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Taking me up the alley

I live near York, or perhaps we should call it Old York or York Original? Anyway, it’s a medieval city that, due to arguments over ownership, kept its stone walls and gates instead of using them as building materials. Quick diversion – local humour: ‘welcome to York where the roads are gates, the gates are bars and the bars are pubs’. And it was the latter that drew me here on this day: we were taking part in a pub crawl. In particular, we were crawling the pubs using York’s alleys and passageways, collectively known as snickelways, a combination of three Yorkshire words: snicket, ginnel and alleyway. Take a camera, I thought, it will look interesting and what could possibly go wrong?

Nine pubs, for a start. Better plan to imbibe just a half in each one unless I fancied sleeping in one of those alleys. Pickled in a snickel. Not as cute as it sounds.

Thankfully nobody coming the other way

And which camera? Do I go splashproof or widest-angle lens? Or just something small and light? I could really do with a wide-angle lens in the tight passages and my digital compacts stop at a 35mm equivalent (54 degrees). I could take an SLR with my 15mm lens but do I want to carry it? How about my Espio, as it has a 28mm lens? I could load it with some Delta 3200 and develop that in 510 Pyro. The Espio recognises DX coding for ISO up to 3200, so that works. And of course I’ll throw my Canon digital compact in the bag for colour shots and the ability to stretch my ISO if needed. The die is cast.

Now, as we all know, in theory, theory and practice are the same, but in practice the difference between theory and practice is greater than theory predicts. (Try saying that at the end of the pub crawl). So how did I get on?

Well, the first thing was that I’d not shot the Espio for a while but I had been using the Canon digital compact. So each time I went to use the Espio I held it out in front of me and looked at the back. Then I did a puzzled face, as there was no screen on the camera. I was definitely right to bring a compact rather than an SLR though, as speed of use and ease of carry were important. There was even space in my small bag for a bottle of water, to drink between beers to be sure I could find my bus home later.

Diving up the back passages was by far the best way to get between pubs. York gets busy on a Saturday night, even when it’s raining. But most people stay on the main streets, so slipping down a snicket was like a private bypass. Some of the back ways were no more than shoulder width, which would have been interesting if anyone had come the other way. Our host and guide produces the definitive map to all the pubs (128 so far) and he had produced the route and plan for this event. It couldn’t have been easier, which is just as well when there are a dozen of us, with a bit of a glow on and distracted by the sights or lost in chat and not paying attention. Herding cats is easier, as you can use gaffer tape.


The camera /film /developer combination was not that good, though. It looks like the Espio was underexposing the film. Where the lighting was even, the film had plenty of detail amongst the grain. The shots taken in the dark though, where the lighting was uneven, had featureless shadows. Perhaps it’s the film – I know the camera was working ok from previous shots. The development should have been ok – I was using 510-Pyro and it has worked well for everything else. My money is on the camera doing a bad job of metering when there are a few bright lights and a lot of dark space. The Canon G9 though, worked just fine. It’s a good workhorse. But I think the Espio could be leaving me. It’s not that compact and my Olympus XA seems to do a better job of metering. Film is getting expensive, so I need to use cameras that handle it well. Perhaps I’ll give the Espio a last chance to do what it was really meant for, and shoot some colour negative film with fill-in flash.

The irregulars

On the other hand, the negatives look better than the scans. I’m sure I have one of those slide copier things somewhere around. It’s a lens in a tube with a slide and negative mount on the end. Mount it on the camera and you have a device for making 1:1 copies. If I can find it I will have a go at making digital photo copies of the negs to see if the problem is with my (old) film scanner.

Anyway – much fun was had. And a sorry – I just enjoyed the silly innuendos. And in this context, even innuendo sounds like an innuendo.


Author: fupduckphoto

Still wishing I knew what was going on.

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