Photography ... astronomy ... art ... design ... technology
(... and the odd rant)

All of these make my world go 'round, to some extent, and they will all be found here at some time or other. Some of the photography can be purchased from my Redbubble site. I can also be found at Tempus Fugit (no longer being updated).

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

RIP Kodachrome

A couple of days ago, on the northern summer solstice, Kodak announced the end of an era. Kodak: the very name is synonymous with photography, and Kodachrome is a substantial part of the name. Used by professional and amateur photographers the world over, and valued for its many qualities, including colour accuracy, sharpness and archival permanence; immortalized (if it could be any more than it was) in song by Paul Simon, the film that was manufactured for 74 of the 121 years that Kodak has been in business, is history.

Kodachrome was a unique film, requiring a long and complex development process that but a few labs could provide. I knew it only casually, shooting relatively little transparency material, but there was a special thrill in receiving the little yellow boxes in the post, full of card-mounted (as they were then) slides. Now, the advance of emulsion technology, not to mention digital imaging and sheer cold commercial necessity, has brought an end to this venerable icon, as the production lines cease to roll. It's not the first, and certainly not the last, photographic material to reach its use-by date, but it's arguably one of the most poignant. Kodachrome, Cibachrome, Dufaycolour ... when will we see their like again...

Many are wondering whether digital images will be as enduring as those made on this fine material. Only time will tell, but I wouldn't be placing any bets about digital longevity.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

More kitchen capers

With SWMBO intent on combining leeks and potatoes in the time-honoured soupy fashion, I thought the least I could do would be to make a damper to accompany it. I have a few standard recipes that I am comfortable with (although arguably, increasingly unfamiliar...), and this is one such. It caught my eye in that great British entertainment organ, the Radio Times, many years ago, and it has provided sterling service since then.

I confess to being a member of the KISS school of culinary arts: one pan, if possible; as little mess and fiddling as possible; flexible in the cooking process (ie, 10-15 minutes either way is OK).

I've never made bread as such, because it involves tedious things like kneading and proving, and that just puts me off. Call me lazy if you will. Call me Henrietta if you must (but I'll take no notice). Damper, however, is another matter, and suits my style very well. This one has a twist or two, in that it includes potatoes, cheese, and one or two other items of vegetable matter. Here's the lowdown:


  • 6 oz (175g) SR flour
  • 6 oz (175g) grated potato
  • 6 oz (175g) cheese
  • [doesn't really matter exactly how much - just make the quantities roughly equal (but perhaps less cheese1)]
  • 2-3 shallots (spring/green onions)
  • pinch of thyme
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tblsps water
  • sprinkle of cayenne (optional)

  • Plonk flour in large bowl (sieve it, if it gives you satisfaction)
  • Mix thyme and salt into flour
  • Grate potatoes and add to flour; stir well to break up clumps of potato
  • Mix chopped onions into flour & potato
  • Add cheese2, cut into lumps, and mix in well (easiest to use hands at this stage)
  1. I find this too much cheese, and usually use half this much
  2. the original recipe said mix in half the cheese, then press the other half on the outside of the bread before cooking, but that's just unnecessary mucking about, if you ask me; decide for yourself.
By now, you will have a pretty dry, loose mix, but there should be just enough moisture in the grated potato to soak up all the flour. At this point, add the extra water, just enough to keep the dough together.

Finally, place on greaseproof paper on a tray, and bake in a moderate oven (about 180oC) for about 45 minutes.

I generally make a double mixture and split into 2 portions, because one just isn't enough!


The original recipe called for goat's cheese (or more precisely, goats milk cheese), and as I try to avoid bovine milk products, this suits me fine. Today, I'm using a sheep feta for the first time, so wait the outcome with eager anticipation.

[Later... verdict: it's quite delicious, as was the soup.]