Unity Photo Competition - And The Winner Is......

Thanks to everyone for their patience waiting on this result, it's been a really hard decision; all the entries were great, I'd love to give you all a prize but unfortunately, I've only got one Ihagee Exa to give away this time!

I hope the new owner enjoys the camera, takes some great pictures and shares their experience with us.

I've spent some time with a needle and thread repairing the ever-ready case that comes with the camera and if I don't say so myself it's looking rather lovely; now sitting packaged up with a roll of Tri-X 400, it's ready to head to her new owner!

I started this competition as I had this beautiful camera sitting gathering dust and I wanted to see it being used as it should be, play it forward as they say.

I also wanted to inspire people to think along the theme of 'unity' and submit their best shot on the theme and you did, with a little help on the promotion front from Hamish at 35mmc. I was frankly overwhelmed with the quality and number of entries, thank you all for getting involved, we're all united in the pursuit of photographic satisfaction at least!

Again thanks to all that got involved with the competition, I loved all you work and comments! 

So, without further ado, the results:

Third Place - Edgar So

I love this image for the colours, the detail and the candid scene it depicts, a great shot. Fantastic work Edgar!

Fishers Talk
This shot took in Viet Nam, the fisher work is show their freedom and unity.

Second Place - Arko Højholt

So close, yet so far.  This image appealed to me due to the strong composition and layers, a great second place! Great stuff Arko! 

This Summer I spent a few weeks in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. The landscape there is as flat as they come; apart from the occasional dike keeping the few rivers and streams in place, there’s really nothing sticking up anywhere, not even cute little hills like the ones you see in Denmark, just a few kilometers north. It’s the perfect area for the lazy cyclist and the weak-ankled runner — and it’s absolutely perfect for worry-free sheep husbandry: one can keep an eye on the herd from afar, there’s a range of different marshland grasses that the sheep dig madly, and there’s a complete absence of, say, wolves. Which is why you see thousands of sheep grazing there. 

I spent many hours just walking around with my daughter, not just on the roads but also in the animal’s pastures (avoiding droppings like a couple of Super Marios), and I of course also had a camera on me on the walks and took quite a few pictures of these woolly beast. Most of the pictures came out rather boring, but I did get this one that I’m quite happy with.

 We were walking on a pasture that ran over a dike, which gave the scene a rare bit of vertical play, and happened to walk past this little flock of nine animals that froze completely when we got near. I only got to shoot a single frame; the next second the flock had sprinted off, all headed in the same direction at the same speed, rubbing their frightened little sheep shoulders as they moved as one fluid body down the dike. I couldn’t help wondering about this behaviour, this flock mechanism that visually reminded my so much of how a large number of birds can be seen moving about in the sky. How does it work, how is it communicated? 

A few days later I happened to meet the owner of this particular herd (and countless others) and asked him about it. He explained to me that sheep have an extremely strong flock instinct and that a sheep actually can become extremely depressed if separated from the others. But what was really interesting, in my opinion, is the fact that sheep also have a strong instinct to follow a leader — but that flocks in fact don’t have leaders as such. In a scenario like the one my daughter and I witnessed on the dike, the “leader” may just be the first one to react, to move. So, we’re not talking about a strong hierarchical arrangement, of elected sheep kings or queens, no, we’re talking pure “non-spoken” mutual understanding on a very primal level. And this, I think, is a beautiful example of symbiotic nature, of, yes, true unity. A flock that, however large it may be, behaves like one single animal.

Winner - Hendrik-Jan Hop

The instant I saw this image I knew it was the winner, it nails the theme of Unity as well as being a beautiful image.

Great work Hendrick and you will soon be the proud owner of my beautiful Ihagee Exa, I look forward to seeing what you can produce with it and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have! When you grow tired of it please play it forward to another willing owner.

This is a photo of my daughter having a bath with her friend. They grew up together and didn't see any colour difference. In these times where people sometimes oppose each other a bit too much, I think it is a nice image and a good show of unity between people/kids. 

Btw, I love your initiative!

I'd love to hear all your thoughts on the result and stay tuned as I hope Hendrick might share some of the images he creates with this beautiful camera!

Read more about the competition from the links below and I thanks again to everyone for being involved in the competition

See the first post here.

See the shortlist here.


Unity Photo Competition - Shortlist!

If you've been patiently waiting to see how you have fared in the first round of judging now is your time. Below are the (not so short) shortlisted entries. Thanks to everyone that entered and I loved all your entries!

I'd love to hear your comments on the short list and again thanks to everyone that got involved!

I'll pick the winner soon!

The Travelling Canon AF35 Project - Custodian #3 - Hamish Gill

Hamish is a bit of a celebrity in the world of crap cameras, and as such I'm extremely honoured to have him get involved with my travelling camera project! Check out more of his content over at  35mmc.com and prepare to start looking at rubbish cameras on eBay with a slightly different mindset.

Hamish is custodian #3 in a burgeoning list of wannabe AF35 Sprint shooters, his words and images are below.

Hamish finds out what film he's been shooting with!

Shooting basic point & shoot cameras is far from an unusual thing for me to be doing. In fact, I've shot stacks of the things over the last 3 years. To the untrained eye these things look pretty much a much for muchness, but to the compact camera mega-geek they vary hugely from one to the next. 

I am one of those compact camera mega-geeks, and I'm not afraid to admit it. About 3 1/2 years ago I became acutely aware of the positive impact shooting such simple camera could have on my photography. Provided the lens is at least passable, the limitations something so simple impose allow for a heightened concentration on the basic necessity for good composition. 

I've played with vast quantities of point & shoot cameras, and in doing so there is one thing I have realised: none of them are perfect - not even the highly sought after ones. Not only this, but actually sometimes even the more widely considered better ones have more features that make them less useful in certain circumstances. The best example of this is how automated cameras deal with low light. With meters that can accurately work down to very low exposure values, where the photographer doesn't want to use a flash, the automation can become the enemy of a sharp photo. 

What's interesting about cameras like the Canon Sprint is that they are so basic this isn't an issue. Their meters don't work in such low light, they just aren't that highly specified. This might mean that flash images aren't as good in lower light, but it also means that with a bit of latitude abuse here and there - in the hands of someone with a bit of know how - the compromises they impose can be less profound for the available light photographer than when using a much more expensive camera.

I go into more detail about this in my Canon Sprint review, and even more detail in a review of a very similar camera the Olympus AF-10 Super. But the point is, these underrated cameras shouldn't ever be overlooked. They might not have the lenses of the mju-iis of this world, but with a bit of imagination, and depending on your goals, they can be a much more useful camera. 

I hogged this particular Canon Sprint for a couple of weeks. I lived in my pocket, but went nowhere special. To be fair I did use it to take one of the first photos of my daughter riding her bike. She taught herself! Tenacious little thing she is!

See full size here

This next shot I genuinely felt like the ducks were mocking me. I went to take this shot the first time round, and they all swam off. Not toward me like ducks who are looking for food usually do, but in to the reeds and crap around the outside. I wondered off muttering conveniently rhyming swear words, only to walk back past 5 minutes later and find them all motionless, almost in exactly the right position in the water, looking whimsically into the distance like some sort of duck-band. Pricks. 

See full size here

This last shot was taken on the roof of a car park. It feels like a massive cliche of a photo, something that's been taken a million times before. Clearly staged... He's walking away from a puddle that it's obvious he's not walked through... Anyway, pleasing enough on the eye. 

See full size here

Thanks for letting me take part in your travelling camera project Michael - I hope the rest of the folks involved enjoy it as much as I did!

Read more about the project from the links below and I thanks again to Hamish for being involved in the project!

See the first post here.

Custodian #1 - Gavin Wares.

Custodian #2 - Dimitri Hon.




The Travelling Canon AF35 Project - Custodian #2 - Dimitri Hon

I would like to say that Dimitri is my friend but we've never actually met, him and I occupy the same internet forum and both share a love for photography. Having 'internet friends' is a strange concept for many people but I embrace it, I enjoy the combination of animosity and camaraderie that meeting people purely through shared interests brings.

Dimitri is custodian number 2 in a rapidly growing list of people wanting to be involved with the project, he's based in London, here are his thoughts on the Canon AF35 SPRINT:

Getting a chance to play with a new camera that cost £1 can plunge one in to a surprising amount of anxiety. Once you get past the fact that you are probably taking photos for the narcissistic endeavour of refusing to accept one's own mortality you are faced with the fact that the diminutive value of the device its self is making you compete with you alone, more than anything.

Realising this embarrassingly stereotypical male-photographer trait like an old memory that still makes you cringe, I decided to just have fun instead and hit a few spots I enjoy taking photos and see what happens.

You see, I'm fundamentally lazy, so the first place I decide to go is the Barbican. For those of you that live outside the M25, this is essentially the Vatican for brutalist architecture. It really is that great. It's such blindingly good subject matter that you could point your camera anywhere and it will probably look a bit arty, at worst. It's like Cuba but cheaper to get to.
I got maybe one keeper from there, and that was from my "cop-out" spot, overlooking a pavement, right in to people's domes. Not exactly original but unique in its perspective, until drones arrived at least.


Otherwise, I got pretty fixated on camper vans. There's quite a few in London but what I found interesting was the reluctance to blatantly photograph them up close in case someone was home, so I inadvertently ended up with really voyeuristic angles, which could develop in to something...
I have to nod to Tina Kino in this instance, as she did a really nice series on modded vans in Berlin whereas I just took a few shit photos of a couple of transit vans in Finsbury Park... But there's something compelling about people living like nomads in little capsules next to the pavement.

My last location was Walthamstow market, which can be a tricky place to photograph. Some days you're just compelled to climb a bollard, throw caution to the wind and be ballsy whereas on others, you become camera shy and shoot from the hip. It all depends on the mood at the time and on this day, I wasn't feeling the urge to get in people's faces (which is usually an indicator of do the opposite).

All in all, it was fun to photograph loosely again, which is something, even with the infinity of digital, we forget. I had no idea if the film was colour or B&W or how accurate the frame lines were, so it was very much a case of going on feeling.


It's a good exercise. Good in the sense that you will ultimately be slightly disappointed but not so much so that you still feel like you learned something, no matter how intangible.

I learned that I photograph compulsively.

Thanks to Dimitri for participating and for posting on the camera to custodian #3!

You can see more of Dimitri's photos here:

Ektar 100
Scilly Isles

Look Up - Perseid Meteor Shower

The Perseid Meteor shower is one of the most reliable and spectacular annual astrological events that can see in the northern hemisphere, excitingly, I found out last night we can see it right on our door stop here in Fife! It peaks every year around this time ( July 17 to Aug. 24 this year) as the earth passes through the trail of dust left behind the Comet Swift-Tuttle, one of the largest objects to regularly pass close to planet earth.

The peak of the meteor activity was forecast around the 11th of August but with clear skies and an early moonset on the 8th, it seemed like a good opportunity to spot a few meteors. I needed dark skies with a view North East to see the constellation Perseus and didn't want to drive for hours so decided to try Tentsmuir forest. I was also scared to go out on my own into the woods, so called my friend Adam to use as zombie bait ;)

Adam testing out the DD Hammocks for comfort..... getting into a hammock isn't as easy as you might imagine as Adam will attest!

Parking at the East end of Tayport and walking 10 minutes to the edge of the woods, we found a good spot for our hammock, with a good view of the sky and not too much light pollution. Even though the sun set around 9 PM it wouldn't be until after 11 before the stars were really visible.

To pass a bit of time before it got properly dark we pitched my DD Hammocks camping hammock, a great way to watch the sky in comfort and really easy to put up, just make sure your knots are going to be easy to untie after they have tightened up on themselves (note to self!)

Looking up through the trees.

Exit stage right.

Can you find the meteor?

As the sunset eventually faded our choice of viewpoint was confirmed as a winner, with Perseus clearly visible along with the milky way rising in the East it couldn't have been much better. The tiny specks of dust burning up in the earths atmosphere put on a fantastic show, at times 10-15 meteors a minute!

It's a truly special and humbling experience to stand under a million star sky and feel you existence dwarfed into insignificance by the sheer scale of it all. To have a clear view of the meteor shower at the same time is the icing on the cake but the stars alone are worth the effort.

  Shooting above the trees and a touch of milky way.

These shots were all around 20 seconds exposure to keep the stars as points and limited ISO and aperture to stop the light pollution from blowing out the details. With a wider lens or a star tracker far longer exposures would be possible and more meteors visible.

  Five meteors in this frame. 

Shooting over the Fife.

There are multiple dark skies parks / areas in Scotland where the sky is almost totally free of light pollution but even as close by as Tentsmuir woods you can see some pretty awe inspiring stuff.

Amazing views despite a little light pollution.

All you need is clear skies, warm clothes and a friend to use as zombie bait, now get outside and go find some darkness, it's illuminating!

Look up!

Update 12/08/2016

After seeing just how much of the night sky was visable on Monday,  I ventured out again on Thursday night hoping to catch the peak of the activity, scheduled for that night.

A couple of frustrating hours of looking up at clouds eventually gave way to clear skies and the Milky Way again visible in the South East. My glamorous location was this time round was the lay-by between Newport and Tayport.

Deep field telescope.

Deep field telescope.

Meteor trail heading East. 

Meteor trail heading East. 

Milky way rising.

Milky way rising.

Sky Lines 

Sky Lines 

Unity Photo Competition - Win This Beautiful Ihagee Exa

Competition Closed! 

Thanks to everyone that entered and I have to say I'm really stunned at the variety and quality of the images you have submitted!

Thanks to you all for getting involved!

The competition is now closed for entries, the judges will be looking over all the images to produce a shortlist and then whittle down to our winner from there.

I'm going to post all the images to a gallery page soon so look out for that and please feel free to share the post.

Deadline Extension

Hi Folks,

Thanks to everyone that has submitted an entry so far! I'm extending the deadline by one week to allow 35mmc.com readers to get involved as Hamish has just published my mini review of the Exa.

The new closing date will be 11/09/16 at 23:59.

Good luck to you all!


It feels like we are living in 'interesting' and often depressing times; the rise of Trump, Brexit, war and terrorism abound. It's hard to look at the news each day knowing I'll be faced with reports of senseless violence, ever more divisive statements and extreme views being given increasing airtime.

It's all to easy to believe that the world is becoming an ever more dangerous and dark place, so time for some good news! You can win this beautiful Ihagee Exa 35mm SLR camera! Not sure that it's going to fix our existential problems but it's a start!

This photo competition is my small personal antidote to these tough times, I hope it can highlight some of our own personal 'good news' stories!

Who can resist that waist level view finder, shot with Olympus OM-D E-M1 and Voigtlander 10.5mm F0.95

This Ihagee Exa, produced in Dresden in the 1950's, which was still part of east Germany at that time; is a clean example of one of the earliest SLR camera's, is capable of taking stunning images and is a beautiful object, I could easily leave it sitting out on a shelf, but to me that would be a waste of a great fun camera. I want to see it used!

One point perspective, shot with the Exa on Agfa Vista 200.

When it comes to use the Exa is limited to a max shutter speed of 1/150th, focusing is done with the lens wide open before stopping down to make your exposure and focusing on the ground glass waist level finder is a bit of an art but that all adds to the charm, it's a proper manual camera.

Coming and going. Shot with Exa on way expired Kodachrome 25 and developed by Photoghost Lab as B+W

The Ihagee Exa is an East German artefact, it dates from a time when Europe was more divided place, post WWII. These division took a long time to heal and Germany was only re-united in 1990, I was only 6 years old but I remember receiving a chunk of 'the wall' and almost understanding the significance,

And that (tenuously) links to my theme for the photo contest to win this lovely camera; I want to see your best image on the theme of "Unity", you can interpret this as you like,  but the photo has to be your own work.

The Rules:

  1. The image can be taken on any camera and medium (film/digital) you like and edited as you see fit but must be on your interpretation on the theme 'Unity'
  2. The photo must be your own, I want to know the story behind it. I don't care if you are a snapper or a professional photographer I want to get involved.
  3. By submitting your image you agree are willing for me to publish your photo here on my blog and social media, you retain the copyright.
  4. The images will all be posted to the gallery on this page and when the competition closes on the 11th of September 2016 at 23:50 they will be shortlisted and judged by a few photographers and myself. The winner will be announced on the 25th of September 2016
  5. You promise to play the Exa forward once you are finished with it, don't leave it sitting on shelf!
  6. I will judge if your photo meets the rules, my judgement is final :) 

Unity Photograph Competition Entries

Simple Pleasures - The Travelling Canon AF35

Credit goes to Hamish at 35MMC.com for the inspiration behind this post and project.

Hamish is running a photo competition to win a Leica M4, the idea is to buy or use a camera worth less than £10 and produce an image that transcends the camera's value and stands up as a 'good'  image. He's yet to judge the competition but I'm certainly happy with some of the images from my £8 camera; enter the Canon AF35J/SPRINT.

So, what does your £8 buy you? 

A boxy little 1989 Canon point and shoot, with very few bells and whistles but in pretty much perfect condition is the answer. It fits well in a jacket pocket and is nicely self contained with the on/off switch also operating a cover for the lens and focusing lens, so no case is required.

The top trumps stats are as follows: the lens is 35mm F3.5 - F11, minimum focus distance of 0.9m or 0.45m with forced flash, shutter speed of between 1/40 and 1/250. It will accept DX coded film of either 100 or 400 ISO. That's about it, no self timer but can be attached to a tripod with plastic thread in the base. Oh yeah, and the strap is 45cm long, letting you judge your close focus distance to perfection, low tech but useful. I shot three rolls of 400 ISO film through it, two Kodak Portra 400 and one Kodak Tri-X 400, most of the better shots were in subdued light or low evening light but it worked fine in bright sunlight too. Film loading, wind on and re-wind are automatic and motor driven, it's not the quietest motor ever but not intrusively loud either.

Focusing with the horrible squashy shutter button means focus / recompose technique isn't the most confidence inspiring; there isn't really a distinct half press position and the focusing is silent so it's hard to judge if it's working. That said I don't think I took one out of focus shot over three 36 exposure films so it must work reasonably well!

The specification is truly nothing special and were it not for the challenge criteria I would have never bought this camera, it just looks bang average on paper and in use apart from the horrible shutter button it's pretty average. And this averageness is it's greatest strength, with no knobs to twist or controls to think about you are free to concentrate on the real crux of photography; composition.

I've not shot a lot with a 35mm focal length before so that is new but apart from that I am used to getting good results from most camera's I've used but looking through my scans (thanks filmdev.co.uk - great scans!) I found a far greater proportion of keepers and had far fewer repeats of similar shots with different settings than is normal for me.

I shot at locations I've been to many times before and shot subjects I've shot before and yet, somehow, ended up with a load of unique shots. Weird, who would have thought this uninspiring camera could be so inspiring.

Simplicity isn't something that I've ever looked for in a camera, in fact most of my camera's are massively more complicated that this dull little plastic brick, but the little Canon AF35 takes a pretty reasonable photo!

Free yourself from thinking about one hundred settings and the process of taking a picture changes, it's more contemplative and it's more fun.


So now I'm sure you'll be interested to try it for yourself, this little Canon AF35 is going on a trip, I've loaded a roll of Portra 400 and she's ready to roll.

She's going to travel the world one roll of film at a time. (I hope!)

If you're interested in getting involved with this travelling camera project then please get in contact, I want to send it on a trip and I need you guys to get involved to make it work.

If you want to be the first recipient of the camera let me know your address and I'll forward it on, shoot the whole roll and replace it with another 400 ISO roll of your choice then send it to the next address on the list.

Once you have developed the roll I want to send me your best three shots from the roll and any comments about your experience with the camera which I will them publish here.

How does your photography change when you concentrate on composition and timing alone?

Update 01/07/16 - Thanks for everyone that has got in touch to be involved so far. The camera has 13 recipients planned so far.

Where the camera has been:

  1. Gavin Wares - London, England - gavinwares.tumblr.com
  2. Dimitri - London, England

Where the camera is going:

  1. Hamish - www.35mmc.com
  2. Mal Pryde - Fife, Scotland
  3. Rob Edgerly - Bern, Switzerland
  4. Tina Kino - Berlin, Germany
  5. Michael Francis - New York, USA
  6. Ritchie Greenhill - Dundee, Scotland
  7. Aimee Smith - Fife, Scotland
  8. Mikael Carlsson - Gothenburg, Sweden
  9. Sarah Mears - Mulgrave Vic, Australia
  10. Theo Panagopoulos - Sydney, Australia
  11. Dan Polacek - Farmington MO, USA