CNV000009 Iona

Recently, me, Grace, and a couple of friends visited the island of Iona.

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It was part of a ‘three island’ trip – travelling through the Isle of Mull (where the infamous Balamory was filmed), Staffa, and Iona.

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Here’s a ship called dignity.

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The island is known as a symbolic home of Christianity in the West, with a long history… stretching back to round about 536AD.

CNV000020 Iona

Iona is a beautifully peaceful place, and I wish we could have spent more time there. It feels like you could spend months without time really passing at all, and it’s no surprise that it’s been the source of inspiration for many artists.

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The inhabitants of the island had to face the constant fear of invasion throughout a tumultuous history. On a number of occasions the Vikings landed, killing indiscriminately, and pillaging the valuables from the monastery that were kept there. In 806AD, 68 monks were massacred at what is now known as “Martyr’s Bay”.

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The stories of the viking raids really resonated with some part of me. To isolate yourself from society in such a place, to dedicate yourself to spirituality in such a way, only to then spend every day wondering whether then would be when you would spot those terrible Viking ships on the horizon…

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Today the Monastery is still used – home to the Iona Community. Not just your standard congregation, the group are well known for their commitment to peace and social justice. If you’ve ever read anything about protesters outside of the Faslane nuclear weapons base, then the Iona Community were probably involved.

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I sometimes wonder what it would be like to live somewhere like Iona.

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Kerry’s Birthday.

L1003978 Kerrys Birthday.

Last night was Kerry’s birthday. We marked the occasion in true Kerry style: with lots of punch, outlandish drinking games, and potent vodka jelly shots.

The lime ones were the best.

L1003881 Kerrys Birthday.

One of the cool things was seeing Laura again, who’s pictured below.

We haven’t seen each other in ages. The last time was when Kerry was away in Australia… which was apparently a touch over four years ago.

Now that she lives a ten minute walk away, rather than over in deepest darkest Edinburgh, hopefully we’ll get to hang out more.

L1003974 Kerrys Birthday.

L1003891 Kerrys Birthday.

I’ve just gotten a new Leica M8, and so took it on its first proper outing tonight.

L1003882 Kerrys Birthday.

I’ve currently got a couple of 50mm lenses that are rangefinder couples. As the M8 isn’t full frame though, it means that they actually wind up at like 75mm, with a fairly long minimum focussing distance. Rather than use either of them, I went with a wee Soviet made lens called the Industar 69.

L1003977 Kerrys Birthday.

The Industar is this really flat, pancake lens which looks like it has been sliced off of some sort of toy camera. The build quality is pretty terrible, and to get it to work on the Leica M mount cameras, it requires some disassembly and modification.

L1003905 Kerrys Birthday.

Focussing is done by guessing the distance of the objects that you want to shoot, and it’s really hit or miss. The focus zones don’t seem to match up with the markings on the barrel, and it can be wildly inconsistent with its depth of field. That said, its flat profile feels really good to use on the body of the M8, and when you hit its sweet spot, it can produce some really, really nice shots…

L1003976 Kerrys Birthday.

Enough about that though.

Kerry’s boyfriend Steve has a drone mounted with a GoPro, so we took a swatch.

L1003916 Kerrys Birthday.

They are fairly impressive things, and there is a whole lot of interesting footage coming out shot with them recently. As they become more and more affordable, it’s going to be fascinating to see how it develops.

L1003920 Kerrys Birthday.

L1003921 Kerrys Birthday.

The lime vodka shots were the best.

L1003893 Kerrys Birthday.

Friendships are a funny thing. How they are formed, and why… how they are sustained. What drives us to see the same people, and develop bonds. Why do we want to be around other people at all? It’s such a simple concept, but one which strikes right at the heart of what it means to be human.

L1003924 Kerrys Birthday.

People are fascinating.

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That’s maybe partly why I find pictures of people so fascinating.

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Happy birthday pal.

L1003954 Kerrys Birthday.

Paisley, July 2014
Leica M8
Industar 69 – 28mm f2.8

say hello: ~@stephenemm or ~Google+

The Wedding of Hannah and Matt

img463 The Wedding of Hannah and Matt

Last September one of my old friends got married, to a lovely guy named Matt.

img462 The Wedding of Hannah and Matt

No, that isn’t Matt above. That’s Michael, her brother.

img454 The Wedding of Hannah and Matt

It was a great day. There were lots of old friends there that I hadn’t seen in years. It was particularly poignant as most of us had only ever really interacted (in the main, at least) in muddy fields at music festivals. Yet here we were, dressed up and there for one of our own doing something very grown up indeed.

img446 The Wedding of Hannah and Matt

Hannah had asked if I would be the photographer for the day, and I sadly had to say no. Both of my usual ‘wedding cameras’ had completely stopped working that same week, with no prospect of getting them fixed to a standard where I would trust them anytime soon. On top of that, I had just gotten engaged to Grace a few weeks prior, and my head was still spinning from the prospect of having to work out how on earth to navigate the mammoth task of dealing with the distance, and the visa process. I probably wasn’t a very good pal back then – something I regret.

img456 The Wedding of Hannah and Matt

All that aside, the day was great. In keeping with Hannah’s personality (and now, I’ve come to realise, Matt’s too), the day was fiercely unique and laid back. In the style of a music festival, there were big tents and mexican food from a kitschy van. Did I mention that the combined wedding/honeymoon vehicle was a VW Camper Van?

img460 The Wedding of Hannah and Matt

img455 The Wedding of Hannah and Matt

I vaguely remember taking my old Leica with me to get some pictures, with no promises that any would see the light of day. There were a couple of shots on the end of a reel I processed months ago, but to be honest I completely forgot that I had taken another full roll. It wasn’t till the other night when I found and developed this un-marked can of Neopan that I realised.

These are pictures that I thought were gone.

img459 The Wedding of Hannah and Matt

img451 The Wedding of Hannah and Matt

One of the best things about film is this sort of thing. Re-discovering moments that you had forgotten ever happened in the first place. The instant gratification of digital (for all of its ease) means that a bit of the wonder is lost along the way at times. This isn’t any sort of argument in favour of film as a medium; it is expensive, time consuming, and regularly a massive pain in the ass. Sometimes though, it can surprise you. I hope it surprises Hannah and Matt, in a good way. I hope that they remember bits about the day that might have slipped through in the sheer sensory overload that is a wedding. After all, that’s what photography is for… surely?

img453 The Wedding of Hannah and Matt

img448 The Wedding of Hannah and Matt

September 2013, England
Leica iiia – Jupiter 3 50mm f1.5
Fuji Neopan 1600


say hello: ~@stephenemm or ~Google+