In September 1967 the large RAF fighter base at RAF Coltishall was one of the many RAF stations that opened their doors at the anniversary of The Battle-of-Britain and held an airshow. Anglia TV decided to televise it and I either ‘tagged along’ or was working on it…I can’t remember which, but being still being an aviation enthusiast, I took along my camera. It looks like I was still using the camera I had since my teenage days in Singapore, a cheapish Japanese rangefinder with a fixed 45mm lens, a Samoca MR.
Anglia must have had to put in lots of preparation to undertake this ‘OB’, as in the photo below you can see the Anglia OB Scanner, plus the support tender parked on the grass in front of the Coltishall Control Tower.
Positioned between the control tower and the runway, Anglia’s OB Scanner has been parked to make the most of the cable runs to the unit’s 4 Pye MkV cameras and the commentary position on the control tower balcony. A Whirlwind HAR10 Air-Sea Rescue helicopter is landing near the unit, beside a Tiger Moth glider tug. Coltishall’s resident Lightnings are scattered around in the distance.
I first came across this Ian MacDonald print at the Impressions Gallery In York, and on that occasion I got a postcard of this image. We were probably visiting my wife Jane’s sister Felicity, during her few years in the city. The Impressions Gallery was at the the time one of the few galleries where you could go to see great photography being properly treated as ‘art’. Alas we aren’t much better here in the UK 45 years on…there still aren’t many ‘photography galleries’!
Ian MacDonald is a photographer working in the Cleveland area of the North East and many of his photos illustrate the industrial nature of the area, as indeed does this one, showing Cote Hill Island at Greatham Creek in Teesmouth.
This looks like a landscape…but the overgrown island and the Tees industry in the distance certainly don’t conform to the ‘pastoral landscapes’ that still dominate landscape photography to this day. However, with the perfect framing of this image, I find myself wanting to walk into the picture and explore that place…that’s something that the most interesting photography…and painting is able to make you want to do.
I love the elevated viewpoint looking down onto the temporary looking huts on the island with it’s rickety wooden walkway and the ‘still’ but bright water, accentuated by those heavy clouds hanging over the scene. It was part of Ian’s work around Greatham Creek between 1974 and 75 and was indeed exhibited at the Impressions Gallery in the early 1980’s and this image is on the front cover of Ian’s book ‘Images of the Tees’
In the summer of 1967, Anglia took the OB Unit around East Anglia’s seaside towns and as the Anglia region was reaching well into Lincolnshire, off we went there as well. The sound crew usually travelled in the Sound Supervisor’s car, so on Friday August the 4th we were off in Sid Denneys Vauxhall Victor. He got the ‘travel expenses’ and we got an ‘out of pocket’ expense I believe. That was obviously an ACTT, the TV technician’s union, local agreement.
This set of photos comes from one of the series of 13 ‘Glamour ’67’ programmes done through the summer of that year and we’re in Cleethorpes, on the northern limit of Anglia’s coverage at that time. In fact all these images come from the Central Hall in Grimsby which was a few miles up from Cleethorpes, as I guess Cleethorpes didn’t have a hall Anglia thought was suitable.
Like all the Regional ITV Stations, Anglia TV served their ‘local area’ with a regular output of local programming, now sadly missing from television. For this reason we went off frequently to do Outside Broadcasts around East Anglia and also well into Lincolnshire beyond ‘The Wash’, as far as The Humber. Mostly these were weekends away covering a Saturday football match and a Sunday church service, as both could be done by the same OB crew.
However Anglia took a very big gamble and decided to make a regular drama, a ‘soap’ called ‘Weavers Green’….and to do as much of it as possible with an expensive Outside Broadcast Unit, shooting in video.
Weavers Green was about a vets practice and their dealings with local community. Shooting was mainly undertaken around the real Norfolk village of ‘Heydon’ with occasional visits to other locations, as we shall see.
I thought it was about time that I talked a bit about my early working years and when I can, put in photos from my time in television sound. Those of us that were around in the 1960’s still remember what a primitive technological world we worked in but there are not many reminders of that around now.
I started in the summer of 1966 when Sid Denney, the Head-of-Sound at the ITV broadcaster Anglia TV, took a big gamble and let me join the Sound Department in Norwich. He didn’t have much to go on as there were no college courses at that time…I’d just showed an interest in sound and had been tinkering with tape-recorders, but Sid set me off on a really great career.
George Wright is a freelance photographer living near my local town of Bridport in Dorset. On the 23rd January, at the Bridport Arts Centre and accompanied by the writer Horatio Morpurgo, George gave a very interesting talk, in a relaxed, fluid style, explaining his influences and photographic career. This was to coincide with an exhibition of George’s recent work upstairs at The Allsop Gallery
After returning from a posting in Germany, my father ended up at a pretty boring RAF camp in Norfolk. This was RAF Feltwell, once a wartime bomber base that now had no aircraft, just three enormous Thor Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles. The Thor’s…just sat there. Well when in ‘firing position’ they did, otherwise they lay down in their enormous concrete housings, masking their fearsome nuclear capabilities. We moved from an RAF quarter at Feltwell and bought a bungalow at a nearby village, Weeting and I started at Thetford Boys Grammar School, a somewhat long bus ride away.
It was at this time, when I was 12 going on 13, in early 1960 that I fell in love with ‘planes’. Alas with none immediately nearby, I started cycling to visit the US base at Lakenheath and subsequently continued on the few more miles to Mildenhall.
I’m a film photographer again….having been through the ‘digital phase’ …and come out the other side. I love shooting film in my 30 year old Hasselblads. But V Series Hasselblads come with wonderful interchangeable film backs of course…and they can use digital backs instead of film and yes I do now also have a digital back. Not a Hasselblad CFV-50C or a Phase One, but very old Leaf Aptus 22MP model from way back in 2005. Even I know there are many advantages to digital…as sometimes I want to see or use an image immediately and it’s great for portrait work. So lets see what was required to change the old dead internal battery in my Leaf Aptus 22.
For a few years I have been scanning film, originally my old negatives and more recently my new Hasselblad film images. I started with an Epson 4870 flat bed and soon learned that it wasn’t giving me the quality of scan that I knew my negatives deserved. There was a trouble with a flat bed like that, it didn’t have any accurate focusing instead relying on a pre-set focus. That required the negative to be at the exact focus point the manufacturer had pre-set. Alas the Epson holders weren’t engineered accurately enough and my images were not ‘grain’ sharp. Just as in the old dark-room printing days I judged the sharpness by the film grain.
Driving past Chichester on Wednesday last week, I couldn’t help dropping in to see more of Michael Kenna’s prints at the superb Bosham Gallery.
In my previous post I talked about my delight at the ‘Michael Kenna – 45 Retrospective Exhibition’ that was showing through the summer. They had followed it up with another featuring his work called ‘New and Rare Works’ running from 2nd to 28th September…so just a few days left to see it as I write this.
I was able to chat with the owner Luke Whittaker, who had obviously set up a very good relationship with Michael to get more prints personally produced by him to show. There were indeed some ‘New’ ones but also some that had ‘sold out’ of the artists 45 print editions. For these Michael had released ‘Artist Proofs’ from his archives.
I was bold over by one of his images taken in Hokkaido back in 2002. A picture I had never seen before.