analogue photography

Friday Diary: Olympus OM 1 adventures by daintydora

Yesterday I indulged my (amateur) addiction to analogue photography, and went adventuring through the West End of Glasgow with my Olympus OM 1 camera.

Olympus OM 1 vintage camera

I'm lucky to have a husband who is an engineer and who leapt right into my love of analogue photography.

As well as the Olympus OM 1, he has lovingly reconditioned for me a Leica D.R.P Ernst Leitz Wetzlar circa the 1950's, and a Hasselblad 500 C. I know. I'm very lucky.

The beautiful images that can be produced in analogue are far superior to digital photography, but because of their age, provenance and price tag, I've been a bit scared to use any of my analogue cameras. (Scared to drop them!) They're also solid and heavy with lots of dials and settings and you really have to consider and set up each shot.

But yesterday I ventured out - we ventured out - to snap some street scenes in Glasgow's West End. It's a place close to my heart having lived in various locations in and around the West End when I first moved to Glasgow at the age of 16. And now I'm photographing my favourite streets with a vintage Olympus OM 1.

Introduced in 1973, the OM-1 was the first product in the OM Series. It earned wide acclaim as the world's smallest and lightest 35mm single-lens reflex camera."

It was a strange day for weather. One minute sunshine and gently billowing trees, the next torrential downpours with hail and wind so stern it snapped my big man-frame umbrella.

But I managed to spot and capture reflections in puddles and bluebells amidst the weeds and experiment with light metering and focus; blurring foregrounds and backgrounds for effect, for fun, and snapping shots between leaves and railings and into the sun as it peeped from behind clouds.

I'm using only black and white film because in it, I've met my match for mystery and allure and timeless, enduring appeal in the modulations and marvel of monochrome.

I'd love to show you, but of course I can't. Not yet.

The shots I've taken are preserved for now, safe inside their hard spool casing, inside my camera. And the film isn't finished quite yet.

You'll just have to take my word for it; imagine the shots of light and dark on Glasgow's West End streets with your 'inside eyes', your imagination, and trust my magpie's eye to find the sparkling, the fantastic and the extraordinary in the seemingly ordinary.


'Blair Witch' fisheye photography by daintydora

Last week I finally got a black and white camera film developed. One that had been in my camera for some time. A long-ish time. Long enough for me to have forgotten what images I'd captured. I think it's a great surprise to get a slim jiffy of real photographs back and have no idea what they are of or how they have turned out, don't you?

But it's also a bit disappointing when you realise you still haven't got to grips with analogue film and you've wasted quite a bit of time and money.

I don't think the film was loaded right and it definitely jammed towards the end and it's not like the flash has been properly deployed.

But still. There is something quite mysterious about these not-quite-right fisheye photographs.

Light through the treesWoodland pathShades of the woods House in the woodsBeach Path Fisheye Field

They're haunting and a bit jagged and blurred.

They make me think of The Blair Witch Project and unsolved murders and disappearances on beaches.

Clearly I like to take dark, lonely, isolated shots of paths that disappear into nothing; ramshackle and unpopulated and somehow timeless.

There is a calmness to these images though; an other-worldly peace that vibrates from them that is lent a voyeuristic edge with the visibility of the lense constraints in all of them (a telltale sign of fisheye photography).

Another magpie experiment with interesting and unusual results.


Edinburgh's double-exposure by daintydora

Edinburgh Cityscape I don't go to Edinburgh very often, but that's where I am today.

I love this image of the city centre, looking over the bridge at Waverley station. I 'shot' it using my plastic Diana Lomography camera. It shows transposed mists in a blurry double-exposure which feels beautiful and poetic, despite being accidental.

Isn't it great when you have no idea what you're doing, and it works out to be quite artful, anyway?


Photography is poetry by daintydora

Part of being a magpie urges me to 'capture' things then document and preserve them. And somehow, and increasingly, I am finding that photography is able to satisfy my magpie nature better than anything else.

'Love' padlock, Helsinki I love to photograph the things that others would perhaps not consider worthy of a photograph:

things for sale all laid out in a row; souvenirs or a display in a shop window; birds pecking at rubbish; blossom when it's fallen from the tree; a deserted and desolate coastline; shadows through an archway. Never people, really, unless I have no choice.

And all my photographs mean something to me. They are my style. My image, captured and preserved. Recently I did a darkroom photography course and learnt so much about the alchemy and magic of analogue film processing, amidst the strange red light of the photographers' domain.

Taking a photograph with an analogue camera is even more like capturing something to keep close, forever, as not only is the image recorded, but you have the physical film to process into negatives and then enlarge into full size images. Again and again and again. No limits. Print and repeat. You can experiment and make mistakes and in turn discover new techniques through that very journey of mistakes. Print and repeat.

I particularly loved the sensation of slipping the photographic paper into the bath of 'developer' chemical, then waiting a few seconds, agitating the bath, watching the seconds, counting them, then flipping over the paper with long-handled tongs and seeing the image appear, deepen, blacken.

for me photography is poetry in visual form

It is a burst of emotion, a feeling, a thought, a place, a rhyme, a riddle and a story, all contained in a simple but beautiful package.

I  need to take more photographs.