35mm · Film photography · Photography

No-one bowling

The weekend befoe Christmas, we went to visit a Christmas market in the town of Matlock – about a half-hour’s drive away. My eldest and his girlfriend came along and, despite it being a somewhat gloomy day (with heavy fog on the hills), and the market not being as big as we expected, we had a nice few hours wandering around, topped off with some takeaway fish and chips.

I took my XA3 in my coat pocket and managed to grab a number of pictures in the misty winter conditions, including this one of the bowling green in the park where the market was taking place. No-one was out playng bowls on the day.

I remember Crown Green Bowls being a regular fixture on TV when I was younger, although I never had any interest in it, but I’m not sure if it’s still shown these days – maybe on a dedicated sports channel I suppose? I’ve only played the game (which you can find described here) on a few occasions and, as I and my friends were young and foolish at the time, I recall it mainly involved us mischieviously larking about trying to collide with other player’s bowls in the middle of the green than playing it properly.

Bowling green

Olympus XA3 & Kodak Tri-X Pan (expired 2003 – shot at box speed and pushed a stop in development). Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 10mins @ 20°

Taken on 18 December 2021

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Industry and entertainment

Beside the Don Valley Centertainment complex – which houses a multiplex, bowling alley & arcade, kid’s play area, and a selction of restaurants – are industrial streets. This is the east-end of the city where, in it’s industial heyday, the bulk of the steel industry resided. There are still steelworks in the area, and more as you head down river towards Tinsley and Templeborough, but much of it has now become history.

I’m not sure what the building in today’s picture used to house – I’m sure my dad would know, and I’ll ask him next time I see him – but it’s now the home of a scaffolding hire and sales business.

Wood and steel

Olympus XA3 & Kodak Tri-X Pan (expired 2003 – shot at box speed and pushed a stop in development). Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 10mins @ 20°

Taken on 15 December 2021

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Cosmos

I made this picture back in late November I think – it’s on a roll that was shot over the space of a few weeks with my Olympus XA3, which I’d been keeping in my coat pocket. It was taken from the car-park across the road from these buildings on the day I went into town for one of my attempts to get my laptop rebuilt. I was heading towards the stairwell when I noticed the shot and liked the way the buildings stoof against the sky with the central tower flanked by the smaller buildings on either side.

The film was a roll of expired Tri-X dating back to around 2003. I’ve shot a few rolls of this and found that it likes an extra stop of exposure. For the previous rolls I just exposed it at 200asa and then developed it normally, but as the weather was a little gloomy on the day this roll was loaded, I decided to keep the extra stop of speed and push it a stop in development instead. I’m quite happy with the results. The grain is quite pronounced, but I’m not afraid of a bit of grain.

The worst thing about this film is how much the negatives curl when developed. Not only do they coil up like a spring, there is also heavy bow to the film along its full length. This made cutting and sleeving the negatives troublesome, but this was not nearly as problematic as trying to get them into the negative holder to be scanned. The Plustek holders are pretty good at keeping negatives flat – I doubt I would have gotten anywhere with my Epson holders – but you still need to get them in and aligned before it can be closed to hold them in place. Somehow I managed it though, although I’ve only scanned two strips so far.

Cosmos

Olympus XA3 & Kodak Tri-X Pan (expired 2003 – shot at box speed and pushed a stop in development). Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 10mins @ 20°

Taken in November 2021

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Little white house

This small white building is situated in the small town of Eckington. It’s opposite the road that leads to Chesterfield and often catches my eye when I’m driving back from there. In the right light, it’s white painted walls really light up.

I believe the building is a church – St. Luke’s Mission Church – although I think it is closed now – it certainly has a disused air about it, and the billboard beside the path has clearly seen no messages posted for some time. Looking at the Google StreetView historical photos it looks like it might have been disused for a decade or more, although it only looks like the grounds have become more overgrown over the past few years.

Little white structure #1
Little white structure #2

Olympus XA3 & Kodak Tri-X Pan (expired 2003 – shot at box speed and pushed a stop in development). Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 10mins @ 20°

Taken on 25 October 2021

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Logs in the water

I took a bit of a risk getting these two shots. Although the footpath alongside Burbage Brook was only a few feet above the water at this location, in order to get in position to make the pictures I had to clamber over some wet rocks. My walking boots generally grip rocks just fine, especially the coarse gritstone that is prevalent in this area, but one boulder was deceptively slippery. It hid it’s treachery well, looking no different to it’s companions, but it was as though it had been greased.

Thankfully I was taking my time and using my extended tripod as a surrogate walking pole so I was able to keep my balance, but it could have been a different outcome had I been less cautious. A fall might have meant a soaked or broken camera, a possible twisted (or even broken) ankle or, right at the top of the scale, a full-on Laurel and Hardy-style pratfall into the water leading to who knows what injuries.

But I was fine. A bit of mud on my hands was about the extent of my discomfort. I am thankful.

Waterlog(s)
Turmoil

Bronica ETRSi, Zenzanon 50mm f/2.8 MC & Ilford Delta 3200. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 9.5mins @ 20°

Taken on 23 December 2021

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Scaly woodland beast

Beside one of the footpaths in Padley gorge stands the remains of a twisted tree. Little more of the trunk is left but it’s something of a focal point on the path as the wood is embedded with hundreds (or more) coins which have been hammered into the surface and bent over (or perhaps they were bent over before they were knocked in). The result is an odd and intriguing texture that resembles the scales of some beast, like a serpent or a dragon.

Woodland beast

The effect is even more pronounced when viewed from the right point of view as the broken tip of the trunk resembles a horned face (or I think it does anyway). On this day it had a conifer branch leant against it giving it a slightly festive air given it was a couple of days before Christmas.

Copper scales

Bronica ETRSi, Zenzanon 50mm f/2.8 MC & Ilford Delta 3200. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 9.5mins @ 20°

Taken on 23 December 2021

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Twist

Here’s another couple of photos of a grnarled and twisted tree on the upper slopes of Padley Gorge. I’ve photographed it before, including this digital shot made on the same day. The whole area is filled with interesting trees to be photographed and, when the weather is right – especially with some mist present – the opportunities just seem to multiply.

Today was my last day off before returning to work tomorrow. Before Christmas I’d intended to go out with a camera on a few occasions but, apart from the day I made the shots featured here, I’ve not done any photography beyond making pictures of my family. I’ve instead just spent a lot of time watching TV and playing videogames. I do have the itch to get out and make new pictures, and today had some lovely winter sunshine I could have taken advantage of, but sometimes it’s nice to just chill out and relax with other things and I’m glad to have taken the time to do so this Christmas.

Analog twist
Dark perch

Bronica ETRSi, Zenzanon 50mm f/2.8 MC & Ilford Delta 3200. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 9.5mins @ 20°

Taken on 23 December 2021

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Twisting trunk, the end of Christmas, and Covid

Another Padley Gorge photo today, again of a tree right up near the top of the wooded area where it opens out into heather and bracken covered moorland. There was another photographer making pictures of this same tree when I was there, so we were being careful not to get into one another’s shots.

Today was the day the Christmas decorations came down. I think the intent had been to dismatle them tomorrow but we ended up with a gap in the schedule this afternoon, so got it over and done with. I always used to find taking the decorations down a horribly depressing task, like it was making real the fact that the festive period and all the buid-up was done, and it was just back to work / school / wet and cold January days with not much to look forward to in the immediate future. It would really get me down and the house would look bare and empty with all the trees, lights, garlands and other trimmings packed away.

I don’t seem to feel it nearly so much now (and, if I’m honest, the excitement in the run up to Christmas either). I’m not sure exactly why this might be. Perhaps a sign of getting older? Maybe the fact that our kids are not so young and some of the magic has disappeared? Whatever the case, I don’t feel down like I used to. While I don’t want to lose my fondness for Christmas, losing the post-Christmas blues is not something I will complain about too much.

Both of my kids who still live with us have now tested positive for Covid-19. One late last week, the other today. Neither of them seem particularly ill – they have cold-like symptoms but not much else – and they’re still playing video games and watching the stuff they find entertaining. My wife and I are (so far) still testing negative. It’s actually something of a mystery how the first one managed to be infected – he hasn’t left the house since mid-December and the only visitor we had prior to him starting to feel ill was his big brother who came over on Christmas day (but he’s not been positive either). I’m assuming that either my older son, or my wife and I were infected but asymptomatic at some point and passed it on, or we’ve brought something contaminated into the house. It’s a bit of a puzzle to be honest.

Sinuous

Bronica ETRSi, Zenzanon 50mm f/2.8 MC & Ilford Delta 3200. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 9.5mins @ 20°

Taken on 23 December 2021

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Can’t see the wood for the fog

A couple of days before Christmas I took myself out into the Peak District national park. The weather forecast showed fog, with rain expected later in the day, so I headed to Padley Gorge in the hope of getting some nice woodland scenes.

Padley Gorge looks great at pretty much any time of the year, being a steep sided valley filled with tumbles gritstone boulders, twisted and gnarled trees, and the peat stained waters of Burbage Brook cascading through the bottom on its way to Grindleford and it’s appointment with the River Derwent beyond. In the fog though, well those twisty trees take on a whole new level of character and the place feels like something out of a Tolkien story.

I shot a full roll of Ilford Delta 3200 film during the outing, as well as making a number of digital photos with my little Ricoh GRIII compact (the image stabilisation on this little camera is excellent, and I am able to drop the shutter speed down to 1/8 second handheld and still get sharp images, making it an excellent companion to other cameras). I decided to shoot the Delta a stop over at 1600asa and to then develop it at box speed. It’s a grainy film, but I thought that it might suit the murky conditions that presented themselves on the day.

I’ll be sharing a number of these shots over the coming days, and here to start us off are a couple of eerie looking large trees that stand at the head of the gorge.

Above the gorge
Great old one

Bronica ETRSi, Zenzanon 50mm f/2.8 MC & Ilford Delta 3200. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 9.5mins @ 20°

Taken on 23 December 2021