Pulling out the Pentax…..

I used to be a big fan of Pentax. We’re talking 70s and 80s now! I still have two 35mm SLR’s & a couple of lenses (inc 50mm f1.4) & am not getting rid of any of it. But don’t use it.

The coming of the Pentax 645D (only £10K) reminded me that I do have another Pentax. So I pulled out the Pentax 645 which I must have last used about 6 years ago. And there appears to be a film in it – only 1 exposure taken.

Like an idiot I stated playing with the controls, including the ISO dial. Ha! mistake! This isn’t digital – I need to know what speed film is in there…..  From memory it’s probably Fuji 160 asa print or slide but I’ll have to wait until opening to see.

Click. The wrong sort of click. Trouble? Change the batteries. Nothing. Press a few more buttons, still unsure what’s what. Click. The right sort but now weird winding sound that does not stop. Turn off. Secure the film back properly (I’d had a fiddle). Click. Very quick whirr… It seems OK!

This camera has been in a warm but dry loft. The film will be crap I’m just going to fire to the end to see if it gets there and what it is.

I’m testing as I write. The high pitched winding noise recurs as I get towards the end of the film. Turning off the camera and on again seems to solve the problem. 

The film turns out to be 100 asa Provia. I wonder what such film stored in an oven and shot at 160 asa looks like? No, I won’t bother…..

I’m going to have to get some very cheap out of date film off eBay to test this out. The sort which I could get 10,000 rolls of for the price of a Pentax 645D!

Taylor Wessing at the National Portrait Gallery

A casually explicit image by photographer Panayiotis Lamprou entitled “Portrait of my British Wife” has been awarded second place in this year’s Taylor Wessing photographic portrait prize – selected entries for which will be on show at the National Portrait Gallery in London for the next few months.

The British Journal of Photography published the outcome of this year’s contest today showing both the winning image (by David Chancellor) and the second place image in its report. Strangely the NPG are not upfront about the image that they had selected for second place, choosing to crop the lower half of it out completely in its presentation on its website inviting the viewer to click though to see the full image.

I like the image. It’s forthright and intimate. There’s some chatter about it not being erotic or pornographic but some people say that to excuse themselves liking such an image. In my view the subject is pornographic – however in its style and presentation, it hits me also as art.

So why am I writing? I’ve 2 issues:

  • If the NPG don’t feel that they can present the image properly then they really should not have chosen it as second prize in the most prestigious photo competition that there is in the UK.
  • The title – “Portrait of my British Wife”. The idea of the photographer showing off his possession instantly comes to mind. “And here is her vagina. Do you approve?”. You are left wondering about the motivation – is he just being doubly provocative?

It’s cool to have an essentially erotic portrait do well, but please not one with that title and next time don’t sensationalise it by censoring it. I like the image but it’s surely not strong enough to come second in such a prize.

With grants from government declining am I being too cynical if I suspect that the NPG have hit on a way of boosting publicity, attendances, and income?