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

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Sun-dappled monochrome woodland

Making black and white photographs in woodland, or any other place featuring large areas of green foliage, can sometimes be tricky. Without well defined subject matter I find tht such scenes can become a mass of mushy grey textures. Differing shades of green that are easily discernible to the eye merge into less defined shades of varying brightness.

So I think a clearly defined subject is important, either seperated by brightness, contrast or texture, or isolated in some way, such as it’s placement in the composition, or by using a shallow depth of field to add separation.

I think the photo today uses a bit of both techniques. The trunk that is the point of focus is isolated here by the light that falls on it (or rather doesn’t) – there’re splashes of sunlight, but overall it is darker than the background where more light is falling. I also opened the aperture to throw the tree into focus while leaving everything else softer.

I’m happy with how the shot turned out – I have a number of similar photos from other outings that didn’t work as nicely!

in the shady forest

Yashica Mat 124G & Fomapan 100. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 8 mins @ 20°.

Taken on 22 June 2020

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Powerlines, foxgloves & ferns

A couple more photos from my Dale Dyke reservoir hike, both featuring one of my regularly shot subjects: power lines.

These were the third and final shots from the roll respectively. I’m really happy with the first shot – the foxgloves add some nice, distinctive foreground interest.

Foxgloves and the transmission of power

I like the composition of the second image, but the foreground ferns are out of focus. I can’t remember if I’d opened the aperture deliberately to get a shallow depth of field, or if it was an accident – it’s not a shot that really benefits from a narrow depth of field if I’m honest.

Cresting the hill

Yashica Mat 124G & Fomapan 100. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 8 mins @ 20°.

Taken on 22 June 2020

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Crossing the Loxley

This photograph was the first shot from the roll of Fomapan 100 that I posted about yesterday. The scene looked lovely in the morning sun when I arrived at Low Bradfield around 8am, so I plonked the camera on the tripod, framed up the shot, and fired the shutter. When I returned back to the village a few hours later after my circuitous walk there were quite a few people in this area and the shot would have been more difficult as a result.

There are several ducks in the scene. Can you spot them all? 🙂

Crossing the Loxley

Yashica Mat 124G & Fomapan 100. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 8 mins @ 20°.

Taken on 22 June 2020

Photography · Film photography · Medium Format

Low Bradfield to Dale Dyke reservoir

I had a day off work last week and decided to go for a hike and make some photographs. I took my Yashica Mat 124G loaded with a roll of Fomapan 100 (plus a roll of HP5+ in case I needed more shots), and the Zeiss Mess-Ikonta 524/16 loaded with a roll of 2003 expired Ektachrome E200. I carried the cameras and other bits in a shoulder bag and the tripod in my hand. There aren’t any of the Zeiss shots included here bacause a) I haven’t had the developed negs back yet and, b) they might be rubbish as I suspect I might have overexposed them all!

I decided to drive to Low Bradfield, a village on the northern outskirts of Sheffield. Above (and below) the village are a series of reservoirs – Strines; Dale Dyke; Agden; and Damflask. My walk took me up the valley to Dale Dyke reservoir (famous because it catastrpophically failed in 1864, killing 244 people in what was known as the Great Sheffield Flood), then across the valley bottom below the dam wall. From there I climbed the northern side of the valley and dropped down to Agden reservoir on the other side, following the eastern edge of the water and descending back to my starting point. The total distance is a little under 8km.

All the photos featured here are from the first half of the walk – from Low Bradfield to Dale Dyke. There are others from this sequence that I’ll probably post in future.

This is the second shot on the roll. It’s on the first footpath I took out of Low Bradfield.

Forming part of the wall

A structure close to the edge of the reservoir, possibly some sort of pumping station or water testing facility.

A place in the trees

A view across the spillway bridge and the dam wall with the northern side of the valley in the distance. The spillway bridge is a nicely decorated iron affair and I’ve seen some attractive pictures of it. However, as it wasn’t obvious as to how I would find a suitable vantage point, and as the spillway was dry, I didn’t take any photos of it apart from this one.

At the dam wall

A series of stone steps that descend down to the water at the base of the spillway. I used a wider aperture here to narrow the depth of field (most of the other shots – apart from the last – were shot at f/11 – f/16.

Descending through trees

The next  is of the calm waters a little downstream from the base of the dam wall where low hanging branches dip down towards the water. The result wasn’t quite what I envisioned, but there’s something about those leaves at the top of the frame that I find really attractive.

Branches reflected at water's edge

I’m still getting the “dust” problems with the Fomapan 100 that I mentioned previously  here. This roll used water as a stop-bath which, while making some improvement to the situation, hasn’t resolved it completely, so it still took quite some time to clean up these images in Photoshop. I’ve not had issues with lab-developed Fomapan 100, so I’m wondering if it’s something else in my developing process, or perhaps an iffy batch of film?

Yashica Mat 124G & Fomapan 100. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 8 mins @ 20°.

Taken on 22 June 2020

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Uninspired

I had the day off work today and had planned a trip out into the countryside. Alas, the weather had other plans and the day was one of those with a solid sheet of blank grey sky. To make matters worse it also kept raining. Not proper, people-with-umbrellas rain though, but the fine, almost mist-like, rain that just hangs about in the air and gets onto every surface – especially cameras and the front elements of lenses!

So I changed my plans and drove into town instead. Today would be my first trip into the city centre since the non-essential retailers were allowed to open their stores last Monday (and only the second time since lockdown began in March!). Although early, I’d expected more people and traffic that there was – having seen pictures of crowded streets and shops in the media, I thought there might be something similar afoot – but there were very few people about. More than my previous, pre-shops-re-opening visit, but still not many – not even many people travelling into work. The largest groups of workers I saw were construction workers, of whom there were a significant number apparent around town.

Today’s trip was different to the last though in one simple way – I was uninspired. Whereas on my previous visit last weekend I saw photographs everywhere, today I saw few, and the ones I made (I shot around half a 36 exposure roll of HP5+) felt for the sake of it rather than anything I expect to be good when they are developed. Usually, shooting a full roll of film is no problems, but today I left defeated.

It was the first outing for my newly acquired Olympus OM-2 too and perhaps getting to grips with the slightly different fuctionality when compared to my familiar OM-1, had an impact on my photograph making. I’m hoping I might get to finish the roll over the weekend (and I have an extra day off on Monday too) and that the next outing will see me in better spirits.

Today’s photographs are from the dust-spotted Fomapan roll of doom that I’ve spoken about in recent posts. It took me ages to get rid of all the speckles, so I hope someone likes them. 🙂

A gap in the crops

Rainy day lane

Yashica Mat 124G & Fomapan 100. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 8 mins @ 20°.

Taken on 6 June 2020

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Dust-spotting pain

I mentioned yesterday how I’d spent ages dust-spotting some Fomapan 100 negatives. A number of people replied to the post, so I thought I’d give a bit of a follow-up today.

I’ve now completed the chore. Well, on the photos I intend to upload, at least. It was an absolute pain in the backside. It would seem that I’d clear all the spots, only to then notice just as many secondary spots, and each image took a good half-an-hour at least of clicking away to remove them – and even then I’m sure there are many that I’ve missed. But I think I’d gone past caring by that point!

As I’ve not had the same problems with dust spots on any other rolls recently (I always dust the work area carefully before scanning and, while some dust always sneaks in, I rarely get lots of it), I began to wonder if it was something to do with the either the film specifically, or perhaps my development. All my home developed films have been processed in Ilfotec DD-X, then Ilford stop-bath and rapid fixer. The developer is always freshly prepped for a one-shot use and, while the stop-bath and fixer get re-used, they should both be fine for a little while yet (they’ve had around 10 rolls through them). A roll of HP5+ that was developed after the roll of Fomapan shows no signs of the same problem.

fomapan 100 problem
An example of the issue. This is an enlargement of one of the frames that shows clearly the speckling of white spots.

So I decided to look at the last roll of Fomapan 100 I shot – this was a couple of months back – and found that it too had the same issue with dust. I decided to search online for “white spots on Fomapan 100” and it led me to a few places where people would report similar problems – sometimes going so far as to describe it as a “Milky Way” effect. I’m not sure I would go that far, but I got the gist. One post had some example pictures whic matchen mine very closely in terms of the spotting problem. It seems to be an intermittent issue.

I’ve now come to the opinion that I might have a bad batch of Fomapan 100, which is a bit of a pain as I bought ten rolls of it! I guess I’ll have to try another roll and see what it gets me. While the film is still useable, the post-processing required to get rid of the spots is not something to be relished.

Oh well, there are worse things happening in the world, so I’m sure I can live with this minor inconvenience.

Here’s one of the shots from the roll that has had a lengthy clean-up applied.

Down through the field to the railway line

Yashica Mat 124G & Fomapan 100. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 8 mins @ 20°.

Taken on 6 June 2020

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Monochrome wildflowers

Back to work today after four days off. No photography stuff today other than a bit of scanning.

The coronavirus situation in the country continues to apall with the shameless incompetence and double-standards at play in our so-called government. Apologies for mistakes are not a sign of weakness, they are a sign of strength. Respect is earned by those who accept and learn from their errors, not by those who obfuscate and pass the blame, no matter whether I support their broader views or not.

I wonder how long deceit, failure to accept responsibility and lack of accountability can last until something has to give? Sadly, I suspect a long time. There’s a tribalism in politics that has grown in recent years where groups of people hitch their allegiance to one wagon or another and refuse to get off, no matter the road it takes. It’s a terrible “us and them” situation that fosters the worst in people. I despair of it.

Anyway, this is a photography blog, not some political rant, so here’re some flowers.

Wildflowers

Bronica ETRSi, Zenzanon 75mm f/2.8 & Fomapan 100. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 8 mins @ 20°.

Taken on 7 May 2020

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Multiple exposure

A few weeks back I wrote a post about how I’d messed up with my Bronica and made an accidental multiple-exposure (it really doesn’t feel that long ago – I could have sworn I wrote the post a week back at most!). Anyway, the gist of it was that I’d accidentally switched the multiple-exposure lever on instead of the mirror lock-up when taking a long exposure. This resulted in me unknowingly making several exposures on the same frame of HP5+.

I had low hopes for the result and expected it to be a complete write-off. However, it isn’t… Surprisingly, the photograph has turned out interesting (in an obviously imperfect way).

The main subject is the signal box in the village that I’ve photographed on a number of occasions before. However, the other shots have resulted it being overlaid with foliage and cobwebs. It now looks oddly reminiscent (to me, at least) of something you’d find in Stephen King’s story, The Mist, where a secret government experiment opens up a rift to another dimension. From it flows a mysterious mist and within it are…things.

Anyhoo, here’s the photo in question.

Multiple

Bronica ETRSi, Zenzanon 75mm f/2.8 & Fomapan 100. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 8 mins @ 20°.

Taken on 6 May 2020

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

A quarter pint of cola

Do you ever have those times where the creative urge just strikes? Times where you need to make a photograph even though you can’t go out and there’s nothing much to photograph indoors but your eye catches something and you just think “Yeah, that’s a picture.“? Well, today’s photograph is from one of those times.

I’m not sure whether I was just in a trigger happy creative flush, but something made me get the shot. The subject is a half-full glass of (flat) cola sat on the cabinet where my printer sits (and which has some books and other gubbins perched atop it too). The glass has been through the dishwasher on multiple occasions, and it shows. What was once clear is now permanently etched by the washing process, leaving a finery of scratches across its surface. I think it was these bright marks highlighted against the darkness of the beverage that made me think there was a photograph waiting to come out.

The Bronica and the 75mm Zenzanon have made for a sharp image and the Fomapan 100 (this is the first roll of this emulsion I’ve home developed in the DD-X I use) has produced lovely tones. It’s probably not a photo that anyone would ever want on their wall, but I’m quite struck by it for some reason. Mundane for the win once again.

Quarter-pint of flat cola in a scratched glass

Bronica ETRSi, Zenzanon 75mm f/2.8 & Fomapan 100. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 8 mins @ 20°.

Taken on 27 April 2020