My Photographic Experiences


Photographic Beginnings

Analogue (wet) Photography

College Days

Digital Photography

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My Photographic Beginnings

The first camera that I owned was a Kodak Brownie 127 that was a present given to me by my brother Jim when I was about ten years old. I used the camera for family photographs but not for "serious" photographs and very few images survive that were taken on this camera. This was replaced a few years later by another 127 camera... a Ferrania Ibis 44 which possessed a simple “Waterhouse Stops” variable aperture, a couple of different shutter speeds (1/50th, 1/100th second and “B”) and focussing controls. It also and had an accessory shoe and sync socket allowing use of a flash unit.

My first camera... a Kodak Brownie 127...

... followed by a Ferrania Ibis 44 featuring simple controls

When I was growing up my brother had a keen interest in standard 8 ciné photography. Needless to say his interest rubbed off on me. Consequently, I was weaned (photographically speaking) on Bell & Howell Sundials, Autosets and Sportsters, Bolex C8 and B8 cameras, and Bell & Howell Moviemasters, Eumig Mark S and DL and Bolex M8R and 18-5 projectors. Over the years my brother had an extensive collection of Bolex ciné cameras and projectors (of which he had nearly every model) as well as a good selection of Bell and Howell equipment.

Bell and Howell Sundial, Moviemaster and Autoset Standard 8 ciné equipment

Bolex C8 and 18-5 Standard 8 ciné equipment

My first ciné camera was an old Bell and Howell 605C Sportster and although it had a three lens turret only had a standard and telephoto lens fitted. I only had a couple of accessories to start off with... a Minnette exposure meter and a simple tripod which I hade in metal work at school. The tripod was a pain to carry as the legs did not fold! Jim was a member of a local ciné society; the "Double Run Ciné Group" (after the way that standard 8mm film was exposed twice in the camera, later to become the "Wirral Movie Makers") who met in St Luke's Church Hall, adjacent to the Poulton "Vics" traffic lights on Breck Road in Wallasey. The Club was to move to a suite of rooms in the Manor Hall on Manor Road in Wallasey.

A young me perched on top of Eric Knowles' Vauxhall Victor for the 1968 Wallasey Gala Procession

(Photograph - John Lomax)

When we moved there the rooms were in a terrible state but we cleared them out, cleaned them and converted one of the rooms into a cinema complete with cinema seats and motorised screen tabs (curtains), there was a darkroom (where I made my first black and white print), a small office and a tea room cum kitchen. At the age of fourteen I became the Club's secretary and made many films including an award winning twelve minute film entitled "Briquette" which told the story of how house bricks are made starting with the clay being extracted from a local quarry to delivery of the finished article. The film featured a synchronised soundtrack that was initially recorded on a Fidelity Playtime reel to reel tape recorder (borrowed off Jim) before transferring to magnetic stripe complete with a commentary (part of which which I can still recite today and starts... "The first step in the brick making process is to obtain the clay. In this case it is done by bucket excavators"). This subject was chosen due to a school visit to the location that captured my imagination. To learn more about this and my interest in Local History go to "Wyre Heal - Footnote" in "Canalscape's" sister website "Diarama".

Jim Wood (left) and John Lomax (right)

In 1966 the Club's Chairman... John Lomax was making a film about local photographer Keith Medley but when Keith went to Lake Coniston to film Donald Campbell the focus (sic) of the film changed and was to be called "Campbell at Coniston" even though it still featured Keith. Early in January 1967 I was asked if I would like to go up to Coniston with John to give him a hand and was picked up at 4.30 am to go to the Lake District in John's immaculate 1965 Malibu Gold Ford Executive Zodiac (HMB 315 C). It was the fateful day that Donald Campbell lost his life when his boat... Bluebird hit its own wash and flipped. I can remember the day as if it were yesterday and still become upset whenever I see the historic film that John and Keith took of the crash. It is one of those happenings in history that a person can say "I was there!". A copy of "Campbell at Coniston" is available on DVD from

Keith Medley with his Newman Sinclair Auto Kine Model G 35mm ciné camera and the "Campbell at Coniston" DVD sleeve

(Photograph - Our Day Out)

When I left school I got a job in the Photographic Department of the large Co-operative department store in Birkenhead. This gave me more money to spend on equipment and one of my first purchases was a second-hand Fi-Cord 202A portable reel to reel tape recorder which required fourteen AA size (MN1500 then) Duracell batteries. My next purchase was a Beyer Dynamic M119 microphone which was supplied complete with a padded, wooden storage case and an XLR plug. I can remember my father ordering a mains unit for it from an advertiser in the back of the Electrical and Electronic Trader magazine that he used to subscribe to. This unit was a revelation and meant that for the price of a couple of sets of Duracells I could run the Fi-Cord off the mains.

Yours truly in the Birkenhead Co-op Photographic Department - note the framed Widescreen Centre plaque to the left of the film shelves

(Photograph - James M Wood)

The Fi-cord 202A portable reel to reel tape recorder

(Photograph -

Beyer Dynamic M119 Microphone

Music to accompany the films was originally from copyright free records played through a Czechoslovakian Supraphon record player (£19 19/6d when new). It possessed a separate loudspeaker that was connected to the unit's amplifier by a lead culminating in a DIN plug which just happened to have the same pin configuration as the audio input on a Eumig Mark S sound projector. The record player was mounted in a leather case not unlike a ladies' vanity case and it was light enough to accompany us to many locations when we were presenting film shows. The sound quality seemed wonderful at the time but our standards in that department were pretty dismal compared to what can be achieved today. We used the Supraphon for many years and was eventually replaced by more modern equipment with the music being transcribed onto tape (and later cassette) for mixing before being transferred onto the magnetic stripe on the side of the film.

Czechoslovakian Suprophon record player

(Photograph -

My old Bell and Howell 605c was replaced by an earlier model fitted with a trio of British Taylor, Taylor and Hobson lenses and featuring a critical focuser above the winder. It was later followed by a Bolex B8LA (similar to the one used in a recent L'Oreal TV advertisement) and an ancient Bolex H8 all fitted with beautiful Swiss Kern Yvar and Switar lenses. The projectors I have had were a dual gauge Eumig Mark S 709 (modified with Eumig DL condenser lenses to increase the light output). This was followed by a prototype Standard 8 Silma 250S not normally available in standard 8 format, capable of accepting 800 ft spools (take-up spool super 8 only) and fitted with a Kern Hi-Fi zoom lens and lastly, a return to basics with a Bolex 18-5 also fitted with a Kern Hi-Fi fixed and zoom lenses. I was quick to discover that working in the photographic retail trade had many advantages - including being friendly with the reps who sometimes came across unusual pieces of equipment such as the Silma 250S.  I had connections with other societies such as the Widescreen Association and the Institute of Amateur Cinematographers (of which, my brother was a Fellow and retired Northwest Regional Chairman).

Bell and Howell 605c Standard 8 ciné camera fitted with three British Taylor, Taylor and Hobson lenses

Eumig Mark S 709 dual gauge sound projector

A Silma 250s and Bolex D8LA similar to those I once possessed

The Paillard Bolex logo - best seen on black leather

An example of a "round base" Bolex H8 similar to the one I had

Quite a few of the films that I made were in 2 : 1 widescreen (not Cinemascope which had a aspect ratio of 2·66 : 1... too much for Standard 8 in my opinion). This involved fitting an anamorphic (or squeeze) lens on the camera and after processing the same lens was fitted to the projector to give a projected (un-squeezed) 2 to 1 aspect ratio similar to today's 16 by 9 widescreen video format. In the photograph above, the Bolex B8LA I am holding has a Delrama prismatic anamorphic lens fitted to it. My father made a metal adapter that screwed directly onto the f 1.9 Yvar lens fitted to the Bolex B8LA.  I later used a Bolex Möhler which was perfectly matched to the Kern lenses and did not possess 1·5 stops light loss of the Delrama (or the annoying mark on one of the front-silvered prisms).

A young me complete with Bolex B8LA and Delrama widescreen lens on a ciné club outing to Lake Vyrnwy in 1969

(Photograph - James M Wood)

The Delrama prismatic 2 : 1 anamorphic (squeeze) lens

An example of the wonderful Bolex Möhler 2 : 1 anamorphic (squeeze) lens

Jim filming a time-lapse sunset with his Bolex B8SL and Möhler anamorphic lens

This came with a purpose-made adapter to fit Bolex lenses and the Bolex 18-5 projector had two small studs forward of the lens for the projector bracket to fit directly without interfering with the lens's focussing just as long as the Bolex Hi-Fi zoom lens isn't fitted as the extra length fouled the bracket. Consequently I had a fixed lens for widescreen films and a zoom lens for standard 4 x 3 format films. Also on the 18-5 photograph will be noticed a plastic blanking plate to accommodate the extra third sprocket (which mine was fitted with) for the later version of the Bolex Sonorizer sound stripe unit that never made it into production.

Close-up of the Möhler mounting bracket (two studs forward of the lens) and the third sprocket blanking plate on a Bolex 18-5 projector

The last standard eight ciné camera that I bought was a Yashica 8E3. It cost £19:19/6d but could not accept any of my anamorphic lenses so I used it solely for standard 4 x 3 filming. It was a nice camera... well made, had three good quality lenses on a turret reminiscent of my old Bell and Howell 605c and possessed many of the features found on the Bolex B8LA. I say "bought"... this is not strictly correct as I had put it away in the Co-op Photographic Department where I was departmental manager, was paying it off at the rate of £1 per week and had paid about £10 off the price. When I caught and apprehended a shoplifter my boss told me that I could have it without any further payment as a reward for my diligent actions.

Yashica 8E3 - one of the last standard 8 ciné cameras that I purchased

As mentioned earlier, I possessed an early Bolex H8 (fitted with the external frame counter and Surefire Grip) but I would have liked an H8 Reflex or even better... one converted to Pan-8. This was basically an H16 with a masked gate with 8mm claw and "pull-down" mechanism which would give a widescreen image without having to resort to anamorphic lenses. There was also a Pan-16 format which was similar in concept but used 16mm stock (which had half the number of perforations as Standard 8mm) but had a two-step pull-down on the claw to allow for the smaller frame height. Projection was by similarly converted 16mm projectors such as the massive and heavy Bolex S321 which unfortunately did not come with the fork-lift truck required to transport it!

A beautiful late model Bolex H8 Reflex RX3 complete with the Rexofader auto-fader device and 36 EE Vario Switar zoom lens

The gargantuan Bolex S321 16mm projector (minus fork-lift truck)

By this time Super 8 had replaced Standard 8. My first Super 8 camera was a Hanimex Synchrozoom (made by Nalcolm) and featured a shutter release combined with the zoom control and a remote control socket for my Fi-cord 202A reel to reel tape recorder. The lens was a Shinkor zoom (emanating from the legendary Shinkorhara Dairy... allegedly the world's largest manufacturer of milk bottles). It did not give good results and was not in my possession for very long. It was replaced by a Bell and Howell Autoload featuring an unusual "T" shaped pistol grip. I was not impressed with the results from this camera either so I gave Fuji's Single Eight format a try. The camera was a Fujica P300... a beautifully designed reflex camera featuring a fixed focus short zoom lens. The results were excellent but the Mylar (similar to nylon) based film stock was impossible to apply magnetic stripe to and pre-striped film had to be bought which was extremely expensive. It was difficult to splice and tape splices had to be used which caused a momentary drop-out of the soundtrack when a splice passed through the Mark S 709's sound head. Dixon's' "Prinzcolour" Super Eight film was made by Fuji and suffered the same problems.

Hanimex (alias Nalcolm) Synchrozoom

Super 8 Bell and Howell Autoload (note the unusual "T" grip)

Fujica P300 Single Eight camera

The equipment I desired was a Beaulieu 2008ZM or Bolex 160 Macrozoom camera complimented by either a Heurtier P6-24 (non-standard sound/frame separation and nearly as heavy as the Bolex S321 16mm projector) or Bolex SM8 sound projector - the latter a badge engineered Silma 250s, were well out of my reach financially and in 1970 ciné film prices had started to rise phenomenally to £2 for four minutes of process paid Kodachrome 25 standard 8 ciné film (£27 today).

Dream ciné equipment - Bolex 160 Macrozoom camera and a Bolex SM8 Projector...

...and a Heurtier P 6-24 and a Beaulieu 4008 ZM

Consequently, I defected to still photography although I did keep my Bolex C8, Möhler widescreen lens, Weston Master Two Ciné Exposure Meter and 18-5 combination... the latter's A1 17 8volt 50 watt lamp replaced with a much needed Quartz-Halogen conversion. Even so they were rarely used as by this time I started to have a greater interest in still photography and started to take colour transparencies instead. In recent times the cult status of Bolex ciné cameras has been confirmed by being featured in advertisements. I spotted a standard eight lightmeter model, either a C8, B8 or D8 being held by Claudia Schiffer in a recent L'Oreal Preference TV advertisement and a B8L featured in a Chanel Eyewear advertisement being held by actress Kirsten Stewart. Shame it didn't have the correct Kern Yvar lenses fitted. Ironically, Kirsten Stewart starred in the sci-fi thriller "Super 8"... bearing this in mind maybe she should have been holding a Bolex Macrozoom instead!


Model Claudia Shiffer holding a Bolex C, B or D8LA in a recent L'Oreal Preference TV advertisement

Actress Kirsten Stewart and a Bolex B8L in a Chanel Eyewear advertisement

(Shame that it doesn't have Kern lenses fitted!)

A Bolex K2 made a surprising cameo in an episode of the children's TV series Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends. Two train spotting vicars were taking photographs and ciné film of the locomotives in the Isle of Sodor. Although some artistic licence (size and design details) has been used there is no mistaking what the ciné camera was based on.

The photographers in the Thomas and Friends episode complete with a Bolex K2 ciné camera...

...and an actual Bolex K2 ciné camera

The beautifully simple Bolex C8

Weston Master 2 Cine Exposure Meter

After a few years at the Co-op I moved to Dixon's in Liverpool then the financial inducements of Industry beckoned and I left the photographic retail trade, but always kept in touch with latest equipment and developments although I did briefly return in the early 1980s when Jim was manager of the Photomarkets UK shop in Liverpool. A few years ago I was reminded of my time at Dixon's when I went to the then new Jessop's shop in Liverpool for A3 photo paper. The shop had relocated from Williamson Street to 51 Lord Street and their new location was, many years ago, the same shop that used to be Dixon's' Branch Seventy where I once worked. Sadly, Jessop's went into administration but the brand name has been resurrected by Peter Jones... the entrepreneur from BBC's "Dragons' Den". Today the shop is now a branch of Wilkinson Cameras where there are many brands and models on display. They even have a Leica department which I regularly visit!

A photograph of me whilst working at Photomarkets - Liverpool in 1981... note the Bolex ashtray

(Photograph - James M Wood)

I still have a couple of ciné cameras in my camera collection but I left that aspect of camera kleptomania to my brother... Jim; who had examples of nearly every Bolex standard and super eight camera and projector. I do have a video camcorder though... a Panasonic NV-DS60B-S that records onto the Mini DV tape format but it doesn't get much use due to my usually using one of my digital cameras to capture what little video I do take.

Panasonic NV-D560B-S Mini DV Digital Camcorder

Paillard Bolex were bought out by Eumig in the 1980's who subsequently went bankrupt when the Deutche Bank foreclosed on them after the ill fated Polavision instant movies affair. The Bolex name has been resurrected by an American company who have just announced the Bolex Digital D16 video camera. Details are sketchy but this retro-looking unit features a Super 16 sized HD image sensor, interchangeable "C" mount lenses (I have even seen a photograph on the Internet of one fitted with a Kern Switar prime lens), with a three lens "C" mount turret as an option,  a very familiar looking removable pistol grip, dual CF card slots and a DNG (video equivalent of Raw) file output. Although not yet in full scale production the future looks promising for a name whose reputation is embedded in the history of ciné photography but at an estimated cost of $3500 when released in 2013 only professionals and rich amateurs would be able to afford it.

A pre-production photograph of the Bolex Digital D16 video camera

(Note the familiar looking pistol grip)

Whilst this may be the end of my ciné experiences it is not the end of the ciné story per se. With the recent upsurge in all things analogue... audio reproduction and still photography to name but two, it may not surprise the reader that ciné photography has also been reborn with the introduction in 2016 of Kodak Super Eight ciné cameras and film. The camera features an extended Max-8 gate and a fixed focal length C-mount lens but I am sure that variable focal length alternatives are in the pipeline. Other features include an electronic viewfinder (as on a video camera) and an SD Card slot. A range of Super Eight negative film stock both monochrome and colour has also been released. After sending the exposed film to Kodak for processing the negative film is returned but not before it has been scanned with the resulting digital copy available to download from the Cloud.

Rear view of the new Kodak Super 8 ciné camera showing the viewfinder and SD Card slot

Side view of the camera showing the film chamber

I do not expect to see new projectors or additional cameras announced as this model is aimed at film makers and not the domestic market in the same way as the Bolex D16 video camera mentioned previously. Converging technologies have now come a complete circle! For further information regarding vintage Paillard Bolex equipment follow this link to the Bolex Collectors' website...


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Analogue (Wet) Photography

Prior to my defecting to still photography, my first proper still camera was an Ilford Sportina Rapid that used 35mm film loaded into special "Rapid" cassettes giving sixteen 24mm x 24mm square exposures from each cassette. This was followed by a Regula Sprinty 35mm compact camera which used weather symbols to set the exposure and a Rank-Mamiya Ranger full-frame 35mm coupled rangefinder camera (Jim came across an excellent example, bought it and gave it to me as a present which takes pride of place on the shelf displaying my camera collection). For taking photographs indoors or in low light at first I had (and still have) a Minnette flash with a fan-style folding reflector that took PF1B bulbs or AG1B bulbs with an adapter. I graduated to a Kako Model F electronic flash unit which was one of the first electronic flash units I had seen. It had a guide number of fifteen with 100 ASA film and a fresh set of Mallory Duracell MN 1500s (AA size today) gave about thirty flashes. Even so, it served me for many years until I bought a Unomat 5000 which featured automatic exposure, a hot shoe and was rechargeable.

My Ferrania 127 was followed by an Ilford Sportina Rapid... first "proper" still camera - a Regula Sprinty...

...and a Rank-Mamiya Ranger

Kako Model F electronic flash unit

Rondo Colormatic 35mm compact

My first SLR was a Zenit (or Zenith) 3M

Yours truly in 1967 complete with Zenit 3M and Rank Elektra CDS exposure meter

(Photograph - James M Wood)

After the Mamiya Ranger followed such masterpieces as a Rondo Colormatic 35mm compact with auto exposure accompanied by a Zenit (or Zenith) 3M - no instant return mirror, B (basically a 3M with an instant return mirror and leather finish) and E (a B with a built-in but not coupled lightmeter) all with f2 Helios pre-set diaphragm lenses, Praktica Nova 1PL (the "PL" stood for "Praktica Load" - a quick load system using baling wires to retain the film tail - it never failed but the camera did have a horrible hard plastic ever-ready case) with an f2·8 Meyer Domiplan lens, Rolleicord IV B (a budget Rolleiflex). I had a Minnette selenium cell light meter followed by a Rank-Elektra CDS light meter that I used for my ciné cameras that also doubled for still camera exposure measurement. As I became more serious this was replaced by a Weston Master 5 and Euromaster light meters (which I still have). My brother had an Alpa 6c and used a wonderfully neat (and accurate) Kopil clip-on CDS exposure meter with it that was attached via the accessory (flash) shoe. I always hankered after this meter and badgered him repeatedly. In the end he gave in and leant it to me on long-term loan. It lasted for many years until I bought my first Weston.

Minnette selenium cell and Rank-Elektra CDS Exposure Meters

The beautifully neat (and accurate) Kopil Clip-on CDS Exposure Meter

Zenit B with unusual leather finish instead of the corded material

Zenit E - basically a "B" with an in-built but not coupled exposure meter

Practica Nova 1 fitted with a 50mm f2·8 Meyer-Optik Domiplan lens

A later Praktica Nova 1 PL also fitted with 50mm f2·8 Meyer-Optik Domiplan lens

Weston Master 5 and Euromaster exposure meters

Venerable classic - the Rolleicord IV B

When the Olympus 35RC was first released I was working for Dixons Cameras in Liverpool. I was so impressed with it that I part-exchanged my Rolleicord 4b and Practica equipment for one. So successful was it that I had the Olympus for over eight years (I still have an engraved example of this beautiful 35mm compact today complete with leather case and matching PS200 electronic flash unit) as it gave superb results and its built-in light meter always agreed with the Weston! An Asahi Pentax S1a (complete with clip-on CDS light meter), Praktica PLC3 (with a superb f1·8 Zeiss Pancolor lens) Kiev 4A (with an old f1·2 uncoated Zeiss Sonnar lens from a "dead" Contax 2 or 3 rangefinder), Fed 4L, Rollei 35 LED and Rollei 35 SE (fitted with a gorgeous Zeiss Sonnar lens) followed before I was lured back into the world of S.L.R's.

Olympus 35 RC

Asahi Pentax S1A

A Praktica PLC3 fitted with an f1·8 50mm Carl Zeiss Pancolor lens

Rollei 35 LED

Rollei 35 SE

Fed 4L - Russian Leica Copy

Kiev 4A with Jupiter 50mm Lens - Russian Contax Copy

Lubitel 166 - multi-format Russian copy of a Zeiss Ikon Focussing Brilliant

A "knobbly" upholstered, electronic shuttered Praktica B200 (owned very briefly after being replaced twice with the same fault... the most unreliable camera I have ever owned) was followed by two Olympus OM10's (not at the same time) for which I had the Manual Adapter, Olympus T32 dedicated electronic flash unit, Olympus Zuiko 28mm and 135mm lenses, Olympus OM1N, an Olympus XA2 (I would have likes the original XA with a coupled rangefinder and aperture priority but couldn't afford one so the simpler XA2 with the dedicated A16 electronic flash unit instead of the less powerful A11 had to suffice), Lubitel 166 multi-format twin lens reflex, Bakelite bodied copy of a Zeiss Ikon Focussing Brilliant complete with interlocking focus on the viewing and taking lenses capable of very good quality results if used sensibly and now available again in a 35mm/6 x 4·5/6 x 6 version for nearly £300 from the Lomography website), Zorki 4K (the poor man's Leica), dual format Ensign Ranger (6 x 6 and 6 x 9, fitted with an un-coupled rangefinder), Yashicamat 124G (a Japanese classic twin lens reflex with an excellent lens), Calumet 5x4, Kodak Retina 2S (well engineered rangefinder camera from Kodak Stuttgart with an excellent Schneider Xenar lens), Rolleiflex 3.5E, Asahi Pentax K1000 (which I could use with M42 screw lenses via an adapter), Alpa 6B and 6C (the f1·8 Kern Switar is without doubt one of the finest optical quality lenses according to MTF curves and resolution tests. It knocked my f2·4 35mm Zeiss Flektagon wide angle lens for six!) and the Alpa body the best engineered 35mm S.L.R's of all time), Olympus 35SP (a "grown-up" 35RC with a brilliant f1·7 42mm lens - odd focal length) and last but by no means least, a Canon EOS 600 (with dedicated Cobra 700 AF hammerhead electronic flash unit), which was my last "analogue" camera and one of the most competent film cameras that I have ever used and an ultra-sharp lens with really quick ultrasonic motor driven auto focus. I had religiously used various Weston Master IV, Master V (cost £12/12/6d when purchased from new) and Euromaster light meters since my ciné days in the 1960s. I usually took "duplex" readings (the average between incident and reflected readings) and it was only when I started to use the Canon EOS 600 that I retired the Weston, such was the accuracy of its seven-point light metering system... similar in theory to the Zone System as devised by Ansell Adams - the renowned American landscape photographer. These beautifully engineered instruments have followed me throughout my photographic life and I have owned six examples of various models but are now, sadly, no longer produced. The story of Weston Light Meters is documented at the following website... Another essential piece of equipment was my trusty Sunpak Auto 33 flash unit which I possessed for may years which was replaced with an Olympus T32 TTL flash unit when I had the Olympus OM10 and OM1n cameras. When the OM1n was part exchanged the T32 was replaced with a Vivitar 285 flash unit which gave sterling service until I bought the Canon EOS 600.

To go with the EOS 600 I sold the old Vivitar 285 and bought a Cobra 700 AF dedicated flash unit. This featured TTL  exposure control, a remote auto focus illuminator and flash bracket complete with handgrip. It gave sterling service and was in my collection until very recently. One item that I always wanted was the supplementary turret viewfinder made by the manufacturers of Fed/Kiev/Zorki cameras to go with the Jupiter wide angle and telephoto lenses for these cameras. Unfortunately, I was not able to afford this piece of equipment when I needed it. I came across a Cosmic Symbol also known as the Cosmic 35 to leave in the car. This cheaply made Russian Bakelite camera is the 35mm equivalent of the Lubitel and also capable of excellent results.

Sunpak Auto 33 electronic flash unit

The "knobbly" Praktica B200 was the most unreliable camera I have ever owned

Olympus OM10 complete with Manual Adapter

Olympus XA2 Compact

Japanese classic 6 x 6 twin lens reflex - the Yashicamat 124G

Olympus OM1n

Olympus T32 Electronic Flash Unit

The triple format Ensign Selfix Ranger takes 6 x 4·5, 6 x 6 and 6 x 9 photographs

Zorki 4K - Russian Leica Copy

Russian Supplementary Turret Viewfinder

Kodak Retina IIS - one of the best from Kodak Stuttgart

The beautifully simple Asahi Pentax K1000

Calumet 5 x 4 monorail plate camera

This Alpa 5c features a coupled rangefinder in addition to a reflex viewfinder

Vivitar 285 Electronic Flash Unit

Olympus 35 SP -  a "grown-up" 35 RC

Rolleiflex 3·5E

Russian Cosmic Symbol also known as the Cosmic 35

Canon EOS 600

Cobra 700 AF dedicated, convertible electronic flash unit

Some of the cameras (analogue as well as digital) and light meters (see above) in my  collection

I thought that, with the introduction of digital cameras that my analogue camera days were over. In 2019, whilst looking in a charity shop in Stockton Heath, Cheshire, I saw a Kodak Duaflex 620 roll film camera identical to the one that my father had.  My friend Paul Savage bought it (unbeknown to me) and gave it to me as a present.

Kodak Duaflex 620 roll film camera

I have a photograph that I took on my Kodak Brownie 127 camera  in 1961 of my father holding the Kodak Duaflex and brother Jim next to him holding his Bell and Howell Sundial ciné camera taken at New Marton Locks on the Llangollen Canal. We decided to recreate the photograph but with me holding the Duaflex instead of my father and Paul taking the place of my brother. The original and recreated photographs are included below.

My father holding his Kodak Duaflex next to Jim at New Marton locks in 1961...

...and the recreated photograph with me holding my Duaflex and Paul Savage

(Photograph - Angela Wood)

Regarding the old film that was in the Kodak Duaflex camera... a couple of weeks after returning home from our Summer Cruise I eventually had the time to go to the darkroom at work and process the roll of Kodak Verichrome Pan that was in the camera. After loading the film into a conventional Paterson Universal developing tank I used a long five minute pre-soak at 22° Centigrade to condition the film emulsion prior to development. When film emulsion dries out it reticulates and looks like crazy paving. The pre-soak (with constant agitation/inversion) allows the gelatine emulsion base to rehydrate, expand and reconstitute, so minimising reticulation. I used Ilfosol 3 film developer diluted 1:14 @ 20° Centigrade, (using constant agitation/inversion for the first minute then one inversion every 15 seconds) with a longer development time of 15 minutes as against 7·5 minutes (for fresh Ilford FP4 Plus rated @ 125/22° ISO) to account for fading of the latent image on the film (latent image regression). One minute (with constant agitation/inversion) in Ilfostop stop bath, 5 minutes (with constant agitation/inversion) in Ilford Rapid Fixer and a wash in filtered, tempered (running water for 15 minutes @ 20° Centigrade) followed by  a quick bath in Ilfotol Wetting Agent.

Paterson Universal Developing Tank

When I removed the film from the developing tank and was hanging it in the Marrutt drying cabinet (30 minutes at a low temperature setting), I was very surprised to see images on the film. The earlier exposures were quite “contrasty”, the images on the middle of the roll where under-exposed and edge-fogged. But on the last couple of exposures which I had taken after discovering that there was a film in the camera, the film had lost its sensitivity and the images were underexposed. The latent images at the start of the roll must have been protected the emulsion from heat by the backing paper and film wound over them. Even so, the resulting images are viewable. Even so, the resulting images are viewable and must be about fifty years old. I could not identify the location of the photograph below of a bay seen from an upstairs window but if any readers can identify the location I would be grateful. If you do know where it is please e-mail me at The second photograph shown below was taken by Ange and shows Me, Paul and Wendy Savage at Daresbury. It was one of the unexposed frames on the film that I decided to try to see if the camera (and film) were okay.  It was the first time that I had developed a black and white film in over twenty years and I have to say that I haven’t lost my touch. I was sniffing my fingers continually for the rest of the day as they smelt of photographic processing chemicals, mmmmm... Ilfosol 3 film developer and Ilford Rapid Fixer (fortunately the Ilfostop stop bath doesn't smell of acetic acid - aka vinegar, any more). Just call me "Mister Stinkyfinger"!

I scanned the resulting images and after reversing them into positive images, altering the brightness and contrast to allow for latent image regression (fading) and loss of sensitivity, the results were passable considering that the film is most probably at least fifty years old. But it would be interesting to find out what the camera is capable of with a fresh, modern film loaded inside it.

One of the images on the film in the Duaflex camera

The last exposure on the film in the Duaflex camera

(Photograph - Angela Wood)

With the camera now empty I could check it out and clean both the body and the lens thoroughly. Satisfied that everything was in order I thought about re-spooling 120 film onto a 620 spool. On investigation though, all that was required to make the 120 film fit into the Duaflex is to trim the cheeks of the plastic 120 spool and it should fit. Accordingly, I ordered a roll of fresh 120 Ilford FP4 Plus black and white film from Amazon and plan to give the camera a “proper” trial with factory fresh film when the opportunity presents itself.

Now... what can I take photographs of? Watch this space

I look back at some of the "analogue" cameras that I have owned with fondness... especially the handmade Swiss Alpa with their beautiful Kern Macro Switar lenses, the Rolleiflex 3·5E and even some of the Russian equipment, more for the pleasure of using them than the quality. One 35mm camera that I have never owned is a Leica although my brother had a collection of them. I have used 35mm Leicas on many occasions but they do not possess the indefinable "magic" that the Alpa did. Whilst on the subject of the Alpa... this is a make of camera that most photographers will not have heard of due to their being very exclusive and expensive. It was once said that a Leica's shutter sounded like two pieces of velvet rubbing together. The Alpa sounds much the same but with the addition of a little mirror bounce! They were individually hand-built in Switzerland by Pignons SA... a major watch component manufacturer under the corporate umbrella of Paillard Corporation who also held Bolex in their portfolio as well as the matching Swiss Kern lenses.

My brother Jim used to work for James McKenzie's Photographic and Hi-Fi shop in Birkenhead who were Alpa main dealers. When someone wanted to order one they were given a dummy body and various weights were fitted into it to ascertain what material the casting was made from. There was a choice of image formats 11·5 x 16·5 (microfiche) to half-frame for specialist surveillance and time-lapse applications (usually fitted with a radio-controlled motor drive and a 100 ft bulk film magazine) but the full frame 24 x 36 was normally specified. The shutter speeds and lens apertures could be requested in either Imperial or Metric calibrations to match one's exposure meter. The exterior finish could be either black or chrome with 18 carat gold plating - matt or gloss) as an option with lizard skin replacing the soft black or brown leather.

The ultimate Alpa SLR... a gold plated 11si

A unique selling point of the Alpa (not that it needed one) was that lenses from many different camera and lens manufacturers could be fitted via adapter plates. They didn't come cheaply and the last limited edition 11si models could be as much as £5000! Alpa were not the only manufacturer to offer gold-plated versions of their cameras, Rollei, Leica, Minox and Nikon have also offered limited edition specials as well. The experienced photographic technician can always tell a negative or transparency taken on an Alpa due to the two small cut-outs (similar to those used on sheet film) in the right and left hand corners of the image. As far as I am aware they are the only manufacturer to have done this.

A wonderful collection of Alpas belonging to a Japanese collector

A revolutionary (literally) product manufactured by Alpa was the Rotocam. This was the only Alpa to use medium format film and it captured images ranging from 90˚ to 360˚ on either 120 roll film (1 360˚ exposure), 200 film (3 360˚ exposures) or 70mm film (9 360˚ exposures). This virtually unique camera is sought after by camera enthusiasts all over the world and when one comes onto the market they usually command a high price.

The extremely rare Alpa Rotocam

Alpa went bankrupt in 1990 although the name has been bought and cameras are again produced bearing the Alpa name but they are somewhat different in concept to the classic 35mm designs of yesteryear. More about the new Alpas in the Digital Photography section further on. An Alpa made a surprise cameo appearance in the animated film "Madagascar". Whilst the Alpa name is replaced with the name Reflex and a "Retinar" lens is fitted the camera is undeniably based on an Alpa Model 6.

The Alpa 6 made a cameo appearance in the animated film "Madagascar"...

...and the real thing: A hand-made Swiss Alpa 6b that is one of the finest 35mm SLRs ever made


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Audio/Visual Presentations

I had been playing around with a simple electronic circuit I had built to synchronise my slide projector with a piece of music using a Commodore Vic 20 computer. A simple computer programme using poke commands ("Basic" programming language) at various time intervals pulsed the computer's RS232 port to which was connected a simple circuit consisting of an opto-isolator feeding an operational amplifier driving a solid state relay which in turn activated the slide projector's slide change mechanism at pre-determined points in time. The experiment worked reasonably well but was fiddly to set-up initially. I demonstrated it to a couple of photographic societies (Bidston Steel Camera Club and Wallasey Fire Brigade Photographic Society) with a small presentation entitled "A Winter's Walk" which was photographs of snow changed in time with Davis Essex's song by the same title.

In December 1985 I was asked to give a slide show about the Bridgewater Canal to Preston Brook Boat Owners' Association at Preston Brook Village Hall. I decided not to use my computer-driven slide synchroniser but instead changed the slides manually which was easier than it at first sounds after a few practice runs. The audio side of the presentation consisted of a soundtrack recorded on TDK Super Avilyn cassettes played on my JVC KD 10B cassette deck feeding an Amstrad 5050 Hi-Fi receiver (with built-in Hafler circuit) which drove my beautiful Rigonda bass reflex loudspeakers (based on the design for Wharfedale Linton). The show was a great success and paved the way for future presentations. I made title slides for the presentations, tidied-up the soundtrack and came across an inexpensive Philips slide synchroniser and matching N2214 cassette recorder fitted with a third head and interface unit specifically for the slide change beeps that managed the task very well. The soundtrack was only monaural and not quite what you could call hi-fi but, when working on a budget you can't have everything! I then started giving Canal and Inland Waterway related Audio/Visual presentations to various societies which I found most stimulating as well as giving pleasure to interested parties. Initially, I used a single Braun Novamat 520 manual focus slide projector synchronised by the Philips unit. The Novamat only had a 24 volt 150 watt lamp and quite often I felt the need for better illumination.

Braun Novamat 520 slide projector

Philips Cassette/Slide Synchronizer

Phillips N2214 Cassette Recorder

This need for more illumination and autofocus (to compensate for "popping" as the transparency heats up and expands) coupled with time my quest for better quality and professionalism necessitated the purchase of a pair of Braun Paximat Multimag 2500 AFS projectors. Initial tests illustrated that there was too much parallax error between the optical axis of the lenses to have the projectors side by side so I had a twinning stand made so that the two projectors could be stacked one on top of the other to minimise this effect. The signal and sound source was originally an old Tascam Porta One which didn't record but was excellent for playback. So by using the old Philips unit to record the beeps I was able to produce fixed speed dissolves to a reasonable standard. I came across an Electrosonic Showpulse ES 3006 slide synchroniser and fitted thyristors with heat sinks in the 250 watt lamp circuits of the Paximats and this unit allowed more control over the projectors but only had a fixed dissolve rate. The Tascam was replaced by a Vestax MR 300 four track cassette deck. The audio performance of the Vestax was excellent but not very reliable. The tape "cobbled" (technical term for a tape malfunction) whilst showing presentations at Whitchurch Photographic Society. This was the only time I was let-down by equipment failure. Fortunately I had taken the Tascam with me and, after rescuing the cassette and re-synchronizing the presentation, I was able to continue. This didn't instil confidence in the Vestax or alleviate the embarrassment caused by the tape "cobble".

Braun Paximat Projectors on their twinned stand

Electrosonic Showpulse ES 3006 Dissolve Unit

Tascam Porta One Multi-track Cassette Deck

Vestax MR 300 Multi-track Cassette Deck

Eventually, the Vestax was replaced by a Tascam Portastudio 07 hi-speed, four-track cassette deck which gave a significant increase in sound quality. The only down-side to the Porta 07 was that a C90 cassette lasted for twenty two and a half minutes as against forty five for a standard full-width cassette. As with the previous units, tracks A and C provided the hi-fi sound source, track two fed the dissolve signal to the Electrosonic unit and track three as a buffer track preventing cross-talk from the audio and dissolve signals. Another Electrosonic dissolve unit... a Gemini was given to me. This dissolve unit allowed infinite control of the dissolve rate, slide changes, etc. It had an in-built, standard speed cassette deck which was broken (hence it being given to me). Rather than fiddle around with it I used the Tascam as the signal source which had much better sound quality anyway. TDK MA-X metal tapes combined with the DBX noise reduction system on the Tascam produced a clean and dynamic hi-fi sound source. This was amplified by my super-smooth Denon PMA 350 (now replaced by a PMA 355 UK) which in turn drives a pair of Jamo 266 loudspeakers (featuring incredibly "bassy" 12 inch drive units), the sound quality from which has stood the test of time and is still phenomenal in these days of digital sound. As the presentations got longer I perfected a means of replacing the Gepe 50 slide magazines half-way through a presentation without any interruption to the show by adding a blank slide to the end of the magazine, bringing up the following magazine onto the ski-slope and advancing the slide change manually whilst a slide was shown on the other projector for an extended period of time. Some of the presentations lasted longer than the twenty two and a half minutes of tape afforded by the Porta 07. Thus necessitating an interval which also gave the lamps and thyristors a chance to cool down.

Tascam Porta 07 four track high-speed cassette deck and mixer

Electrosonic Gemini Dissolve Unit

Denon PMA 355 UK hi-fi amplifier

Jamo D 266 loudspeaker with 12" bass drive unit

As previously mentioned, my first a/v presentations were canal-orientated but I found myself taking an increasing number of local interest photographs of Wallasey and the Wirral and putting them into presentations dealing with not only the geography of the area but, when I started to integrate commentaries into the soundtracks, historical subjects such as Birkenhead Priory and Hilbre Islands were covered as well. I regularly gave presentations to students, friends and fellow boaters and once filled every seat  in Wirral Metropolitan College's Rake Theatre attached to the Withens Lane Campus in Wallasey. Using the cyclorama (basically a large plain white curtain) as a screen I could project images up to twenty five feet across with ease thanks to the 250 watt Xenophot lamps fitted to the Paximats. I also have given presentations to Wallasey Amateur Photographic Society, Birkenhead Historical Society and many canal societies and boat clubs not only on the Bridgewater Canal but as far afield as Walsall to the Birmingham Canal Navigations Society and the Hill Valley Golf Club near Grindley Brook for Whitchurch Photographic Society. When staff at Wirral Metropolitan College where I worked saw the presentations I was asked to produce a series of A/V presentations for the Northwest Manager of the Year for the Management Charter Initiative. I produced the presentations for three years running and showed the presentations at many venues  ranging from Wirral Metropolitan College's Glenda Jackson Theatre to Chester Racecourse. Below is a list of some of the presentations that I have made and a brief details about them.

Title Subject Commentary Music Number of Images
A Winters' Walk Experimental Pictorial Essay on Winter Photography No David Essex - Only a Winter's Tale 30
The Duke's Cut Bridgewater Canal No London Symphony Orchestra's "Classic Rock" 400
Canalscape Pictorial Essay No Enya - Watermark and Orinoco Flow 100
Canalscape - Later Version Pictorial Essay Yes Mike Oldfield and Enya 120
Wealas Eye Boundaries of Wallasey No Rondo Veneziano - Venice in Peril 200
Peninsula Boundaries of the Wirral Peninsula No Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra - Various 300
This is Diarama Audio/Visual Equipment and Techniques Yes Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - Thus Sprach Zarathustra 50
Carscape Pictorial Essay about Classic Car Design No London Symphony Orchestra - its A Sin 80
Birkenhead Priory Birkenhead Priory Yes The Academy of St Martins in the Field and Enigma - Various 200
Hilbre - The Cheshire Islands Hilbre Islands Yes Enya - Various 100
Liverpool Anglican Cathedral Liverpool Anglican Cathedral No Professor Iain Tracey - Two Toccatas 100
The Mersey Ring Merseyside and North Cheshire canals No London Symphony Orchestra's "Classic Rock" - Various 600
Landscape Pictorial Essay about Landscape Photographs No Union - World in Union 50
Nocturne Pictorial Essay about Night-time Photography No Paul Brooks - Music of the Night 50
Fractal Mandelbrot Sets (CGI Fractal Images) No Jean-Michel Jarre - Equinox 50
War of the Worlds War of the Worlds No Jeff Wayne - Prologue and Main Title 50
Manager of the Year Management Charter Initiative 1992/3/4 Yes Mike Oldfield - Sentinel 100
For Future Presentation Trailers No Various Artists - Various Tracks 50
Steamscape Don Breckon's Railway Paintings No Eric Coates - Coronation Scot 40
Wind of Change Pictorial Essay about Wallasey and Birkenhead Docks No London Symphony Orchestra's "Classic Rock" - Various 100
Bidston Hill and Village Pictorial Essay about Bidston Hill and Village No Enigma - Callas Went Away 50
Seasons in Central Park Pictorial Essay about Wallasey's Central Park Yes Paul Brooks - Various 80
Wallasey Revisited Old and modern photographs of Wallasey No Various Artists - Various 100
Mersey Ferries History of the Mersey Ferries Yes Various Artists (not Gerry Marsden!) 100
The Big Ditch History & Geography of the Manchester Ship Canal Yes Various Artists - Various 300
The History of Lymm CC Sixty years of Lymm Cruising Club No London Symphony Orchestra's "Classic Rock" - Various 400

At the time of writing I am slowly converting my collection of audio/visual presentations into digital format which will allow me to run the presentations from my laptop using the slide show feature found within Adobe Photoshop. This, coupled with a digital projector and digital sound making it even better than the Tascam did as well as outputting to DVD authoring programs (for showing on TV) such as Adobe Premier. The scanning of 35mm transparencies is accomplished with a Microtek Filmscan 35 negative/slide scanner. For the medium (6 x 6, 6 x 7 and 6 x 9) and large (5 x 4) format negatives, transparencies and glass plates an Epson V700 reflection/transmission flatbed scanner is used and the flat copy scanned on an Epson Perfection 2480 flatbed. Many of the transparencies were starting to show signs of ageing (bacterial growth on the emulsion and fading) and I think that the time is ripe for accomplishing this exercise before the images degrade any further.

Epson Perfection V500 flatbed scanner capable of scanning medium format and large format negatives, transparencies and glass plates

Scanning transparencies using a Microtek Filmscan 35 and a Toshiba Satellite L500 laptop

A screen shot of the Adobe Photoshop Slide Show Editor

This process also allows the inclusion of digital video clips plus many images from the "Duke's Cut", "Big Ditch" and "Mersey Connections" publications as well as digital images from the "Canalscape" and "Diarama" websites that were not previously included. I gave my first all-digital presentation in March 2012 and it was a revelation. The digital sound was superb and the Sony VPL CS7 video projector used was most certainly up to the job as far as brightness (1500 Ansi Lumens) and resolution (SVGA) is concerned. This presentation, which consisted of video and multi-media, was shown at Lymm Cruising Club where the Clubhouse was converted into the "Lymm Odeon" for the night, was a great success and is hopefully, the first of many.

The auditorium of the "Lymm  Odeon"

The Sony VPL CS7 video projector...

and the rest of the presentation equipment used at the "Lymm  Odeon"

What I like about audio/visual is that it combines two of my interests... photography and hi-fi (five if you include canals, local history and computers). Eric Knowles... an old friend from my ciné photography days now sadly no longer with us once said that photographers who produce audio/visual presentations are usually frustrated ciné photographers. And if my example is anything to go by he was most probably correct!


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College Days

Between 1982 and 1985 I was working in a steel mill (Bidston Steel) and started a photographic club for colleagues interested in the subject. In 1985 the steel mill closed and after being made redundant I, along with a couple of colleagues that were in the Bidston Steel Photographic Club enrolled on a full-time photography course at Wirral Metropolitan College. Even though I knew quite a lot about photographic theory and made my first black and white print for the Wallasey Double Run Ciné Club newsletter when I was fourteen, the College introduced me to a different world of photography. I learnt about large format photography, I was taught strict darkroom practices and learnt about classic photographers such as Ansell Adams as well as Edward Weston, John Blakemore, Faye Godwin and many others. The reader may notice that most the photographers mentioned are landscape photographers as that is where my preferences lie. I do know about portrait or people photographers such as Henri Cartier Bresson, Paul Strand, Dorothea Lange and others and admire their work. That is not to say that I cannot take studio photograph or portraits... it is just that I prefer not to as the landscape holds more magic for me and an added bonus is that it does not move or answer back! For more information about my favourite photographers and examples of their work visit Photography in One - Classic Photographs.

I was asked to stay at Wirral Met when the course was completed to become employed as a part-time lecturer (for which I qualified after completing a teaching course) before accepting a post as Photographic Technician/Lecturer. I was responsible for processing all types of monochrome and colour films in sizes ranging from ½ frame 35mm, 5 x 4 to 10 x 8 sheet film and occasionally 16mm motion picture film using the stock processes of the day... Kodak D76/Dektol for monochrome, C41 colour negative, RA4 colour print and E6 colour transparency. My C41 and E6 control strips were better than Kodak and Fuji's with a unique timing process utilising cassette tapes with one second "beeps" to maintain even agitation and a commentary for the "ProCo" processor bath sequence ("Into First Developer at the tone!" etc).

Yours truly demonstrating the ProCo E6 film processor to students in 1988... note the large format 5 x 4 transparencies

(Photograph - George Jones)

I have even processed Kodak Technical Pan and Kodachrome as monochrome transparencies, Kodak monochrome Infra-Red, Ektachrome E4 Colour Infra Red Transparency and C22 Colour Negative film as well as EP2 and Cibachrome colour printing processes and associated equipment. Colour negative (C41) processing was accomplished in an automatic Divomat "dip and dunk" unit with automatic replenishment. In the colour printing darkrooms we had beautiful DeVere 504 colour enlargers fitted with Dichromat heads and the same chassis in the monochrome printing rooms fitted with Multigrade heads. Colour print processing was (RA4) accommodated with a Colenta continuous roller processing unit. I am a qualified College Lecturer and have taught on many courses associated with Photography and Media Studies as well as regularly visiting Photographic Societies to give talks and presentations on various aspects of Photographic Theory and Practice.

Divomat Mini C41 film processor

DeVere 504 enlarger with Dichromat colour head

Colenta RA4 Print Processor

As a member of staff at the College I was frequently asked to be a portrait subject. As a photographer I believe that you should not shy away from doing something that you frequently ask others to do and I also have an issue with people who do not allow their photograph being taken.

Yours truly posing for the camera in 1989 holding a Weston Master V exposure meter...

(Photograph - Dave Greenwood)

...and again in 1990

(Photograph - Michelle Molyneux)

One of the benefits of working at the College was that I had access to photographic equipment that at the time I could not afford but could borrow when not required by students. This included Cambo 5 x 4 monorail cameras, Mamiya RB67 roll film SLRs, Fujica GS 6x9 Rangefinder Camera as well as Bowens Illumitran transparency copier, Bowens Quadmatic studio lighting and other professional photographic accessories.

Bowens Illumitran 3S Transparency Copier

Bowens Quadmatic and heads

Cambo Legend 5 x 4 Monorail Camera

Fuji GS 6 x 9 120/220 Rangefinder Camera

Mamiya RB67 Pro S 120/220 SLR

But these and the other classic examples of "wet" photography equipment have become virtually obsolete with the advent of digital photography... the subject of the next section.


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Digital Photography

The first digital camera that I ever saw was a digital Leaf back fitted to a Sinar 5 x 4 monorail camera at College. I was not very impressed by the amount of equipment needed by the photographer (this was the price to be paid for instant digital images at that time) but the results were truly remarkable... far superior than the primitive Polaroids previously used for proofing. The first digital camera that I ever used was a Sony Mavica MVC-FD73 that my youngest son Glyn had borrowed from work. This early digital camera stored about 25 low-resolution  (VGA - 640 x 480 = 0·3 megapixels) images in standard mode on a 3·5 inch floppy disc. At around £500 the quality of the resulting images was not seen to be good value for money but it did illustrate the way that photography was to go.

The 0·3 megapixel (VGA) Sony Mavica MVC-FD73 featured 3·5" floppy disc image storage

My wife Ange has connections with photography... she used to work for Max Spielmann - the photo processors and in the early 2000's brought home a "Jamcam"... one of the first affordable (£39.95) digital cameras for evaluation which also shot images in VGA. In these days of 12 plus megapixels being the norm, 0·3 megapixels does not seem much and I was not impressed by the results which lacked contrast, colour saturation and definition. I suspected that the fixed-focus lens came from the aforementioned legendary Shinkorhara Dairy in Hong Kong (the world's largest manufacturer of milk bottles and located next door to Haking's Halina factory) and that the sensor was sourced from a video camcorder and converted to give still image capture. It did not possess a display to view the images taken... you had to wait until they were downloaded onto the computer to see them but it did possess a small LCD display to tell the photographer how many images had been taken. But it was one of the first affordable digital camera around and this has to be respected.

The 0·3 megapixel (VGA) Jam Cam - an early consumer digital camera

With so many film manufacturers stopping production of film adding to the difficulty of purchasing fresh film stock, plus the spiralling costs of film and processing it is not surprising that so many of these classic cameras are now lying in cupboards, wardrobes and lofts, unloved and unused. It is a pity that the prototype "Digital Film" unit illustrated below announced in 2001 featuring what looks like a 1·3 megapixel, APS sized sensor manufactured by by Silicon Film did not make it into full scale production as it would give old analogue film equipment a new lease of life and bring them up to date for use in today's world of electronic media (see the PMA 2001 website for further details). The nearest product to this that was put into production was the digital adapters for the Leica R8 and R9 35mm SLY cameras. This 10 megapixel unit converts the camera into a true digital camera making them the first 35mm SLRs capable of capturing images on film or digitally.

Digital film such as the 1·3 megapixel Silicon Film prototype above would breath a new lease of life to redundant 35mm cameras

In April 2011 a similar concept to the Digital Film mentioned above was unveiled in the shape of the RE-35 Digital Film Cassette. A flexible CCD sensor was withdrawn from what looked like a conventional 35mm film cassette and placed in a camera of your choice. It was recharged via a USB cable from a PC or Mac when the images were downloaded and was available in three different resolutions... 4 mp, 8 mp and 12 mp on what looks like a full-sized sensor. Unfortunately it turned out to be an April Fool and I was caught hook, line and sinker (for the second time in two years... see Canalscape Book 6 - Canalmanac 2010 - "Good Ship Google"). Like most April Fool Pranks it was most plausible as most of the technology is currently available and hopefully, would not be too expensive. Somebody has gone to a lot of trouble making the mock-up cassettes and promotional material and you never know, some enterprising manufacturer might pursue this idea fulfilling many photographers' dreams. Still... we can all dream can't we?

The RE-35 was available in three different resolutions... 4, 8 and 12megapixels

The RE-35 inserted into a Canon A1 (left) and plugged into the USB lead (right)

I had kept abreast in developments (sic) regarding digital cameras and in 2004 I decided to take the plunge into Digital Photography. After reading numerous magazines and websites I had settled on a Fujifilm Finepix F610. This camera has a 12 megapixel (interpolated) feature and seemed to do everything that I wanted from a camera. I had calculated that full-frame (24mm x 36mm) 35mm film had an approximate resolution of 19.4 megapixels. Bearing this in mind it would be fair to assume that a digital camera would produce images of half the quality of full-frame 35mm film. Not so... when viewing a digital image that has been printed the ink splatter masks the lack of resolution. If the image is viewed on a monitor the quality is also masked by the lower resolution of the monitor. Either way the lower resolution should not be visible. This figure is arrived at in the following way... assuming that film has a resolution of 150 lines per millimetre... (24 x 150 = 3600) x (36 x 150 = 5400) = 19,440,000 or 19·4 megapixels. Early digital Leica cameras were very similar to the Fujifilm 4700 and F610... not surprising seeing as they were made for them by Fujifilm (see The Red Spot chapter below). My only worry was the way the camera handled with its unusual "vertical" format. In desperation I telephoned Fujifilm's Customer Service Department and spoke to one of the staff who seemed very well versed in their products and told me that whilst they could not tell me if they had any traditionally designed digital cameras in the pipeline he advised me to look at their website the following Wednesday. This I did, and there was a host of new models announced at the same time... namely the Finepix F810 (widescreen), E500, E510 and E550.

The "vertical" format 12 megapixel Fujifilm Finepix F610

One of the cameras on my possibles list... the unusually styled, widescreen, the 12 megapixel Fujifilm F810

The 12 megapixel E550 seemed to fit the bill as it was compact, versatile, possessed a reasonable zoom range and the specification was reinforced by good camera tests in the magazines. It had an optical viewfinder to supplement the LCD display and even took "AA" sized batteries. All I had to do was wait until September when it was due to hit the shops. I made numerous telephone calls to various photographic retailers and the first shop due to have the E550 in stock was Equipment Express of Altrincham. After quite a few telephone calls to them enquiring as to whether it had arrived in stock yet I was told that they had one put away with my name on it. Consequently I took the afternoon off work and drove up to Altrincham. I walked into the shop and when I told them who I was the assistant said to me... "I imagine that you've come for this", bent down and produced the sealed and unopened box from beneath the counter which contained an E550. I opened the box and after holding the camera for a few seconds I produced my Visa card. I was soon the proud owner of the first Fujifilm Finepix E550 to be sold in the North West of England.

The 12 megapixel Fujifilm E550 and wide angle lens

The resulting photographs most certainly matched the promise that the specifications made. My brother... Jim was so impressed by the camera that he also purchased one. One of the first photographs that I took on the E550 was of the Historic Warships in Wallasey Docks. I used the full 12 megapixel resolution and was blown away by the results... you can even tell the time (5.15) with ease on the Liver Building's clock in the distance on the original image (to the right of the building - if you can find it). I purchased the docking station, extra-wide-angle supplementary lens as well as many other dedicated accessories and it accompanied me virtually everywhere... ready for action.

This photograph of the Historic Warships in Wallasey Docks in 2004  was one of my first digital photographs taken on the Fujifilm E550

The E550 was supplemented by a Fujifilm S9600 digital "bridge" camera. I first saw its predecessor... the S9500 on special offer in our local Asda. I was drawn to the "SLR look" of the camera (known as a "bridge" camera as it bridges the gap between compact and SLR cameras) and, as with the E550, I was impressed with the handling and the way that all the controls fell to hand. After doing some homework I discovered that the S9500 had been replaced with the S9600 which I found on the Internet for a reasonable price and the order was placed. The quality of the resulting images exceeded those of the E550. It has a superb 28mm to 300mm (equivalent) lens, an eye-level electronic viewfinder (essential for when the sun is behind the photographer and "bleaching-out" the view screen) in addition to a really versatile tilting view screen that is extremely beneficial for low or high (over the head) viewpoints. It possesses most of the features found on a digital SLR without the dust, weight and size problems associated with them.

The 9 megapixel Fujifilm S9600 and Metz 36 C-2

Yours truly with the Fujifilm S9600

Most digital cameras feature a built-in electronic flash unit. They are pretty rudimentary and very limited in their output, being designed for subjects no further than a couple of metres. Unusually, the S9600 possesses a flash "hot shoe" and coaxial sync socket allowing the use of a separate flash unit. Unfortunately, the Cobra flash unit that I used with my Canon Eos 600 was not suitable and did not have manual over-ride either so I purchased a Metz 36 C-2 to compliment the S9600. The Metz 36 C-2 is extremely powerful (having a guide number of 36 in feet @ 100/21 ISO) giving off enough light to illuminate the inside of Preston Brook Tunnel as illustrated in the photograph below. I can even use it with the E550 with an ordinary slave unit (no pre-flash - see below) with excellent results. The Fujifilm S9600 is very competent instrument indeed and I hope that it will continue to provide high-quality digital images for many years to come!

The "Cathedral" within Preston Brook Tunnel on the Bridgewater Canal illuminated by my supplementary electronic flash unit

The Fujifilm E550 had been with me for eight years and was starting to show its age. I had always wanted a Leica and for Christmas 2012 my wife Ange bought me a Leica D-Lux 3. This camera is beautifully minimalist and according to Leica was inspired by the original 35mm Leica 0. The Vario-Elmarit lens is fantastic even though the 10·1 megapixel count is relatively conservative by today's standards. Photographs that I have taken with it show that this camera can produce absolutely superb results. Leica go to great pains to explain that digital cameras are not just about megapixels and after analysing the results from them I can most certainly see why.

The beautifully minimalist 10·1 megapixel Leica D-Lux 3

Sunrise from Egremont Ferry - one of the first photographs taken with the Leica D-Lux 3

Early in 2013 I acquired a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ6 that also featured a 10·1 megapixel sensor and a Leica lens. This camera also gives superb results (but not as good as the Leica D-Lux 3). With this being so slim and "pocketable" I decided to retire my faithful E550 to the display cabinet and use the Panasonic as my "day-to-day" camera. Even though these two cameras appear to have similar specifications the Leica has a "native" aspect ratio of 16 x 9 (wide-screen) and when other formats are selected the resolution is reduces to seven megapixels in 4 x 3 format. The Panasonic however has a "native" aspect ratio of 4 x 3 in which it gives full 10·1 megapixel resolution which is reduced to seven megapixels when 16 x 9 is selected. It is a shame that the Leica and Panasonic do not share the same size battery and charger or USB lead fitting, but you can't have everything!

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ6

One of the first photographs taken with the Lumix DMC-TZ6 - Morpeth Dock, Birkenhead

My latest acquisition is a Leica V-Lux 1 bridge camera. It is similar in concept to my FujiFilm S9600, possesses a 10·1 megapixel sensor and a Vario-Elmarit 7·4 to 88·8mm (35mm equivalent 35mm to 420mm) lens. Like the Fujifilm S9600 it is a delight to hold, being well balanced with all the controls falling to hand. This camera was bequeathed to my by my late brother... Jim. I had admired this superb piece of equipment when he bought it a few years ago and jokingly said that he could leave it to me in his will... which he did. I am sure that he would be pleased to know that it was being looked after and used in the manner to which it has been accustomed to. It has an almost identical performance to my D-Lux 3 which it compliments perfectly.

 The beautifully balanced 10·1 megapixel Leica V-Lux 1 bridge camera

One of the first photographs I took with the Leica V-Lux 1

My only criticism of the V-Lux 1 is that the lens could do with having a shorter wide angle setting... something that has been dealt with on later models. In the camera's menu are settings for supplementary lenses... telephoto, macro and wide angle. As I had been pleased with the performance of the wide angle converter lens I bought for the FujiFilm E550 I researched the various lenses available for the V-Lux 1 and the best reviews appeared to be given to the Kelda lenses made in Japan. As well as a wide angle it can also be converted to a macro lens by removing the front elements.

Kelda wide angle and macro converter lenses

Photograph of Gronwen Wharf on the Montgomery Canal taken on the Leica V-Lux 1 fitted with the Kelda wide angle converter lens

My pair of Leicas were added to by another of Jim's cameras... the C-Lux 3. The Vario-Elmarit lens is capable superb results and even though the major controls are hidden within the menu it is still a really versatile piece of equipment. This really compact 10·1 megapixel camera replaced the Panasonic DMC -TZ6 as my "day-to-day" camera which is still used in situations where I would not want to risk using any of the Leicas.

The beautifully compact Leica C-Lux 3

A photograph of Birkenhead Park in Autumn taken on the C-Lux 3

(One of the last photographs taken by my brother... James M Wood before his death in November 2014)

My stepson Michael is interested in photography having possessed a Zenith and an Olympus OM10 plus various lenses and accessories in the past. He was in the market for a digital camera and was really impressed with the Leica V-Lux 1. So impressed that he bought a V-Lux Type 114... the latest version which has a most impressive specification. Features such as a one inch sensor 20·1 megapixel, built-in Wi-Fi, an app that allows the user to view and control the image on an iPhone, 4k video recording with a built-in intervalometer... ideal for the time lapse video photography that Michael plans to take with it plus many other features too numerous to mention here. I think that had he been alive Jim would have been pleased to know that he had influenced Michael's choice of camera! We are now waiting for some decent weather and plan to go out into North Wales on a "boys' day out" to take some serious landscapes with our new acquisitions.

"Leica Boys"... me on the left and Michael on the right with "red dots" in abundance

(Photograph - Angela Wood)

One problem that I encountered with some of my digital cameras was synchronizing them with my Metz flash unit. Both the Fuji S9600 and Leica V-Lux 1 possess a "hot shoe" in addition to a "PC" (Prontor/Compur on the Fuji) flash synchronizing socket plus the ability to switch off the pre-flash - the digital equivalent of through the lens flash metering. The Leica D-Lux 3 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ6 compacts possess neither of these so if I wanted to use the Metz with them it has to be triggered by a slave unit. Initial experiments showed that both these cameras fire a pre-flash for exposure assessment as well as for red eye reduction. The red eye reduction pre-flash can be switched off but the slave will still trigger the flash unit prematurely on the exposure assessment pre-flash. What is required is a flash unit or slave unit that ignores the pre-flash and fires on the main flash. The flash units that possess this facility range from a cheap (£20) Chinese unit with a guide number of about fifteen or a Metz costing over £100 also with a lower guide number (28) than my Metz 36 C-2. There are a couple of slave units on the market that can also do this. A cheap (£12) one is available on eBay that delays the flash sensing by a variable amount of time in milliseconds. Another more expensive (from £35) and sophisticated model is manufactured by Sunpak... the DSU-01, which can be set to ignore the pre-flash which seems to be a better, if not more expensive solution to the problem and is the one that I bought. The Sunpak can be set to ignore up to three pre-flashes and fire on the fourth and can be fitted to a tripod, lighting stand or flash bar via the tripod bush screw hole beneath it. It is truly the answer to a digital photographer's prayer!

Leica D-Lux 3, Metz 36 C-2 and Sunpak DSU-01 digital slave unit (also inset)

In addition to the Metz flash unit and the Sunpak DSU-01 mentioned earlier, two invaluable accessories that accompany me on my photographic wanderings are my Manfrotto 055/115 tripod/head combination (it will and has accommodated a 5 x 4 monorail camera) and a Billingham Hadley Digital camera bag. I also have a Slik 88 tripod that normally stays on the boat. One story regarding the Slik 88 tripod that is worthy of relating is as follows... when I worked at Photomarkets in the 1980's the Slik 88 tripod had just been announced. I was impressed with its build quality and sturdiness and when demonstrating them to a customer I would extend the tripod, place it adjacent to the counter and lift myself off the floor by using the tripod and the counter to take my weight. This demonstration usually resulted in another sale! They are all examples of "equipment for life" that whilst not cheap, should literally last a lifetime such is the standard of construction and I would recommend them to anyone. As with the Leica V-Lux, Michael followed in my footsteps and purchased a Billingham Hadley Digital camera bag for his V-Lux and yes... he has a Manfrotto tripod as well!

"Equipment For Life"... Manfrotto 055/115 tripod, Billingham Hadley Digital camera bag and Slik 88 tripod

Michael and me with our virtually identical (except for colour) Billingham Hadley Digital camera bags with Leicas inside

Not so essential accessories that usually accompany me include a Joby Gorillapod pocket tripod (handy for impromptu time exposures or self-timer photographs with lightweight compact cameras or my mobile phone with the Manfrotto Smartphone Holder). The Manfrotto Pixi Mini Tripod is better suited to the V-Lux. I also have a selection of Cokin system filters made from CR49 optical resin. Even though most of the effects that these filters can be accomplished using Adobe Photoshop, Corel Paint Shop Pro and other propriety image manipulation programs there is still a place for filters. Try using Adobe Photoshop for removing the reflections that a polarizing filter prevents being captured by the camera for instance! I have a large collection of these filters that are a legacy from my wet photography days but now I only carry a few... usually for adding interest to a bland sky or removing reflections from water and various surfaces.

A selection of Cokin Filters and my Leica D-Lux 3 mounted on a Joby Gorillapod

Another useful addition to my photographic equipment is the Manfrotto Smartphone tripod mount/holder...

...and the Manfrotto Pixi mini tripod

At Christmas 2017 my photographic equipment arsenal was added to with the acquisition of a Potensic F181DH Quadcopter Drone. It is fitted with a camera that is capable of taking 2 megapixel still photographs and is also capable of taking 720P High Definition video. I have not yet had the opportunity to familiarise myself with flying a drone but I have read a few Internet articles relating to the responsibilities of drone photography and I am looking forward to exploiting the photographic possibilities that this revolutionary camera platform, unheard of a couple of years ago, presents.

Potensic F181DH Quadcopter Drone fitted with a 2 megapixel camera

Early in 2018 my photographic equipment arsenal was further added to. When my mobile phone contract was due for renewal I decided to replace my excellent Huawei Honor 7 which possesses a 20 megapixel Sony sensor with the Huawei P10 Plus which features a revolutionary camera system developed by Leica. One sensor is a 20 megapixel monochrome sensor and the other is a 12 megapixel RGB colour sensor. Both sensors have f1·8 Leica Summarit lenses and when a photograph is taken the phone's image processor combines the two images to produce a single, High Dynamic Range - 32 megapixel image. It is claimed to have low level light photography capabilities second to none plus an enhanced bokeh effect in portrait mode giving the impression of a shallow depth of field. The front facing camera is of lower resolution - 8 megapixels and also features an f1·8 Leica Summarit lens.

The revolutionary twin sensor Leica camera with f1·8 Summarit lenses on the Huawei P10 Plus

Mersey Riverscape... one of the first photographs taken with my Huawei P10 Plus mobile phone

When taking photographs whilst the boat is moving can be sometimes problematic. Especially if a forward facing photograph is required without any of the boat impinging on the image. I had an idea that if an action camera with remote control was mounted in the boat's foredeck, photographs could be taken whilst steering at the other end of the boat. High-end cameras such as the GoPro Hero or the Insta 360 One (complete with Leica lens and sensor) are too expensive for what would be occasional use but a compromise between price and performance was found in the miniscule CamPark X20.

The miniscule CamPark X20...

...and nestling in its waterproof housing

Featuring a 20 megapixel Sony Exmor sensor and chip set, 4K video recording, waterproof housing, remote control and WiFi connectivity at under £50 it promised to be exactly what I was looking for. As I still had some Christmas and birthday money left plus an Amazon gift voucher from Father's Day I ordered one from Amazon. An added bonus was that if I wrote a review about it for Amazon I would qualify for selecting a free CamPark accessory. One of the first photographs that I took with the X20 are shown below. I have shown if full size and cropped to illustrate the quality that it is capable of and I must say that I was impressed. Consequently, I am now looking forward to taking some "serious" photographs with this latest addition to my photographic equipment "arsenal".

An un-cropped photograph of the River Mersey taken on the CamPark X20...

...and a cropped version of the same photograph illustrating the quality the X20 is capable of

I have been asked what my dream camera is and I reply by saying that the Leica D-Lux 7 compact is what I would aspire to. This unassuming camera is not too large to get in the way when out and about, possesses a four-thirds 17·0 megapixel sensor coupled to a superb, fast f1·7 Vario Summilux lens to name but a couple of the features. To celebrate my seventieth birthday I was given a Leica D-Lux 7 by my stepson Michael. To compliment this, Ange bought me a new Billingham Hadley bag. How lucky am I?

The beautiful Leica D-Lux 7

Leicas and Billinghams

Latest self-portrait complete with D-Lux 7

Another photography-related Kickstarter project that came to fruition was the Pixl-latr. This ingenious device allows negatives and transparencies of sizes ranging from 35mm, medium format to 5x4 large format originals to be digitised without the need for an expensive large format film scanner. Even though I had borrowed an Epson V700 large format film scanner from work I wanted something that I didn't have to borrow as it was not always available. It is also smaller and easier to use. The negative or transparency to be digitised is mounted in the Pixl-latr, illuminated from behind and photographed with a digital camera in the macro mode. Consequently, Ange bought me a Pixl-latr as a wedding anniversary present shortly after it was released. I saw an LED lightpad on Amazon that was just the correct size, would make an ideal illuminator for the Pixl-latr and was purchased. I am now looking forward to continuing scanning my collection of medium and large format negatives and transparencies..

A complete Pixl-latr kit...

...and with a 6x6 colour negative mounted...

...and mounted on the LED lightpad

One problem with taking close-up photographs when additional illumination is required is the camera's built-in flash located above the lens causes the lens to cast a shadow onto the subject. The Metz 36 C-2 is too powerful and on the wrong optical axis (parallax error) to be effective. I saw an inexpensive LED ring flash... the Meike FC-100 advertised on Amazon and thought that it would solve the problem. Accordingly, I ordered it and was immediately impressed with the performance, build quality, the selection of lens adapters supplied with it and the ease of use. Initially, I thought that there might be issues regarding vignetting caused by the camera lens "seeing" the inside of the ring flash attached to the filter ring but this proved not to be a problem. I am looking forward to exploring the possibilities that it offers.

Meike FC-100 LED Ring Flash

Ready for action... the Meike FC-100 Ring Flash fitted to my Leica V-Lux 1

Even though I have various photo editing programs on the computer such as Adobe Photoshop and Corel Paint Shop Pro, I try, wherever possible, not to "doctor" my digital photographs (except for some occasional cropping) and present them "as taken". I think that this dates back to using colour transparencies where any editing was not possible without printing, modifying and then re-photographing... all with the inevitable loss of quality. All my cameras have the ability to take photographs in the RAW file format but after experimenting with this format I chose to take photographs as JPEGs and let the image processor within the cameras do the work as I feel that they will be better at assessing the various criteria that can be altered manually when shooting in the RAW file format.

So, what does the photographer do with his or hers photographs? You could always join a photographic society and enter them into competitions. But I have been there, done that, worn that t-shirt and been disenchanted by the photographic society culture that seems to be obsessed with the latest equipment, promotes “camera snobbery” that frowns upon those lesser mortals who cannot afford cameras that meet the club members' expectations. A friend once entered a photograph of a church interior taken on a Cambo 5 x 4 plate camera that was lit using a couple of Bowens Quadmatic studio lighting units with square lights (diffusers) fitted to the flash heads. It was an excellent photograph, beautifully lit, well printed on Ilford Gallery fibre-based paper and entered a print into the L & CPU _Lancashire and Cheshire Photographic Union) competition. The photograph was slated and the judge’s comments were… “someone was lucky with the light!”. I kid you not. Also, if you were to ask the average camera club member about Paul Strand, O Winston Link or Edward Weston they would not know who you were talking about such is the level of ignorance. At the end of the day it is down to the finished photograph and the properties that it exhibits.

Previously, I used my photographs in my audio/visual presentations that were shown to various societies including canal and inland waterways societies, local history societies and photographic societies as well as to illustrate my various books and publications. But now, with the advent of the Internet, they can be seen and appreciated by a much larger audience on my Canalscape and Diarama websites. In addition to this, I have had many photographs (usually about two a month) shown on TV accompanying the Granada Weather Forecast. Recently I had four portraits (not really my forte) published in Modern Portraiture section of the Leica Fotopark Gallery. This prestigious honour was totally unexpected and I wonder what Jim would have thought about them being included there!

A screenshot of the Granada Weather Forecast showing one of my photographs

A Screenshot of "The Morris Dancer" and "Lucky Lucky Man" in the Leica Fotopark Modern Portraiture Gallery

A Screenshot of "The Driver" and "Yuk!" in the Leica Fotopark Modern Portraiture Gallery

When you come right down to it just because you use a good camera, it doesn't necessarily mean that you can take a good photograph. I once won a competition for photographs taken on a Russian Cosmic 35... at the time one of the cheapest 35mm cameras on the market. I'm not implying that I am a good photographer as I am far too humble to claim that!


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The Canalscape Trophy

To complete the "Canalscape" portfolio, in February 2011 I presented the "Canalscape" Trophy to Lymm Cruising Club. The trophy is awarded every year to the photographer taking the best overall photograph entered into the Chairman's Photographic Competition. The trophy itself is a brass propeller mounted on a hard wood plinth. It was made by my youngest son Glyn when he was an apprentice at Stone Manganese Marine Limited of Birkenhead... the world renowned manufacturer of ships' propellers. The plinth has twelve coats of varnish on it and is extremely shiny as is the brass trophy itself.

The Canalscape Trophy

The first year that it was presented the trophy was won by a beautiful photograph of a snow scene taken by Eleanor Muirhead (Scotch Dave's wife). It featured a winter scene of sheep in a snowy field in Dunbar, Scotland, captured on her Sony Cybershot DSC-W270 digital camera and is shown below. I judged the winning entry on a number of criteria... composition, technical quality, etc plus did I wish that I had taken the photograph myself... which I did! When I later spoke to Eleanor about the photograph she told me that they were out for a walk with "Cracker"... their dog who, thirty seconds after she took the photograph, looked over the fence and scared the sheep away. Eleanor was glad that she took my advice from the presentation I gave to Lymm CC entitled "What Makes A Good Photograph?". In the presentation I showed examples of photographic faults and how to avoid them as well as other composition and general advice. One of the tips I gave to the budding photographers was to always carry a camera. If Eleanor hadn't taken this advice she wouldn't have taken the photograph.

Eleanor Muirhead's 2011 Canalscape Trophy winning photograph

(Photograph - Eleanor Muirhead)

The 2012 winner of the Canalscape Trophy was Arthur Malcolm with a wonderful landscape entitled "The River Goyt at the Torrs". When I was judging the photographs for the Canalscape Trophy there was one photograph that stood out from the others. It was a landscape featuring a bridge over a river with sunlight shining through the arches. I was captivated by the light shining through the arches of the bridge and the soft sunlight creating a serene atmosphere in this beautiful landscape. After I had made my choice I discovered that the photograph was taken by my old friend Arthur Malcolm... himself a keen photographer which is evident in the quality of the photograph. I later learnt that Arthur took the photograph of the River Goyt (a tributary of the River Mersey) at the Torrs near New Mills in Derbyshire on his 12·2 megapixel Canon Eos 450 DSLR whilst out for a walk along the river with his partner Brenda. Arthur used a process called HDR - High Dynamic Range to take the photograph. This is where three photographs, usually Raw files, are taken one after another. The first normally exposed - the second two stops under exposed and the third two stops over exposed (bracketing). The three images are combined in an image editing program to enhance shadow detail (over exposed frame), high light detail (under exposed frame) and add them to the normally exposed frame. Brenda told me that she had to wait a quarter of an hour whilst Arthur waited for the light to be just right before taking the photograph... the sign of a dedicated photographer and a man after my own heart!

Arthur Malcolm's 2012 Canalscape Trophy winner... "The River Goyt at the Torrs"

(Photograph - Arthur Malcolm)

Arthur was also the 2013 winner of the Canalscape Trophy with a photograph entitled "Reflections of Leeds" which features a piece of modern art located in Clarence Dock, Leeds. Arthur took the photograph on his 12·2 megapixel Canon Eos 450 DSLR and I think that you will agree that it is a most worthy winner demonstrating good composition and technical quality. I have looked closely at the photograph and I cannot see the reflection of Arthur or his camera in the globe!

The 2013 winner of the Canalscape Trophy... "Reflections of Leeds" by Arthur Malcolm

(Photograph - Arthur Malcolm)

The 2014 Canalscape Trophy winner was Bob McCulloch with his photograph of a Springer Spaniel (whose name is "Ted") "springing" through the surf on a Welsh beach. Bob managed to capture the "decisive moment" precisely (à la Henri Cartier-Bresson – the renowned French photographer) and the photograph captures the moment well. The photograph was taken on a 12 megapixel Canon PowerShot SX240 HS compact camera, so who says that you need a sophisticated DSLR or bridge camera to take decent photographs?

The 2014 winner of the Canalscape Trophy... "Springing Through the Surf" by Bob McCulloch

(Photograph - Bob McCulloch)

The 2015 Canalscape Trophy winner was also taken by Bob McCulloch. His Canon PowerShot captured the beautiful sunset below near Braunston on the Northern Oxford Canal. It is one of those photographs that one wishes that they had taken themselves and was yet another worthy winner for Bob proving yet again that you don't need a sophisticated camera to take decent photographs.

The 2015 winner of the Canalscape Trophy... "Oxford Canal Sunset" was also taken by Bob McCulloch

(Photograph - Bob McCulloch)

I had no involvement in judging or awarding the Canalscape Trophy from 2016 to 2018 but normal service resumed in 2019 when the trophy was won by my wife Ange's photograph entitled "Nosy Cow" which was taken on her Apple iPhone 8 and was also winner of the Humorous Section of the 2019 Lymm CC Chairman's Photographic Competition. The photograph was taken as we passed beneath an accommodation bridge near Whitchurch on the Llangollen Canal whilst we were on our 2019 Summer Cruise.

The 2019 winner of the Canalscape Trophy... "Nosy Cow" taken by Angela Wood

(Photograph - Angela Wood)

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Lymm CC (as well as everywhere else) being in lockdown, the Chairman's Photographic Competition did not take place in 2020 or 2021 and, accordingly, Canalscape Trophy was not presented in 2020 or 2021 either.


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So there you have it... a brief history of my photographic experiences and the photographic equipment that I have loved (and hated) that has contributed towards the photographs used in "Canalscape", "Diarama" or of general interest. I hope that you have enjoyed reading about my photographic memoirs as much as I have enjoyed reminiscing about and living them.. When you come right down to it just because you use a good camera it doesn't necessarily mean that you can take a good photograph. I once won a competition for photographs taken on a Russian Cosmic 35... one of the cheapest 35mm cameras on the market at that time. I'm not implying that I am a good photographer as I am far too modest to admit to that! My ideal combination of (reasonably) affordable cameras is the Leica V-Lux 1 bridge camera which compliments perfectly my Leica D-Lux 3, D-Lux 7 and C-Lux 3 compacts. There can not be many photographers that can honestly say that they possess their ideal combination of cameras!

I hope that the reader does not get the impression that I am a camera junkie (anorak - guilty as charged... camera junkie - definitely not). But having said that I must admit to appreciating the "feel" of a good bit of leather covered aluminium or brass! With that observation I think that I'd better leave well alone and conclude with the words of the "Master"...

"F8 and be there!"

If you would like to see some of my favourite photographs... from both the Canalscape and Diarama websites

as well as subjects not covered by these areas, please click on the links below...

Canalscape Gallery

Diarama Gallery

To go to a section of the website that deals with camera design can be found by following the link below...


If you would like to know more about photographic history, theory, principles and techniques click the link below...

 Photography in One


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or select another section below...

Click here for the latest entries


 Book 1 - 1959 to 1982

 Book 2 - 1983 to 1999

 Book 3 - 2000 to 2005

 Book 4 - 2006 to 2007

 Book 5 - 2008 to 2009

 Book 6 - 2010

 Book 7 - 2011

 Book 8 - 2012

 Book 9 - 2013

 Book 10 - 2014
 Book 11 - 2015
 Book 12 - 2016
 Book 13 - 2017

 Book 14 - 2018

 Book 15 - 2019
 Book 16 - 2020
 Book 17- 2021
 Book 18 - 2022
So You Want To Go Canal Cruising?
Our Boats
nb Squirrel
Canals on Screen
Canals Through the Ages (Coming soon)
 Photography Introduction


Red Dot

Canalscape Gallery
Diarama Gallery
Photography in One

The History of Lymm Cruising Club

The Duke's Cut - The Bridgewater Canal

The Big Ditch - Manchester's Ship Canal

Shroppie - The Shropshire Union Canal System

The Manchester and Salford Junction Canal
Mersey Connections

Wonders of the Waterways

2011 Gardner Engine Rally Report

Foreign Forays - Canals of the World

Worsley Canal Heritage Walk

Castlefield Canal Heritage Walk

The Liverpool Docks Link

nb Total Eclipse

Don't Call it a Barge

Canis Canalus

Footnote and Acknowledgements

Site Map
Go to the

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 "Canalscape" and "Diarama" names and logo are copyright

Updated 17/02/2022