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November 18, 2014 / Aware of the Void

The Day I Licked a Rupee


From the time we told people that we had planned to travel in India nearly the first thing that people told us is that we would get sick – stomach or bowel trouble.
We are now in the last week of our travels and with the exception of a few occasions where the food was so delicious and bountiful that I massively overate to be comfortable, we have escaped all the fabled illnesses.
I think a big part of staving off any potential harm is to be sensible in what you eat. Basic advice is, peel it, boil it, cook it or forget it!

All food and tap water in the world contains microscopic bacteria that will potentially cause stomach problems. In our home country we have built up a tolerance to the microbes but when you visit somewhere different it is a whole new world of tiny problems waiting to upset your guts.

Since we arrived we have avoided tap water, salads and fresh fruits and no ice in any drinks. Occasionally this has been a bit embarrassing when food and drink has been offered to us in the spirit of hospitality but once we explain about our weak western stomachs we are forgiven.

We have eaten street food where there is lots of locals eating so that the food is being freshly cooked. I have favoured places to eat where you can see the cooking in process and can be confident that it has not been sitting for long.

During our short stay here we seem to be picking up a tolerance to the local bacteria which is allowing us to be adventurous in our food choices with no ill effect. The food is fantastic and I will be attempting many of the dishes at home.

During the entire trip I have been taking snap shots with my phone as part of my visual diary. We were travelling by auto-rickshaw and I pulled my phone out of my pocket to capture yet another adventurous journey. One hand was grappling with the frame of the Auto to stop me getting flung out the door and the other was trying to use the camera phone. When I pulled the phone from my pocket there was a 1 Rupee coin stuck to the cover obstructing the button – with no free hand I instinctively pulled the coin away with my teeth…..and there it was the distinct flavour of a thousand sweaty palms and a million trouser pockets.

The 1 Rupee coin, as far as I know, is the lowest denomination coin in circulation in India. It is so low that there is no Euro equivalent. I have no way of knowing how many people have touched the coin but as soon as I realised what I had done it tasted like all 1 billion people had at some stage fingered the coin in a greasy palm.

Having avoided illness for the whole trip I assumed that this would be the end of me, laid up in bed for days, liquid ejecting from both ends but to date I can report that I have had no adverse effect from what has become know as – The Day I Licked the Rupee.

November 16, 2014 / Aware of the Void

A Well Travelled Hat


The kindness, hospitality and generosity that has been shown to us during our time in India has been overwhelming.
The hat I am wearing in this photo was bought about ten years ago during a trip to the US. It has been a common sight on my head in the intervening decade. It has been with me all over Europe and has visited most of Ireland with me.
At some point not long after our arrival in India I lost the cap. This was no big loss as the only notable features of the hat are that it fits my odd shaped head and I have had it a long time. Losing it was only a concern as the direct sun on my head can be uncomfortable but beyond that I was unaffected by its absence.
Today we arrived in New Delhi and met with many of Nikihi’s extended family and friends. The cap had been left in the back of his fathers car and was sent by courier so it would be waiting for me in New Delhi.
This hat traveled 1500km across India to be on my head tonight. This is no small feat arranged by people that only recently got to meet me in person. I am glad to have my scruffy old hat back but I am even happier to be able to call these people my friends.

November 2, 2014 / Aware of the Void

Visual Diary – October 2014

245/365/2014 - Dainty Daisy

245/365/2014 – Dainty Daisy
It’s time to say goodbye to the last of the Summer flowers – October has started and there is a bite in the air.

246/365/2014 - Make the Print
246/365/2014 – Make the Print
Is it possible to teach the basics of darkroom printing in 1hr? The surprising answer is yes! My first session with the DUPA crowd in TCD. It is a fun way to spend a Thursday evening and it is nice to see people taking an interest in the process.

247/365/2014 - Media
247/365/2014 – Media

248/365/365 - Darragh
248/365/365 – Darragh

Computer games, robot making and a walk along the cliffs filled my weekend when my nephew came to stay. What a great kid!

When I look at this picture of him it is like traveling back in time – he looks so much like the older brother that I remember from my childhood it is really strange to see that guy again. We have both changed a lot in the last 30 years.

249/365/2014 -Mullaghmeen
249/365/2014 -Mullaghmeen
A magical walk in an enchanting forest was organised by the APUG guys. I snapped a few shots with my iPhone and spent the rest of the morning hauling my tripod and Mamiya around the woods – great spot worthy of a revisit.

250/365/2014 - Liberty
250/365/2014 – Liberty
Dublin looking well for October

251/365/2014 - Boots
251/365/2014 – Boots
Imagine a boot stamping on a human face – -forever……………did you imagine my shiny new hipster safety boots.

252/365/2014 - DUPA Printing
252/365/2014 – DUPA Printing
DUPA darkroom session 2. I am trying to give a very, very basic introduction to darkroom printing in the space of an hour. So far everyone has left with a print they made themselves. It is refreshing in the era of digital photography that a university photographic association is still interested in the darkroom process.

253/365/2014 - Red - Red
253/365/2014 – Red – Red
The main thing this winter is to match your phone cover with your hat.

254/265/2014 - Happy Birthday Pauline
254/265/2014 – Happy Birthday Pauline
It is always nice to have a family event to catch up with everybody.
Lolo’s aunty had a big surprise birthday.

255/365/2014 - Flow
255/365/2014 – Flow
Camera:Nikon F100
Film: Neopan 100 Acros
Lens:Nikon 50mm 1.8
Dev: Rodinal R09 Special
Scan:Epson V330

256/365/2014 - Reds

256/365/2014 – Reds
The train stations of Ireland have some real beauty spots if you can look beyond the barbed wire.

257/365/2014 - Context
257/365/2014 – Context
I managed to get one last look at the sculpture in context in the botanical gardens. This one was magnetic.

258/365/2014 - Plans
258/365/2014 – Plans
Trying to get my head around the up coming travel plans and deciding if I need to pack a jumper – I’m guessing no!

259/365/2014 - Brewed

259/365/2014 – Brewed
A sneaky pint on a school night to have a look at the new decor in the all new Cock and Bull pub.

260/365/2014 - Boobless

260/365/2014 – Boobless
I don’t often use a calculator but when I do I try a bit of creative typing. It’s a classic.

261/365/2014 - Artisan Camera

261/365/2014 – Artisan Camera
Inspiration and ideas, “Artisan Camera – Studio Photography from Central India” I ordered this so long ago (June 2014) that I forgot it was on the way. The portraits are great and each one is a beautiful vignette. Well worth a look if you are interested in portraiture.

262/365/2014 - ISPG

262/365/2014 – ISPG
Irish Street Photography Group ready to descend on Dublin
Once a month Des Byrne organises a street photography meet up – It is a great way to spend a Saturday morning and there is always a nice bunch of people.

You can find the results of some of these outings on the groups flickr page – this is heavily moderated so the standard is pretty high.

263/365/2014 - Henna

263/365/2014 – Henna
I had never seen anyone getting Henna done it was incredible to see such an intricate design being hand drawn.

264/365/2014 - Make Prints
264/365/2014 – Make Prints
A new print from an old negative. Taken somewhere on the west coast of Ireland on a rainy day.

Camera:Nikon F100
Film: Neopan 100 Acros
Lens:Nikon 50mm 1.8
Dev: Rodinal R09 Special
Paper: Ilford Multigrade IV RC

265/365/2014 - Flow
265/365/2014 – Flow
A day trapped behind a PC has left me craving the outdoors so I decided to virtually visit the outside world.

266/365/2014 - Sunset
266/365/2014 – Sunset
This time of year the sunsets are early but they make up for that by occasionally being spectacular.

267/365/2014 - Deepavali

267/365/2014 – Deepavali
Life is a funny thing, two years ago I did not know much about India, Sri Lanka or Singapore and now I find that i am filling my house with people to help them celebrate their festivals.
We made a Biryani and Kuzhambu – Stuffed again!

268/365/2014 - Depth of Field
268/365/2014 – Depth of Field
A little worms eye view of the world this season. Sometimes it can be nice to aim low with my photography.

269/365/2014 - Lough Dan
269/365/2014 – Lough Dan
If I could I would take this stroll every day. It was a nice time of year to visit. From where we park you can trace the route of the river and see where it joins the lake. This is the route we walk and it seems a bit further than it feels when you walk it.

270/365/2014 - Bat Capatti

270/365/2014 – Bat Chapati
It is nice to know people with the talent to make this food but being able to fashion it into the Bat signal was a nice bonus.

271/365/2014 - C41 Home Development
271/365/2014 – C41 Home Development
Anything bigger than 135 colour film I develop at home. I pretty much have my system down and get consistent results. Here my chemistry is having a water bath to get the temperature right.

272/365/2014 - Witches Abroad
272/365/2014 – Witches Abroad
A spooky photo session with the Smena group tonight. It is always great when people get involved and play along.
Loads of people brought props and many where happy to pose. I took a lot on my phone but liked the humour in this one the most.

273/365/2014 - Packing
273/365/2014 – Packing
Looking through the stash to see if I need to buy more film for the India trip. I have decided that I should have enough but still I have a few days left to fully decide so no panic just yet.

274/365/2014 - The Things we Do for Love
274/365/2014 – The Things we Do for Love
I am currently transporting a mint lemonade from the city centre to my home in the suburbs – This is because my wife really likes this drink and I ate my dinner in the one place in the city that i know sells them. Arriving home without it was not really an option.

275/365/2014 - Drive by Shooting
275/365/2014 – Drive by Shooting
Working late to get my desk cleared before disappearing for the next few weeks means that this is about all I will see of the Festivities this year.

This is Halloween, everybody make a scene
Trick or treat till the neighbors die of fright
It’s our town, everybody scream
In this town of Halloween

October 27, 2014 / Aware of the Void

Making a Print in the DUPA Darkroom

If you are a current member of the Dublin University Photographic Association you have access to two fully equipped photographic darkrooms.  It is worthwhile availing of the facilities and giving traditional darkroom printing a try. This post should shepherd you from the process of booking the darkroom to drying your final print.



1. Booking the Darkroom

There is a sign up sheet in the front arch pinned to the DUPA notice board. Pick your slots and put your name down.

DUPA Darkroom2. Collect the key at your allotted time

The keys for both darkrooms are kept in the security office – on presentation of your DUPA card and a photo ID you can get the keys. Your DUPA card will be kept until you return the keys.

3. Finding the Atrium Darkroom

This is possibly the most difficult aspect of printing in the DUPA darkroom. The atrium darkroom is hidden next to the committee room in the lower reaches of the atrium next to the dining hall. The easiest way to find it is to aim for the cash machine next to the dining hall go up the steps and keep going until you find a door. Enter the atrium and go down the stairs. Go through the double doors and the committee room is on the left hand side as you walk towards the toilets. The darkroom is next to the committee room. If you found it well done!


4. Chemistry

When you enter the darkroom you will find black concertina bottles filled with all the pre-mixed chemistry you will need for basic printing. These are made fresh every Monday and so far every-time I have used the room they have been in good condition and ready to use. There are lots of bottles of chemicals, stop, fix and developer if you do need to mix these fresh for yourself. The instructions are on the bottles.


5. Trays

Pour your chemicals into the trays provided, they are labelled Dev, Stop and Fix the fourth tray is for water, once you have developed, stopped and fixed your print you can rest your print in the water  before your final rinse.


6. The Enlarger

Insert your negative into the negative carrier. You should place it with the shiny side facing up. Turn on the focus light using the timer switch.

You can adjust the size of the picture you want to print using the easel to crop the frame and using the handle on the right you can make the image larger or smaller. When you have the picture you want you can use the focus knob to sharpen the image. I find if I place a sheet of paper on the easel it makes it very easy to see the picture. There is an aperture adjustment on the lens – in the DUPA darkroom i have been setting this to f4 for most of the prints and it is giving short exposure times and sharp images, as you practice more you will see a benefit in adjusting this to allow for longer exposure times.

There is a colour head on the enlarger that can be used to take advantage of split grade printing and other creative opportunities but that is best explored once you have the basics.


7. The Timer

You can use the timer to turn on the focus light to arrange you composition and find your focus. The + and – buttons are used to set the exposure time and when you have you sheet of paper ready to go you hit the big button to start the timer and turn on the light.


8. Making a test print

In order to find the correct exposure time for your shot it can be helpful to make a test print using different exposure times. This will let you see what effect using more or less light can have on your final image. Place your paper under the enlarger and make a base exposure for the entire sheet – my base exposure above was 10 seconds. You then cover the page with cardboard and set the timer for 1 second. Move the card along the page in 2cm gabs to give a selection of exposures. In my example above after the initial base exposure I then exposed at an additional 1 second for each of the gaps to give an idea of the correct exposure. Looking at my test print I determined the correct exposure to be around 15 seconds.

9. Develop, Stop and Fix

Take your print from the enlarger and glide it into the tray of developer. You should start to see an image after about 15 seconds and after about 30 seconds – depending on how fresh the chemistry is your print should be fully developed. Using the tongs lift your print and put it into the stop bath for about 20 seconds. Then you can move it into the next tray – this is the fixer and once you have left the print in here about 60 seconds you should be able to turn on the lights and have a look at your print.

Prints86110. Making your Final Print

It is very similar to making the test print but instead you expose the entire page from the time you have determined using your test print. Then develop, stop and fix as above. For my final prints I always fix for a full 5 minutes and then move them to a water bath where I will rinse a bunch of them at the same time. You need to rinse them for long enough to wash away any residual chemistry. The rinse times for fiber papers are much longer than the resin coasted paper.


11. Drying your Prints

You can either hang your prints to dry on the line above the sink or if you are in a hurry you can use the print dryer on the counter by the door. This can only be used for resin coated paper. You turn it on, set the temperature and when it has warned up you can insert your prints into the rollers and they will appear on the other side already dry.

12. Clean Up

It is always best to leave the room how you would like to find it, pour the chemistry back into the correct bottles, wash out all the trays and tongs, clean up any spillages. Turn off the lights and fans, lock the door and go home.

This has been a rough guide to making a print in the DUPA darkroom and it gives a very basic overview but my hope is that there is enough information here to let you make you own prints without over-complicating it. Feel free to ask me questions here or post them on the DUPA Facebook page and I will try to answer what I can.








October 2, 2014 / Aware of the Void

Visual Diary – September 2014

216/365/2014 - Apple Products
216/365/2014 – Apple Products
Beta testing some new coffee cups in work today. They seem to hold an average size apple and a Caffè Americano

217/365/2014 - Half Baked
217/365/2014 – Half Baked
Tonight’s dinner was made entirely from the contents of the fridge and store cupboard. A fine pasta bake with some odd contents including four types of cheese.

218/365/2014 - Film Box
218/365/2014 – Film Box
Sorting out the darkroom to make space for the new arrival. I combined all my film into one location and have decided that I don’t need to buy any more film for a little while.

219/365/2014 - De Vere 504
219/365/2014 – De Vere 504
Finally got set up and operational. This thing is a beast but I am looking forward to making some prints with it.

220/365/2014 - Wooden Heart
220/365/2014 – Wooden Heart
Film: Kodak Tri-X
Dev: Agfa Adanol 1+100 60mins

221/365/2014 - Little Sur
221/365/2014 – Little Sur
A ramble along the cliffs at Howth today and some fun with the slow shutter app on the phone.
It was less windy today so I managed one shot from the edge. Scared myself a little and packed up again.

222/365/2014 - Sculpture In Context
222/365/2014 – Sculpture In Context
Its that time again the annual sculpture in context exhibition at the national botanical gardens. This place is always great for a walk but with the addition of  many works of art it really is wonderful.

223/365/2014 - Time to say Goodbye
223/365/2014 – Time to Say Goodbye
An epic weekend finished with a stroll on the Bull and a last chance to show our guests some of our favourite spots in Dublin.

224/365/2014 Tara Street
224/365/2014 Tara Street
Camera: Olympus Mju II
Film: Kodak Gold 200
Dev: C-41 (Lab)

225/365/2014 - Meet me at the Arch
225/365/2014 – Meet me at the Arch
It’s funny how we all have our points of reference. I had a meeting with someone and the agreed location was the arch at Trinity College.
Until that meeting I never released how many arches there are in Trinity. We eventually found each other wandering around the city screeching – Is this the arch I’m looking for.

226/365/2014 - Packing
226/365/2014 – Packing
An unexpected change in my work arrangements has allowed me to join my wife and a buddy for a weekend trip to visit an old pal in Girona.
It’s a short stay – hand luggage only so this is the choice for the weekend, the Nettar Zeiss Ikon for 120 and the Fm2 for 35mm

227/365/2014 - Anna
227/365/2014 – Anna
Catching up with Anna over a beer in her home town was a real treat. I had not seen her in months and I am glad to say she has not changed one bit.
This girl is the good kind of crazy.

228/365/2014 - Lolo Y Gala
228/365/2014 – Lolo Y Gala
Life imitating art, imitating life.
A surreal visitation to the home of Gala Dali was one of the many wonderful things that happened today.
I shots lots of film, and went a bit crazy with the iPhone snaps but for me the amusement I get from this shot makes it the 365 shot for today.

229/365/2014 - Cadaqués
229/365/2014 – Cadaqués
Another wonderful day on the Costa Brava – today we visited Cadaqués, swam in the sea again, ate good food, laughed and had fun. I loved the narrow street and the beautiful doorways.

Good Times!!

230/365/2014 - Girona
230/365/2014 – Girona
A whirlwind  visit left us with 1hr and 15 minutes to explore the city before eating breakfast on the go and getting to the airport.
We saw enough of the city to let me know that I had seen very little of it and I am already trying to work out when I can go back again.

231/365/2014 - Little Brown Bottles
231/365/2014 – Little Brown Bottles
Following a recent “incident” involving some of my chemicals I have decided it was time to re-organise.
Amber glass bottles and a whole pile of labels is the way of the future.

232/365/2014 - Soup Season
232/365/2014 – Soup Season
I have become obsessed with noodle soup and its inexhaustible variations.
The weather is starting to get a little cooler so making this every few days for lunch is keeping the chills away.

233/365/2014 - The Drop Off
233/365/2014 – The Drop Off
It is with a sense of trepidation that I leave these with my “lab” . They lost two rolls last time but were “very sorry”. I do my own 120 at home but I find that for 35mm it is fast and cheap to let the lab dev and scan. The rare failure on their part is something I can live with for the convenience……but if it is really important to me I dev them at home myself….

234/365/2014 - Work at Height
234/365/2014 – Work at Height
My work sometimes allows me to get a different view of things.

235/365/2014 - Irish Street Photography Group
235/365/2014 – Irish Street Photography Group
Once a month Des Byrne organises a street photography meet up – It is a great way to spend a Saturday morning and there is always a nice bunch of people.
Generally Des suggests a couple of themes for the walk and this month one was “Film – 27 shots” many of the photographers used disposable film cameras to try and challenge themselves and restrict the number of pictures that they could take on the route. I shot with my Fm2 and had the dubious honour of taking the group shot at the start of the walk.

Pretty typical of my group shots – I made an arse of it….but I think in the end I only missed about 5 people.

You can find the results of some of these outings on the groups flickr page – this is heavily moderated so the standard is pretty high.

Camera:Nikon FM2
Film: Kodak Tri-X 400
Dev: Agfa Studional 1+100 75mins

236/365/2014 - A Very Berry Outing
236/365/2014 – A Very Berry Outing
It is that time of year again. The brambles are full of juicy black berries and I’m out for a forage.
The plan is for a harvest tart later in the day depending on the bounty.

237/365/2014 - You Little Tart
237/365/2014 – You Little Tart
The net results of yesterdays pickings was about 3KG of blackberries. Some are now frozen for winter treats but a lot went into two crumbles and an Apple and Blackberry tart. A big slice of which I am eating for my breakfast.

238/365/2014 - Souping
238/365/2014 – Souping
A cheeky little Asian number…More veg, more noodles, more soup.

I really do like soup

I know that some days it seems like I am just taking photos of my lunch but if you dig a little deeper you will spot that I am very carefully considering the light and shadow in these pictures – I treat each one as a miniature still life……or I am just taking pictures of my lunch – you decide.

239/365/2014 - Lith Printing
239/365/2014 – Lith Printing
I have finally decided to give this a proper go. I normally tried lith printing while doing some other work but this time I have come to the darkroom with nothing but lith on my mind.

240/365/2014 - Cut the Blue Wire
240/365/2014 – Cut the Blue Wire
My requirement to understand how a huge amount of different things work is truly staggering sometimes…
This view can mean only one thing….winter is on the way

241/365/2014 - Cliffs at Sunrise
241/365/2014 – Cliffs at Sunrise
One of the main benefits of the short winter days is that it gets very easy to get out of bed on time to catch the sun rise.
This was a glorious morning for late September and if this is my last great sunrise of the winter I am very glad to have made the effort to catch it.

242/365/2014 - Clean it Up
242/365/2014 – Clean it Up
An afternoon of searching for information on home improvement details was brightened by a trip to the park.
Poppy knows the score – she shits, I pick it up.

243/365/2014 - Breakfast
243/365/2014 – Breakfast
Aiming for an iron injection with this one. It is mostly spinach with some tomato and cheese.

244/365/2014 - The Mask
244/365/2014 – The Mask
Sometimes, but not always I get to look like this in work.
Given the choice between shaving off my beard and wearing the net for the day I normally choose to have a shave….sometimes I forget…

September 22, 2014 / Aware of the Void

How to Test your Film Fixer

This is a very quick guide to testing your film fixer. Unless you make fresh fixer every-time you develop your film you might be using your fixer more than you really should. I have in the past pushed mine a little too far and have regretted ending up with poor negatives that required to be re-fixed. So now if I have any concern at all I test my fix or just make a new batch.

1. Retain the leaders that you are cutting from your film.

2. Pour some fixer into a container

3. Put the leader in the fix

4. Agitate the mixture and time how long it takes for the film to go clear

5. This is for how long you should fix your film .

Any more than 3 mins and I discard the fixer and make a fresh batch. 


September 11, 2014 / Aware of the Void

Brendan vs Jesús – Pinhole Swinger Film Swap

Brendan vs Jesús


An interesting variation on two of the constant themes of my blog, pinhole photography and film swaps. At some point during the WPPD trip to Amsterdam we were all invited to place a roll of shot 120 film in a bowl. You then picked at random from the selection and re-shot the roll in the classic film swap mode. The difference here is that you both shot using pinhole cameras.

I was very lucky to pick the roll shot by the wonderful and talented Jesús Joglar. I had been following his pinhole work on his blog and flickr since I first took an interest in shooting pinhole. It was a real treat for me to be paired with him.

In theory since we both used Zero 4×5 cameras with horseman 120 roll backs everything should have lined up to give us the perfect double exposure with a 6×7 aspect…..but since I really don’t know what I am doing most of the time I am happy to take the blame for the misalignment.

I enjoyed the collaboration and really love the results.

ZI45_67_0001_001 ZI45_67_0001_003 ZI45_67_0001_005 ZI45_67_0001_006 ZI45_67_0001_007


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