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November 27, 2015 / Aware of the Void

From Sally Gap to Lough Dan – Pinhole Obscura Reblog

Pinhole - Round Wood to Lough Dan

One of the wonderful things about this country is that you are never really sure where a small laneway or an open gate can lead you. One of my favourite walks in the Wicklow mountains is the stroll from where I ditch my car on the Sally Gap road and walk downhill towards Lough Dan.

The stroll is very pleasant and a steep enough downward amble most of the way to the Lough. At one point the path changes and you follow to course of the Cloghoge River. The mature river meanders past deer and open bog land before entering Lough Dan. The climb back up the hill is always a bit rough bit well worth the efforts.

All photos where taken with my Zero 4 x 5. The black and white shots are on Tri-X and the colour stuff is Ektar



Pinhole - Round Wood to Lough Dan







Zero Image 4×5 Pinhole Camera (Horseman 120 rollback fitted)
Film: Kodak Tri-X/ Kodak Ektar
Dev: Adox Adonal/ Tetenal C-41 Ki
Focal Length:25mm
Exposure: Various

November 22, 2015 / Aware of the Void

I Sprung a Leek Mallung

A favourite dish made here on Cook Island is the Sri Lankan Mallung (Mallum). You can pretty much make it with any leafy green veg but I really like it made with leeks. It takes about 10 minutes to prepare and cook and I like to serve it as a side dish for dhal or other curries.


  • 3 x tender Leeks
  • 1 x Medium Onions
  • 1 x Cup of dried coconut 
  • 1 x teaspoon of mustard seeds
  • 1 x lime


Heat oil in the pan and add the mustard seeds, when they start to pop add the onions and fry. While they are frying chop the greens into small size bits.


Add the leeks to the onions and lightly fry. I like the greens just barely cooked so I don’t fry them for too long.

I soak the coconut for a few minutes and then squeeze a lot of the water out again. If you have easy access to fresh coconut this is even better but it’s not always in my house. Add the coconut to the leeks and onions and fry the whole mixture.


When cooked squeeze the lime over the whole mixture, I also sometimes add a little turmeric when I’m in the mood.

 It’s a wonderful dish and packed with great tastes.

Please let me know if you try this. I make similar dishes with green cabbage, kale and for Christmas I’m playing on trying it with brussel sprouts.


November 5, 2015 / Aware of the Void

Brendan Two Point Oh

It’s my annual day for self reflection. I ponder the last year and pause to consider my triumphs and failures. I don’t tend to think too hard on my failures or failings but I believe without some form of introspection I would stagnate and disappoint myself.

As I roll into another year on this planet I find that my increased age is causing me to slip into strange and unusual mindsets. I was in a queue in the local shop last week and was annoyed by how slow the line was moving. The same day I was sitting in traffic and my annoyance was spiked by my fellow commuters just sitting in their cars not going anywhere.

 One of my dogs destroyed something at home and I found myself on the cusp of shouting “I don’t believe it” even though it was very possible to believe. I found the noise from the fire works at Halloween “ridiculous”. Kids from my street were climbing the tree in my garden and rather than smile and think back to me doing the same thing many years ago I instead contemplated opening my front door to let a roar at them.

 As far as I’m concerned my reaction to these things in my life have been disproportionate to how irritating I should have found them.

I’m starting to worry that the slide towards  my middle age will see me veering towards becoming a grumpy old man. So on this day, the anniversary of my birth I have decided to launch Brendan 2.0

Having briefly reviewed the last few years of my life I see that I have very little to complain about. I have a beautiful wife that seems to have the patience of a saint. 

I like my job and find the work engaging and varied. I’m lucky to have a hobby that I’m passionate about. I own my own home that is warm, safe and secure and in an area that allows me to connect with the rest of the world very easily. 

I seem to have managed to fill my life with nice people who for the most part do nothing but fill my life with positivity.I get to travel for pleasure to far flung places that expand my world view and remind me of just how lucky I am.

So I have decided that today is as good a day as any to make some New Years resolutions – in no particular order these are the things that I want to achieve in the next year or more correctly for the rest of my life.

Read more – not so long ago I used to read a new book every few day but now I’m lucky if I manage to finish a book once a month. I have no idea why this is but I’m going to blame my iPhone. So my plan is from today to finish reading one new book every two weeks.

Eat less – in the last year or 18 months I have lost a pile of weight. I’m happy about that but I feel that I very often eat way more than I should. The food is good I just eat way too much of it.

Be a better husband – I’m not sure what the metric is here but I’m sure I could be kinder and more considerate so I will start with that.

Be a better friend – I’ve lost touch with some people that I really shouldn’t have. I will use this year to reconnect.

Tolerate minor annoyances better – react appropriately and don’t sweat the small stuff.

Print more – I am lucky enough to have a full photographic darkroom at home that I personally feel I’m not using as much as I should. I need a bit of routine here to pick a day or two every week that will have me honing my craft. 

Shoot more – take more photos and get better at it. Push myself to try new things and get better at all aspects of photography.

Have 10 dishes in regular rotation – I love to cook but find that I have slipped into a habit of cooking the same few dishes over and over again. So the plan is to not cook the same food twice in the one week. 

Accept that I do not have the ability to change other people – I cannot control the antics of other people and am finally ready to concede that trying does nothing but cause stress and irritation my my life.

Drink less booze – not a big issue in my life and certainly not something that worries me but sometime it’s easier to finish a bottle of wine than to do the sensible thing of putting the cork back in the bottle.

Run regular 5 or 10 k and for the love of all things creaky remember to stretch! I may consider yoga as an option.

Travel more – plan at least one big trip and as many small trips as I can cram into the next year. 

Smile more – look in the mirror at least once a day a smile so it becomes a habit that I can’t stop.

So that’s it for this years introspection if you come back this time next year I will give an update on what I have achieved. So I wish you all a happy new year.

I nicked most of these photos from Facebook (I’m in all of them) and the copyright remains with the various authors. I have assumed that I have permission to use them but if I’m wrong I’ll see you in court!!

October 31, 2015 / Aware of the Void

Developing Rollei 400 IR film in Kodak HC110

This is the short version of my film development technique. In the tank here I have two rolls of Rollei 400 Infrared Film 100. Both of them are 120 format.

Here I mixed my Kodak HC110 at 1:31 or dilution B so for my two reels I made up 1oooml of developer.

My recipe for this was.

Pre-soak in water for 5mins

Kodak HC 110 1:31

Gentle inversions for 1 min (about 30).

5 x gentle inversion at each min for 8 minutes

Stop bath for 1 min

Ilford Rapid fixer for 5 minutes

Final rise for 10 minutes

Photo-flo bath for 30 seconds

And here is a few shots using this developer and film. These are iPhone snaps of my darkroom prints as I’ve decided for a little while at least that I will not scan my film and instead will process the image only in my darkroom. The paper used is Ilford MG IV


October 30, 2015 / Aware of the Void

Lets Wrap #2

 I’ve been working away from home this week and I’m missing my kitchen. Most of my meals have been either works canteens or hotel pub food. The late finish and long drive before home has seen me entering a deli 15 minutes before closing time to request this magnificent creation.

Plain wrap.

“Triple rice salad”

Spicy bean mix


Taco sauce.

It’s a fine combination and the only real down side was the long sigh the chef made as a result of being inconvienced by having to serve me. They have my sympathies as if I was in the same position at this time on a Friday evening I would have a similar attitude.


October 29, 2015 / Aware of the Void

Hill of Slane – Pinhole Obscura Reblog

Camera: Pinhole 4x5 (Horseman 120 roll back fitted) Film: Foma 100 Dev: Rodinal 1+ 50 9mins Camera: Pinhole 4×5 (Horseman 120 roll back fitted)
Film: Foma 100
Dev: Rodinal 1+ 50 9mins

Myth and legend tells us that St Patrick lit the Pascal fire on the hill of Slane in 422 AD this was in the line of sight of the high king of Ireland and it is said that the King was warned that if the fire was not put out that Christianity would burn forever across Ireland.

A monastery was built on the site as far back as 513AD and has been replaced with various monasteries and abbots in the centuries that followed. In 1175 Richard le Fleming, first Baron of Slane built a Motte and Bailey castle and the buildings that can still be seen today were constructed in 1512.

The remnants of the friary and walled graveyard make for some interesting pinhole shots and since this is the most elevated point in the area the view are wonderful. The day I visited it was foggy and lashing rain so I think I will need to re-visit soon.
Camera: Pinhole 4x5 (Horseman 120 roll back fitted) Film: Foma 100 Dev: Rodinal 1+ 50 9mins Development details on FilmDev Camera: Pinhole 4×5 (Horseman 120 roll back fitted)
Film: Foma 100
Dev: Rodinal 1+ 50 9mins
Camera: Pinhole 4x5 (Horseman 120 roll back fitted) Film: Foma 100 Dev: Rodinal 1+ 50 9mins Development details on FilmDev Camera: Pinhole 4×5 (Horseman 120 roll back fitted)
Film: Foma 100
Dev: Rodinal 1+ 50 9mins

October 26, 2015 / Aware of the Void

Chinese Style Tomato and Egg Soup (Twice)


This is a tale of two soups. Both made with more or less that same ingredients but with slightly different outcomes. The inspiration for trying this soup came from a photo sent to me by Nivetha with the sole objective of upsetting me. We had been discussing one of my quirky dietary dislikes.

I have an intermittent phobia of eggs and tomatoes combined in the same dish. I have had this my entire life and on occasion I have found it so off putting that I have had to order different food while eating in restaurants. Most people I know find this irritating and hilarious. Me and Nivetha had a heated discussion as to whether or not tomatoes belong in the classic omelet. I was trying to explain why the very notion was an abomination and I really found it difficult to argue my side as my phobia is totally irrational. A few days had passed and I was sent a photo from Singapore of a tomato and egg soup.

I had a sudden revelation that I was missing out so I put my brave face on and turned to cook island to give this soup a try.

I have made it a few times now and I seem to be somewhat freed of my irrational fear. I’m even trying variations so here is the same soup twice. One as per the photo sent by Nivetha and the other a drop egg variation. It’s a hearty soup with a real taste of the east.


  • 2 x cloves of garlic
  • 5 x medium tomatos chopped
  • 4 x medium eggs
  • 750ml of veg stock
  • 4 x table spoon vinegar (I used balsamic)
  • Plain noodles
  • Drizzle of sesame oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

These amounts makes two very large bowlfulls.


Heat some oils in a large pan, I like using my wok and add the two whole garlic cloves. I leave these whole as I really only want a tiny hint of garlic.

Add the chopped tomatoes and fry until just starting to soften. I have tried this with cherry tomatoes and salad tomatoes and the results are equally good. The cherry tomato give a slightly sweeter taste.

Pour in the stock and vinegar to taste. The vinegar adds a sharpness that really is the key to this soup so add it little by little until you get the flavour you like. If you like it a little saltier you can also add a bit of soya sauce.

Add the noodles, I’m pretty lazy so normally just add them to the stock and use packets that I know will cook quickly in the stock. Other packets will require you to boil them separately.

Eggs are added next, I have tried two methods. The first method is to put the eggs in a bowl and beat them. I then fry these like an omelette. The result is them chopped into large pieces and added to the soup.

Or alternately I have also made this as a “drop egg” dish. You beat the eggs the same and then drizzle them directly into the soup. The eggs cook instantly and this has the advantage of allowing you to cook everything in one wok.

I add salt and pepper to taste and serve in a big flat bowl. I’m loving this soup and am greatful that Nivetha bullied me into trying it.



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