Friday, June 29, 2012

Nikon F2 S Photomic and the Walky

Last week was a time of coincidence, I found three separate items. On Monday I found a mans wallet lying on the pavement which I returned it to its owner. On Wednesday I found a glass marble, which is unusual. And on Thursday, while walking to the post office, I found the photograph you see below. Was the photo lost or discarded? Whatever, it has a new home now, in my collection. The type is known as a Walkie.

People are ingenious in finding ways to earn a living from a camera, from weddings to wars and everything in-between, but without doubt the boldest and bravest were the Walkies. These were the men (I've never known of a woman Walkie), who spent 12 hours a day, seven days a week patrolling summer holiday resorts and snapping holiday makers, walking towards them.

Found image taken by a Walkie
Until about 20 years ago, every seaside resort in Britain had at least one Walkie. Starting around mid morning and finishing when the crowds thinned out, the Walkie would comb every inch of beach, promenade and fun fair, taking photographs of anyone and everyone. What a job, eh! The very thought of it makes my feet ache and my shoulders sag.

The Walkie's I remember were extremely professional. They would appear in front of you with a broad smile and take a single photo. You were given a card with the name address of a shop or pub, where you could view your photo, usually the next day. They were always well groomed with polished shoes, smart trousers, white shirt and polyester tie (used to clean the camera lens). Occasionally you'd  see the a showman Walkie, with a monkey or parrot on his shoulder. Men at the top of their game.

There can't be many people in Britain who don't have a snapshot taken by a Walkie, I have at least ten photos of members of my family with a walkie stamp on the back. It was always part of our summer holiday to find our photograph amongst the hundreds on display, either in a shop window or behind the bar of a pub. The photo was affordable and usually cost the same as a pint of beer.

The photos in most collections and those that are found tend to be like the example above, rather bland and casual. But like gold nuggets on a pebble beach, there are examples where subjects are caught in a moment of happiness that transcends the snapshot and becomes beautiful record of social trends. 

Walkie from my collection
Walkie cameras had to be tough to cope with the summer conditions of heat, humidity, salt and fine sand blowing around. Leica and Nikon were obviously the most popular brands, indeed I once saw Walkie using a Leica 3f, whose film advance knob had been worn to smooth brass. Which brings me to the Nikon F2 S Photomic, you see below, it's a Nikon F2 with a DP-2 head and was the considered very exotic in its day. This one is a veteran ex-Walkie camera that spent ten years on the sea front at Blackpool between 1974 and 1984. It's one of two Nikon F2's owned by the same photographer. One camera was loaded with negative film for prints the other loaded with slide film which was used to make little souvenier viewers on a key ring.

Nikon F2s with Tim Irving Bespoke camera strap
Nikon F2 S Photomic - The Walkie Camera

Nikon F2's are remarkable cameras, elegant in form and function, and you can fully appreciate the quality when you handle and use a well worn example. Despite the hard professional life the camera still works perfectly and there's no evidence of sloppiness, it walks and talks as it should. The heart of the camera, the shutter, sounds smooth, strong and its slow speeds are music to my ears. This is from a camera that has never had a service or CLA (clean, lube and adjust).

Monday, June 25, 2012

Bespoke Strap attached to an iPhone with Gizmon iCA case

Tim Irving Bespoke Strap attached to iPhone with Gizmon iCA case
Bespoke Strap attached to an iPhone with Gizmon iCA case
My thanks to Fred for the photograph.

Making prints

Bird scare, Ilford FP4 - Photography by Tim Irving

Tanker, Ilford FP4 - Photography by Tim Irving

Bird netting, Ilford FP4 - Photography by Tim Irving
I've spent half a day in the dark, developing film and making prints. I still get a kick from developing a print, placing the paper in the chemical tray and watching the image appear, it's quite magical. The process of making an image is very satisfying, I should do it more often. The finished print has an added value for me because of the time and care involved in making it. But for all the care in the world I've never managed to avoid the dreaded dust spots. I used to crave the perfect print and go to extraordinary lengths to avoid dust on the negatives, which when printed become white dots. I would run hot water in the darkroom until it was full of steam, in the belief the water vapour would weigh down the dust. Making prints in those conditions was like working in a rain forest and of course there was always one speck that avoided the steam and managed to get itself printed for posterity. Now I don't mind a few dust specks on my print, I quite like them in fact.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Miranda F Camera with red bespoke strap

Miranda F Camera with Red Bespoke Strap - Tim Irving
Miranda F Camera with waist level finder plus Red Bespoke Strap
The model for my latest red strap is a beautiful black Miranda F camera. The Miranda camera company produced dozens of different models from 1953 to 1978 when they disapeared from camera making. My model F was made around 1967 and is the only black Miranda F, I've ever seen.

I have a soft spot for over complex cameras, and the Miranda is very close to my heart. Miranda's marketing was about creating a camera that did everything, therefore it should  appeal to everyone. Unfortunately, it didn't. The camera has two shutter releases, one on top, one on the front. Two lens mounts for screw or bayonet fitting lenses. Two flash sockets. Three viewfinders and three focusing systems. Lovely!

Miranda F camera with pentaprism and waist level finder photograph by Tim Irving
Miranda F camera with pentaprism and waist level finder

Fuji X100 Camera with Red Bespoke Strap by Tim Irving
Fuji X100 Camera with Red Bespoke Strap

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Strawberry Field - Nikon Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm

Gates and grafitti at Strawberry Field, Liverpool - Photograph by Tim Irving
Strawberry Field, Liverpool - Tim Irving
This is the Salvation Army children's home in Liverpool, near the house where John Lennon lived. As a child John attended the garden party each summer, and played in the woods you can see through the gates. His aunt said that you could hear the Salvation Army band from their house. The graffiti on the gates and walls began appearing in 1967 after the release of "Strawberry Fields Forever". When you get close you can see the recent graffiti is partially covering older faded graffiti. Messages, lyrics and names are beginning to cover Linda B 2011, making her the background for this years artists. It would make a great time-lapse project. 

The lens used was a Nikkor Zoom 43-86mm (The lens with the built in flare), used off the camera. My particular example has so many idiosyncrasies that Nikon could have marketed it as a specialist lens. Probably Nikons most un-loved lens, but personally I love it, it's a lens of great character. I know of no other lens that produces such a distinctive vintage, 60's look.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My Photographs available at the Bluecoat Gallery Liverpool

Bluecoat gallery Liverpool - Photograph by Tim Irving
Bluecoat Gallery, Liverpool - Tim Irving
I'm pleased to announce that a selection of my photographs can now be seen and purchased at the Bluecoat gallery in the centre of Liverpool. The photographs which span the years 1984 to 2010, are available from Nook and Cranny who run the print and framing section in the main courtyard. Like a proud father, I visited my prints in Liverpool over the weekend, just to make sure they were comfortable and settled. I also spent time in the main gallery viewing the current exhibition, "Galapagos" a group show by twelve selected artists. The show was indeed excellent and deeply inspiring. As it runs until the 1st of July, I may take in another viewing.

rook at blue door - Photograph by Tim Irving
My first customer
On Sunday morning I arrived at the gallery early and was delighted to see a rook waiting pariently at the door. I have no idea if rooks are lucky, but I took this as a good sign that my prints will sell out. The rook seems to be a resident at the Bluecoat, I saw her knocking on doors and windows with her beak.

Granada graffiti photograph by Tim Irving
Granada, 1998 - Tim Irving

Monday, June 11, 2012

Nikkormat EL with Olive Bespoke Strap

Nikkormat EL with Zoom - Nikkor 43-86 and Olvie bespoke camera strap by Tim Irving
Black and Olive
This is the latest of my bespoke straps. I couldn't resist a photograph before I ship it to its new owner in Sweden. The olive and black make a handsome couple. I was forced to use this camera and lens over the weekend because last Friday my regular camera developed a fault. The fault turned out to be a mixed blessing, in that I got the opportunity to use the old warhorse above. I'll show you some examples of the photos when I have them back from the lab, tomorrow. The lens on the camera is the infamous Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm. A few people have claimed this to be the worst lens ever made by Nikon. Again I'll put the images up and you can make up your own mind.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Apple Quicktake 100 Camera

Apple Quicktake 100 Camera by Tim Irving
Apple Quicktake 100 Camera
The camera above is one of several vintage digital cameras I own. I bought my first digital camera, an Apple Quicktake 200, in 1996, the one above dates from 1994. It was the first digital camera to be launched by Apple and was in production for less than a year. The camera was very expensive, plus you needed a Mac to get the images out of the camera. Not suprisingly, theses are rare cameras.

I used these camera to make images for web sites and print during the nineties and I still have the original files on hard disks. It occurred to me that the images from these early cameras are very rare, so you may be interested to see what photographs from an early digital camera look like.

Original full size image from Apple Quick take 100 - TimIrving
Original full size image from Apple Quicktake 100

Original full size image from Apple Quicktake 100 - Tim Irving
Original full size image from Apple Quicktake 100
The photos above are about average for the camera, I'm sure many people would find them unusable, but you have to work with what you've got. By reducing the size, they look good and by uprezzing it's possible to make 20x30 inch prints.

Quicktake 100 image - Tim Irving
Thumbnail Image from Apple Quicktake 100
Apple Quicktake 100 Image up-Rezzed to make 20x30 Print
Spanish Landscape taken with Apple Quicktake 100. Image up-Rezzed to make 20x30 Print
Apple Quicktake 100 screen. Photograph by Tim Irving
It still works!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Camera strap evolution

improved end of camera strap - Tim Irving
Improved canera strap
I'm pleased to report that my camera strap continues to gather interest around the internet. As a result, the orders are trickling in at a pace I'm happy with. Because the straps are so labour intensive a trickle is preferable to a deluge. As I work on each strap I'm constantly seeking to improve the design and finish, and this week I made a small but significant improvement. I now tie the entire strap with a single piece of cord! It's a simple idea, but very difficult to do when working with over fifty foot of cord.

When the strap is fitted to a camera you have the option of using the leather sleeves, these hide my workmanship but protect the camera. So you might ask, what's the point? The point, or reason for the change is simply to refine the design, plus I like to show off. My original strap had two finishing knots, the new straps have one. The other end still spliced and finished with a celtic knot, to allow for adjustment and to bring the owner luck.
bespoke camera strap with celtic knot - by Tim Irving
The other end

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


The Dutch artist Bart Jansen makes his dead cat Orville fly, after having him stuffed and mounting propellers to his legs. The 'Orvillecopter' is exhibited at Amsterdam's KunstRai, the city's annual art show.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Queen's Diamond Jubilee

Diamond Jubilee - Tim Irving
One more day to go before the holiday is officially over. I'm finding the diamond jubilee holiday very intense. I can't remember when the Queen's diamond jubilee officially started, maybe three or four days ago, but it seems a longer to me, like three or four months. The weather, which is cold and wet, hasn't dampened the  celebrations, but driven them indoors to town halls, church halls and scout huts where British senior citizens are gently celebrating in front of big screens.


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