Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Out with the old and in with the new

A familiar scene for anyone who’s followed my blog for a while – the Beighton Station signalbox. I think I’ve mentioned before that the signalbox is scheduled for demolition due to signalling and the level crossing now being controlled remotely. A local effort was made to try and save the signalbox but this appears to have fallen through with the proposed cost to move it to a new location being in the region of a quarter of a million pounds.

At the same time however, I’ve heard that plans to reopen Beighton Station are moving forward, the idea being (I believe) to have a tram-train service that runs between Sheffield and Chesterfield, with Beighton being one of the stops. I don’t expect that it will be much of a station in the traditional sense – most likely a couple of platforms, some bus-stop-style shelters, and a car-park to allow park-and-ride services for commuters. I think it will be a good thing to have though and can imagine it being especially popular in the warmer months if it used as a means for people in other parts of the city to get access to the nearby Rother Valley Country Park.

I’ll be sad to see the signalbox go though.

An old signalbox
Its functionality gone
To another place

Snowy signalbox

Fujica GW690 & Ilford HP5+. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 9mins @ 20°.

Taken on 29 December 2020

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Takeaways and tattoos

Takeaways, a cafe, a tattoo parlour, and an empty salon make up this row of shops about a mile from home. This is probably a bit of a record shot really, but it’s the sort of thing that will mature with age as the shops change hands and purpose and the cars become old fashioned. I enjoy looking at photos depicting places how they used to be, and perhaps in a decade or two, this one will fit that bill too.

Time moves. Places change
So dull contemporary
Becomes nostalgic

Tattoos and takeaways

Fujica GW690 & Ilford HP5+. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 9mins @ 20°.

Taken on 29 December 2020

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Snowfall

We’ve had quite a lot of snow so far this winter. I mean that in terms of how much we normally get though, which is generally very little. I can’t remember it snowing at all last year – certainly not to settle on the ground. While other parts of the country see snow more often, and higher elevation areas not too far from us can be seen to be white-capped when everywhere else is bereft of the stuff, we don’t tend to see it often at home. Occasionally, every few years though (maybe a result of ripples of effect from El Nino or some other climate event elsewhere on the globe) we get more snow than usual.

It’s not often more than a couple of inches, but in 2018 we had a good foot of snowfall. Since Christmas, we’ve had three days where enough snow has fallen to coat the ground and roads, and two of those occasions provided enough for snowman building and sledging. I’ve heard rumblings on the news that there may be chance of a cold spell into next week too but, as a photographer, I know that weather forecaster’s predictions should be treat with some caution. Whatever the case, I wonder if 2021 will be a snowy year hereabouts?

We don’t get much snow
Some years there’s barely a flake
To fall on the ground

Today’s photo was made after the first of the three snow days we’ve had so far.

Winter homes

Fujica GW690 & Ilford HP5+. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 9mins @ 20°.

Taken on 29 December 2020

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Stonefaced

Christmas is over
The decorations are down
For another year

My haiku’s have made it to day two! I’m not sure exactly what topics I’ll cover with each – maybe an alignment with the rest of the day’s post but, more likely I suspect, as a kind of poetic journal refelecting something that has happened in my life or the world each day.

As you may guess from today’s, we took down our Christmas decorations this morning. This used to be a pretty depressing activity for me in the past as I would feel pretty down about the holiday period being officially over. In recent years though it seems to be affecting me less. I wonder if it’s because, as my children grow older, Christmas has changed. The magic of Father Christmas delivering presents is a thing of the past (at least until such a point as we become grandparents I suppose), and it doesn’t feel the same as when the boys were little. Plus, the way that time seems to fly by as a get older, it will be Christmas again in about five minutes …

Today’s photo is another made on the moors above Lady Canning’s Plantation next to a small cluster of rock outcrops known as The Ox Stones. I’m not sure where the name comes from, but there used to be an Inn known as Oxdale Lodge nearby, so perhaps livestock were grazed, or moved through the land by drovers?

From this angle, the stone has a face. A rock-face. 🙂

Stonefaced

Fujica GW690 & Fomapan 400. Ilfotec DD-X 1+9 12mins @ 20°.

Taken on 23 December 2020

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Hello 2021

My first blog post of the new year.

Looking further down the line I’m hoping for at least a partial return to normaility later in the year. As more of the population are vaccinated against Covid-19, so I hope that restrictions will be lifted and more freedom restored. Just the though of being able to hop in the car and drive somewhere without first having to check which tier it is in will be nice. Hell, just going to a restaurant even!

But at this immediate point in time that all still feels like some ways off. The restrictions remain, vaccinations have not really touched the majority of the population yet, and there’s likely to be an increase in cases and fatalities as we move into January. Brexit has happened, but the less said about that sorry state of affairs the better, I think . I’m also back at work next week and have a busy month ahead of me. This is a good thing, but despite a fortnight’s leave over Christmas, the strange circumstances in which we still reside mean that I don’t feel particularly rested.

Apart from some confectionery, the gifts I received for Christmas sit as yet untouched in a small pile on my office desk and, if previous years are anything to go by, it may be months before I actually find the time to enjoy them – mostly because ,when I do have some free time, I feel overwhelmed by all the things I’d like to do and then end up procrastinating about which to choose until I end up doing not much of anything! I feel I need another week of post-holiday leave or something to just do stuff.

As for photography, I still have pictures made in 2020 to develop and scan, but I’m not sure what will be the first thing I do photographically in 2021 as yet. I’m feeling a little uninspired if I’m honest. I’m sure the inspiration will return, and it’s not a winter thing – I know may photographers despair of the dull and, some might say, miserable conditions brought by a British winter, but I really don’t mind them. The conditions suit different types of photos is all. I will be making a second zine in the coming months though, so I need to put on my thinking cap to decide on the contents.

I don’t tend to make New Year’s resolutions as such, as they tend to fail more often than not, but this year I am going to attempt to not only lose some weight (something I know I can do), but also get fitter by doing C25K with one of my sons. Both should be positive activities I think (if not the easiest for me!).

Well, that’s a slightly gloomy post isn’t it? Please don’t let me bring anyone down. In order to lift things a little, I’ve decided that I will try to add a haiku to each day’s post this year. So here’s the first Please don’t judge my verse too harshly. 🙂

A new year is here
I hope it’s better than last
I’ll cross my fingers

And here’s another (slightly underexposed, but still quite nice) photo of the trees on the edge of Lady Canning’s Plantation. It is a photo blog after all.

Plantation's edge

Fujica GW690 & Fomapan 400. Ilfotec DD-X 1+9 12mins @ 20°.

Taken on 23 December 2020

35mm · Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Day 366 – Twelve favourite photos from 2020

It’s that time of year again when my feed becomes full of everyones review of the year-type posts, and it’s interesting and inspiring to see the work that people have produced as well as their thoughts on the past twelve months.

I’m not going to warble on too much here about the shape of the past year – you’ve all lived through it and know the name-of-the-game, plus, if I’m honest, I’ve left writing this post to the eleventh hour and am running out of time. That’s me – Mister Organised! 🙂

But suffice to say, I’ve known better years, and I think the thing to do now is look forward to better times to come. So here’s to a happier and less “interesting” 2021!

Below are my own selction of favourite photos made this year. If I were to pick again another day, in another mood, these might mostly change to something else, but as a snapshot of my favourites as of today, here they are…

January – I’ve often commented on my blog how much I love a misty, foggy day for photography, and so my first image from 2020 falls right into this bracket. Early morning at Rother Valley Country Park, a short walk from where I live but somewhere I don’t visit all that often because it feels like I’ve seen it all before. Shots like this one serve as a reminder that even the most familiar locations can still throw a beautiful image our waty if we take care to look for it and make the most of the conditions.

FILM - Lone

Nikon F80, Nikkor 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 AF & Ilford HP5+. Lab developed. Taken on 22 January 2020

February – A gloomy, rainy day walking around Sheffield city centre with my F80 led to me making a few images of people partially obscured by the condensation covered windows of buses. I’d planned on making more images in the same vein but, so far at least, I haven’t managed it yet.

FILM - Ghost riders #3

Nikon F80, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 AF-D & Ilford HP5+. Lab developed. Taken on 16 February 2020

March – Regular readers of my blog will know that I have an affinity for power lines and electricity pylons as photographic subjects. Not as record shots – I don’t find them that interesting – but because I find there is something appealing and evocative in the way they cross the countryside, leading to some far destination – perhaps to power a TV, or boil a kettle for some unknown person’s cup of tea. This was from my final pre-lockdown roll of film and was developed by the lab the day before it closed for a few months. From this point on, almost all of my black and white film was developed by myself.

Over the fields

Yashica Mat 124G & Kodak Plus-X (expired 2008). Lab developed. Taken on 22 March 2020

April – While this is supposed to be a selection of favourite photos from the year, this one is chosen more as being indicative of the situation we found ourselves in during most of spring. The UK was under a national lockdown, non-essential retail was closed as were schools. There were shortages of hand-sanitiser, latex gloves, pasta, and even toilet-rolls. The freedom to roam was largely removed except for work (where it wasn’t possible to do so from home), shopping for food and other essentials, to provide care for the vulnerable, and for exercise. The latter option was when most of my photography took place, carrying a camera when I went for local walks, grabbing opportunistic images where possible. As I write this, I’m pretty sure we may be headed back into a similar set of restrictions soon as the second wave – predicted (but perhaps not properly planned for) – takes hold.

Pandemic scenes - Playgrounds closed

Canon Sure Shot Telemax & Ilford Delta 400. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 9mins @ 20°. Taken on 11 April 2020

May – It was the month of my ill-fated initial foray into 6×9 medium format with a Zeiss folder that had an unfortunate alignment problem that caused the images to be soft at the edges. It was also, at the end of the month, release from the lockdown, granting freedom to travel a little further afield for photography. The image I’ve chosen is a definite favourite from the month and one that perhaps symbolises the new found sense of freedom and promise that I felt.

Gateway to yonder

Yashica Mat 124G & Shanghai GP3 (expired). Ilfotec DD-X 1+9 10mins @ 24°. Taken on 22 March 2020

June – I’d had this roll of expired Ektachrome knocking around for a while and decided to take it alon on a walk around Dale Dyke reservoir. My main camera on the day was the Yashica Mat, but I took along the Zeiss Mess-Ikonta to shoot the slide film. I didn’t really have high hopes for it based on my previous roll of expired E6, but the roll came out pretty nicely. On it was thsi picture of what looks like a tiny palm tree, but is just some bracken. I’m still not sure if it was just stuffed there by a passerby, or if it had taken root atop this piece of wood. I’m erring to the former though – those rocks look distictly “placed”.

The world's smallest palm tree

Zeiss Mess-Ikonta 524/16 & Kodak Ektachrome E200S (expired 2003). Lab developed. Taken on 22 June 2020

July – I took a drive out to North Leverton windmill, a location I’d not visited before and which (until I did a search for “windmills” online) I didn’t know existed despite having driven a road only a mile or two away on multiple occasions. I took a number of close shots of the building, but this one from a neighbouring field is my favourite, I think.

Windmill and fence

Canon Sure Shot Supreme & Ilford HP5+. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 7mins 45 secs @ 22.5°. Taken on 25 July 2020

August – This replica of the classic Ford Gran Torino from 70s TV classic, Starsky & Hutch, was parked in the market square of Chesterfield when I went for a wander around back in august. I’d just started using the Grain2Pixel plug-in to convert my colour negatives at this time, and it made a great job of this Kodak Gold.

Starsky & Hutch Gran Torino

Canon Sure Shot Z135 & Kodak Gold 200. Lab developed. Taken on 31 August 2020

September – Another month, another roll of expired slide film. Ektachrome again, but a different emulsion this time. I was enamoured by the colours I got from this roll – a subtle, pastel, Portra-like set of tones. It’s often said that flat blue skies do a photo no favours, but in this case I like the look very much. There’s a subtle graduation that works well against the light brown bricks of the building.

Tarmac confluence

Yashica Mat 124G & Kodak Ektachrome 100 EPN (expired 2008). Lab developed. Taken on 14 September 2020

October – Yet more expired film – you might think it was all I shot! I made quite a lot of autumnal shots this year but this stands out as a strong favourite. It was made in the Limb Valley on the outskirts of Sheffield on a day where I was testing both the expired film AND my recently acquired 50mm f/2.8 MC Zenzanon lens. Both performed at and above expectations. I nearly didn’t go out on the day either. I’m glad I did!

Autum in the Limb Valley

Bronica ETRSi & Fujifilm Superia 100 (expired 2008). Lab developed. Taken on 28 October 2020

November – A beautiful foggy morning in early november saw me out with the Bronica and the 50mm lens again. I pushed the HP5+ a couple of stops to give me some extra versatility in the dim light and was very happy with the results. I made several photos of trees in a small plantation (immediately behind me in this shot), but this frame showing the river disappearing into the mist with a stand of teazels in the foreground is the one I’ve picked.

Foggy Rother

Bronica ETRSi & Ilford HP5+ (@1600asa). Ilfotec DD-X 1+9 13mins @ 20°. Taken on 7 November 2020

December – The biggest surprise of the year, photographically, was the set of results I got from this little Fuji point-and-shoot. I’ve mentioned this before, but it was a car-boot sale find and cost me just £1. The roll of film from which this frame is taken was already in the camera when I bought it. I wondered if it might be partially exposed, but it turned out to be unused apart from a few fogged frames at the beginning, and this shot was made on a beautifully lit morning early this month at Rother Valley Country Park. Who needs expensive cameras!

Swan and willow

Fujifil DL-270 Zoom Super & Kodak Colorplus. Lab developed. Taken on 4 December 2020

So there you go. Twelve favourite shots from each month of 2020. I wish a very Happy New Year to you all!

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Campervan thy name is Freedom

Well, it says Freedom on the side anyway. Not sure if that’s unique to this van, or the name of the model. 🙂

Freedom

I like how there’s a subtle drop off in depth of field in these two shots. They weren’t made with the aperture wide open either – I didn’t make a note, but think these might have been at f/5.6 as, while I’d intended to try and reduce the depth of field, the maximum shutter speed of 1/500 sec on the GW690 in combination with 400asa film and a bright day meant this wasn’t possible.

Freedom profile

Fujica GW690 & Ilford HP5+. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 9mins @ 20°.

Taken on 20 December 2020

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

What If?

Today’s photos show the side of the Sheffield Hallam University building. The poem was added in 2007 as part of the “Off the Shelf” literary festival that took place. It was written by Andrew Motion, the British Poet Laureate from 1999 to 2009.

Sheffield Hallam University

The poem is partially obscured in both these shots due to the trees and the temporary buildings, but the full piece reads as follows:

What If?

O travellers from somewhere else to here
Rising from Sheffield Station and Sheaf Square
To wander through the labyrinths of air,

Pause now, and let the sight of this sheer cliff
Become a priming-place which lifts you off
To speculate
What if..?
What if..?
What if..?

Cloud shadows drag their hands across the white;
Rain prints the sudden darkness of its weight;
Sun falls and leaves the bleaching evidence of light.

Your thoughts are like this too: as fixed as words
Set down to decorate a blank facade
And yet, as words are too, all soon transferred

To greet and understand what lies ahead –
The city where your dreamling is re-paid,
The lives which wait unseen as yet, unread.

Andrew Motion

Sheffield Hallam University

Fujica GW690 & Ilford HP5+. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 9mins @ 20°.

Taken on 20 December 2020

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Ringinglow Roundhouse

Dating back to the late 18th century, this octagonal building functioned as a toll house and inn when originally constructed, sitting on the Sheffield to Ashby-de-la-Zouch turnpike at Ringinglow on the outskirts of Sheffield. It has also served as a general store and tea room in other times.

If you’re curious as to what the building looks like inside, there is still a listing online from the last time it was on the market here.

Toll house

Fujica GW690 & Shanghai GP3. Ilfotec DD-X 1+9 10mins @ 24°.

Taken on 23 December 2020