Vintage and Classic Cameras
About, well, me I guess.

This is me, Keith. Englishman, amateur photograper, camera restorer, photo retoucher, artist, author, cyclist, motorcyclist, pilot and traveller. With the emphasis on amateur. I have far too many irons in far too many fires.

Professionally, well, what does it matter really? I worked for Draper Tools Ltd for 30 years in their vaguely named Publicity department, where I did all sorts. Finishing off procurring and managing the Matrix Catalogue Management System. In October 2017, a review of the wrinkles in the mirror reminded me that time has it's own agenda and was unlikely to wait for me. So I quit, and now live in Almaty, Kazakhstan. But I have been in five countries in the last four months... so no need to come calling.

Out of school, I wanted to be a pilot in the Air Force. The Air Force didn't share my enthusiasm.

But I'm not defined by my work. In fact I get rather annoyed if the first thing someone asks me, is what I do for a living. Maybe it's a defense reaction, because I think I ought to have achieved more. But when questioned as to what I'd like to have achieved I tend to answer, "well a Nobel Peace Prize would be a good starting point, I can work my way up from there."
No, I am better defined by my passions, and there are a lot. It would be hard to put them in any kind of order. But anything history related, mechanical or artistic would cover it. Vintage cameras are a good combination of all three, are accessible and many people will encounter one or two in their lifetime. This clearly lead to the creation of the LICM, initially it was just going to be a booklet to record all the serial numbers for my own benefit. The advent of the internet, buying an early Tangerine iMac which had 'PageMills' installed, lead to the web site. Apologies for that. But on of my biggest passions has been cycling. I have cycled somewhere between 180,000 - 200,000 miles, wearing out several bicycles and most of my leg joints in the process. The longest surviving bicycle was a Coventry Eagle frame I married to new components in 1987, that finally died after 88,000 miles in 2010. The image at right shows it in the Summer of 1988, when it was still fairly fresh and I still had hair, under that helmet. Incidently I was an early adopter of cycling helmets. This one, a Brancale Sport, consisted of a thin polycarbonate shell with little padding, I'm pretty sure it would fall a bit short of a modern ANSI test.

Coventry Eagle

Thank You Lidl!

Having gone through the Brancale Sport helmet, a Kiwi K25 and a Bell, I bought this from Lidl. I liked it because it wasn't covered in silly logos or go faster stripes and came with a small rear light built in. This image was taken in October 2017, two days before this helmet - already several years old, was put to the ultimate test. I still have no idea what happened, but I came off and landed on my right temple. I remember nothing about it. The evidence from the helmet records a very positive connection with the road. As I had been unconscious for several seconds after landing I was taken for a head scan, which revealed the Lidl helmet had done what was asked of it. Thank you to the Lidl buyer who sourced this helmet, it performed perfectly. It's fairly probable I wouldn't be writing this now had I not been wearing it. Sadly my wrists, hip and knees all took a beating too, so that appears to be the end of my cycling days for now. Although I never thought it could happen to me, I still wore a helmet. Travelling around on two wheeled machines involves falling off occasionally, but I never once hit my head in 42 years cycling most days. It only needs to happen the once though.
The oak tree in this photo' was grown from seed I rescued in 2003. I grew it in a pot before transplanting it to my local park (with Council permission) where it continues thrive. It's called "Meh" and was one of a pair. Sadly the local vandals took care of the other one, called "Keh".

My current bicycle is this Raleigh Royal, in the obscure Reynolds 508 tubing - very rigid for loaded panniers. I bought this back in 1996, fully expecting it to be the last bicycle I ever bought. Sadly, various knee injuries curtailed my heavy touring days, so the bicycle has only ever completed one decent tour of Wicklow in Ireland. To date, it has only covered around 8400 miles. Since 2010 it was used for the daily commute after the poor old Coventry Eagle finally fell to pieces. I keep it smart and well maintained however, and gave it a proper rebuild after the crash mentioned above. But I have not ridden it since, or bought a new helmet.

A small number of parts on this bike completed the John O' Groats to Land's End trip in 1987,the so called "End to End", when they were fitted to a Madison Rialto - the racks and the bell. I scrapped that bike in 1996, as the geometry didn't agree with my knees.


Next up: Motorcycles. Now in truth, I am a reluctant motorcyclist. Forced into it by a game of badminton in which I wrecked my right Achilles heal. That was back in 1989. Since cycling was temporarily out of the question I learnt to ride a motorcycle. Now this subsequently turned out to be serendipitous, as it lead me to the smiling bundle of fun misbehaving on the pillion seat of this Honda CB750. We are both still smiling at this point not realizing that we are heading accidently across the somewhat porous border between Thailand and Myanmar back in 2004. A few short minutes later our guide would turn us around fairly smartish as we were attracting the wrong sort of attention. This trip was part of the Golden Triangle route in Thailand. The CB750 was a thoroughly unsuitable choice, but as I am am a bit short in the leg, it was all I could get. Off road bikes are just too tall for me. But riding a standard road bike with road tyres on wet mud is a lot of fun... all the time it's going to plan, at least. We subsequently toured in the US, and Turkey. In 2015 we bought a secondhand XJ600 Diversion in Kazakhstan, shipped it to Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan, then rode it across the Tian Shan mountains in a big loop back to Almaty. Boy that was a hoot. Again, on standard road tyres on stones, mud and rock - that fabulous little Yamaha, never gave up. Even after being dropped into a river and completely submerged in sub freezing conditions, after we fished it out, it fired up and happily went on with the trip. We took it to an altitude of 12400ft and still it laughed at what we threw at it. After we got it back to Almaty, we sold it on, and I hear it's still running fine to this day. I was so impressed, I bought myself one when I got back to the UK.

The fact that I like travelling and visiting places is barely worth mentioning, it's just a given...

RED2-JJ So this is the current fleet. In the foreground is "Red2", the XJ600-4BR I bought in 2017 to honour the fabulous "Red" that took me across the Tian Shan. Behind it is good old "Jay Jay", a 1991 XK600-3KM. I bought her new from Park Road Motorcycles in Southampton UK, and have kept her to this day. It's never been actually restored as such, but has been continuously maintained, which has entailed stripping it down to it's component parts three times in it's life. It's cost effective as I do everything myself. These days, I consider "Jay Jay" retired from active service, and it just goes out occasionally. Having said that, I gave it one last full service, drained it of all fluids, coated the fuel tank in oil, and put the bike into storage back in September 2017, and I rather expect it to stay there now. It still looks pretty, but the engine is high time and it's difficult to find some spares now. After 25 years, every bulb is the original. The only components to die, were a regulator and I recently replaced the bushes in the suspension system. The exhaust is still original, but with some very clever and neat welding repairs courtesy of a local engineering company.
jj-DHC Beaver

When I first bought the XJ600-3KM back in 1991 I took it to the Museum of Army Flying at Middle Wallop (yes honestly, that's a place) for one of its first outings and photographed it next to this De Havilland Canada Beaver. This is not that picture! Same bike, same location, but 25 years later.

Over the years I've only had a handful of bikes, but a mixed bag. The oldest; a 1951 Velocette MAC, the biggest; a 2002 Yamaha XJ900, the most likely to kill me; a Yamaha RD350-F2, the most utterly abusable but willing; a Yamaha RXS-100, the worst; a Suzuki GP125. My favourite was and still is "Jay Jay", the Yamaha XJ600 at left. It seems I have unwittingly become a Yamaha advocate. There were others of little note, including "Syd", the Kawasaki Z250-A2. A bike so unreliable it taught me all about bike mechanics, for in the short time I owned it, I saw inside every part of it, including the entire engine. Twice. I still have a soft spot for it though.

Singsby Cadet, WT901

Are you still reading? Okay, I'll keep going then... next up is aviation. Everything related to aviation is utterly fascinating to me! from Human Powered Aeroplanes, hot air balloons, kites, Sycamore seeds... if it flies, I'm interested. As a kid I naturally made models, both the plastic ones (many of which were subsequently despatched with home made pyrotechnics) and flying ones, (which were despatched in spectacular acts of pilot error).
Next up I became a "hanger rat". A kid that hangs around airports hoping to get inside a hanger for a look. You don't see hanger rats anymore, a sign of the times. In due course I became an Air Cadet with 1216 Eastleigh squadron. The other cadets were, well, frankly bullies and idiots. I seemed to be their chief object of torment being the short legged nerdy brat I was. I endured the name calling, punching, stubbing out of cigarettes on the head, being shot with air pistols and casual accusations of being a homosexual. The NCO's cast a blind eye to what was, in those days, considered to be part of life's character building menu. However, it did give me an appreciation of what it's like to be persecuted, and I have strong dislike of injustice to this day.
Thank you, to all those wretched bullies and your ilk - you made me the accepting, tolerant individual I am today. I stayed long enough to get my gliding wings, doing my first solo aged 16 at CGS RAF Upavon in February 1979, in Slingsby T21 Cadet, WT901. Shown left. This image being made using my first camera, a 1954 Dacora.

Wassmer WA52

Although the RAF weren't keen to give me a job, the contacts I had made as a hanger rat came through and I got myself a job at the local flying club at Eastleigh (Southampton) airport in 1983. Back in those days it still consisted of a cluster of 1917 era RNAS wooden truss hangers plus a couple of T2 hangers and some other rusting WW2 era buildings, relinquishing the last remnants of wartime camouflage to the elements. At this time I started to learn to fly, initially on the ubiquitous Cessna 152, making my first powered solo in G-BGFX. Then changing to the Robin DR400. Sadly, the company folded, I lost my job, my flying funds which were in their account and my access to cheap flying at staff rates. I lost touch with flying, instead having a go at parachuting and hang gliding to scratch the aeronautical itch. Luck changed in 1991, I started flying again and qualified in 1992. There followed a night rating and IMC, then a succession of regularly flown aircraft. Since 2002 this fabulous Wassmer 52, belonging to the Hampshire Flying Group has been my regular mount. It's French and the first commercially produced all glass fibre aeroplane. It has one or two quirky attributes, but is significantly more rewarding to fly than, say, a Piper Cherokee. I like it a lot. I don't get to fly anymore though, as it's in the UK, and I am everywhere else!


The other thing I have dabbled in is painting. I say dabbled as I have probably painted maybe 30 in total, most of which were incinerated many moons ago. As with most things I am entirely self taught, which is readily apparent... but I just like to do my own thing and make my own way. This painting entitled "City Girl", painted in 2002, depicts my then girlfriend as a small girl. She's a city lass and I always saw her as an oasis of calm in the crazy city. She looks to the left, something has her attention, not even distracted by her bright red kite. These days, I call her the wife. When I started out I used to paint aeroplanes, managing to sneak a helicopter onto the roof of one of the tower blocks in this one. I've gravitated towards quite graphic images over time. Generally I use gauche, but quite like to scribble with a ball point pen too. My note pads at work were generally festooned with doodles!

Negative Pen Drawing Negative Pen drawing inversed

This pen drawing, left, was drawn as a negative deliberately, as it was easier to get the rich black I wanted that way. It was an interesting technique, as you have an idea of how it will turn out, but without being completely sure. Photographing, then inverting the image produced the finished result on the right. I call these Negative Pen Drawings. It's probably not an original idea, but I haven't checked, as I say - I like to go my own way.

This illustration, entitled "The Lift" was done for a fictional story, "Of Our Own Demise", also one of my efforts. So maybe I ought to add writing as a hobby too now...



Spiteful Earlier efforts of an aeroplane obsessed kid. But I was never going to threaten Keith Woodcock and stopped painting with any regularity in the late 1980s.
The Event Jan 2017

That sums up a little about the face behind the Living Image Camera Museum, and I nearly avoided talking about cameras for the entire page. There's much I left out, mercifully, I promise you. But I hope you don't feel you wasted the five minutes it took to read.

I'll leave you with this image, with my favourite rock in the world.


Of Out Own Demise Square Advert


Living Image Vintage Cameras 2000-2018