Ziggy’s and Camlet Moat Through a F1.4 lens.

One  of my photography heroes is Henri Cartier-Bresson who was a pioneer of street photography of “catching the moment”, which is what I strive to do.  He would sling two Leica 35 mm cameras around his neck one of which had an F1.4 lens.  I have always wanted such a lens but the price was ever exorbitant; for a decent one.  Then good old Panasonic brings out the LX 15 with a Leica F1.4 lens.  I can now pretend to be Bresson!   F1.4 means a large aperture and, with the wide angle, almost everything is in focus and it will take good photos in poor light.  I tried it first at the fantastic Ziggy’s jazz club:

which is run by Steve Taylor and Josie Frater . Guitarist Nigel Price and singer Tina May , both outstanding performers, were guests. They were backed by the Steve Taylor Trio. The music was just wonderful especially as some Ellington numbers were performed and Steve played a duet with the double bass player.  The Big Noise from Winnetka is one of my favourite  jazz numbers and the double bass and drums are, perhaps, my two favourite instruments.

It was a great evening especially as I was with Valerie.

The next day we went to Camlet Moat which is on the edge of Trent Park one of Enfield’s many wooded areas.  As you can see from the link, some think Camlet Moat is King Arthur’s Camelot.  Well, it might be.  Camelot means armed camp and I am sure King Arthur had many such around Britain. It is now a wooded, square, moated island though the moat is interrupted by a land bridge and covered in bright green weed.

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There used to be votive offerings hanging in the trees but some spoilsport has removed them.  To me the ribbons and trinkets were a romantic and sensitive link to the distant path.  It is still a special place, the spot where the sacred well was is still there and one of the trees has tremendous energy, I felt it as I approached.  Here it is in one corner of the island.


When I touched it and closed my eyes, I could see the trees behind me; it was a very bright, clear image.  Not so surprising as trees have their own broadband fibre system,  Mycorrhiza, which connects trees together as well as facilitating the absorption of nutriment.

We left the island and crossed the path

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to where runners suddenly appear as if they were aliens in strange clothes running from one world to another.  We walked into a group of young trees and it was such a lovely sight

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Walking back to the car we spotted the Obelisk that is in remembrance of Harold son of the Duchess of Kent.

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Looking down from there you can see the house which was home, prisoner of war camp and then university.  Middlesex University has left Enfield; a great shame and detriment to the borough.

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Finally a picture of me in my favourite chair.

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Box Camera to Telephoto Lens

Early on, at perhaps 12 or 13 years, I was the proud owner of a Box Brownie not that any photos remain.  Still I would produce it, fiddle with the simple controls and take photos of my family.

Box Brownie

This image, taken from the internet is just how I remember it.

My Father had a Voigtlander that he had taken from a German naval officer, most likely in Denmark where he took formal surrender from the garrisons around the Danish coast.


Again an image of one from the internet.  Dad let me use it and I felt a serious photographer.  It was beautifully made and I would take it from its leather case just to admire it, the precision and the fascinating way the bellows opened.  He kept it in a cupboard with his enlarger and other developing equipment.  I never saw him develop and print his film but I suppose he had kept it all from before the war.  It inspired me to develop and print – black and white only – my own photos.  I acquired a brilliant Russian enlarger that packed into a small brief case.


The enlarger packed into the brief case

I was in my early 30s and was slim enough to crouch in the cupboard under the stairs that I had transformed into my darkroom.  I can still feel the excitement as I watched my first print appear; it was magic.  Most have gone the way of all things, though I have a couple or so left.  I swapped it with Dad for his full-sized enlarger which I never used.  All that is left is the base board I use as a ramp for the lawnmower and the lens which is a lovely chunk of glass that  I use as a magnifier; when I can find it.

In the late 60s Dad gave me his Nikon F with Photomic head and three fixed lenses in a wonderful leather case.  I tried to find it just now.  I know I have it somewhere but here is an image from the web again.



It was a great camera and opened my eyes to how good prints can be with a decent camera and decent glass lenses.  I still like Nikon, sturdy, fabulous optics, reliable; though I now use Panasonic digital cameras.

Until a few months ago, I have never used a telephoto lens.  It is something that I was interested in using but was never sure what I would use it for.  Anyway, as Oscar Wilde advised, I gave into temptation and bought a 150 to 400mm lens – equivalent to 300 to 800 for a 35 mm wet film camera.  It is a work of art and high technology and extremely heavy due to the lenses being glass, as all good ones are.  It is complicated to use and very heavy.  The first pictures I took were of a grey wagtail sitting on her nest.  I had to lean round the corner of the house trying not to fall in the river- or leat to be pedantic – adjusting focal length and focus.

Next day I used a tripod and photographed the damsel flies dancing and courting over the yellow water lilies.

One of the ducklings had been sucked under the sluice gate opposite the balcony but it magically re-appeared.

This is where the Wagtail flies to feed.

Wagtail's retreat

We have found bullets imbedded in the limestone wall and the pock marks from, what looks like, a machine pistol.  The Gestapo were here.   The spirit of an old lady asked us to plant a rose bush in memory of those killed.  A couple of years ago we brought one out from England and several soldiers gathered round at the planting ceremony.  The week before the bush was covered with about 30 blooms but new buds were developing and I photographed one with my new lens.


The house is tranquil now.