Ballads of lost objects
With a roll of Kodak Tri-X in my Praktika,
camera concealed and disguised in canvas rucksack,
I came to the Café Nero on that Autumn day
When the sun drenched the plate glass window in light and heat.
We talked of illnesses and work and what retirement
could mean with low spending, Arts, London and Freedom Pass.
We stopped with the coffee drinkers and newspaper readers
for less than an hour, walked up towards the Tube,
the young fashion-wearers in their old high heels looking good,
and parted on the corner of Flask Walk, to walk
further into the fine day, I to shoot my roll of film.
Gingerly at first, framing the shops and then the Flask,
my shoot got bolder, quicker, aiming for contrast and shape.
Go for the cool word “Ginsberg” on the name of a close,
get down close to the cobbles for texture, low f-number.
Walk up, turn left, circle back to the Tube and fire off
the rest of the film at the branches of dusty trees
by the bus shelter; “ride” the 46 back home.
Rewinding on the couch with curtains drawn, there’s a snag:
Tri-X is ASA 400 – I’d forgotten
about the ISO settings, so used to automatic!
Back in the’70s you had to set the beast.
I’m 4 stops out and, disgusted, bin the film:
those bleached out prints would be money down the
Later, the nagging thought appears and won’t go away –
Those 4 stops out could well have been the key, a door opening..
N.B. Kodak Tri-X is a black and white film still favoured by some photographers over digital. Some great B&W photos have succeeded precisely because of their high contrast “burned in” through aberrant exposures.