butty – which actually turned out to contain tomato as well – and in a bun, then retorted “and you must be Wiesmier”. I stood back [well, back as far as you can in a little bus on the side of a harbour in the Outer Hebrides with the rain lashing down outside] amazed. “I am as it happens but you can call me Andrea – since that is my name – Wiesmier being merely a nom de prune" [or whatever it is]. Mr Maher explained to my bemused English chums we both take snaps with cameras, both post them on Flickr but have never met. Goodness knows how Mr Maher knew me since the other rare snaps of me to ever appear online are both blurry and / or odd! Still, I played along with the new-found chumminess introducing the lovely Jane and Rodney – Jane who used to be the same cycling club as myself and the Rodney I used to work with at the Manchester Velodrome. “Manchester Velodrome? Did you say Manchester Velodrome?” All of a sudden Mr Maher became really animated. “I love cycling, follow the tour de france and everything and I’ve just been reading Mark Cavendish’s book - you are not THE Rod Ellingworth that Cavendish talks about are you?” . "The very same as it happens” the Rodney one replied “Been coaching Cav since he was 17” he added with his typical cheeky grin. All of a sudden our loose bond became closer, coffee’s ordered, and seats warmed up by bottoms three. And photos snapped up too. Mr Maher Sir was questioning Rodney to an inch of his life about the life with Cav and the boys of the Sky cycling team. Then I chirruped in. “Hgmmm.” I coughed trying to get a little attention – Jane looking on as ever, the resigned but accommodating creature she is – also working for the Sky cycling team and having heard this sort of thing a hundred times before. “Hgmmm, I’m in Cav’s book as well’ I said rather less meekly than perhaps I should. The day was made.