Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
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29 Mar 2020 10:03AM   Views : 534 Unique : 321


Gremlins are behind the ‘Oops!’ moment illustrated by Tinkerbella, above.

Writing this on Silly Sunday, gremlins seem an appropriate sort of subject. Not, I hasten to say, the ones in the films, however amusing. The more traditional sort who have lurked in anything mechanical, or even vaguely organised, for a century or two.

The word seems to have originated in the RAF in the 1920s, and got greater currency when Roald Dahl used it as the title for his first children’s book, bringing the mysterious creatures that live in aeroplanes and cause otherwise-inexplicable mishaps to a wider public.

And there’s the connection, both to photography and Silly Sunday. The gremlins don’t show in the pictures we post (usually – I have posted a couple of examples where I’d accidentally run a film through the camera twice, and superimposed two sets of nudes. Most frames were a disaster, but a couple produced fortuitous juxtapositions). But we all suffer from them.

Most of the gremlins in my camera bag seem to involve flash triggers. Either the receivers don’t work in specific flash units, or the trigger unit won’t connect with the camera and actually work.

I’ve got good at workarounds, where I use a flash unit that WILL work pointed away from the subject and turned to low power, in the hope that it will prod the main light’s infrared sensor into life. It usually works. But I sometimes get the feeling that I’m not using a system, but reinventing a Heath Robinson device that Fox Talbot would have worried about. A long train of events leading to a picture. Mostly.

And there has to be an excuse for the second picture. It’s that Stephanie Dubois sorted out some gremlins for me. Modelling is her second career, and she brings the same focus and sharp intellect to it that she did to her previous job.

So, when I was having exposure problems with a camera, and switched the lens to a second, and then a third camera body, only to find that the problem was continuing, she pointed out the solution. ‘It’s the lens.’ It was, it’s mended, and it works very well again, now. Thank you, Stephanie!

Is there a practical lesson? Yes, there is. Expect gremlins. If the pictures really matter, check all the gear before leaving the house (when we’re all allowed to again, of course). If possible, have a backup camera body and lens, as well as a spare battery and memory card! And only start to wing it and extemporise when you’ve got the pictures in the bag.


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chase Avatar
chase Plus
18 2.5k 682 England
29 Mar 2020 1:40PM
Interesting John, I am enjoying this ABC but.....remember, don't feed the Gremlins after midnight and for safety, keep them away from water ! Smile

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