Sunday, October 23, 2011

shoe 001

We were on the Isle of Wight this weekend and Andrew and I went to see Brading Town v Alton Town in the 1st round of the FA Vase. Both teams are in the Wessex league (which feeds into the Southern League which feeds into the Conference which feeds into the football league). Alton are a bit higher in the table.

There were about 60 people there (Andrew said he counted them). The Peter Henry Ground is on a pronounced slope. At the top of the slope is the clubhouse and teabar. Slightly further down the slope is a changing room block. Then the goal that Alton defended in the first half. Behind the opposite goal, at the bottom of the slope, is the railway line running between Ryde and Shanklin.

Every five minutes or so one of the old London Underground trains that run on the line comes rumbling past. Behind that Brading marsh, drained by the Victorians, stretches on, flat and empty, all the way to Bembridge Harbour.

There are two small stands on each side of the pitch, each covering the little bit of touchline either side of the half way line. We were in the one on the right hand side if you look down the slope. It had 63 seats in it (Andrew worked it out).

There were 5 people in it apart from us two. Three men behind us were talking about non-league football, and the plight of Newport Town, the Island's biggest club, now sunk down to the Wessex league, no longer able to pay its players.

Then they mentioned Gillingham Town (the Dorset club, not the Kent one) - another club with a great view of railway line (this time the Waterloo to Exeter line). I mentioned I had been to Gillingham Town's ground. One of the men said that he had gone there to see their changing rooms. Turned out he used to be chair of Brading and under his watch he got the funding to build the changing block and the stand we were sitting in (which cost £11,000).

Later in the conversation he said he came from Chessington and supported Fulham. Turns out he comes to watch Fulham once a season, just like we watch Brading once a season. The last two times he had come to watch Fulham Bobby Zamora had scored last minute winners (against Blackburn and Birmingham). He told us that when Brading play Newport, usually on a boxing day, they get 250 people in the ground.

Brading do not pay their players - some of the bigger sides in the Wessex league do. Almost all the side live on the east side of the Isle of Wight, within 3 miles of the ground (mainly Ryde and Sandown).

Brading were 1-0 down at half time. Alton were slightly quicker and slicker. In the second half, kicking down the slope, Brading scored four great goals. After the first two Alton game back up the pitch and won a penalty straight away to restore their lead. The third met with no response from Alton. The fourth came with two minutes to go to put Brading 4-3 up. Alton chucked the kitchen sink at Brading, forced corner after corner, one shot was saved on the line by a Brading defender using what appeared to be an elbow. The people in front of us who had come to sit in the stand at half time complained that the ref had played 8 minutes injury time. Alton's goalkeeper came up. Brading scrambled the ball away for another corner. This one came to the far post where an Alton player 5 yards out was able to head in unchallenged.

4-4. Extra time to be played.

The only other 4-4 game I have ever seen was 27 years ago, just a few miles away, at Fratton Park when Fulham came from being 4-0 down at half time to draw 4-4 at Portsmouth, with Kevin Lock putting away a penalty in the last minute of injury time.

The ex-chaiman told us that the team that won through to the next round got £1,000 from the FA which would mean a lot to Brading. It would pay for four away trips for the team. He seemed resigned to Brading going out with Alton getting the psychological boost from the last gasp equaliser. He wondered off to the clubhouse. By the time he'd come back Alton were 5-4 up. Brading had some near misses but seemed to run out of legs by the end.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

A zen way of learning photography

I went to collect my first set of prints from Boots the Chemist yesterday. When the young lady picked the envelope out of the drawer it seemed awfully thin. The reason it was thin was because there were no prints in it. The negatives were blank.

I asked her whether I'd exposed the film by opening the back of the camera too early.
''No, if you'd done that the negatives would be black. The negatives are clear, no light has been on them. You've either brought us in a film that you never used or the film never went through the camera''

I went to a friends' sons 1st birthday party. Philip was there, he's a professional photographer. He explained what must have happened.
''You'll have put the film in wrong, it won't have wound on''
''But I was taking pictures and it was winding on''
"The camera will have let you press the shutter-release button and pull the film advance leaver, but if the film wasn't engaged in the sprocket then it won't actually have moved your film on at all. The film will have stayed rolled in the cannister.''

I asked Philip how I could make sure I don't do it again.

''Load the new film. Put the end in the sprocket, wind it on. Then take a couple of pictures with the back open. Even though you might waste some film, its worth it. When you are satisfied that it has wound on properly close the back, take a few blank shots and away you go'

So of the 7 films I have shot since my friend lent me the OM 10 camera:
- film 1 is at a photographic studio that always seems to be shut whenever I go walk down the High Street
- film 2 was blank
- film 3 I exposed by opening the camera back too early
- films 4 and 5 are at Boots the Chemist (coming back a week on Tuesday)
- film 6 is in my cupboard waiting to go to Boots the Chemist

The feedback loop is getting really long now. It is a zen way of learning photography.

The zen teacher gives the student a camera. Student goes through all the motions - focusing the picture, setting the aperture, checking the shutter speed, pressing the shutter release, winding the film on. But they are never shown the prints. Not until the student is ready will they be shown the prints.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

My first steps in photography

It seems odd creating a blogpost about my photography without posting any photos. But I haven't seen any yet. I borrowed an Olympus OM10 analogue camera from a friend on April 7. I have shot four rolls of film since that date:
  • the first (a black and white film) is at our local photographic shop waiting for me to pick up the prints
  • the second (a colour film) is with Boots the chemist
  • the third is in the bin because I didn't rewind it properly and exposed it when I opened the back of the camera
  • the fourth one is in the cupboard waiting to go the developers
In theory we learn through feedback loops - planning something, doing something, looking at the results and comparing them with what we planned. There is no feedback loop here. In practice this may be an advantage. I haven't had to look at any duff pictures to discourage me. Instead I can fondly imagine that all the shots will be delightful.

I can feel I have made some progress even without being able to see any output. I have taken 132 photographs in 17 days, and seem to be taking more and more each day. I've been getting used to the dials, to looking out for what might make a good shot, to thinking about how much exposure (light) the picture needs and whether to try and narrow the depth of field to throw less interesting parts of the picture out of focus.

Waiting is a fundamental part of the analogue world. Having to wait for the prints to come back from the developers reminds me of buying a vinyl LP when I am working away in Brussels, and knowing I won't be able to hear it until I get back home to the UK and can stick it on my turntable.

With the waiting lives hope and anticipation. I plan to get to Boots to pick up the films this Saturday April 30.