Thursday, January 01, 2009

Revisiting the OM1

click photo to enlarge
Today's photograph was taken on 11th May 1986 during a visit I made to Southwell Minster, Nottinghamshire. It shows one of the remarkable carved capitals in the Chapter House, a part of the Minster built in the late 1200s as the Early English style of Gothic architecture was turning towards the Decorated.

The carved stonework of the Chapter House is some of the best to be found in Britain. It includes ten "green men", many label stop heads, a vaulted roof (the only example that isn't supported by a central pier), and numerous delicate capitals on slender columns. These beautifully sculpted pieces depict recognisable plants including the maple, oak, hawthorn, buttercup, potentilla, vine, ivy and hops. It's hard to imagine how the carvers went about creating such intricacy, and how the details have managed to survive relatively unscathed to the present day. The architectural historian, Nikolaus Pevsner, notes that the creators achieved a synthesis of nature and style, not merely copying the leaves, but depicting them in a way that doesn't deny the stone of which they are made. The result is very moving.

I include this photograph as an example of the output of my Olympus OM1n with the Zuiko 50mm 1.8 lens. I'd been using it for over 10 years when I took this shot. The image is also a testament to the durability of an image shot on Fujichrome transparency film. The colour and clarity are, as far as I can see, just as good today as when I made the original exposure. I hope that the digital files I now create will be in as good shape twenty two years hence. In theory they should be, but changes in file formats and operating systems, as well as the fallibility of storage devices leads me to think I could be disappointed. The slide was scanned using a negative and transparency holder on a new flatbed scanner that came my way at Christmas. The quality produced in what is essentially a light-box add-on to a fairly standard and inexpensive scanner has amazed me. It's at least as good, perhaps better than I can achieve with a dedicated film scanner that I bought six or so years ago, and has the advantage of copying multiple images in one pass. I intend to compare it with a digital enlargement of a slide photographed with the E510 using the 35mm macro lens. If the results are acceptable I'll post that shot too.

One of my more recent images of Southwell Minster can be seen here.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus OM1n
Mode: Manual
Focal Length: 50mm
F No: f4
Shutter Speed: 1/60
ISO: 100
Film: Fujichrome
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Image Stabilisation: N/A