5 frames with...

5 Frames From a Trip to Sainsburys – Nikon F3 with HP5 – By Thorsten Wulff

December 8, 2021

England is full of amazingly nice people. After Germany was removed from the Amber List, and quarantine in a British hotel no longer needed, Nadja and me jumped into the camper van and drove to the ferry.  We managed to fill out the forms for the 2-days-after-arrival-test in heavy rain at a parking place off a dutch motorway.

The UK border is located in Dunkirk, on the way we were checked a couple of times for hidden refugees. The gentleman at the border check in Calais was very kind even though he could not locate me in the system. I had no clue my passport number ends with W, not WOD. You know, germans and bureaucracy. Off we went crossing the channel. In Dover followed a short Q and A with another friendly Border officer. The ususal, why are you here, what do you want, will you return to Germany?  We were shouting at each other from the bus. When he asked where we would to go I said truthfully, with my northern german accent: Salisbury! He raised his brow and said:”Sainsburys?” We all had a laugh and that was it.

Ian Berry is Magnum member number 13. He was hired by Cartier-Bresson, in the Bistro that was located beneath the Paris office back then. Visiting him and his wife was the reason for the trip, but our meeting is a story for another time. So, after leaving Dover the first goal was Dungeness.

Prospect Cottage

Derek Jarman was an artist, film-maker and gay rights activist. He preferred Super-8 to the hassle of 35mm production and made money for his art projects by shooting videos for Marianne Faithfull, the Smiths and the Pet Shop Boys. His last Film, Blue, from 1993 consists of a single shot of saturated blue colour filling the screen for 80 Minutes, narrated by Tilda Swinton.  After Jarman was diagnosed with HIV in 1986 he moved to Dungeness in Kent and lived in Prospect Cottage, a fishermen’s hut on the beach, close to the nuclear power plant. From driftwood and flotsam Derek created a garden around his cottage, subject of the 1990 film The Garden. Derek Jarman died of AIDS in 1994.

The idea of living next to a nuclear power plant always intrigued me, so we drove down to the beach in Dungeness. On the way we passed the private road to the power plant, and a caged staging area for the trains removing the nuclear waste. Cars were hooked up to the waiting locomotives. The weather that day was perfect, sunny and very warm for October. An eery feeling overcame me, watching the workers handling that train, only protected by their orange vests. After taking the wrong exit and driving up the plants main gate we went on to the hamlet. The houses there looked familiar, reminding me of the cover of Pink Floyds ‘A Collection Of Great Dance Songs’ which was shot here by Hipgnosis 1981. Two dancers fixed by stands of rope in the sunset, in front of one of the fishermen’s huts. It was easy to find Dereks cottage, it stands out by its black paint and John Donnes poem ‘The Sun Rising’ written over one of its walls. Like on the trip to France I just brought the F3 with the 35 ƒ2 and HP5. Walking around the house, with the pebbles crunching under my feet, I feel like an intruder. The neighbours had washing day, their laundry fluttering in the wind in front of the Atomkraftwerk on the horizon.

Derek Jarmans Prospect Cottage, Dungeness. Nikon F3 with 35mm ƒ2 at ƒ8, 1/250 sec. Ilford HP5 at 400 ASA, developed in Kodak HC110. All prints on Ilford Multigrade RC Warmtone developed with Tetenal Eukobrom.

Lewes

On the way to Salisbury we stopped in Lewes, East Sussex. A vinyl record shop caught my eye. Walking through the city, close to a house belonging to Anne of Cleeves, we discovered the lovely Southover Grange Gardens, home of extremely relaxed squirrels. Somebody scratched a swastika in a landmark plaque on the gardens wall, which I covered with a strip of silver gaffers. Tom Paine, ‘father of the american revolution’ lived from 1768 for six years in Bull House on High Street in Lewes.  Benjamin Franklin told him to move to America. In 1775 Paine as editor of the Pennsylvania Magazine, he wrote essays condemning slavery and discussing workers rights.  His 1776 pamphlet Common Sense, kicked off the American Revolution. Even drafts of the Declaration of Independence were written by him. Opposite of Bull House Peter Chasseaud runs The Tom Paine Printing Press & Press Gallery. The shop is part gallery and part history lesson, arranged around an 18th century printing press like the one on used by Tom Paine, the revolutionary. Walking by I discovered Peter in his shop. We had a short chat and I asked him to step into the light.

Peter Chasseaud, Lewes. ƒ2, 1/60 sec.

Portland

Following the south coast we drove up to Dorset, onto the Portland peninsula. The limestone of many London buildings (like the Whitehall Cenotaph), and even the UN headquarters in New York, was quarried here. Sir Christopher Wren used nearly one million cubic feet to rebuild St. Paul’s Cathedral after the Great Fire of London in 1666. The white and red Portland Bill Lighthouse is a tourist attraction on weekends, as is the busy Lobster Pot right next to it. Here we met William from Poole, (on the left) who was walking along the stormy coastline on this lovely Sunday afternoon. In a very good mood he told me to eat more veggies.

Portland Bill Lighthouse. ƒ5,6, 1/500 sec.

Durdle Door

Near Lulworth in Dorset Durdle Door breaks the waves, a natural limestone arch. The day we arrived here with a lot of visitors lining up on the beach for selfies, was stormy. The weather was changing. The scenery just asks for being a movie backdrop. Tears for Fears came down the muddy stairs to the waterfront for their video ‘Shout’, as did Emma Thompson and Stephen Fry.

Shout. Durdle Door on a windy day. ƒ5,6, 1/60 sec.

Folkestone

Finally, another image of the sea. I am from the beach myself, the baltic. It is a very quiet sea, slow moving, slapping tiny waves on the sand. No pebbles, everything is ground down. Perfect for castle building championships, or scratching messages into the wet sand where the waves don’t reach. The southern English beaches are wild, stormy and full of energy. The sea is my home, it is where I go to reset my feelings and to anchor me. The waves smashing onto the english coast, here in Folkestone, are special in their rawness. Of course we managed to go to Sainsburys after all, for the Crumpets.

Folkestone. ƒ11, 1/1000 sec.

Some technical tidbits. The film is shot at box speed, metering in camera. The centre weighted F3 meters 80 percent in the central 12mm, the rest in the surrounding area. For me this works quite well, as does the aperture priority. I developed the film 5 minutes at 20 degrees celsius in HC110, dilution B in a Jobo drum. As usual I printed with the Leitz Focomat Ic, and developed with Tetenal Eukobrom. While I have a Multigrade head on my other Focomat, the diffuser V35, I prefer the harsher look the condenser enlarger provides. These images are printed without filtering on Multigrade warm tone paper, and reproduced with a Google Pixel 6 Pro. The dirt on the prints is more pronounced because of the condenser, but I decided to accept it, like scratches on your favourite Tears for fears album on Vinyl.

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16 Comments

  • Reply
    Steve Curzon
    December 8, 2021 at 10:23 am

    Great article! And lovely photos.

  • Reply
    Andy Hinson
    December 8, 2021 at 11:43 am

    Lovely words and images…I need to get to the coast. I love a stormy sea. To look at, not sail on 🙂

    • Reply
      thorsten
      December 8, 2021 at 12:13 pm

      You’re right Andy! What amazes me all the time is that every day is different, especially the Baltic can be smooth one da and stormy the next ;))

  • Reply
    Agata Urbaniak
    December 8, 2021 at 12:26 pm

    Ha sorry I thought you were going to do some shopping and brought the camera with you. First pic – wow he has some lovely sights on the way to the shop. Second pic – *facepalm* oh right.

    • Reply
      thorsten
      December 8, 2021 at 12:39 pm

      Hehe yes, it’s my northern German accent, Agata. Americans say it sounds Australian ;))

  • Reply
    Michael J
    December 8, 2021 at 3:59 pm

    You’ve hit the really good parts of the southern edge of these islands. And the wierdest- Dungeness and Portland? Could be the perfect photo-safari, and some very fine photos too!

    • Reply
      thorsten
      December 8, 2021 at 8:15 pm

      Dungeness was quite amazing. The shacks on the beach would make good material for a series. We spent some time in the new forest and the South Downs, all places I’d like to revisit. Next time I’ll go further norther and check out the red wall that is supposed to be up there…

  • Reply
    Clive W
    December 8, 2021 at 5:18 pm

    I’ve been looking forward to this since you trailed it in your Hyères piece, Thorsten, and it was worth the wait. You clearly travelled with your eyes and mind open, and I enjoyed your story and your pictures. I especially like the Rothko-esque banding in the Folkestone beach scene – and that you found people to talk to on the way, which is always the best thing about travelling.

  • Reply
    Sroyon
    December 8, 2021 at 5:49 pm

    Well, you know some interesting people!
    Speaking of Salisbury, I wanted to take the Imerbus while I lived in the UK, but never got round to it. Maybe someday!

    • Reply
      thorsten
      December 8, 2021 at 8:32 pm

      … a fleet of old London buses, military land and an empty village sounds absolutely like a black and white Peel and Steed Avengers episode to me, Sroyon! They have funny stubby small buses in Salisbury. And the interesting people, well, don’t believe the hype about Olaf Scholz ;)) Robert Habeck is pretty cool, though.

  • Reply
    ciaron
    December 9, 2021 at 7:03 pm

    Lovely article, makes me miss England. It’s good to be reminded of how wonderful the country is.

  • Reply
    thorsten wulff
    December 10, 2021 at 12:48 pm

    Thank you dear Ciaron. With the stories attached to the images these texts almost write themselves… My trips to England usually led me to the London area so far, friends of mine had a brewery in Greenwich. And then there was the journey to Stanley Kubricks place, Childwickbury Manor in Hertfordshire. Still I have to admit that I have no real idea of the british soul, but came much closer this time.

  • Reply
    ºColor-Solinarº
    December 12, 2021 at 7:09 pm

    What a wonderful read this was – thank you for sharing your experiences and the memories that they triggered. I also have to add that I enjoyed the article even more because you used the words “extremely relaxed squirrels” in a sentence!! I don’t think I’ve read those words in that exact order anywhere before!

    • Reply
      thorsten
      December 12, 2021 at 7:48 pm

      Oh thank you, ºColor-Solinarº! That is very kind. The grey squirrels of Lewes, well, they don’t jump and zip up trees when you approach them. They just sit there and check you out, stiff-upper-lipped, and carry on.

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