Episode 63 – Observe. Experiment. Archive. at Sunderland Museum and Winter Garden

For this week’s episode the girls have a chat about when they went to go see the fab photography exhibition ‘Observe. Experiment. Archive.’ at Sunderland Museum and Winter Garden.

This is a group exhibition that explores paralells between the science, history and photography, and is curated by the North East Photography Network (NEPN). There’s such a wide range of subjects explored, and some pretty amazing things to be seen – you’ve got until the 5th January to go check it out!

Don’t forget you can have a listen to this episode and all of our other ones on SpotifyiTunesGoogle, and Soundcloud!

Exhibition runs until 5th January 2020.

Location: Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens (Special Exhibitions Gallery).

More information: here.

Some Observations of the Finnish Political System by Sakari Piipo at the Finnish Museum of Photography

Hi there, Alice here! As I said I’d do in this week’s episode, here’s a blog post about one of the cool exhibitions I saw when I visited The Finnish Museum Photography in Helsinki last month. So, here we go.

Some Observations on the Political System in Finland by Sakari Piipo is exactly that: some observations on how politics and politicians are conducted/conduct themselves in Finland. But before you think about the red-faced, emotive paparazzi shots of politicians you’d see adorned on the front pages of a tabloid, think again. What we have here is a fantastic mix of the mundane. Things like the crumpled suits and ties of politicians after a long day, and the types of shoes that some of them choose to wear. These two themes specifically have been curated into very visually-appealing displays.

What I found so compelling about Piipo’s work is the flash photography element. A style often reserved for the more paparazzi-style shooting where good lighting is necessary to capture the subject, here it makes the normal and the uninteresting stand out. People behind laptops and enjoying a sit-down between meetings become more coveted and exciting moments, not just an everyday activity.

My favourite section of this exhibition, purely for the aesthetic of the subject matter, is the section about voting. These little Finnish voting booths, not too dissimilar from the ones we’re accustomed to in the UK, are just adorable. Their delightful pastel colours, accentuated by the flash of Piipo’s camera, contrast with the pair of legs you see of the anonymous voters. Simply put, it just looks so bizarre, and that’s why I love it. 

An interesting part of this exhibition is the one titled ‘Sensorship’. Not long into this 3-year documentary project, a government official dictated that Piipo was “in possession of property belonging to the Prime Minister’s office”. The argument was, despite Piipo’s lawyer arguing to the contrary, that the rights to the photos they had taken “are silently transferred to us [the Prime Minister’s office]”. This, of course, is nonsense as the photographer always retains the rights to their work. Sure, a motion could be filed to prevent them from being shown in a public forum. But the rights would not be transferred to the government. What a weird thing to say. Either way, despite Piito going though and censoring every identifiable image of a politician (see below) no agreement was ever reached, and one can see these photos in the exhibition or in Piito’s book of the same name. 

I was very pleasantly surprised by this exhibition and glad I popped along. Whilst it’s on for a while I can’t really recommend you go see it because it’s all the way in Finland. Of course, if you’re in the area then absolutely go for it! There were two other fab exhibitions on as well for you to sink your teeth into! 

Thanks for giving this a read! 

-Alice 

Episode 42 – ‘Forest’ by Yan Wang Preston

In this week’s epsiode the girls talk about the wonderfully satisfying documentary photography exhibition, Forest thats currently showing at Side Gallery. It looks at the relationship between trees and city in various parts of China. We also have a little chat baout ht eother two exhbitions that are showing at Side.

You can listen to this episode on SpotifyiTunesGoogle and Soundcloud!

Exhibition runs until 9th June.

More information here

Location: Side Gallery

Exhibition Further Thoughts: using a 100-year-old camera

Hey there, Alice here. As you all may or may not know I am an avid photographer, and my main medium is that of analogue photography. Now, a lot of the analogue cameras you may have seen look pretty recognisable, like compact cameras, disposable cameras and slrs, however they didn’t start out like this. After seeing the subject of this week’s episode ‘No Man’s War’ at Bishop Auckland Town Hall, and an old Kodak Vest Pocket Camera in a display cabinet, I was inspired to write a little bit about using the oldest camera I own.

So this camera is a Kodak Brownie No.2, and it’s literally a cardboard box with a spring shutter and a couple of bits of glass/plastic. This model in particular hails from all the way back in 1917 (ish), which coincides with the First World War and the subject of much of the exhibition. Back in the day this type of camera was the everyday camera for families, much like the disposable camera. When you shot a roll of film with this camera you’d just take the whole thing back to the shop, and they would take the film out, develop it, print it and load up a new roll of film, making it ready to use immediately.

Despite its age and ridiculously simple design (its very much the definition of a point-and-shoot camera, there’s nothing by way of settings or adjustments to make), the photos this camera makes can be pretty amazing. A quirk the images have is a really sharp centre, however the edges can be pretty blurred, which I imagine is because of the quality of the super old lens. The negatives you get from this camera are also pretty ridiculous in how big they are: a whopping 6x9cm. To see the comparison between this size and 35mm film, here’s this handy-dandy diagram.

One of the main reasons I fell in love with shooting film was the fun you can have trying out old cameras like this, the ones that you don’t really see anything like anymore. Also you can find them for real cheap on eBay so that’s always a plus!

I hope you liked this little look into my little world of photography, and if you’re thinking of taking up film photography I’d really recommend having a go of a box camera like this – it’s so much fun!

-Alice

Meet the Medium: Film Photography

Hey hey, Alice here! Inspired by this week’s episode where we went along to Side Gallery in Newcastle to check out J A Mortram’s poignant and emotional photography exhibition, ‘Small Town Inertia’, I thought I’d introduce some of you to the world of film photography.

This is my main medium; a large part of my degree was photography, however it took me until my final year to delve into using film. This is probably for the best because given the nature of film: you’re not able to check your shot immediately, you’re restricted to a certain number of shots per roll of film, and you don’t necessarily have a lot of range when it comes to editing, so I’m glad I actually learned how to take and compose images first.

Here’s some stuff:

This is an example of a Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera, and is one I’m currently trying out. IT’s a Zenit 11 which is one of the many Soviet-made cameras from the 60s which I managed to get on eBay in surprisingly good nick. This works pretty much the same as a DSLR today, but instead of having a screen to view your settings and images you need to load it with film, for which there is a tonne to choose from, and take generally no more than 36 with a single roll.

This is a roll of 35mm film which you could use in the above camera. In particular it’s a roll of Lomography 100 which is a colour negative film and currently my fave – it’s pretty cheap and the colours you get from it are just fab. Colour negative film means that when it’s developed (which you can still do at Max Spielmann’s for cheap-ish) the colours are inverted. If you were to to print them in a darkroom or scan them using dedicated software the colours will invert, giving you a positive image.

Here’s some pictures I’ve taken using this film:

This is an example of a medium format film, so named because it’s in between ‘small format’ (35mm cameras) and large format (4×5 and upwards – this is v expensive so I haven’t tried any of these one). For pretty much all medium format films you you 120 film, which is rolled onto a spool with a paper backing rather than into a light-tight canister. As such the frames can be a range of different sizes (not the uniform size of 35mm). The camera in this photo is an Agfa Isolette which I managed to get on eBay for a fiver, and it’s from all the way back in 1953  – it works amazingly despite its age! When using 120 film you get square photos (6×6), and take 12 shots per roll of film.

Sometimes these older cameras and more simple ones have no way of interpreting what the light is like, and therefore what the setting should be to get a correctly exposed image (this is obvi pretty simple to do on DSLRs and things like mobile phone cameras do it automatically). As such light meters exist, and far more modern, accurate and digital ones exist but this is my trusty Weston light meter (also from the 1950s I think?) You simply tell the light meter what the speed of your film is (like the ISO of digital cameras), point it at the thing you’re taking a photo of, and the meter will give you an indication of the apertures and shutter speeds you could use to make the photo.

Here’s a few photos I’ve taken with this camera:

There’s so much to say about photography and film general that this could turn into a small book real fast, so I might do another one of these sometime in the future. Thanks for having a read, and I’ll shamelessly plug my instagram (@alicethetriplet) so you can have a look and some of the things I’ve managed to make with film.

-Alice