365-2018: 40-day update

Yes, really, 2018 is forty days old already. I have just taken my 103rd consecutive daily image and it is probably time to provide a brief update. This updates covers images 29 to 40 inclusive.

© Dave Whenham
365-2018-029. Dean Clough – where else?

Day 29, what can I say? Wife needs a lift to work so it would be rude not to take a camera too. Her office is in the attic space at the very top of the RH building. So strange that she is working in the very building that is the subject of one of my favourite photographs which itself was taken over eighty years ago.

© Dave Whenham
365-2018-030. Face-Off

Day 30 produced an image which provoked a lot of interest on Flickr. I had simply been thinking about Shirley’s observation that the “Blue Hour” is going to get earlier over the coming weeks and thought that I should try to get as many “in the bag” as I can whilst the timings are in my favour. I actually had this composition in mind for a foggy morning, and will still shoot it if the opportunity arises, but I like the contrast of the old North Bridge, a Victorian iron and stone bridge opened in 1871, with the rather utilitarian and much more modern flyover which is now the main route across the town centre. I often look for such contrasts between old and new and it is very rare that the more modern constructs are more elegant than the earlier work.  But what caught everyone’s attention was the two cars, apparently facing-off.  I composed the shot with them in mind but have to say that it was pure serendipity and I was extremely lucky that morning; a random car in the foreground wouldn’t add much yet these seem to make a big difference to the shot.

© Dave Whenham
365-2018-034. With Dean Clough mills BEHIND me.

Day 34 and my “Blue Hour quest continued. This time I opted top put the mills BEHIND me.   This is therefore taken from the other side of North Bridge and shows just how the flyover dominates the site. Whilst it is true that the concrete bulk of the flyover can make for some interestingly graphic urban image it still doesn’t take away the fact that the flyover in its setting is an eyesore. However, several people commented that it somehow looked rather beautiful in the pre-sunrise light. As one said person commented:

“There is perhaps some beauty to be seen in the scale and geometry of these things. What you are effectively demonstrating is that the darker it gets, the more beautiful they look!”

Day 35 was a Sunday and I opted for something closer to home but still within the Blue Hour.

© Dave Whenham

I’ve shot this view many times recently for the 63-2017 and 365-2018 Challenges but always from the spare bedroom window. This morning I decided to open the front door and walk a few yards down the road (to avoid parked cars) in order to capture the scene from street level. I only took three frames (I was still in my slippers and it was very cold) but came away more than happy.

Day 36 was a red-letter day.  I slipped the leash and drove up to the moors that morning when no one was looking. On the way I pass Ringstone Edge reservoir. Being fairly high up and open the water is rarely completely calm but even at 1/250th second it was very flat and still this morning. I opted for a minimalist approach.

© Dave Whenham
365-2018-036 – An alternative edit to the one I posted, this is the one I printed.

It was well-received on social media despite probably breaking every “rule” of photography. I saw this treatment in my mind as I was pulling over and rule-breaking or not it is one of my favourite shots from the last 103 days. It was a good start to the week and I’m pleased to report that I’ve manage to get out somewhere with the camera on four of the five days. Not too far from the car, I still need to be mindful of my chest, but just being outdoors, even for short periods, is a huge boost.

I have not posted the image from Day 37 here, although it is available on Flickr. After  escaping to the moors the previous day, Tuesday was a total anti-climax. Wall-to-wall grey all day and with what little light there was  fading so a sombre and slightly depressing scene I snapped an image to sum up Day 37 of the 365-2018 just as the afternoon was slipping away towards dusk. Even more disappointing as it was my 100th consecutive picture-of-the-day. So two anti-climaxes in one day!

© Dave Whenham

Day 38.  After a total grey-out on the Tuesday we awoke on the Wednesday morning to a clear blue sky and a frozen windscreen, inside and out. I got the domestics sorted first however and then late morning took a run up on to the moors. Despite on/off snow most of Tuesday there was actually less snow about than two days previously. However, what caught my eye was the black tarmac against the white snow and blue sky. A thin covering of ice in places made the road surface glisten in the bright sunshine. It was still minus 3 though! A black and white version of this, printed to A3, sits on my desk as I type ready to be mounted for a camera club competition. Two images in three days that I was very pleased with. Could I make it a hat-trick? Thursday, day 39, beckoned.

© Dave Whenham

Day 39. The hat-trick! Three images in one week, actually four days, which ticked lots of boxes and brought huge smiles to my grumpy old face.  I was also on the Calder & hobble Navigation, a walk I have sorely missed these last three months.  Footpath, canal, road and rail (and even a gas pipe in the distance). All modes of transport converge at Elland Wharf. There was also a footbridge here in days gone by but that sadly is no longer with us.

© Dave Whenham
365-2018-040. March Hill and March Haig reservoir.

Day 40 saw me back on the A640, this time driving further down the road towards Saddleworth. March Hill and March Haig Reservoir have been much photographed by me but until today not from this angle. Flints from the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods have been found all over Marsden Moor, with particularly important concentrations at March Hill.  I will go back to this spot when there is a chance of a decent sunrise as it should light up the flanks of March Hill.

Being a bit of a geek, I am keeping a spreadsheet with details of what I have been shooting and with what. It comes in really handy for these updates as I also keep a copy of my notes from that day in the spreadsheet.  What surprises me is that the D800E accounts for over 40% of the shots in my 365 Challenge year to date and if you add in the D7100 my Nikons account for nearly 50% of all the 365 images. The balance is comprised of my three Fujis with the X-T20 accounting for around a quarter of the Challenge images.

© Dave Whenham
Day 38 – why did I choose the colour version for the Challenge?

What does surprise me is that over 80% of the images has been presented in colour, even where a mono alternative was produced.  That is counter-intuitive as I would normally favour black and white mages over colour. It might be that I am conscious that I am sharing these with an online community (a Flickr 365 group) and that many people do not share my preference for mono.  Then again it might be subject matter, the Blue Hour lends itself to colour for example, but I have also produced some pleasing black & white versions of my daily pictures not least Day 38 (above) which as I’ve already said I was so pleased with I printed it at A3 for a UPP portfolio.

Half the images, exactly, where urban images taken in the morning, an unsurprising result when you consider how many Blue Hour images I shot.  A total of 65% of all the images so far this year have been taken in an urban environment.  Location has also been dictated by lack of mobility and a lot of the pictures have been taken around 7:20am whilst taking the wife to work. Three landscapes this week though, my first in 2018, are a better reflection of my usual habits. It will be interesting to see how these figures change as the year progresses.

© Dave Whenham
Dowry Reservoir. Naturally there are many images that do not make the 365-2018 “cut”, this one from Day 40.

Having said that I am surprised at how many images were created with the Nikon D800E I am also pleased in many ways. It is my most expensive piece of kit and during 2017 it was the least likely camera for me to pick up. The Fuji X100t lived in my coat pocket for most of the year and accounted for a third of my 63-2017 images whilst the diminutive Fuji X-T20 account for 25%; between them they accounted for almost 60% of all the 63-2017 images. The fact that I seem to be favouring the my more “serious” gear despite limited mobility seems somehow to suggest I am taking the exercise seriously.

I do know that I am giving it lots of thought, and as Maxwell said recently:

“365 starts as a challenge, becomes a habit and evolves into a way of life..”

He’s not wrong!

Holga 120 Panoramic Camera

Last week I found a roll of 120 Ilford Delta 400 in the back of a drawer that had lain there for goodness only knows how long. Nothing on the label told me what camera it had been through (I have four that take 120 roll film) nor what was actually on the film. I’ve only recently packed away the darkroom and with it the film processing tools as well so it was sent off to Ag Photographic for processing.

On its return it was clearly the test roll I had put through a Holga Panoramic camera early last year and totally forgotten about in the meantime. Four strips of film, around 6cm x 12cm, each containing one image. I popped the first on to the small light box I still hang on to and it was immediately clear that they were all horribly over-exposed, a fact that I’d already been able to see just by glancing at them in their protective sheet. I wasn’t particularly surprised, the “controls” on the Holga 120 Panoramic are rudimentary to say the least and this was the first roll through the camera.

Undaunted I popped the first on to the scanner (a rather outdated Epson Perfection V550 that I have had since at least 2013) and fired up the interface. It took quite a lot of tweaking to get detail appearing and it took around fifteen minutes to scan the first negative. I scanned at 3200dpi (the scanner has an optical max of 6400) and saved the resultant scan as a 16-bit grayscale TIFF file.

© Dave Whenham
The shot here does have a certain atmosphere or charm I guess.

Why did I buy such a camera in the first place? Tempted by the hype in one online review on the Lomography website perhaps?

“One could argue that its 90mm ‘OPTICAL LENS’ is a piece of crap. I would argue that the fancier competitors (e.g. Linhof, Horseman etc…) produce cold, sad, perfect panoramic shots you wouldn’t even consider hanging in your toilet. Or maybe I’m just frustrated I can’t afford one of these monsters… Anyhow, the usual soft focus and vignette produced by the dirt-cheap lens give the warmth and dreaminess we all love in lomographs”

Well, as you can see the 90mm lens is definitely soft and the promised soft focus and vignetting is there for all to see.

© Dave Whenham
Soft & really? Or just crap?
© Dave Whenham
Can you see any sharps spots?

Well, I paid over my pennies as you can see and I took the camera for a wander down Gog Hill (above) to the Elland Bridge (first picture) and shot the allotted four frames. Then promptly forgot about it! I was probably waiting to process it with another 120 roll film but got diverted and started playing with the 35mm film SLRs instead.

© Dave Whenham
All images Holga 120 Panoramic with Ilford Delta 400 roll film.

What do I think now? Well, the images are everything I thought they would be so no disappointments there, but they probably don’t sit with the type of work I’m doing right now. They have taken a fair bit of work to look half decent, and I’ve not tried printing them yet. But the fact that they don’t “sit well” with my current work is perhaps irrelevant. We all experiment at times, or at least we should experiment, and these have produced images with the characteristic Holga charm. Charm is highly subjective of course and one mans charming image is another’s out-of-focus, soft piece of crap I guess.

Yesterday I was ready to ditch the Holga, even offering it to anyone who wanted it amongst my Flickr friends. But this morning, having processed the other three negatives I’m a little less inclined to ditch the experiment altogether. I won’t be rushing off to put another roll through the plastic-fantastic but it will live to see another film at some point I think.



Evading the guards

Well, as you’ve seen I slipped out today whilst no-one was watching and headed up to the moors for the first time in well over two months. To be fair, this morning was the first time I’ve felt up to it. It started to snow whilst I was out and indeed the snow was already six inches deep up on the moors themselves.

© Dave Whenham
Not bad for less than thirty minutes outside the car.

I’ve posted several images on my blog already and have a couple more scheduled for tomorrow too. A few on Facebook and Flickr have gone down well too. Most importantly I’ve printed one this afternoon for a future PPC or UPP folio.


The image I’ve printed was fully formed in my head before I’d even pulled the car off the road at Ringstone Reservoir although surprisingly it was only the second image I made, the first I will post at the end of the blog. Usually I shoot at the reservoir on the return journey as it is easier for parking etcetera but it is so rarely that I see the water so flat that I pulled over immediately. No filters, just the camera and the tripod and a smug feeling after I pressed the shutter release.

I would have been happy just getting up on to the moors but to end up with over twenty processed images was way beyond any expectations I may have had. I was sensible (and I’m not just saying that in case Senior Management reads this) and had wrapped up well. I also ensured I was only out of the car for around ten minutes each time; I stopped at the reservoir on the way out, then on Buckstones Edge before stopping at a slightly different spot alongside  the reservoir again on the return journey. The sheer joy of being outside. The snow was six inches deep up on the moors and the car park was a skating rink underneath a new dusting of fresh snow. But I stayed upright.

My first landscape image in almost three months.


Minus One … and falling

A balmy minus one this morning so I slipped the leash and drove up to the moors when no one was looking. On the way I pass Ringstone Edge reservoir. Being fairly high up and open the water is rarely completely calm but even at 1/250th second it was very flat and still this morning. I opted for a minimalist approach.

© Dave Whenham
Ringstone Reservoir at Minus One

It was a slightly cooler minus four a bit further up the road as I got out onto the moor and when I got to Buckstones Edge I suspect it was even cooler but didn’t think to check!

© Dave Whenham
Minus 5?