I am rereading Lawrence Durell’s Justine. On page 36 is the cogent phrase “We are the children of our landscape” in a section where Durell is rolling the tongue of his mind around thoughts on Gnosticism. The cogency for me is because I am currently preparing for a 24 year survey exhibition, a kind of swan song exhibition

Part of this show is to be a series of images from the Australian Littoral Portfolio. I have always had difficulty with the Australian landscape and I have yet to see anyone have success within this genre. In the mid 1970s I was working on a body of English littoral landscapes, lonely, cold, uninviting beaches that deeply resonated with my personal feelings at the time

Some of my genes had spent a minimum of 1300 years in Somerset, some of them millennia, so I felt part of that landscape. In Australia working is still like walking in a strange land. Following my Australian forest landscape work, made in concert with my Forest Protest images, I tried a return to the littoral as a possible path into the Australian landscape. I feel I have had more success here than in the forest images.


Broke Inlet, Australia, 2008

Broke Inlet, Australia, 2008


Remnants Exhibition, Collie Art Gallery

Collie Art Gallery, Collie, Western Australia

Paintings by Galliano Fardin, Lori Pensini and Tony Windberg, sculpture by Sandra Hill and Kim Perrier and photographs by me, curated by Joshua Thomason of Quinninup

Firstly the gallery. The Collie Art Gallery is a surprising achievement for a tiny coal mining town. It is a brand new, simple and elegant building with an exterior that has echos of past railway architecture, appropriate for the location. The large entry room is large, and just messy enough to be welcoming (this is a compliment). The main gallery states less about itself and more about the work than any other I have been in(1) (this is a seriously big compliment). The gallery in Collie was the work of a group of local women with Jan Wallace as the main instigator


Collie Art Gallery WA

Collie Art Gallery WA

Collie Art Gallery WA

Collie Art Gallery WA

Collie Art Gallery WA

My part in the exhibition is twelve silver gelatine prints of forest subjects, so the images are from 1996 to 2005. There is nothing newer on this subject as by 2003 I was in a clinical depression from the forest work I had been doing. This depression has returned while working on the selection and presentation of the prints, mainly vintage with the addition of three new prints from the Melaleuca Swamp series. Witnessing, documenting and fighting against the destruction of forest did that

Enough typing, time to add some snaps

(1 The two main regional galleries in the south of WA are old buildings with art galleries shoe horned into them, and neither really work, despite the best efforts of their directors and staff)

(2 Not that I still believe work in an art gallery can do that)

Leningrad Optical, LOMO process lens

This is taken from a sequence of three FB posts, placed here under one heading as this story may be important for the Naked Portrait Portfolio for my late 2017 Survey Show. This, with the Eclection Portfolio will be the newest portfolio to be represented in t his exhibition


LENINGRAD OPTICAL, also known as LOMO, not the new overpriced plastic fantastic, but perhaps SSSR’s finest optical manufacturer. The one shown is a 360mm dialyte process lens (according to one of the Wise and Wonderful Web’s experts this is an Apo-Tessar derivative, gladly they are wrong). Being a dialyte, a design with a relatively narrow angle of view, it is doubtful if it will do any more than just cover 10×8 inches at infinity. But as these lenses are rarely used at infinity, meaning extended a bit, and as the angle of view remains the same the circle of coverage increases with lens extension I feel sure it will cover. There are lots of drawings of this stuff in the books

This lens arrived today, to be mounted tomorrow to try out. I actually bought this lens as it was the cheapest way I could get a 60 x 0.75mm flange to mount my Schneider Repro-Claron lens. I am amazed at the construction quality of the LOMO, vastly superior to any other Russian lens I have seen. The lens mounting flange is a perfect fit for the R-Claron, which, as I have stated, is why I bought it

More tomorrow, as at the price these can be got for they are a very serious cheap option for new 10×8″ workers and as they stop down to f64 they can be used with a lens cap shutter, or better, the Galli Shutter


Mounted it this morning instead of gardening. To have a lens of my favourite 10×8″ focal length, 36cm, that is very sharp and stops to very small apertures to use as an alternative to the 36cm Heliar is great. The 420mm R-Claron is superb, but used close the bellows extension is very long

To have two different lenses of the same focal length for the 10×8″ portfolios is perhaps too much. I do not keep unused gear, but I am no longer clearing it out at stupid prices. However, when I see friends making great images I am glad to give stuff to them

First check was to see if it would cover 10×8″ at infinity, it does. However, I live in the forest, so there is no infinity and no horizon. To find infinity I have to go to the desert or mountains or the coast. Anyway, this is for studio use


I have finally done the deed on testing my two dialyte lenses, a 420mm f9 Schneider Repro-Claron and the 360mm f10 LOMO. I used to earn a lot of my keep with a 240mm f9 shutter mounted Apo-Ronar, but that is now with a friend

These lenses are for use with the 10×8″ camera and rely on the Sinar Shutter for use. I have had the R-Claron since the 10×8″ camera, but so far I have only used the camera with a 36cm Heliar, which is kind of special. The Sinar shutter is shared between the 10 x 8″ and 5×4″ Sinar Norma. It was bought many whiles ago for the 5×4″

jbaphoto1509809s002jbaphoto1509809sCrop002The results, as were expected, are that at mid apertures of f12 to about f24 the dialytes are wonderful. At the extreme small apertures diffraction makes the lenses unusable for negs for enlargement. For contact prints they should be quite gentle and beautiful. (The senior Mr Weston used a Rapid Rectillinear at f64 for his shell and pepper still lifes, long after these lenses were considered obsolete)

Now to do the work, watch this space for posts about the images, the printing and the presentation

Looking at the image quality of these negs I may end up just using the LOMO for both 10×8″ portfolios. By quality I don’t mean mere sharpness, but the tonal quality of the image, particularly the depth of shadow detail, which is better in the LOMO than any other 10×8″ lens I have. Also the beautiful rendering of the out of focus areas, or boke aji, which translates as the scent of mist

(Note; These is a 450mm LOMO process lens out there at the moment, but the only reason I would buy that is so I could have a lens with a focal length of almost a cubit, that is standard Roman cubit, not the silly Hittite one)


Eclection, formerly the Leicasnaps, because:

AGWA armpits artichokes artists banksia beans bird-nets bricks Brisbane BAG-GOMA BRAG Bunbury bush bushiness cafes coasts clearfell contrasts daughters dead-things Dog-Grub Dog-Ruby Dog-Zeke Elowyn finds flags flair flare forest friends garden granddaughter ideas journeys light Linhof-STv Manjimup moon-light naked-portrait-documentation nakedness notes notions onion-flowers obstructions openings pathways photographers photographers-photographing precursors process portraits Quinninup Rae rock sea Sinar-Norma Scarlettisms signs situations snecks tangents tests trees travel travail water weeds women work Wynnum-cafe xanthorrhoea zamia . . .

But not urban street photography, I do not steal images from the unsuspecting

(Note = I intend that this list will grow until November 2017, and then onward, perhaps)


Blog about to change emphasis again. This time from Eclection, formerly Leicasnaps, to BRAG Survey Show 2017. This blog will record, as much for me as anyone else, the process of selecting, planning, printing, fund raising, framing and hanging the show

Watch this space . . .

Next Exhibition

Had a meeting this morning regarding a second 21 year survey show, this time 1996 – 2017 at The Bunbury Regional Art Gallery

As it is a survey show, some, actually a lot, of the printing is done, it needs to be as we only have a 24 month lead time. Also a lot of new work to be done in two of the portfolios, make that three, actually four

A great meeting with the gallery director and the exhibitions manager, very respectful and I felt quite honoured

Then into the gallery room I will be using where the staff were uninstalling an exhibition. “Wow, John, you made it on time, aren’t you driving one of your Volvos today” No respect at all, for me or my beloved Volvo 240 series. I now wish I had the wreckage of all four of these beautiful cars as sculpture in our garden

Main thing is I now have a timeline and deadlines for fund raising, printing, catalogue work, DVD preparation, catalogue essay writing, framing, and fund raising. And a new website. And colaboratices for the 10×8″ portrait series

For the feeling I want
“At the still point, there the dance is.”
T. S. Eliot, “Four Quartets”

Weird Stuff


Today I was in the new darkroom, luxuriating in its utter darkness. After the eyelid movies had come and gone I started to be able to see the enlargers, switches, benches, shelves and stuff

No, the womb-room is not leaking light, the things I could see were where they used to be before the demolition and rebuilding of the darkroom. Like I typed, weird stuff

Only explanation I have is that my body memory is being transferred to the opti-cortex in lieu of photon thingies