Friday, 26 February 2016

Angel, actress, adolescence, art and books

Fashions come and go in photography, just as in other parts of life. This picture is from a shoot that our daughter did last week for a magazine feature. She didn't tell me the photographer's name but  I guess it is safe bet that he is well under 30. Sorry, I don't know the significance of an angel in chains either.
When Sally was very young she could be an angel but, in common with all other females on the planet, she could also be a devil when the mood took her. Woe betide anyone who messes with a redhead! Anyway, this is certainly a different pic to open this last blog of February.
In my years of getting paid to take photographs, my portraiture style was heavily influenced by the stills departments of the major Hollywood studios. As an example, here are two favourite film stars from my adolescence. I was in love with Veronica Lake's hair and eyelashes, whilst  Lauren Bacall had a voice like dark maple syrup and both ladies had figures to make any 12 year old boy feel inappropriate feelings.

Back in the day it would have taken me the best part of half a day to produce a print like this in my darkroom. I was able to recreate these two images from 'The Kobal Collection' in around ten minutes thanks to some very basic modern technology.
Veronica is on the left and her hairstyle was so distinctive that it was enough for a bit of minimalistic artwork for the poster of her 1942 comedy caper by Paramount Studios, Sullivans's Travels.
Margate's weather has been better than much of the UK during February but, even so, it seems tempting to get into a spot of reading rather than beach walking. Sophia's book was a new arrival at our local Waterstone's [the only book shop in town for new books] and was an impulse buy as we had met her aunts in Sorrento. I spotted The Idea in You in the same store but didn't have £13.99 to spare ... so I bought it on line elsewhere for £5.99!
On Sunday we made it along to Cliftonville's Eastern Esplanade and the cute second hand bookshop, TIVERTON BOOKS which is in the basement of Smiths Court Hotel and where proprietors Carol and Dave dispense great value and free coffee if you time it right. Tiverton Books are open on Sundays and Tuesdays from 1000 to 1400 and well worth a visit. We came away with another six books, including this holiday humour by Brian Viner.
Waterstone's has an in-store Caffe Nero and I would love to be able to sketch it for you. Alas I cannot. So please enjoy this Denver Coffee Shop interior by Paul Heaston. Lots more like this on his various websites. Just Google his name. Bookish cushions above are from The Range at £7.99 fully stuffed.
And I leave you with an utter lack of modesty at the seamless way I have created the segues between these topics.
To close, here's Veronica again ...



Friday, 19 February 2016

Soul Coaxing and Volare

Did you know that it is 69 years since the transistor was invented and 62 since the first transistor radios appeared in the shops? Do you care? Mmm. Probably not. This magazine ad appeared in USA in 1959, the same year that I bought my first 'tranny' in Houston Texas.
I grew up with radio as the prime source of our home entertainment, long before television was even affordable in households like ours. I have been a fan of radio ever since.
This week I found what may well be the best ever value in personal radio sets...the Roberts Sport 925 at £16.99 which makes it that long established brand's entry level model.
This blog lives in a communications black spot where the only mobile phone provider that connects is O2, where DAB is just a rumour and where we can get French radio clearer than our local UK station just a couple of miles away.
Roberts is a well respected brand that goes back over 80 years and this sturdy little set has no pretensions beyond doing what it does well. It is mono, it has FM, Medium and Long wavebands and that is pretty much it, powered by a pair of AA batteries. I use the earphone socket for early morning listening while the house is asleep and the day is young and full of promise.
This morning I heard a blast from the past. It was a recording of Soul Coaxing from 1968, the year when a few pirate stations were still on the air in defiance of the Marine Offences Act of August '67.  DJ Andy Archer used it as his signature tune. Wow, how memories flooded back. It was the year that my beautiful wife gave birth to our son and heir - to be followed by his sister 18 months later [then we found out what was causing them!] and it was also the year that I quit my job to go self employed at three times the income ... a time when few even considered self employment as an option.
Leading up to those amazing days we were permanently tuned to Radio Caroline, Radio 355, Britain Radio, Radio England and Laser 558.
To get a flavour, listen to Britain Radio/355 on your computer. Find it at:-
You can still find singles of Soul Coaxing on eBay
Or, go to Youtube and select from all the versions there.
Warning: You will find that it sticks in your mind all day.

Before we leave these hallmark of quality days, you must surely be familiar with the evergreen song Volare? Chances are that you think that Dean Martin recorded the definitive version. Until a few days ago I would have agreed.
Then Britain Radio played another arrangement that set my pulses tingling and had me grinning from ear to ear. No wonder that this upbeat and typical '50s Rock n Roll rendering hit the charts when it was first released ... and the energy is still palpable,

The way we were - well some of us were!
 Bobby Rydell was the guilty party and he was just a teenager at the time. Now, at 74 and after a double organ transplant he still tours in the USA with his contemporaries from the same Philly 'burg where they all grew up ... Fabian and Frankie Avalon. I have just ordered this cd from eBay and do go look at the various clips of him on You Tube. I was delighted to find his lyrical treatment of my all time fave big band number So Rare as well.
 The Isle of Thanet really is an island. It is on the extreme north east tip of the Kent coast and is separated from the mainland by a once navigable river that is now just a muddy stream. The isle has many villages and three main towns - Margate where this blog lives, Broadstairs where this blog once owned a shop and Ramsgate where we once owned an hotel. 
I have added two local blog mentions alongside. Promote Thanet is from Don Wood who fights a daily battle with MS and posts about upcoming events in the area and Michael Child, a prolific artist who owns a used book shop in Ramsgate and frequently posts local photos.[Thanet On Line]
Take a look when you can. Then Come on down to our Sunshine Coast for a seaside holiday like it used to be.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Still Lovin' and Learnin'

JUST IN TIME FOR ST.VALENTINE'S DAY those nice people over at Dreamboats & Petticoats have released their latest collection of 50 hits, by the original artistes, on a double CD set at around £9.99.
I am not to sure that 'Age of Innocence' was especially accurate in my case but I did have most of these titles on either 78's, 33 1/3rd. 45 rpm or cassette tape. A few were almost worn through from black to grey on the bar jukebox when we had our hotel.
Nostalgia is great for listening and recall, but living in the now is even greater. You can check out the playlist and sample the tracks at Amazon's website.
This is the 17th Dreamboats & Petticoats release in our collection simply because it is our type of music and the recordings are good quality ... unlike some cheaper and lesser compilation CDs.

TALKING OF RECALL, the cover and inner sleeve notes on this CD were photographed at Morelli's in Broadstairs ... the next town along the coast from Margate where this blog is born. We lived there during the 1980s and spent many happy hours in the authentic and original '50s ice cream parlor décor.

LONG AGO AND FAR AWAY ... During an eight year involvement with vintage air displays [spare time] it felt like a good idea to delve deeper into my fascination with flying in small, old or, small and old aeroplanes.
Back then I would devour copies of Pilot magazine and particularly enjoyed the regular back page feature 'I Learned About Flying From That', where pilots who had done something stupid and survived told their tale.
I am still learning, sometimes from unexpected sources!
My fascination with journals and the benefits of journaling knows no boundaries. I was surprised to stumble across these two pages in my copy of Humans of New York ... a book of street photography by Brandon Stanton.
It hit home to me how  comparatively stilted and essay-book-presentation  my own pages have become.
The contrast with the free flowing randomness and creativity of this teenager's journal is amazing ... from this I have learned to hang loose Dude!

Raffaele's book - Still a source of inspiration for me

Still on photography I learned another lesson from Raffaele Celetano, reinforced by Brandon ... it is that my own photos usually lack a human element whilst theirs always feature a person or three.
I discovered Raffaele's work during a 2015 visit to his Sorrento exhibition. Bought his book when we came home. Still learning! I conclude this post with a couple of Sorrento shots of my own which DID include people!

Canon A430 4mp camera - September 2015

I am planning a new fun-time project while we wait for the weather to warm up enough for longer beach walks. This may include creating a website and that, if it happens, will be courtesy of a free hosting facility, of which there are many. For the next couple of days I shall let my fingers do the surfing due diligence before setting forth on such uncharted waters. I will let you know what transpires from time to time.
Meanwhile, yesterday Nicholas Bate  [see link to his blog alongside] revealed why he doesn't get involved with various social networking sites and, a day or two earlier, Michael Wade at gave his reasons for not accepting comments on his own blog.
I respect their wisdom as guides and mentors and I aspire to follow their own examples. So if you are really busting to share something with me you can find my email address somewhere on this page.
I leave you with this shot of my favourite fine weather spot for Il Dolce far Niente --- where no device needing batteries is ever known to intrude!
Thanks for being here. Colin


Friday, 5 February 2016

New York Confession

My journal for February is the New York edition of the 'Write Now' series created by Compendium Inc.

The slightly textured soft cover has a quote from Texas Guinon - 'Better A Square Foot of New York Than All The Rest of The World'. So I have attempted to picture it here within the context of an implied square foot.

Inside there 128 pages a tad smaller than A5 at 125 x 201 cm divided every 8 sheets or so with a vivid graphic illustration and quotation. The pages are off-white and horizontal ruled at around 80gsm at a guess. I leave you and your favourite search engine to find the other 40 titles in the series. Not all are available in UK but those that are, are reasonably priced at around £5 each.

This month is the diamond jubilee - that's 60 years - of my first ever visit to NY as an almost innocent and rather naïve teenager. It took several visits to overcome my fears and to grow to love the place. My last visit, which will surely also be my last ever, was two weeks after the 9/11 attack on the twin towers. The great thing about strong memories is that they can be recalled at will, with no need for long haul flights. Just flights of fancy, the way one remembers first [and last] loves.

Photo via internet
To the more immediate past, like two days ago on my birthday.
I had discovered a couple of big photographic books by Brandon Stanton and figured I deserved to buy them for a treat, even although we rarely store books and give them away when we're done with them. So here's the confession.
In 2008 I planned to create a book of photographs and stories with the working title 'Coffee Shops of Margate' [As you may guess, inspired by similar titles from other cities globally] to be followed with annual versions for Ramsgate and Broadstairs respectively. They never happened.  In 2010, struck by the regeneration of our town, I had the notion of photographing the way it was for future comparison. It never happened.
Back to Brandon. In 2010,aged 30, he bought a camera following the loss of his broking job and decided to photograph 10,000 people on the streets of New York. He made it happen. The result was a best selling book 'Humans of New York' and a blog. He followed it last year with a companion volume 'Humans of New York Stories' in which he transcribes the comments of his latest batch of subjects.
Brandon is allegedly worth $7 million. As I am not even worth that many pennies it would be a big deal to punt out a total of £40 for the two books at our local Waterstones. By selling a couple of cameras on eBay I was able to generate £25 ... enough to buy the books on the same site. I had one on 'call and collect' from Argos and the other almost gave the mailman a hernia!
These are beautifully produced books and an inspiration for the future of my own 'street photography'. OK, so maybe he is 48 years my junior, but I am not ashamed to learn ... better late than not at all.
Here's one I took yesterday.
My own copies
And finally ... almost ... I threw my camera towards the lady in my life and asked if she would point it at me, squeeze the big button on the top and thus take a picture to show 'This Is What 78 Years Old Looks Like'. Yep! If only I had bought Photoshop and learnt how to use it.
Thanks for stopping by ... more next week
Photo via internet