Posts tagged ‘Rodinal’

September 29, 2011

Gold Coast

On a recent trip up to Co. Waterford, we turned off at the promising sounding ‘Gold Coast’, near Dungarvan.  Perhaps it was because I was expecting something a little more exotic that the reality was a  bit disappointing – ‘Grey Coast’ seemed a more accurate description.  Nevertheless we had a decent scramble across the beach and I wanted to try and get some dramatic shots with a new roll of Kodak Tmax 100.

There was something about the rocks in the above picture that caught my attention; the lines, patterns and textures all tell a story, one of unending erosion, pressure, climate and sea-level changes.  You know how sometimes when you look up at the stars on a clear night it makes you feel so small in the context of things?  Well standing on these rocks of immense age and trying to imagine how this place first looked at the beginning of time / Creation evoked a similar emotion.  But something else too, not just a sense of smallness, but a sense of God’s vastness and greatness, his capacity to know everything infinitely and his unlimited power and yet even though we might be very small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things, He cares about us so much that He gave His Son…

Perhaps Gold Coast is not a bad name after all.

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September 12, 2011

Roll 30

A few recent pictures.  These are taken with a Nikon F100 and 18-35mm and 50mm lenses using Ilford FP4+ (125 ISO), developed in Agfa Rodinal and scanned using an Epson 4490.  Kinsale harbour

Red Strand

Red Strand

Kinsale harbour

July 6, 2011

Clonakilty Agricultural Show 2011

It was a couple of weeks ago now, but I’ve only just got around to developing the film…

Clonakilty Agricultural Show 2011

The ‘Tug of War‘ competition was fiercely fought…
Clonakilty Agricultural Show 2011The cattle (to my untrained eye) all looked immaculate.

Clonakilty Agricultural Show 2011I could come up with a sheep pun here, but ewe know I wouldn’t do such a thing.
Clonakilty Agricultural Show 2011

Great to see a potter a work, amazingly undistracted by hoards of children (and an annoying photographer ;~)
Clonakilty Agricultural Show 2011Oh dear.  This made me pray, both for the ‘fortune teller’ and also for anyone who felt the need to have their ‘fortune told.’  God help them.
Clonakilty Agricultural Show 2011Not surprisingly, all these wonderful looking cakes were behind a protective wire screen – otherwise they would have been an endangered species!
Clonakilty Agricultural Show 2011This fella was also behind wire – with that look in his eye, it was probably for the best!
Clonakilty Agricultural Show 2011I could not resist taking this shot – though I’m not sure he was all that happy with my taking his picture!

April 12, 2011

and Jesus wept

Rainy Day 2

Better late than never, for those who are interested, here is last Sunday’s sermon.  The text is John 11:1-45 (Year A, 5th Sunday in Lent).

Have you ever been frustrated with God?  Have you have prayed and prayed about something and it appears that God is ignoring you?  We pray for justice, for peace, for healing and often we are left wondering if God even heard our prayer.  To give you a very trivial example, a few years ago, Sonja and I were camping on the edge of a forest in North Wales, it was a beautiful place, but during the night there was a ferocious storm.  As I lay in the tent with the noise of the wind so loud there was little chance of any sleep I could not help but worry about what would happen if even just one branch were to fall from a height onto our tent.  Of course Sonja had and has far greater faith than me and so she slept soundly through the whole night! I prayed that God would stop the wind and branches from falling but it kept on blowing, even harder if anything!  I began to get sulky with God and eventually fell into a restless and grumpy sleep.  The next morning we awoke to a beautiful calm and sunny morning and I realised that my prayer had in fact been answered, the wind had stopped, just as I had asked and even more than that, no branches had fallen on us!  I was taught a lesson which I am still learning, that God’s timing is often very different from ours.

Of course, we can all think of examples in our own lives and many far more serious than the one I have shared with you.  Why didn’t God act when we wanted Him to and in the way we wanted him to?  In our reading from John’s gospel, we get the beginnings of an answer.  Jesus and the disciples are a couple of days journey away when Jesus gets a message that his friend Lazarus is ill.  Now we would expect that upon hearing this news Jesus would get up and immediately set out on a journey to be with his friend, but what does He do, he stays where he is for another two days and He doesn’t even tell the disciples!

Once the two days are up, he tells his disciples that they are going to go back to Judea, which immediately sets the alarm bells ringing for them, they know that there are many down there who want to kill Jesus, and perhaps that is one of the reasons for Jesus’ delay; He has spent the two days in prayer, in preparation for what will happen once He does make His way into such a dangerous situation, where there are those who want to stone Him.  This is what He says to the troubled disciples:

‘Are there not twelve hours of daylight?  Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world.  But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.’ (v.10)

Following Jesus is sometimes very difficult, but it is always the right thing to do, His is always the right path to take, even when that path leads to danger and perhaps death, as Thomas feared.  When we were talking about this at the Bible study on Wednesday, someone reminded us of those wonderful verses from Romans 8:

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:38,39)

So not even death will separate us from Christ.  Perhaps the disciples are just beginning to realise this as they make their way.

When they arrive after their journey, they learn that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.  There can be no doubt whatsoever that he is dead.  Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha are also good friends of Jesus and when they hear that He is coming Martha goes out to meet Him, but Mary stays behind.  What must Martha be thinking?  Perhaps she is upset, maybe even cross that Jesus did not come sooner, she says:

‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.  But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.’ (v.23)

Martha knows Jesus well enough to show remarkable faith and composure.  Even so, she does not fully grasp the Lord’s response when He says to her:

‘Your brother will rise again.’ (v.23)

Martha thinks that Jesus is talking about the resurrection on the last day, a belief that most Jews (and subsequently all Christians hold).  What Martha is yet to grasp is that Jesus is resurrection personified, and so He says to her in one of the seven famous ‘I am’ sayings of John’s gospel:

‘I am the resurrection and the life.  Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.’ (v.25, 26)

After telling Jesus of her belief in Him, Martha goes back to get her sister and a number of others come with them as they return to Jesus.  Mary then falls at Jesus’ feet and says to him:

‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ (v.32)

It is hard to exaggerate the importance of what happens next, because in a moment it can shatter the false view that many people have of God; people often accuse God of not caring, of not understanding, of not knowing what it is like to grieve or to suffer or to be in pain, ‘how could an all-powerful God know my frailty and suffering and hurt?’  Do you know what?  He does.  Jesus sees Mary weeping, and in that moment God cries.  It is the shortest verse in the whole Bible; “Jesus began to weep.”

When you are in the place of tears you are never ever alone, your Creator, Saviour, Master and Friend, your Lord and your God knows what it is to weep also.  Your pain is never only your pain; in some incredible and mysterious way He shares it with you.

Jesus then asks, ‘Where have you laid him?’ (v.34) and they bring Him to the tomb.

The tomb is a cave, which has a stone rolled across the entrance.  Jesus calls for the stone to be removed but Martha says there will be a bad smell because Lazarus had been dead for four days.  But there is no stench, because the One who will Himself conquer death on the cross has done something that only God could do.  He looks upwards and says:

‘Father, I thank you for having heard me.  I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.’ (v.42)

And so Jesus demonstrates in a very powerful way that He is indeed ‘the resurrection and the life’, as he says in a loud voice:

‘Lazarus, come out!’ (v.43)

The dead man is no longer dead, he is bound in cloths wrapped around him and Jesus says to unbind him and let him go.

Imagine that you were there and what it would have been like.  It would have been perhaps terrifying and wonderful and holy and beautiful and surreal all at the same time.  Finding the strength to even stand, let alone speak would have been difficult.  Imagine the hugs as Lazarus’ sisters and friends greet him for whom they had been in mourning (and how that may be like the reunions there will be for us in the next life).  Imagine the wide-eyed and open-mouthed disciples – they had seen a lot with Jesus but never anything like this.  Imagine the sceptics and those on the fringes – the Messiah had come, of that there was no doubt, He was here at last, the waiting was over.

And what about us, what benefit is this event that John so faithfully records in his gospel?  Firstly “Jesus weeps”, I think we have already dealt with that one, but remember this, your tears, your pain, your loss, your grief are His also, if you will share them with Him.

Secondly, even death is no barrier with God.  Yes we will die, all of us, that is an undisputed fact. But Jesus is the resurrection and the life.  When we die, we will rise again and in Jesus we have light to show us the way and in Him we have life, eternal life, so that we need not be afraid.  If we follow Him now we will be with Him always.  Follow Him now, while it is still day and before the night comes and it is too late… Amen.

April 11, 2011

Charlie

Charlie

We were heading out as a family on Friday evening and had just driven a few hundred metres onto the main road when we saw the body of our cat ‘Charlie’ lying there.  He had only recently been knocked down as his body was still warm and limp, though quite lifeless.  I carried him home and we buried him in the garden the next morning.

I remember reading a church magazine years ago where there was a section called ‘The Wise Owl”.  People wrote letters (this was before the days of email) asking questions about the Christian life and the Wise Owl would answer.  I remember one letter written by a young boy whose dog had died, asking if his dog would go to heaven.  The Wise Owl said ‘no’ (albeit in a very long-winded fashion).  I could not help but think the the Owl may be wise, but sensitive and gracious he was not.

I would like to think that Scripture is silent on the issue because it is not something we need to know.  Perhaps in the life that is to come we may be surprised by many things and one of those surprises might just possibly be a reuniting with those pets whom we have loved and lost.  I hope so anyway.

March 9, 2011

Lent, a time for new beginnings and growth.

Blarney Crocuses

Photo: Crocuses at Blarney Castle (February 2011)

Sermon for Ash Wednesday.  Text: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

Mentioning ‘Lent’ to people will provoke differing reactions. For some, it is the chance to give something up, such as chocolate, smoking, alcohol, (or churchgoing)!  For others it is the chance to start doing something good and positive, going for a brisk walk every morning, reading Deuteronomy and Leviticus before breakfast or giving some time or money to a charity.  For others still, even mentioning ‘Lent’ will result in arms being folded and statements of defiance such as ‘Well, I’m giving up Lent for Lent!”

I have to say that over the years I’ve tried various things with limited success, so I was pleased about the appointed reading for today because it is one that I have for years found in equal measure comforting, encouraging and challenging.  This reading gives us help with some of the great themes of Lent that have been practised by Christians down through the centuries, these are: Giving to the needy, Prayer, Fasting, and the way we view possessions.

The Lord Jesus begins by teaching about giving to the needy.  Even just mentioning this may make us squirm!  It used to be that the needy were people who you lived amongst, orphans and widows and beggars on the streets were near where you lived and may have been known to you personally.  Now to a large degree, the needy are much more remote from us, they live in far away places, we are distanced from them in language, culture and creed.  As such, it is easy to forget about them and as it were to pass by on the other side of the road.  If we have a conscience however, the needy will never be so far away from us that we are unable to help.  Not only does the Lord Jesus want us to give to the needy, He wants us to do it in secret.  He says:

“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2“So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 3But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you…” (v.1-4)

The Lord does not want us to be hypocrites, where we only do things for outward appearance – ‘Look at me aren’t I great for giving all this money away!’  Haven’t we all felt that temptation, when we have done something good or given something away, we want people to know about it? Of course, if people can find out about our giving and it looks like we were trying to keep it a secret all the better – ‘O how holy I am!’  I love the phrase ‘do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing’, our motive for giving must be pure; we must genuinely not even secretly want some kind of reward in return.  We give because of God’s love, God’s love for us and for the joy of being used by God to bless others in return.

The next great theme of Lent is that of Prayer, the Lord says:

5“And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.6But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (v.5-6)

Again, we are not to be hypocrites, putting on prayers for show to be seen and heard by others.  I learnt my lesson about this at the Christian Union meeting I used to attend in my student days.  For some reason I got it into my head that God was impressed with long complicated prayers and so when we used to have prayer times I would set off on these really extended ridiculous prayers with what I thought were long and impressive words and rich metaphors – it was all very ridiculous and I am ashamed as I remember it.  Nobody said anything to me about it but one day, in mid prayer it suddenly dawned on me what I was doing – I was trying to impress God, and I was trying to impress my fellow students and I was a big eejit!  I felt so stupid and it was many months before I could pray out loud again – normally and honestly and without hypocrisy.  Of course this is even more important in our personal and private prayer; like our giving of money, our personal prayer times should be in secret, behind a closed door out of sight and hearing of anyone else as much as possible.

Have you ever tried to fast?  If you want some way to make yourself as grumpy and as irritable as possible I highly recommend it!  No seriously, fasting is something that is a very good habit indeed, though one that seems (for many) to have fallen by the wayside a bit in recent times.  There are lots of different ways of doing it but here is what I would suggest for someone who would like to give it a go:  A simple way to do it is to fast for 24 hours, so when you wake up in the morning don’t have breakfast, just a couple of glasses of water and the time that you normally would have spent preparing and eating your breakfast spend in prayer and Bible reading.  Then for your elevenses the same, a glass or two of water and the time you would have normally taken with your coffee and ‘Kit Kat’ spend with God in the place of prayer, same for lunch, same for dinner and the same before bed.  The next morning, have your breakfast, but just have a small bowl of cereal or slice of toast, if you go for the ‘full Irish’ you will probably be sick!  Fasting has a strange effect; you will find yourself getting grumpy as you get hungry but this will go because of the extra time spent in prayer and in that prayer you will find all sorts of things that need dealing with coming to the surface.  Talk to God about all the stuff that comes up, tell him what you are feeling, just let it all out and tell him.  People who fast often find it invaluable and actually look forward to it as a time of blessing and fellowship with God.  Again, the Lord Jesus wants our fasting to be done in secret – we don’t make a fuss about it so we plan the fasting for a quiet day when we would be at home rather than a day when we were invited to City Hall for a banquet!

The fourth great theme of Lent that the Lord teaches us about is our attitude towards money and possessions.  It’s a bit of a cliché (but one that we have no doubt witnessed), that the more money people have the more tightly they try and hold on to it.  So often people who are very wealthy are also very unhappy.  Conversely, people who are not at all wealthy are often much more happy.  I have also seen how often it is the poorest people who are the most generous in their giving of both money and resources; they have learned a lesson of which the rest of us can only be  in awe of, that true happiness is in giving away what God blesses us with, that we might in turn bless others.

As we look at these things, the giving of money, praying in secret, fasting and our attitude to money and possessions it can be overwhelming.  We can despair at our weakness:  We try to give money away but we can’t even afford to pay our bills first, ‘I want to be able to pray but I don’t think God would listen, he’s too busy and how could he love me after what I’ve done anyway; fasting, I’m a million miles away from that, it’s just for monks and people who have loads of spare time on their hands; money how can I worry about money, I don’t have any to hoard in the first place!’  I know, I know.  Look, just begin with small steps, like a child learning to walk, holding his Father’s big hands and looking into his Father’s kind and loving eyes.  Just take one step at a time…

I’ll finish with this amazing true story that I came across recently:

A man called Craig had been an alcoholic for more than a dozen years. He’d lost everything he had, including his wife and son, due to his selfishness and addiction. Things began to change after he gave his life to Christ, but he still fell regularly into his old habits. It didn’t help that he’d lost his well-paying job and was working at a local grocery shop that was well stocked with alcohol. After a few years of going back and forth between Christ and the bottle, he finally cut the ties, and, out of obedience to Christ, quit his job.

With no income and hope only in Christ, he was in desperate condition. After an interview with a sheet metal company down the street from his new church, he cried out to God. “God, if you give me this job I will give you my first pay check.” Surprisingly, he got the job.

He clearly remembers the day when he got his first pay check. Stacks of bills needed to be paid. Penniless but determined, he wrote his name on the back of the check and endorsed it over to the church and walked it to the church office without waiting for the Sunday offering. That was the moment, he says, that changed his life because now he understood what it meant to trust God.

As of today, Craig has been sober for 25 years, he’s a manager at that sheet metal company, and he serves as an elder at his local church.[1]

With God’s help, all things are possible, even for me and even for you.  Amen.

February 7, 2011

Why the long face?

Horse #1

I came across these two characters at an ‘Equine Centre’ not too far from here – they were more than happy to pose for a portrait! The first horse insisted that I take his ‘best side’ and the second, well he just thought that he would put his ears back and see if he could eat my camera!

Why the long face?

Looking at these pictures reminded me of that awful ‘joke’, you know the one:

A horse walks into a bar and the barman says, ‘Hey, why the long face?’

I know, I know, lets move on. Here’s a really big tangent. Ready?

Okay, well the whole ‘long face’ thing got me thinking about sadness, and why so many many people are sad and why so many suffer from depression. This came into my head yesterday during church as we were reading the Psalm, (number 112). Here’s a couple of verses from it (1 & 7):

Blessed are those who fear the LORD,
who find great delight in his commands.

They will have no fear of bad news;
their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD.

When I read those words yesterday, they took me back a while, nearly twenty years, to a church my better half and I used to attend before moving to Ireland. The church treasurer was a remarkable man, from Germany. During the second world war he had been a pilot in the Luftwaffe and he had been on a mission and was shot down. He survived the crash and made his way to the nearest barn to hide and to sleep out the rest of the night. He was of course afraid of being captured but he hadn’t reckoned on the Farmer’s daughter. They fell in love and fifty years later they were still inseparable. He still had quite a strong accent and whenever he was around I could always hear John Cleese in the back of my head saying “don’t mention the war.

Anyway, one day he said he had a verse of the Bible for me to remember. My initial excitement evaporated when he read out those two verses that are quoted above, all I could think about was ‘bad news’.

I can’t tell you the number of times those verses have been a source of encouragement and strength to me over the years since then. Whenever there is bad news those words are the first thing that comes into my mind, and what peace they bring.

For me those words have a strength that is beyond myself, indeed of God. I hope they will be a great help for you also, but may your bad news be a very long way off yet…

February 3, 2011

Strange Tree

Strange Tree!

There’s that strange and surreal place between dreaming and waking where the two merge into each other.  The other night (or rather early morning) I awoke with a rather odd poem going around my head, about a tree…

It had all started the previous week when my better half and I were enjoying a pleasant walk along the beach at Long Strand.  We came across the tree in the photo above and well I thought it interesting enough to take a picture of.  Clearly my subconscious thought it interesting too, interesting enough to come up with a strange poem about a strange dream about a strange tree!  How did I remember the words?  Well, I happened to have my mobile phone nearby and just typed it in, all in one go…

Please take this poem about as seriously as you would read My lovely horse ;-)

Strange tree where have you come from,
What story do you have to tell?
Were you borne here on stormy seas, a refugee from fire or spell?
Oh what would you tell me if only you could say,
perhaps the hopes and dreams caught in your branches reflect the light from whence you came?

Strange tree what do you carry
What a load you have to bear?
Bottles, Tin cans, shoes and netting, things now beyond all care.
Oh what would you tell me if only you could say,
the hopes and dreams caught in your branches are so much more than things that were thrown away?

Strange tree where will you go to
When it comes your time again?
Will you roll upon the open seas to distant shores or mountain glen?
Oh the only thing I can tell you, all that I can say,
is that the hopes and dreams caught in your branches will live on in memories beyond this sunlit day.

(Hope I made you laugh!)

January 20, 2011

Roll 24

It is just over a year since I developed my first black and white film, (you can read that post here).  So roll 24 means that I am averaging two films a month – hope you are blown away by my mathematical skill :-/

It’s been great fun and it’s been a steep learning curve; I’ve lost pictures because of not developing them properly which is frustrating, but I’ve also learnt a lot about picture taking, composition, timing, light and so on.  Film photography, especially with an old manual camera and a prime (fixed focal length) lens really forces you to slow down and think about the picture you are taking, and it is also great fun.  So here’s a few pictures from roll 24…

Dreaming of Spring

“Dreaming of Spring”

Charlie

Charlie

1101apx019

Early Sunday morning near the Timoleague Road

Out of the Cave

“Out of the Cave” at Simon’s Cove

Rock Patterns #2

Rock Patterns at Simon’s Cove

Icicles

Icicles

Ice patterns

Ice patterns on a window

(Details: Camera – Olympus OM-1, lens – Zuiko 50mm f1.4, Film – Agfa APX 100, Developer – Rodinal (8 minutes @ 20°C) – Scanner Epson 4490)

December 8, 2010

and the busy world is hushed

Clonakilty Snowscape
The past week or so has been unusual; many meetings, visits and school days have been cancelled and we have had the sort of weather that “only happens once in a generation” (except of course we had it last year as well.)  
Personally there has been an up-side to being confined to home – more family time, time for catching up on reading etc.  But there is more, a deeper sense of peace, perhaps because of being forced to slow down a little and to reflect upon the things that matter and the things that are important in life and in work.  
(Photography Bit).  Of course I have enjoyed taking a few photographs too :-)  Snow photography is pretty tricky because of all the light reflecting back; my little compact camera has a ‘snow’ scene setting, which is cheating a bit but really all it does (I think) is overexpose things by about a stop.  The above picture was taken from our garden using good old Tri-x film, with a Nikon F100 and 50mm lens.  Developed in Rodinal means that the grain is very grainy but I like the effect here.  
The scene above was as I was standing there in the stillness of the early morning light, very peaceful and  tranquil.  As I look at it now (and as I think about the memorial service I am doing this afternoon) I am reminded of one of the prayers from the funeral service (by John Henry Newman):  
O Lord,
support us all the day long
until the shades lengthen, and the evening comes,
and the busy world is hushed,
the fever of life is over,
and our work is done.
Then, Lord, in your mercy grant us safe lodging,
a holy rest, and peace at the last;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.