35mm · Film photography · Photography

More Ektachrome re-scans and a street portraiture outing

I decided today to start a long-considered project to make portraits of strangers. It’s not an original idea – many others have done it before – but the aim is to make one-hundred portraits of people I don’t know. This is not something that comes naturally to me, both from a technical photographic angle – portraiture is not something I’ve done very much of – and also from a social aspect. By nature, I’m something of a shy, somewht introverted person, and approaching someone I don’t know to ask them if I can make their portrait is a definite challenge. So it was with no little trepidation that I decided to make a start today.

I decided that I will shoot all the portraits with my Yashica Mat 124G and use Kodak Portra 400. The choice of camera is for a number of reasons:

  1. It makes nice photographs
  2. I like the square format for portraits
  3. I’ll hopefully get better quality images from a medium format camera
  4. Because it’s a TLR, I hope that it will be disarming / start conversations in a way that an SLR maybe wouldn’t

The Portra was chosed because:

  1. It looks great
  2. It has a excellent exposure latitude which gives me flexibility when shooting in changeable light.

The first person I asked today said no, which wasn’t the best for my already shaky confidence, but I perservered, and the next two people both agreed to let me make their portraits. In all, out of fourteen people I asked, just three declined to take part, and there was no animosity whatsoever from anyone.

I photographed a range of people, both men and women, young and old. A couple of my subjects had cameras, so I approached them thinking that they might be more embracing of the idea of my taking their photo. A couple were street musicians, so they’re probably used to being photographed. Everyone else was a person who looked approachable, including a girl manning an ice-cream van, a couple of men who looked like they might be waiting for their wives to come out of shops, and a girl carrying a large potted plant. The latter girl asked what I would do with the photos, so I gave her the name of my blog. If you’re reading this, thank you agian for letting me make a portrait. 🙂

On the whole I was very pleased with how the day turned out and it gives me confidence to do the same again. I’ll get the film sent off for processing next week and will hopefully have some results in a few days time. Fingers crossed that they turn out ok!

For today however, I’ll post a few more of the re-scanned Ektachrome slides that I shot at a steam rally last year. The film really seems to lift in good light.

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Steam rally scenes

A variety of vehicles

Land Rover

Nikon F80, Nikkor 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 D & Kodak Ektachrome.

Taken on 30 June 2019

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Re-scanning some Ektachrome

Last year I treated myself to a roll of Kodak’s re-issued Ektachrome film. I shot the whole roll at a steam rally (none of those this year, sadly 😦 ) and was looking forward to the results. Unfortunately, they weren’t what I expected – or, at least, my scans weren’t.

FILM - Popular

Sheffield Steam Rally 2019 rescans-7

The slides themselves looked pretty nice. One or two of them were a little off on the exposure and looked a a bit dark, but nothing extreme, and the colours looked great. When I scanned them though, the colours were off and the levels were out considerably. Lots of deep contrast and strange, oily tones to the more vivid colours. Shadow areas lacked detail and I had to adjust the Tint and Temperature controls to make them look halfway decent. Some of them were beyond even this rectification though (or at least my skills to correct it).

FILM - Picnic set

Sheffield Steam Rally 2019 rescans-9

The scans were made on my Plustek 8100 and Silverfast, a scanner and software that serves me perfectly well for most of the other things I scan – although this is primarily black and white. I did the best I could with them and posted some to Flickr, and a few on this blog (here, here, here & here), but otherwise wrote them off as a bit of a disappointment.

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Sheffield Steam Rally 2019 rescans-8

Recently however, I’ve had a hankering to shoot some more slide film, and shot a roll of 17-years expired Ektachrome the other week which gave surprisingly nice results. Not perfect, but more than I could have hoped for given the age of the film and my scanning it using Epsonscan – a package that I’ve always struggled to get satisfactory colours with (again, probably due to my skills with it as much as anything else).

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So, I decided to revisit my 35mm Ektachrome slides for a fresh attempt. This time I tried something different.

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Back before I bought my Plustek, I’d tried some alternative scanning applications to see if I could improve my colour scans on my Epson V550. One of those was Silverfast, the other was Vuescan. Silverfast software is linked to your scanner, so the copy I have for my Plustek won’t work on my Epson (something I dislike – If I buy a piece of software, I’d like it to work with different pieces of hardware thank you. It came with the Plustek though, so I’ll not complain too much). Vuescan however, will work with anything you own and has free lifetime updates if you buy the Pro version. As I still had the demo version, I decided to try it with my Plustek and the Ektachrome transparencies.

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Lo and behold, the results looked much more promising than the scans I’d managed with Silverfast. I was pretty happy about this and, as Vuescan is discounted at present, decided to fork out for the full, non-watermarked version and give my Ektachromes a fresh attempt.

FILM - A golden age of coach travel

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It took a bit of trial and error, but I think I’ve found a setup that does a good job on them. Certainly an improvement over the original scans to my eyes, so I thought I’d publish a few examples here today. I think the new scans are a noticeable improvement – a lot of the horrible green tinge has gone (how I didn’t spot that originally I don’t know) and there’s a lot more shadow detail. They’re in before and after pairs, the before shots first.

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Sheffield Steam Rally 2019 rescans-4

Nikon F80, Nikkor 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 D & Kodak Ektachrome.

Taken on 30 June 2019

35mm · Photography · Film photography

Kodak Gold woodland

A couple of photos taken in woodland beside the Chesterfield Canal, the smell of wild garlic heady in the morning air. Although I’d started my walk quite early, because of the time of year the sun had already risen quite high by the time I made these photos.

Wild garlic woodland

This sort of scene, with sunlight dappling the woodland floor is beautiful to look at but often makes for disappointing photographs due to the difference in dynamic range between the sunlit highlights and the much darker shadows. While the eye deals with such things without issue, film and digital sensors tend to fare poorly. Still, I took a couple of shots because I thought I might get away with it in this instance as there was more shade than sunlight. I think they turned out quite well for a consumer grade film.

Natural reclamation

Nikon F80, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 AF-D & Kodak Gold 200.

Taken on 31 May 2020

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Bathroom light

A possibly familiar composition today for anyone who’s read earlier posts on my blog. It’s a photo of our bathroom window taken from a similar position as the Holga shot in this post from back in March.

I think I prefer the Holga photo if I’m honest, with it’s low-key look and inky black shadows, but I like this one too. The pair of spectacles adds something and the hint of green foliage through the frosted glass window pane is nice as well.

In the bathroom

Nikon F80, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 AF-D & Kodak Gold 200.

Taken on 31 May 2020

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Lone tree

This is a photo that came out much nicer than I expected it might, which is always a nice thing to happen. Taken a short while after yesterday’s image of the church at Thorpe Salvin, this was maybe a quarter mile away. Luckily I’d brought my Sigma 105mm lens with me which gave me just enough reach to make the picture. I don’t think it would have worked with the 28-80mm as the tree would have been too small in the photo and other distractions would have crept in at the sides.

I like the minimalism and the colours (although they’re probably a little warmer than they were in reality – I tried a re-scan of this shot on my Plustek too, but it looked much worse than the lab’s Nortisu scan).

Another day

Nikon F80, Sigma 105mm f/2.8 OS HSM & Kodak Gold 200.

Taken on 31 May 2020

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Thorpe Salvin church early one morning

A photograph of the church at Thorpe Salvin which I made early one morning when out for a walk. This is a version scanned on my Plustek with Silverfast which I prefer to the lab scan done on a Noritsu on this occasion. My scan is a little noisier, but the colours and contrast are much punchier and not as warm as the lab scan.

The church at Thorpe Salvin

Nikon F80, Nikkor 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-D & Kodak Gold 200.

Taken on 31 May 2020

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Golden light

One of the effects of midsummer where I live in the UK is the position of the sun in the evening when it sets. In the winter it drops behind a ridge of hills to the west, blocking its light a little earlier than it might if we leved somewhere flat. In the height of summer however it sets to the north-west, descending in such a way as to shine between two houses across the street from us. The downside of this is that the living room (and our eyes) are filled with bright light, meaning we need to shut the blinds if we want to see the TV. The upside is that some beautiful evening light floods into the rooms on that side of the house, sometimes making for a nice photograph or two.

Today’s photo is one such image. The light on this evening filled the kitchen with a stunning golden glow and alighted on our knife block and a glass of orange juice stood beside it. It looks almost like the white balance on the photograph needs to be tweaked, but this was the shade of light that shone that evening.

Golden light

Nikon F80, Sigma 105mm f/2.8 OS HSM & Kodak Gold 200.

Taken on 19 May 2020 (I think!)

35mm · Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

A walk on a wet day

About a month agao I went for a walk on a Saturday morning. I planned my route the evening before and checked the weather, which all my apps informed me would be overcast but dry after some early rain. My path would take me from a place about 20 minutes drive away called Lindrick Dale. It’s a place I’ve walked from once before, albeit when I was a teenager – so over thirty years ago now! That particular walk had been somewhat ill-fated…

Myself and two of my friends had decided to catch the bus there and then walk over to the Chesterfield Canal (we were all into fishing at the time and were curious as to what the canal would be like to fish in. Although I never fished it, it was like some sort of angler’s fantasy with countless huge fish visible in the water!). From there, we would follow the towpath to the town of Worksop and then catch the bus home. It was a hot summer’s day and we were not really prepared to do much other than our planned walk so, when we got to Worksop and discovered that the bus service had stopped running, we were in a pickle. None of us had anyone who could drive out and pick us up, so we ended up having to walk home, hungry and thirsty, for the entire 14-mile distance. I remember the blessed relief when we found a shop that was open – a rarity in the UK on a Sunday afternoon in the 1980s – and were able to buy a can of cold pop each. I’m not sure I’ve ever had such a welcome drink (except maybe the one I had when I finally reached home, feet aching and exhausted, later that evening).

On this recent occasion I planned on walking some of the same route again, though with the benefit of knowing I had my car to get me home at the end of the walk. Still, there had to be a degree of ill-fate I suppose, and this time it came in the form of rain. As usual, the 21st century weather forecasting technology let me down. A couple of minutes after leaving the car and beginning to walk, the heavens opened. I continued walking a while longer – I’d worn my waterproof hooded jacket so my top half was nice and dry. Unfortunately my trousers were only water resistant and it soon became apparent that they would get very wet if I didn’t take shelter. So, with a degree of annoyance at the weather forecasters of the world, I hurried back to the car to sit it out.

Eventually the rain eased off and it looked like it might stay that way, so I headed out again. The weather was still gloomy, but there was a pleasant freshness to the air from the heavy rain, laced with the scents of vegetation. Following the narrow road through Lindrick dale led to a footpath that skirts the southern edge of Lindrick golf course and I grabbed a quick photo of one of the greens. I was up a small slope above the green and I might have been better served if I’d gone down to make the photo, but it is what it is.

Four or fore

It’s probably worth noting at this point that most of the photos featured in this post are snaps from my walk taken with my Nikon F80 and 50mm lens. I’m not sure that any of them are great photos, but they serve well enough as illustrations. I also had my Yashica Mat 124G and some of those photos are more, er, artistic (some have been featured on the blog already here and here).

A little further on I stopped to take a photo of the canal feeder stream which winds it’s way through the landscape for a mile or so from the River Ryton until it empties into the Chesterfield canal. I find something interesting about these sorts of man-made waterways – they remind me of some sort of fairground water-ride on a grand scale. I’m not including most of the Yashica photos in this post, but I’ll let this one sneak in as it shows the canal feeder (shot on Fomapan 100 film).

Canal feeder

The path then entered an area of woodland and thankfully it was when I was beneath the shelter of the trees that the rain started again. It absolutely heaved it down and I was forced to loiter in the woods for a good twenty minutes before it stopped enough to venture out again.

The path now took me past an interesting looking farm that I made a mental note of as a possible future photo opportunity (in nicer weather!) and then continued towards a nearby railway line with a pedestian crossing place. Unfortunately, this section of path was bordered by tall grasses which were now saturated with rainwater. It’s remarkable the volume of water that plants can hold on their leaves and stems and my legs were soaked by the time I reached the railway crossing. Thankfully, the other side was an open field leading up to the canal at Turnerwood. There was a nice looking old greenhouse on this section that was also added to the photo-op file of my memory banks.

My plan had been to walk from here to nearby Shireoaks and then back on a long loop around the golf cours. However, my wet trousers forced the decision to take a shorter route back to the car instead. So, from Turnerwood, I walked west along the canal towpath and shortly afterwards made this photo of a moored barge.

Early morning barging

A little further along the path and I saw a curious horse watching me from the other side of the water.

It's that horse again

And, a little further again, some lock gates that were nicely lit by the sun which had peaked through a gap in the cloud.

Lock gates and reflected trees

This section of the canal has a long series of locks and I made a number of photographs with the Yashica Mat. Eventually I reached a bridge over the canal that marked the place where I would lead the towpath and head back towards Lindrick Dale. This involved crossing the railway line once again and then walking up a long, slighty muddy and slippery path through a field of growing crops. Here I took a couple of the photos posted in the blogs linked further up this piece.

A paved farm road at the top of the footpath made for easier walking and I followed it over a railway bridge and past a house stood alone in the countryside. The road dipped downhill and just as it veered right, under a railway bridge, I noticed a field of cows to my left. There was a stream at the foot of the field with a simple wooden bridge. The stream also passed under the railway embankment through a culvert and te next three shots show the scene. The field was laced with cowpats and I was fortunate that my luck held out for once and I didn’t tread in any!

Footbridge from a cow field

An entrance

Another view of the footbridge

Crossing back over the stream and under the railway bridge, I was now on the home stretch back to the car and was soon back on the narrow road through Lindrick Dale. There are some lovely houses here and I expect that they cost a pretty penny.

Past the posh houses

There is some private, manicured land at the bottom of the dale with stretches of lawn, lovely shrubs and trees, and the odd swing set. Colour film, even on this dull day, would have better served me here.

Swings beside the lawn

The final shot of the set, taken just before I got back to my car, is one of the expensive houses perched high on the edge of the dale.

House on the edge

Better conditions might have made for a better walk (and maybe photos too), but it was enjoyable for all its discomforts and I was glad to have taken the time.

Nikon F80, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 AF-D & Ilford XP2 Plus.

Taken on 6 June 2020

35mm · Photography · Film photography

Early walk and late frost (a couple of months ago)

A couple of quick photos today from one of the regular routes I walked back when lockdown was still in full force, perhaps a couple of months ago now (although it doesn’t feel that long). It was a nice morning but there was a chill in the air and the remains of a light frost were still evident in places the sun hadn’t yet found.

I liked this rotted-out fence post in which new life was making its presence known.

New growth in old

And another fencepost, this one surrounded by an average and ordinary selection of grasses and weeds, but which the frost made appealing.

At the bottom of a fence post

Nikon F80, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 AF-D & Ilford XP2 Plus.

Taken sometime in late April / early May 2020 (I think)