Back in March we had that unseasonable, surprise snow day, and Vik and I walked along the Avon and up into Leigh Woods. I’m still thinking of how the falling snow sounded on the evergreen leaves, and how it felt under my feet – powdery and perfect.
Vik loves to use her toy cameras – plastic lensed, cheaply made medium format cameras, mostly the Holga and Diana, with no settings, and a ton of idiosyncrasies, like lightleaks, and the way the back of the camera will fall off for no apparent reason. And with a ridiculously low ISO film, on a day without all those snow-clouds overhead, she wasn’t set up well, so only took two photos. But wow, they’re gorgeous!
Compare them to my photos from the walk – and check out more of Vik’s photos over on her flickr and her instagram.
It’s a dreich, dull April – I laughed, because double-checking the spelling of dreich, the Oxford Dictionary example of how to use it is ‘a cold, dreich early April day’. I still haven’t replaced my broken film cameras, but on Saturday, I took one of Vik’s Holgas – a plastic-lensed, medium-format, very basic camera, with 160iso film, because we didn’t have any 400. And I’m really enjoying the results. First, some shots from Ashton Avenue Bridge, with the outflow from Colliter’s Brook into the Avon, and across the river, Ashton Brook (a historic County boundary).
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If you look at my site for even a few minutes, you will have realised that I obsess about a lot of things photographically, and especially about the Avon mud. More specifically, about the way the light hits it, and how it continually looks different. It makes me happy, and film cameras make me happy, so combining the two is great, though it makes me feel guilty and self-indulgent to keep shooting the same thing.
It’s especially an issue now, when camera film is so expensive, and getting the pictures developed it as well. It can be around £16 in total for a roll of 35mm, and over £20 for 120 and that just hurts (you know I am missing the days of film in the Pound Shop, and cheap film outlets). So I’m thinking of cutting back on film photography, and predominantly using digital, which is very sad for me… but before I do, I had a completely self-indulgent day shooting nothing but mud on my beautiful waist-viewfinder Bronica ETRS, for medium format “who cares about the cost!” photography. The sad thing is, all that happened when I got the roll back is I want to do it again, and again, and again. Ah well.
Here’s the flickr album – if you click on the first picture below, it should bring up the slideshow. The first four are along the Chocolate Path, which feels even more poignant now the Path is closed indefinitely, with no hint from the Council as to when it might open (I’m genuinely worried they’ll decide to just let it fall into the river, because there has been so little upkeep of the New Cut, going back years). I’m glad that at least I did this while I could.
I have so many photographic obsessions, and one of them is the mud on the Avon banks, especially around the blocked up lock at the entrance to the Cumberland Basin. The silt has banked up here in corrugations, with lines where water has flowed meandering through it. It’s fascinating in every kind of light, but my favourite moments are when the sun is low, making the water on the surface turn to silver. The ridges and lines look like landscapes – mountains and rivers and hills. And on windy days the light changes so fast, as clouds whip across the sky. I made a film of that in the summer, and I need to go back and try it again in winter light.
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