The Poison Pen

Home Part 2.

Posted in Photography by thepoisonpen on February 16, 2014


I’ve been back home for a few months now. In some way it’s nice, as I feel like a bit of a hermit, and thus it’s enabling me to sort through some things and focus more on what I want to do next. The nicest thing though is being able to go for walks into the countryside, just 10 minutes from home and visit one of  the local farms shops to stock up on home grown veggies for smoothies or treats like chocolate macadamia nut spread. Hmm.




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Nimble Fingers

Posted in Photography by thepoisonpen on February 2, 2014


Cullercoats in instax hand stitched.


Posted in Durham, Photography by thepoisonpen on November 19, 2013

by Taegon Kim

Sunday I took a trip into town for Lumiere, a now annual art installation in Durham city. My favourite piece was probably the dresses, they were beautiful in a ‘Sleeping Beauty spectre’ kind of way. The crowds weren’t too bad, usually what put me off going on previous years. The only thing that was annoying was all the tripods out. It’s such an odd age where we now spend more time looking at things through our phones than actually processing them with our eyes. Except the kids, they were just in awe.

Durham Cathedral


Carrier Bag Lights




A timely trip away

Posted in Photography by thepoisonpen on August 4, 2013

I talked my way onto my mum’s birthday trip to Poland this year. She’s been slowly working through all the cities in Europe that she has never visited, so after a slightly miserable summer and the use of a bit of savings, I wangled myself on the trip.

What an incredible city Krakow is. I suppose a lot of avidity can be given to most places that take you away from home and give you a new perspective on life. But to spend time in city with such a, shall we say, colourful history was an incredibly eye opening experience. I left my phone and digital camera at home (for fear of getting them nicked and lack of funds for insurance/replacements) and took along my OM-10 as I was feeling less inspired to spam my instagram account with the usual ‘look at this amazing time I’m having’ monotony.

It was a wonderful trip, spending time with my family and familiarising myself with a new city. But on reflection, it was made more special by the fact I didn’t commit every second to instagram or digitally. I do admit however, that I did get lost and realised that at times like those mobile phones are really bloody useful, especially as we now rely on them so greatly we tend to forget basic reconnection tactics like ‘i’ll meet you at x,y or z’ and if not then ‘we’ll meet you back at zyx’ etc. Technology eh?








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The instax is back!

Posted in Uncategorized by thepoisonpen on May 13, 2013

New shows for Yellow Creatures, basically a fun half an hour messing about the Offquay. ImageImage

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Fun with a Halina Paulette

Posted in Photography by thepoisonpen on May 29, 2011

You tend to find a lot of these kind of cameras kicking about in charity shop or on ebay, usually with variable results. I quite liked the feel of this one, but having not used manual cameras for a while it takes a bit of getting used to remembering to focus/aperture/shutter instead of pointing and shooting. I started off 12 years ago shooting film on a beat up Olympus OM10 my dad gave me, and later on had the opposite problem; manual focusing with digital lenses which have no distance guide!

Film now is even more of an expensive hobby, and if you’ve found yourself a cute looking old Soviet model that didn’t come with LOMO seal of approval you might be better off asking for the negatives to be developed first to see if there’s any treasures on the film worth printing. Maybe I’m a cheapskate but even £5 in Boots seems expensive for a less than satisfactory film roll.

I didn’t use filters. Your own sunglasses can be natures cheapest visual effects tool.

That last photo was a bit of a tiny revelation. When I was at my illest my mum used to take me for drives and we would sit in the moors on ‘Bob’s Seat’. So it was quite touching to go back and to see they’d updated the seat plaque which appears his partner has now joined him.

Film Photography – on the el cheapo

Posted in Photography by thepoisonpen on July 19, 2010

The general consensus seems to have fallen out of love with film, or fallen back in love depending on your predilection. In the digital age, most effects can be manipulated in photo editing suites and costs can be cut considerably as film development slowly falls by the wayside and becomes a specialised market.

Lomography started to dominate the film market years ago, creating a left field generation of  photography utilising Soviet cameras and their quirks which included light leaks and weird exposure. As such was the appeal, the prices soared for Lomo authorised cameras. No matter how shitty the camera was, with a lomo sticker it became a novelty. However if you know where to look, you can enjoy film without needing to spend over £50 on a camera that is essentially, a bit broken.

So here is my cheap and cheerful guide to film for those who might not know where to look, where to start and certainly don’t have the pennies to waste on what can be a variable medium at best.

Black & White

I’ve used a lot of black and white film over the years in a variety of cameras, but my favourite way to use black & white these days is with a Boots disposable black & white camera. It comes pre-loaded with an 800 iso film. I’ve only ever had these developed at boots, which usually takes around 14 days, but I’ve always been more than happy with the results for such an easy to use point and shoot camera. It’s a fantastic easy way to get into using black and white if you’re unsure where to start or not to savvy on anything more than a point and shoot.

Another bonus is that they are normally on offer for buy one get one free.


Edinburgh 2009

Redscale is the name of a technique for shooting your film on the wrong side. It is done manually by rewinding the film backwards into an empty film cannister to achieve ‘reddened’ results. That was a faff untill lomo came along and created pre-loaded redscale film. The lomo films are reasonably priced at under £10 for three films depending on where you purchase, so shop around online to find the best deal.

Also lighting is very important, it won’t work for gig photography or to take groping into a dark corner. Redscale feeds off high contrast light situations to make the most out of your film. Sunny days and large city scapes work best unless you can rely on a very strong flash.


If you already own a film interchangeable lens camera or have inherited, sourced or scoured your way through families attics and draws. You can achieve a variety of effects using simple filters. There are two ways to use filters: The first is a round glass filter bought to fit the size of your lens directly and is good if you’re used to using auto-focus. The downside is they can be rather pricey depending on the lens you are going to attach it to. Or, you can buy a filter unit which attaches like a large lens hood over the front of the camera allowing you to add numerous square filters at the same time for cheaper than your standard fitted lens screw in type. The Cokin website has a comprehensive guide on how to get on the square filters, and as always eBay is a good place to source second hand filters for extra cheap that photographers no longer want or need.

Taken using olympus om10 yellow filter

As for developing? Go local and support your nearest independent film developers as they are on the decline. I plan to try Digitalab which Newcastle (U.K) based and offers a wide range of services including cross processing for an extra cost.

The Art of Black & White

Posted in Local by thepoisonpen on May 24, 2010

Newcastle city centre has always been one of my most favourites places to photograph. The architecture is as grandiose as it is stunning. But interestingly the most beautiful parts of the city can also tend to be the most quiet (even on the weekends), so at the same time as photographing it’s incredible Georgian and Neoclassical buildings, it can also feel incredibly peaceful. A bit like imaging the more beautiful parts of London without the constant frenzied sway of passers-by. It’s another reason why when I return back home, I always feel like the North East of England is an under-cherished gem and also why it makes it a haven for the scale and impact that black and white photography can have. The subject matter should always be as dramatic as it’s medium you choose to use.