John H Luxton - JHLPHOTOGRAPHY

Background

I was born in Liverpool in 1959 to parents who both shared some West Country ancestry - with a bit of Irish and Welsh on my mother's side thrown in for good measure! My mother's maternal side of the family came from Cornwall (via Swansea, Wales) and Ireland on her paternal side.

My paternal grandfather was born into a farming family at Aller in Somerset and came to Liverpool via Fleetwood, Lancashire where he married a local girl and secured work associated with the fishing industry.  His move away from Somerset occurred in the wake of a family dispute over the selling of farm land during the First World War when he was serving in the Royal Navy. 

In 1938 my paternal grandfather decided on a change in direction, left Fleetwood, and bought a newsagent’s shop (and later also acquiring the neighbouring stationery shop) moving to Liverpool with his wife and my father who had been born in 1924.

Perhaps my ancestry has had some bearing in the bias shown when it comes to the areas of these islands in which most of my photographs have been taken?

There must be something in my subconscious which has always drawn me, and my parents before me, to these areas to spend our leisure time. Consequently will find many photographs from the South West of England and Wales on this web site but significantly fewer from Liverpool and the North West! 

My entire life has revolved around transport and industrial history related interests. Since around the age of 5 photography has been an inseparable associated past time.

The focus of my interest in transport has changed over the years and since 1991 a significant number of ship photographs have been taken. However, in recent years I have started revisiting other areas such as railways - in particular heritage railways.

The interest in Industrial Archaeology and History developed in my early years after being taken to visit abandoned mines in Cornwall.

My mother's Bakelite Kodak Brownie 127 Mark 1 camera was the first camera I used around 1964. The following year I received a my own more up-to date Kodak Brownie 127 Mark 3 which at least had film / shutter release interlock preventing unwanted double exposures and even had a clip-on flash which used real bulbs - if you could get it to work!

in 1969 my grandfather bought a Praktica Nova 1 SLR having discovered it was no longer possible to obtain the obsolete roll film which he had used in a pre-WWII Voigtlander folding bellows camera. Neither grandfather nor my father could master the loading of 35mm film into the Praktica. The camera was then given to me as I knew how to load and use it. I had learnt most of my early photographic skills from reading the instruction book and looking at the illustrations. It all made sense to me! My photographic journey really started at this point.

Over 16,000 transparency images and around 3000 negatives had been taken by 2002 when began the switch to exclusively digital photography.

During the early 80s I also dabbled in black and white processing and had a dark room set up in the cellar of my previous home.

A succession of cameras mainly Rollei, Contax and Leica have followed my Grandfather's long worn out Praktica Nova, still retained as a keepsake. Almost all have had German heritage if not actual German manufacture though I did briefly own a Pentax auto 110 SLR outfit briefly.

My first steps in digital photography began with a Leica Digilux Zoom - in reality a small Fuji with a Leica badge! Whilst very compact it wasn't very good. The lens had very unsatisfactory barrel distortion. By 2002 I had upgraded it to a Leica Digilux 1 a much better camera this finally persuaded me to give up 35mm with my last 35mm camera a Contax G1 electronic rangefinder being auctioned off on eBay around 2006.  

A succession of Leica digital cameras have followed.

At the present time I use a Leica V-lux 3, Leica X1,  Leica M262 and M240 range finder cameras. Rangerfinder cameras have always fascinated me having bought a very old Leica IIIa dating from the 1930s in 1980. Their compact size, high quality images and rapid manual focusing makes them a more practical alternative to the increasingly bulky digital SLRs.

The autumn of 2019 will see me bringing to conclusion a career of almost three and a half decades working in education.

From the start of 2020 I intend to spend considerable time developing this site and will be working towards completing the task of scanning the thousands of 35mm transparency negatives as well a getting out and about even more with my cameras.     

Anyway enough about me - I hope you enjoy the photographs on these pages - happy browsing!  

John H. Luxton

August 02, 2019 


Early Days 1960 & 1965

  • Watching the Western Trains Go By - Ponsandane, Penzance 1960

    The start of my interest in transport Will the next one be a Castle, Warship or Hall? Probably one of the reasons why 58 years later I am still fascinated by things Great Western and the West Country. A photograph taken of me watching trains arriving and departing Penzance in autumn 1960 or spring 1961 by my mother Elsie Luxton using a Kodak Brownie 127. The unusual flat roof of Ponsandane Signal Box which lay beside the level crossing which then gave access to the beach can just be made out along the fence line. Why did my mother waste the shot on me and not those fast vanishing GW locos or those nice shiny new hydraulics?

  • Giew Mine 1965

    Exploring Giew Mine in 1965 - the start of my interest in Industrial Archaeology and mines in particular

  • Morwellham Quay - April 07, 1976

    Your web master sat on the Manganese Mill grind stone.

Early Cameras

  • Kodak Brownie 127 Camera Mk 1

    The first camera I ever used! This is my mother's Kodak Brownie 127 (Mark 1) She received this as a wedding present in 1956 from colleagues at Boots Store in Liverpool City Centre where she worked in the restaurant. The camera was made in the UK between 1952 and 1955 before being replaced by a mk2 model which had a patterned face plate around the lens. Shutter speed was 1/50 sec and f11 fixed aperture 65mm lens. The shutter was not interlocked with the film wind on and thus unintentional double or even triple exposures were possible! My mother started to let me use the camera when I was around 4 or 5 years of age. Image quality was generally rather poor probably not helped by the low shutter speed. Eight images were taken on a 127 film.

  • Kodak Brownie 127 Camera Mk 3

    My first camera! This Kodak Brownie 127 Camera was given to me by my aunt for Christmas 1965 when I was 6 years old. This Mark 3 model was made between 1965 and 1967. Unlike the previous two Kodak Brownie cameras this took 12 square exposures on a 127 roll film (4 more than the Mk 1 & 2. The camera body had as significantly more modern styling and was made of modern plastic rather than the Bakelite type plastic that my mother's 1950's Mk1 model was constructed of. Other improvements included a finger grip on the left and a modern push button shutter release (white panel). The film advance / shutter were interlocked thus preventing accidental double exposures. The camera also boasted a non-standard hot shoe. The camera was originally supplied with a detachable flash which used single disposable flash bulbs. This never seemed to work properly and my mother took me to a Camera shop on Fore Street, St. Ives when on holiday. There the salesman sold me a new type flash which took Kodak Magicube flash bulbs. Four disposable bulbs which you had to remember to turn - these were fired by two button cells housed in the flash. Again these never seemed to work and I have very few photos taken with this flash. Image quality was a little better than my mothers MK1 127 Brownie of 1956 - the lens not being quite as "fuzzy". I used the camera into the 1970s and started to experiment with slide film. The camera producing 127 "SuperSlides" which were the same dimensions as 35mm but which offered the full square frame. Then my grandfather gave me his Praktica Nova 1 ...... and that is when the photo-bug really took off!