A box of old photos

I was at my parent's place the other day and they hassled me to take away some of my old stuff that had been boxed in their garage for thirty odd years. One of the boxes was full of negatives and postage stamp sized contact prints of pictures I had taken during my teens.

  Hardly the way I found them. An overly art directed feather-edged fantasy in Photoshop!

The prints were curled up and cracked and were being eaten by silverfish. I examined the negatives. The tin roof of the garage made it dank in winter, and an oven in summer. The gelatin had started to be attacked by mold. I realised that if I scanned the images in to a computer and turned them into zeros and ones, then I could instantly have them in a form which was immune from further deterioration. The work of Simon Pockley, one of our PhD research students started to make sense. Simon talks about telling stories on the Internet and sending them into the future. His project is called 'The Flight Of Ducks'.

The box contained pictures of family, friends from art school, as well as photographs I had taken of of steam engines and old buildings on trips around the Victorian countryside on my Vespa. There were even some old glass plates and negatives from my grandmother.

To encourage my growing interest in photography, she gave me her 1940's folding bellows camera. It took 120 size roll film, the kind with the paper backing. The large format negative naturally endowed it with a long focal length lens, and yet its highest shutter speed was only 50th of a second. It was practically essential to use a tripod, but I didn't have one. To take pictures of moving objects, like trains rushing past, I held my breath and steadied my hands as best I could. I had no lightmeter so used the guide that came with the film to guess the aperture. The instructions gave settings for bright sunny days, dull overcast days etc. With only 12 exposures on a roll, and very little pocket money, each shot was precious. Many were blurry. Later I was to get a 35mm range finder camera, and then a dandy Pentax Spotmatic single lens reflex camera for art school, which I still use.


Out of this box you can see...

the Williamstown ferry
old buildings