It’s taken me a while to write, a while to come to some degree of ‘terms’ or understanding of my bereavement – a numbness that is fickle, it lingers on, but we have laughed and cried in equal amounts at the loss of my Dad, he leaves a vacuum, never to be replaced.
People say times a healer, nope, not for me, his legacy to me will be inviolable, I contemplate daily about him, about his life and about how he shaped me as the man I am today - I just hope I made him proud of his achievement
A Husband, a Grand Father, loved like no other, indeed a Father the same, my Father, Sarah adored Dad, indeed as he did her – his very last words to me a few days before his death were ‘Give my love to Sarah’ – Oh God how I yearn for him to be here again – but it is so, and so, our lives must continue.
My photographic journey began when I was about 10 or 11 – the first generation ‘Star Wars’ Tee shirt in an image taken with my Polaroid land camera, gave that away, har har.
I never knew about Mr Land in those days, But I did think you could not take pictures at sea with it , darn foolish youth har har.
Dad is the reason for my love of ‘all things’ photography, he is in fact to ‘blame’ for many things…my love of Land Rovers, his was to the end, Amateur Radio, that too, Boats, Model Railways…etc, the list is endless.
Fathers inspire us in ways we cannot imagine, mine certainly did, that’s for sure, and his legacy lives on in me, and always will – my Son the same, the old man, has a lot to answer for, 3 generations of Green Oval – it runs in our blood, or so it seems.
I was a small boy when first seeing, ironically, the images of myself as a youngster and thinking they looked so ‘real’. Of course, those days were all black and white film, primarily because Dad enjoyed printing his own work and using the darkroom to do so. You can see a pattern forming with me, I am sure, although I am sad to say I never enjoyed the process with him by my side, I was too young and that was the reserve of quality time between Mum and Dad when I was safely tucked up in the ‘land of nod’. They used to spend hours in the darkroom making images.
Those ‘so real’ images were the results from the Leica that Dad owned.
So fast forward some 20 years and I was ‘into photography’, I was newly married and we had a child inbound, ideal opportunity for some photography, anyway my journey continued with my OM1n for some years, limited lenses and good old film. I have to say I am still, to this day, delighted with the images that I took of my son at the time and of course my wife. Despite the marriage failing some 13 years later, they serve to remind me of fond times, lost in love and enjoying life – times were good, indeed exceptional, for many a year and I have the images to this day.
I always had the pleasure of listening to Dad as he recounted lengthy sessions in the Darkroom, whiling away the night’s hours, such is the addictive process of home printing and developing. The process is far more demanding of the photographer than the average photoshop edit. There is a different workflow and of course I grew up with it and was impressed by it.
So, it was not long before my bathroom became a make-shift darkroom, night after night printing images of the kids and holidays etc – such fun and also enjoying the process from start to finish was ultimately satisfying.
Indeed, my first darkroom experience was mostly made-up utilising Dad’s old gear he had for all those years, the focus finder, the contact print frame etc etc.
He had used various cameras over the years, latterly in the days of film the Nikon F3 kit he owned was extensive but rarely used, he preferred the simplicity of the F-301, but he owned some magical Nikkor Glass to go with it.
He burned, indeed etched into me here too, I now own a mint Nikon F3, I cherish it because he had one. That, kind of ‘had to be so’, and a F-301, as does Sarah too. Now there is a camera that has to represent one of the best value for money cameras out there at the moment I paid £19 for mine. Sarah uses hers a lot and has taken some amazing images - my first post on here about film used the F301.
One of my most recent purchases for the Nikon part of the collection is the Nikkor 20mm f2.8 Ais, he almost begged me to get that one, ‘it’s special’ he said – as always, my Dad was right, it is – I like it very much.
I remember going to Brighton with his F3 one day, I am due to repeat that trip, I believe that was the last time I was there, in fact circa '94-95.
I love Brighton, a second-generation Mod as a teenager, it was all about scooters, parkas and ‘can you feel the real me – can ya’.
I yearn to return, to remember and think about it all, walk the beach, listen to the sea, such fun times back then, but I don't suppose I'll sleep under the pier! I want Sarah to document it too, its gonna be a special day. Of course the music lives on and means more and more as I age – I’ll shoot it again , Brighton with the F3 and perhaps the IIIf too.
He used to love looking at my cameras, he marvelled at the modern digital technology and despite his eyesight not being what it once was, he enjoyed ‘framing up’ every now and then.
He enjoyed my work, my Mum constantly keeping him abreast of our adventures and showing him the images on her ‘iPlob’ as he affectionately called her iPad – Dad did not ‘do social’ – a wise man indeed har har.
I digress, see what photography does, without you thinking about it, you see a photograph and your mind is a decade away. So this little Leica, which sadly does not work properly because of a sticky shutter - what's it all about?
Well, it is a 1946 Oska Barnack Leica IIIC, probably the best model they ever made, it is the swiss watch of the camera world. Manufactured just post war by very troubled and no doubt desperate hands, I am sure Wetzlar largely escaped the rigours or War, its a rather sleepy town in Hasse Germany, although it did see the attention of the RAF on a couple of occasions due to Leica's role in military optics, rangefinders and the like.
The period was sadly not the best and many of the cameras from this period were poorly made - that will be put right in due course.
This particular camera was converted in the 50’s to a IIIf, as so many were, quite often by Leica, as they did offer a free upgrade for some time – the main difference being the addition of a self-timer. Otherwise the camera remains basically identical. I will ship it off to Alan Starkie for his full overhaul treatment, and it will return to me like new. Alan is pleased to get the work, not that he needs it of course, the wait will be long, but worth it. I am also shipping the two Elmar’s a 50 and a 90 – Dad left the 50mm Summicron in the enlarger when they moved back to the UK from Spain, so he, like the rest of us made the odd mistake har har. This is to be a family heirloom like no other certainly for me, I am sure that one day Daniels hands will caress Dad’s spanners with love repairing a broken object . My Father was famed for doing this so well – everyone came to ‘Tel’ – he could mend anything.
My journey continues without him now, it’s strange not being to call and ask for advice, something I have done for my whole life – he had an answer for everything I ever asked, bless him.
Thanks for reading, there have been tears right at the end – I wonder what he’d think of my ramblings, I don’t think he read many but he can now.