The Bricklayers Arms by Nigel Rumsey

The Bricklayers Arms, Stone Street, Gravesend

Another of Gravesend’s recently closed pubs. Since the turn of the century, 24 pubs in the town have closed.

The Bricklayers Arms opened in 1851 and closed in 1910.  It reopened as The Station Hotel in 1914 which closed in 2002. Reopening later as Bar24 and then The Bridge Bar, which finally closed in 2017.

This is part of an ongoing project.

Ascot Arms by Nigel Rumsey

The Public House, the pub, with maybe the church, was once at the centre of every English community. In my parent’s generation most men, and sometimes women, would have ‘a local’ a place to go and chat with friends about their lives, their troubles, or at least how poorly their football team were playing that week.

Yes, they sold beer, but mostly they were about community. Where I grew in south-east London, they served a very small clientele, that might only be the residents of half a dozen streets. Most of their regulars knew each other, they knew their partners, their parents and their children. It was a very territorial thing, half a mile if that sometimes, further up the road would be another local with its own regulars, another separate, distinct community.

Over the last 25 years, maybe more, that’s changed. In my own town of Gravesend since the turn of the century, 24 pubs have closed. Granted we started with a lot, being an old port on the Thames, Gravesend had more than its fair share of pubs. Nevertheless, the attrition rate is shocking.

The Ascot Arms is the latest to close, finally shutting its doors earlier this year. The brewery has advertised for new tenants, but it seems more likely it'll be turned into yet another convenience store, or demolished and the land used for housing. The Ascot Arms started life as the Central Hotel; opening in 1932. It’s a huge rambling place, so it’s hardly surprising the latest landlord struggled to keep it open.

Part of an ongoing project.

Developing Times by Nigel Rumsey

Field Notes for film developing

In this notebook, I write all my notes related to film developing. “Why are you showing us this Nigel?” you might be saying. Well despite having this great little book with all my notes and despite having been developing film on & off for 30 years, careless people can still f**k it up.

 Field Notes notebook for film photography

This morning I grabbed my gear and the roll of Agfa APX100 I finished shooting yesterday, and I set off developing. I’d pushed it two stops so I looked in my book, Agfa APX100, at ISO400 x HC-110 = 6.30 mins! Those of you experienced at such things are now thinking, pushed film, 6.5 minutes that doesn’t sound right and, dear reader, you’d be correct. However, the dumb arses amongst us didn’t have that thought. They’re too busy listening to a podcast.

So the result, one severely under-developed film. I should have read 15.5 minutes, not 6.5. The only consolation being it has been 30 years, and I hope it’s 30 years until the next one.

That podcast I was listening to: We Believe in Film by Timothy Ditzler, although it’d hardly be fair to blame him!

I tried. by Nigel Rumsey

 The National Theatre, London

This image represents a lesson. Not a new lesson but something I needed to be reminded of: just try.

About eight years ago I went to a wedding as a guest, I wasn’t the photographer but I was hoping to get a few good shots for the happy couple (they’ve since divorced, but we’ll gloss over that). I knew the venue was going to be dark so I took a few rolls of Neopan 1600. In the end I only shot one roll, but I truly hated the results, big ugly lumpy grain. I disliked it so much l’ve not shot it since, I still have the remaining rolls of in my refrigerator.

So from then to about four weeks ago I've avoided shooting film at iso1600, because I ‘knew’ it was going to look terrible. Even though I may be shooting a different film, processing it in a different developer, shooting it in different light, in a different camera and in different circumstances. I knew it was going to be crap. So convinced was I, on the evidence of that one roll of film I haven’t tried again. Until about four weeks ago.

 Roof Terrace, National Theatre. London

For a private project I had to push Kodak Tri-x, not to 1600, but 3200. WTF was that going to look like! I’d researched it online and seen some ‘not bad’ results, I still wasn’t comfortable but I went ahead anyway - I tried. What did it look like? It looked bloody brilliant, that's what it looked like! I love it! The grain wasn’t bad, the shadows still had some detail, it had the contrast I like in black and white. Just think if I’d been open minded enough to give it a go before, I could have used it countless times in the last few years.

Next time I'm being such a negative twat please remind me of this moment.

Tri-x at 1600: the best thing since sliced bread!

For photography geeks out there: The above shots were exposed at iso1600 and developed in HC-110B, 16 minutes, inversions 10 secs every 2 mins.

Have a great week.