Of darkness in the child

I have just finished watching Nymphomaniac: Vol. I, Lars von Trier’s movie which IMDB describes as “A self-diagnosed nymphomaniac recounts her erotic experiences to the man who saved her after a beating.” To illustrate the emerging sexuality of Jo, the main character, the writer and director von Trier has her recount two experiences from her pre-teens.

In one, she described the feeling she had when climbing ropes in a gym “with the rope between my legs, the sensation, we called it”. In the other, she described “playing frogs”, sliding clothed on her front over the tiles of a soaking wet bathroom floor with legs splayed.

Given his notoriety, I half expected von Trier to come up with something more sensationalist than this. After all I have grown up to be in many ways the complete opposite of a nymphomaniac but I share very similar childhood experiences with Jo, the ropes in the gym, (I assume we have all been there?) and I played frogs once, but perhaps more daringly, in the pouring rain in my back garden. The things we do when growing up. I just did not expect two of my experiences to be echoed in a Lars von Trier film.

“On the tiles (1997)”

The image is not me ‘playing frogs’ although it does have erotic undertones, which were not intended when I captured it on grainy underexposed film in Kentish Town in 1997. It’s completely unretouched, part of a series of images I chose to call ‘dirty film’. That title, some would suggest, does have something in common with Nymphomaniac: Vol. I, but that does von Trier a dis-service because his films are rather deeper than that.

I really enjoy using a film camera

The clickety clack, the pace, the need not to waste a frame, the mystery of what is going to emerge, the difference in what emerges, the subtle grain, the camera that once cost thousands of pounds that cost me £100, the feeling of artistic superiority over the DSLR user with the big lens, the word ‘analog’.


Right now I am sitting at the computer scanning medium format negatives….

It’s a seagull


Self portrait (1998)

Originally a crop of this was the first image I ever posted to flickr to introduce myself, and my art there. I’m surprised to find that not only did I not use it as my first image here, as far as I can see, I’ve not posted it at all. Rectified.

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!