Review of 2021 (part 1)

So, 2021, like 2020 before it, has faded away with the midnight chimes and 2022 lays ahead of us, virgin and unsullied with untold promise.  Or, less prosaically, it looms ahead with the sour taste of the past two years clinging to its coat tails and the promise of more to come. But, the purpose of this post isn’t to dwell on the trials of 2021, or for that matter 2020, but rather to celebrate the successes of the past 12 months and to publicly proclaim a positive and bright optimism about the coming year. Creatively at least!

Let’s start with something that I finished last year by talking about – my ongoing 365 Challenge , which

passed the 1,500th consecutive daily image in December and which now enters the fifth consecutive full calendar year.  I’ve written before about the benefits of embedding it in my daily routine and that I feel is one of the big secrets to the project’s longevity.  I’ve hopefully persuaded good friend John Martin (Temporal Light Images) to have a go this year too and so extend him my best wishes and good luck for the year ahead! It won’t be easy but it IS absolutely worthwhile my friend.

Looking at my blog archive I can see that In January 2021 I made no posts to the blog and just the one in the February.  What a post it was though, the portent for what would become one of the themes of 2021 – the panoramic format and in particular panoramic swing-lens film cameras. I started the year with the Horizon Kompakt, briefly dallied with a Horizon 202 before settling on the Horizon Perfect as my day-to-day panoramic camera, and for long stretches of the year as my go-to camera full stop.  A high point occurred in March 2021 when PanoPhotos on Twitter named me their first ever monthly Spotlight Photographer.

Of course, I didn’t restrict myself to just the Horizons. The built-like-a-tank KMZ FT-2 made its way into my hands in August and what an experience that was, as many 2021 blog posts will testify. A panoramic Holga pinhole camera found its way into my bag and towards the end of the year a 6×17 roll film pinhole camera was added to the arsenal. This latter (an RSS 617) is yet to feature strongly in the blog but is loaded and ready to go! It wasn’t just film panoramas though as during 2021 I managed to get my drone back in the air, albeit briefly, and also started to explore the sweep-panorama feature on my Fuji X-series digital cameras.

Ninety minutes in the life of the room where the boys play: RSS 6×17 pinhole, Fomapan 100 (rated at 400)
Eyemouth: RSS 6×17 pinhole, Ilford HP5+

Panoramic was definitely a big theme throughout 2021 and February saw the first of several articles talking about the format and sharing my suggestions for using the Horizon series of cameras, metering and even a video tutorial on loading film. My final purchase of 2021 was a Reality So Subtle (RSS) 6×17 pinhole camera which finally brought together the two themes of 2021 – panoramic and pinholes.

During the year I bought, used and in some cases sold on many pinhole cameras in formats from 35mm through 120, panoramic and 5×4. I ended 2021 with the Holga WPC mentioned above, the RSS 6×17, an ONDU 6×6 and two 5×4 pinhole cameras on the shelf. January 2022 will see the arrival of a new pinhole camera – so watch this space!

2021 was also the year when one of my large format pinhole cameras started a fascinating adventure – Dave’s Pinhole Camera World Tour 2021 was born following its loan to John. As the schedule stands I am due to see my camera again around June time this year, well over a year since it set out. I will blog about this more later in the year but I am hoping that one of the highlights of 2022 will be the culmination of the project in a zine.

Eyemouth: RSS 6×17 pinhole, Ilford HP5+

By the start of the second quarter of the year I had got back into the stride with my blog after a very diverse collection of posts in March I followed this up in April with a whole series of posts on the subject of semi-stand film development (My week semi-standing) which also coincided with my first ever FP4+ Party on Twitter. There was even a biographical essay on the subject of Me:Photographer in a rare moment of philosophical rumination on my photographic past.

Out and about in Elland on a foggy morning with one of my digital cameras
Lovely detail from this film and developer combination. Bronica ETRS, Y/G filter and a roll of Ilford FP4+ Semi-stand development in Rodinal (1+100)
Zero Image Pinhole at the beach – overlapping “joiner” panorama

This was the first part of my 2021 retrospective, I’ve deliberately refrained from putting “first of x” because I’ve not yet written subsequent parts … we will see when we get to the end how many parts there were!

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