These shots were taken with a Lomo LC-A.

The Lomo Kompakt Automat is a fixed lens, 35 mm film, compact camera introduced in 1984. In 2005, production of the original Lomo LC-A was discontinued. Its replacement, the LC-A+, was introduced in 2006 and production moved to China. Some of these Chinese models are passed off as Zeniths.  Mine is a pre 2005 Russian model bought through the Vienna trading company around 1997.


When it’s in the right mood, it’s a great little compact.  It can be set on automatic so that it will always keep the shutter open long enough to take a picture with the available light.  This can lead to shaky pictures / artistic effects.  In this case, the light was good and it picked up a lot of detail.  You can see the Lomo’s characteristics in some of these shots.  There’s some vignetting, the exposure balance between light and dark isn’t quite right – it’s artistic.

I think it was designed for the workers to take it out, set exposure very simply and take pictures.  It could also be left on the same settings indefinitely and still produce pictures.  Perhaps since it was designed and made in Russia, it’s no suprise that it takes good pictures of snow.

But there’s also the annoying side of Lomography.  It was a 36 exposure film and I got 15 pictures out of it.  The others just didn’t come out.  I put it down to over exposure and the very cheap winding mechanism – plastic, manual and it doesn’t work very well (very Soviet).  The LC-A currently goes for a capitalist price of £200, although I paid half of that for mine.  Crappy Communist camera rebranded as artistic for the West?  Yes, probably.

But that is the joy of toy cameras.  I’m always about to stop using the Lomo for these reasons but I never quite stop it because it can be such an interesting camera, it just wastes a lot of film though.



The Three Laws of Robotics and Why Isaac Asimov Annoys Me

This is Titan the Robot.  According to Isaac Asimov, Titan

  1. may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm
  2. must obey any orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law
  3. must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law

He made these laws up and published them in 1942.  My issue with Mr. Asimov comes from every book or comic about Sci Fi that I read in the 1970’s feeling the need to reprint these rules as if they were the ten commandments.

How much fun would movies and TV be with these laws in place?  The Terminator would fail at Rule 1 and need a name change.  If you though T3 and Terminator Salvation were crap, imagine them without violence.  The Cybermen’s plans to crush humanity and conquer the world would also be in violation of these tenants and the invasion would have to be cancelled.  The world of Sci-Fi like many cults/genres/religions has its prophets and Asimov was seen as one for the second half of the twentieth century at least.  Anything that he said carried greater importance than it really needed to and was carried to the masses as a fact.  This might be due to lazy journalism more than Isaac himself.  Why bother writing anything new when you can reprint the last article with some new photos?  In recycling, journalism has always led the world.

The first and third photos show the difference in quality between colour Fuji film and monochrome Ilford.  The bottom one has quite a lot of grain whereas the top is smoother and has a lot better texture around the jaw line.  Despite the lack of colour, the monochrome image is more lifelike.  This is also with the resolution turned down to make it fit on the internet.



Film Isn’t Dead, It’s Just Selective


There is a scene in the movie ‘Spinal Tap’ where the band’s manager gets questioned about why they are booked into smaller venues than the last tour.  Has the band gotten less popular?  No, he says, more selective.  That’s also true of photographic film, 35mm in particular.

Film has moved back from the mass market and its not longer available in many of the shops that it once was.  There are virtually no film cameras on sale in the major retailers and many brands have disappeared over the last ten years.

The second hand market has risen.  Because the price of film cameras has dropped significantly you can buy a high end film model which costs £100 and is the equivalent of a £10 000 brand new digital SLR or a £900 second hand.  Also, film can still render an image more accurately than digital, so if you combine 35mm negatives with a scanner and the latest photo manipulation software, you can have the best in quality with the latest advances in technology.

The problem is that many sewcond hand cameras may be bought as collectibles or only used the once.  If 35mm isn’t being used then it’s production will fall and the price will rise.  That could mean its end.

We lost lots of film brands, Kodachrome being the highest profile victim, but now new brands are appearing on the market.  The reliable Fomapan from the Czech Republic and Kentmere from Ilford are two.  Ilford is a firm that had its financial problems but restructured and now appears to be on the rise again.  Kodak has also announced the new Porta 160 colour negative film.  Developing and printing a role of black and white film is still a right of passage on many photography courses.

Film is ‘cool’ now.  That means that its gone from ‘old fashioned’ (which means rubbish) to ‘retro’ (which means artistic).  Japanese and some European photographers see it as a medium worth using.

Domestic Violence for Children

This is a Punch and Judy Man – sometimes referred to as The Professor.  A Punch and Judy show is a one man performance in a booth, often by the seaside, with glove puppets.  One man works the puppets, does the voices and makes the sound effects.

It’s been a bastion of entertainment in for many a year and can be traced back to 1662 and Covent Garden when the show was very bawdy.  Mr. Punch has his origins in Italy and he’s also been seen in America, France and Ireland.  It was in the later Victorian period, the shows became more aimed at children and families.  Later, the shows became more specialised, instead of appearing on every street corner and every pier Punch and Judy went to special events like fairs and birthday parties.

Punch wears a brightly colored jester’s motley and sugarloaf hat . He is a hunchback whose hooked nose almost meets his curved, jutting chin. He carries a large slapstick, which he freely uses upon most of the other characters in the show. He speaks in a distinctive squawking voice.

There are other characters, a baby, a crocodile and a policeman.  Characters come and go with the times these days there’s even a health and safety inspector, you can bet he gets a good slapping by Punch, but the hangman seems to have gone the way of capital punishment.  Judy is the show’s significant other.  Mrs. Punch has to make do with verbal abuse and domestic violence.  In fact the baby gets kicked around as well and Mr Punch is often on the receiving end of his wife’s ire.

The villain of the piece

So, Mr Punch – not only a wife beater, but one who tends to get away from it because he dates from an era when this sort of thing was more acceptable?  A family whose entire interaction is based on violence?  Not a healthy model for young audience.  The counter argument goes that Punch represents a grotesque view of family life just like The Simpsons does – perhaps Tom and Jerry would be a better analogy.  The violence is not real and is intended as slapstick.  In any case, the high water mark of political correctness has come and gone and now there’s just not the same level of criticism of un pc behaviour.  Twenty years ago, this kind of humour was frowned upon but fads change and Mr Punch always comes back.  He may have been arrested, killed and sent to heaven during the shows but he’s still here.

Wife beater or comedian, the audiences are still there and young minds are still watching and they are taking it all in.

The Sunset

Tower blocks huddle together to watch the sun go down.


Aeroplane Art


As NATO once again lets its airplanes loose on an Arab country to bomb them into liking us, it seemed a good time to look at a Cold War weapon.  The Vulcan Bomber was Britain’s main weapon designed to carry a nuclear payload to the Soviet Union, although the only real combat mission it ever took was with conventional payload during the Falklands War.

It was designed for height and speed and so had no defensive armaments although it was equipped with sophisticated electronic counter measures to send back a false detection to enemy radar.  These measures were good enough to scare the Americans when they realised during war games that they could track the Vulcan either.  Originally the fuselage was white to reflect a nuclear blast and the crew largely had no windows apart from the pilots’.



In the event of the Cuban Missile Crisis turning into war, Britain would only get two minutes warning of a Soviet missile attack so the crews manned the Vulcans around the clock and also  slept in their flight suits ready to go.  The bombers could be started in less than a minute by pressing a single button and then they would have another minute to climb steeply to avoid an atomic blast.  The theory was that Stalin would try to catch Britain’s nuclear deterrent before it could clear the airfield.



It was likely that the bombers would have been able to avoid the Migs that were waiting for them in Eastern Europe and evade Moscow’s anti-aircraft systems and would have been successful in ‘delivering their ordnance’ as the military euphemism goes.  Their orders were then to try and return to base for reloading.  I wonder what they would have found when they got there?