Born from a recent conversation in a pub, here's a video where I talk at the camera for a while about my thoughts on invention.
You would think a video like this would be very easy to produce, but having recorded it I somehow still found myself spending ages overlaying pictures and archive footage. I also found it very hard to limit how much I said, as pretty much every topic touched upon is one I can talk about for hours (and have been known to, especially while inebriated).
Following the aforementioned pub conversation, I initially thought to record this at the Science Museum, but it's always too busy and the lighting is poor. At one point in my life I was close enough to the museum to go there at lunch time. One of the great benefits of it being free entry is that you can pop in for ten minutes without feeling like you've wasted a ticket. It turns out that since the pandemic they've added a ticket system involving QR codes which is thoroughly awful. Even though it's still free, it's much harder to make a spontaneous visit.
As excellent as "Making the Modern World" is, it's noticeably lacking a Linotype machine. There's one in the Manchester science museum, and we know there's plenty in private collections throughout the country. In fact, now that I think of it, the Science Museum in London probably has several of its own, but in storage instead of on display. I hope that one day I will be granted access to the Science Museum Archives.
When I mention cameras in the video, there's a collage of cameras I put together. Can you name all of them?
Right-to-left, top-to-bottom, they are:
Nikon SP, one of the only Nikon rangefinders. An exceedingly rare camera originally from the 50s, the black model was re-released as a limited run in 2005. I've never even seen one in real life, but it's undoubtedly one of the prettiest cameras ever made.
Rolleiflex SL66, a medium format SLR with tilt-shift. I've always wanted one but could never justify buying it.
Leica M3, supposedly the greatest camera ever made. You often see them at camera fairs but I've never shot any pictures with one.
Sony RX100 Mk VII, a compact digital camera. It's probably my second-most used camera behind the big Nikon DSLR workhorse. I have many complaints about the RX100 and compact cameras in general, but I when I dropped my RX100 and it irreparably smashed, I almost immediately bought a brand new one at full price, which says an awful lot.
Olympus 35RD, a cute rangefinder I own. I also have its sibling, the 35RC. They're both so-so cameras, but they look cool.
Nikon F3, one of my favourite 35mm cameras. I own a whole load of accessories for it too, including pointless replacement focus screens, the waist-level finder and the silly flash with the proprietary hot-shoe.
Zeiss Super Ikonta folding medium format camera with the pop-up rangefinder. I used to have one of these but sold it years ago.
Canon EOS 5D MkIII, full frame digital. I borrowed one for a few weeks around 2013.
Hasselblad 500CM. Never used one but it would be silly to leave it out of the collage.
Graflex Speed Graphic, an absolutely joyful camera. A friend of mine owned one and I frequently borrowed it. The positively quaint experience of shooting 4x5 film with bellows and tilt-shift is immeasurably enhanced by mounting a Polaroid instant back. There's nothing quite like it. And since every picture costs about £2, it's kind of the opposite of digital where pressing the shutter button is free. I found myself checking every last detail and control twice, making absolutely sure of the focus and metering, only for my portrait subject to remark how if it were digital they'd be able to see the result straight away. But, aha, I tell them, it's instant film! I really miss shooting with this camera.
Bronica S2 medium format SLR, a kind of poor-man's Hasselblad. I think the model I used to borrow was actually a Bronica ETRS and it had a prism. Aside from the Ikonta, which if I'm honest was never very good, the Bronica is the medium format camera I spent the most time with.
Minolta SR-T 101. Nothing special about it, except that it was the first 35mm SLR I ever used.