Honfleur, Daytime

I’ve been trying to “find myself” lately as far as photography goes. Different editing techniques instead of always doing black and white. Maybe it’s time to get back to basics for at least one article. You’ve seen Honfleur in colour and at night in my last article. However, I did take my camera out during the day! Yes, that can happen sometimes.

You’ve already had the witticisms about Normandy and the like, so this article is somewhat shorter. It’s about exhibiting some black and white photography of a very pretty little town in Normandy without the distraction of colour. They were taken whilst walking from where I had parked the car, to the house that we had rented for the week. They were taken whilst meandering through the streets, getting lost, trying to see what the place looked like in daylight. They were taken whilst I just let my mind wander off and just take in the beauty of the place. Quite typical for me really, and probably the best way to photograph a town.

The photographs were taken over a period of three days using both the Canon 6D Mark II, with the 16-35mm lens, and the Fujifilm X100F.

Honfleur at night

Honfleur is one of those pretty places that you see on postcards from Normandy. It is the birthplace of Erik Satie, the musician, composer, and a slighty, ever so slightly, eccentric, which is how my mother describes me. I think it’s a nice way of calling me a wierdo!

So Honfleur… Full of Parisians and people from just outside Paris that don’t have enough money to be able to afford Deauville. But also full of art lovers thanks to the many painters that have their galleries, and those channelling Eugène Boudin (joke available in French, contact me for details) and those wanting some Monet, Monet, Monet! (the Dad joke strikes again!) And let’s not forget those messing up their cholesterol levels with Camembert and Crême Fraîche d’Isingy, and those ruining their livers on Calva, and Pommeau. Cider is available for the lightweights like me.

On our first night, Killian, my ever dutiful son, needed to get out of the house and stretch his legs, so I tagged along with him. We went out with the two cameras (X100F for me, and Canon 6D for him) to do some night time photography, and headed off to the old harbour. We vowed to keep away from all the bars and ice cream places and actually managed it! Such restraint!

Here are my photos from that trip out:

Humber Street

In 1987, my father bought me my first SLR. Notice the D is missing. So, I did say SLR and not DSLR. It was a Praktica MTL3 and it is now retired (polite way of saying Kaput) and sitting on a shelf in my son’s room. It took film. And the first roll of film that I shot with it was down Humber Street

In 1987, Humber Street was the fruit market of Hull, and I’m not making an unpolitically correct joke about sensitive men looking to do sensitive things with other sensitive men. No. That would be wrong and very un-enlightened of me. No, they did that in other places dotted around the city.

I used to shoot my film, get it developed at a place on Newland Ave, where I got the camera, and the guy would present me with a contact sheet and critique my photos. For those of you who were born after this analogical age, a contact sheet is where you lay out the negatives on a sheet of photographic paper, and expose the paper, and develop it, and get a whole load of thumbnail images that you can look at and decide which were worth printing. Yes, just like the thumbnails you get on the gallery on your phone, except it might have taken a little longer…

There was one image that pleased me immensely of a cat sitting quietly on a box of fruit wondering what the hell I was up to. That was then.

Skip forward a few years, just a few mind you, because I’m not an old git yet. No sonny Jim, I’m just a git! The area came into it’s own in 2017 when Hull was declared City Of Culture. People were proud of their city again and there were whisperers whispering, “Come to ‘Ull, it’s not shite anymore!”

The ‘gentrification’ of the area started with bars, and even Art Galleries! Then of course came the Humber Street Sesh, showing some amazing local musical talent. This year’s Street Sesh was last night, so you’ve missed it!

At the bottom is the Minerva. Minerva is of course the wise old owl in Greek mythology. It is also a pub which always has such a special place in people’s hearts. They do good food and good beer, and good gin, so the wife was more than happy.

The two nights before these photos, I had met up with and old friend from my school days who was kind enough not to mention all the silly shit that I used to get up to in my youth. The next night was a school reunion with people I hadn’t seen since 1985 and 1988 for the lads. Tales were told that I will not repeat here including stories about a pogo stick, and how I once said “merde” to my French teacher and left the room throwing my French books into the bin on the way out. They told my French wife, “Well he always was a bit European….”

Well now, you’ve kept reading up to now so I suppose I should tell you about these photos. They were taken on the Sunday night when I needed some “me” time to deal with the overwhelming overload of nostalgia. I was out with the Canon 6D Mark II, and the 16-35mm lens. Hope you like them.

Did I go on for too long?

St Nicolas Basilica, Nantes

Do you remember me saying that in one of my previous articles that I would show you the inside of the Basilica? Chose dite, chose faite. As I say, I will do! You may be a Catholic, you may not be. I’m not going to judge anyone. You may even be a convinced, and militant atheist. I am going to present a building to you that was designed by men for the glory of God. Everything in it was made to centre on God and the presence of God in the Tabernacle.

Even though you might not share those beliefs, a church is not an ordinary building. It is not just a place. There is something special, as there is in any place of worship. We see the hopes and wishes of men being handed over to something that is a power beyond them. These are the prayers represented by the candles in the Catholic tradition, and the statues to remind us of the piety of certain saints and the symbolism that is included in the representation in those statues. The same is true in the artwork. It is what it represents to the faithful. The stations of the cross which retell the story of Jesus’ final sacrifice here on earth, and the sacrifice of the mass.

It is a place of contemplation. So let’s contemplate…

Walkabout in Nantes with the lads from Instagram – Part I

Now and again I do some colour photography, especially with the colours you get from the X100F. Everyone goes on about it, but they really are good. A guy on Instagram wanted to get some people together of various photographic levels, some who know little, some who know a lot, some who have loads of gear, and some who have very little. This was the first outing.

We wanted to get into Nantes during Golden Hour, but somebody had the rather silly idea of making it the “morning” Golden Hour. I, of course, was late. The meeting place was Place Royale, where Kate’s favourite fountain its. Emiliano Sala had just disappeared on his flight from Nantes to Cardiff, and people had made a kind of shrine to him.

They all had DSLR’s with lenses and tripods and the whole shebang. Guys together having a competition to see who had the biggest… Camera… What else were you thinking about???? I turned up with my Fujifilm X100F. Yes mine was the smallest (camera) but I’m fine with that, and I own it!!

But I digress. I usually do black and white conversions and seem to have the process slightly sussed out. The colour film simulations are just great on this camera and I get why people wax lyrical about them.

When I got the X100F I wanted to have a digital camera that was the equal of my film cameras. I wanted something that could open up to F2 and go up to F16. I wanted something that looked good and that got the job done. It’s basically a compact camera, with a fixed prime lens, and is sold as the street photography photographer’s camera, or the travel photography photographer’s camera. Of course it it great for this, and just slips in a bag. It’s light and such an understated chic. I love it! There you are. I love my camera.

But back to Nantes who is the real star in this series. In this first part you see us going from the Place Royale, going to bakery for breakfast and a coffee (I always seem to find a place to eat wherever I am…), heading towards the Tour de Bretagne, which is Nantes’ version of the Tour Montparnasse in Paris, going across Cours des 50 Otages, towards the Castle via rue de la Marne, and having a look at some the of the streets branching off, and ending up on the rue du Château.

Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, Edinburgh

We’d both decided that before we even got here we would have to visit this Churchyard with many of Edinburgh’s famous and infamous residents who decided to stay on permanently… JK Rowling used some of the residents’ names for her characters in the Harry Potter books. See if you can spot where Tom Riddle is buried…

It’s a very “haunting” place and is supposed to be one of the most ghostly cemeteries in the UK. As you get closer to the (now closed) section where the Convenanters were imprisoned you can really feel the ominous pain and suffering that they endured at the hands of Mackenzie, and the hatred as you pass Mackenzie’s mausoleum.

Elsewhere there was a feeling of calm. The sun was just coming up over the hill and Edinburgh castle was so warm in the golden hour light.

This little guy, as bold as brass just didn’t care about the photo shoot! He just went around looking for food…