Photos of Phones and Phonographs (occasionally)
One Light Week – Part 3
I’m pretty proud of this shot, and I think it’s going to be my Tuesday Challenge entry. The limitation I set myself was “single light source” – and yes, that’s lit with a single Vivitar 283, and no ambient light contributing to the photo.
Try and reverse engineer it in your head, and I’ll pop a spoiler after the break…
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One Light Week – Part 2
Continuing my “One Light” week, here’s a shot I’ve been meaning to take for about a year, since I bought a wooden manequin as an inspiration kicker during my 2008 photo-a-day project.
Every time I’ve remembered about this idea, the shop was out of stock of candles. Today I was browsing the shelves and they had some, and as it fits with the “one light source” theme, here it is.
It’s not quite as wonderful as it seemed in my head, but I’m glad I’ve scratched that particular itch.
“One Light” week
I’m going to try to spend the week taking photos of various things, but I’m going to light them all with a single light source.
Partly because this weeks Tuesday Friday Challenge is all about working within a limitation, and partly because I need a project to focus (arf!) my photography.
I’ve decided that reflectors are allowed, but firing up a second flash, or adding a hot-light is very much not allowed. I’m going to start off disallowing “ambient light + flash” as that’s two sources – but I may revoke that rule later in the week if the right subject presents itself.
For info, the above was shot with a snooted vivitar 283, level with my face, camera left and a car sunshade reflector camera right. The background is a white wall, but because the light was controlled by the snoot and doesn’t spill onto the wall, it looks black.
Don’t worry, they won’t all be pictures of my ugly mug!
Mike was doing a bit of research into a Music Hall variety act, and he came across this playbill from 1872, and sent me a picture of it.
My first thought was “I wonder if I’m related” as being related to a (top billing!) Music Hall act would be cool… Then I looked a bit closer, and read the act description.
I think that even if I am related to them, I won’t be reviving the family act any time soon.
Instant Coffee, not so instant film
The photo above looks very much like it was taken a century ago, but it was taken during the great snow storm flurry of February 2009, with my Voigtlander Brilliant (circa 1935), and processed last night in film developer made from instant coffee and washing soda.
I’m quite happy with the results, but it took a little rescuing in post porcessing to tease the image out of the scans. Most likely because I didn’t sit down and think about what speed film I was processing, what it had been exposed as, and how I should adjust the processing time to match. A bit more fiddling, and some practice, and I think I can get closer first time.
That’s Clevedon Pier again (I do like that pier) – The mid-tones are all too close together, and it’s a bit milky and washed out, but I like the atmosphere.
And lastly, this would appear to be at a juggling convention, some time between May 2008 and Feb 2009 – but I can’t identify which one it is.
Bungay seems the most likely candidate, but that doesn’t have trees near the tent. Bristol perhaps? It doesn’t look like the right tent (no stripes!) The only other convention I went to which has a tent that size was Crawley, but that doesn’t seem to match either.
A grand day out
There. That told you.
I had a marvelous day out yesterday. We started out at the Milton Keynes Museum, for a look at their telephone collection. I was expecting a room with a few display cases in it, worthy of about half an hours pointing and nodding at examples of old phones.
What I got was a room full of phones, a selection of plug style switchboards (seen above), with a Strowger electromechanical telephone exchange in the middle. There’s nothing like the sound a Strowger makes as it connects a call. Beautiful.
Pretty much all the phones in the room were operational, and connected to one of the several exchanges on show. You could dial any phone from any other phone, routing the call via the appropriate switchboard. It was “hands on” but without a contrived button push or multimedia presentation in sight!
The exhibition is manned by a group of volunteers, most of whom are retired GPO/BT engineers. They’re full of enthusiasm for the telecoms industry, and more than happy to spread that enthusiasm around as they run up and down stepladders, soldering irons in hand, tinkering with the exchange in the middle of the room.
A museum which smells of solder is a special museum indeed.
Over 2 hours of telephones later, we wandered over to the museum cafe for lunch (toasties, tea and cake) which was an entertainment in itself. When we went up for cake, we were greeted with “I’m having my lunch love, don’t worry, I’ll get one of the regulars to serve you”
Lunch done, it was on to Bletchley Park for a visit to the National Museum of Computing, which includes the Colossus Rebuild Project:
They’ve put a lot of money into it since I was last there about 2 years ago, and it shows! There’s a lot more on display than ever before. Pictured above is the Colossus Rebuild, which has been joined by a second room…
Which contains the “Heath Robinson” (The framework in the middle distance) which was the forerunner to Colossus, and the “Tunny Machine” which is in the background. Colossus broke the wheel settings for the german Lorenz Machine (A bit like an Enigma Machine, but with more rotors, as used by Hitler and his generals) – these settings were then fed into the Tunny Machine which decoded the message.
The main bulk of the National Computer Museum stuff is in the next building. They’ve got rooms dedicated to home computers, large mainframes, and various other systems – most of which are working and demonstrated – I don’t have many photos from there, apart from this shot of a tabulating machine:
That’s the 4th time I’ve been to Bletchley Park since I first went in about 1996, and each time I go it gets better! There’s always enough new stuff on display to distract me, and I still haven’t managed to see their cinema/film/camera collection.
Given that they’ve started restoring a computer built from decatrons, I don’t think I’m going to make it into the cinema on my next visit either! Especially if I stop off to play with the telephones first…
Edit: A few more photos in this album…
To go with my all-new-I-promise-to-shoot-and-post-more attitude, I’m clearing up some shots I took earlier in the month but didn’t get around to pulling off the camera until yesterday.
This one, was taken for Stu’s “What’s the question?” themed Tuesday photo challenge. I’d have entered it too if I’d managed to get it off the camera before the deadline.
And lastly, a self portrait which I didn’t *quite* get as far as pushing onto the blog for some reason. (I’ve since had a shave, a haircut, and I’ve cleaned my glasses.)
So I’m now up to date with October, which is nice.
I’m off to Milton Keynes tomorrow with some guys from work, to visit the Telephone exhibition at the museum, and then off to Bletchley Park in the afternoon to visit the new National Museum of Computing exhibitions.
Expect geeky photos. Very geeky photos.
Sorry for two posts in such quick succession, but I just noticed this chap glaring at me out of the previous shot.
It must be winter if I’m cooking up great big vats of warming, filling, cozy stew. This one is of the sausage and bean variety. It was rather nice as well.
It does mark what I hope will be my return to the camera. I’ve taken several shots the last week or so, but my heart wasn’t in it and the results haven’t excited me at all – but I’ve made a mental note to change all that!