Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Looking over to Higger Tor

I crunched through the dry, brown heather to get this cluster of rocks in the right place to frame this landscape photo of the moors looking over to Higger Tor, which can be seen in the distance at centre-left. It was approaching lunchtime when I made this picture – long after the golden-hour had passed – but there’s something to be said for capturing images at this time of day. It’s often the time and light when people are out and about and so depicts scenes as many of us will usually see them

Tumbled and jumbled
Boulders litter the landscape
On Peak District moors

Looking at Higger Tor

Bronica ETRSi, Zenzanon 75mm f/2.8 PE & Kodak Portra 160.

Taken on 6 April 2021

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Provia 400 in the Peak District

A couple of weeks ago I took an impromtu trip out to the Peak District National Park one evening after work. August is the month when the heather flowers, blanketing the landscape in a cover of purple. For the last couple of years I’ve managed to miss it altogether for one reason or another, or have only caught the end of the season when it’s past its best. So, given the weather looked nice, I decided to take to opportunity. There might even be a sunset!

I took my Bronica ETRSi loaded with a roll of slightly expired Provia 400. I’ve not shot the 400 variant before, but was quite hopeful given the decent results I’d had a few weeks earlier with some 2003 vintage Ektachrome. As I got closer to my destination it became apparent that I wasn’t the only person taking advantage of the pleasant eventing and there were a considerable number of other people and cars about. I managed to find a place to park without too much trouble though and climbed atop Higger Tor to make some photos.

Heather and boulders
Heather amongst the gritstone

I soon noticed a curious issue with my light meter, which was giving slightly odd-looking shutter speeds like 1/128. I wasn’t sure what the problem might be, but the speeds were all close enough to regular shutter settings to not give me undue concern. After a few shots it became moot anyway when the meter’s battery died – even though it had been on two bars the last time I checked – and I had to resort to my light-meter app on my phone. It was only when I got home and fitted a new battery to the light meter and looked at the manual that I realised I’d managed to set it into cine mode! Given reversal film’s intolerance of poor exposure, I resigned myself to a roll of mostly ruined shots. One receipt on my transparencies a few days later however, it seemed that most of them were not too bad at all – somewhat ironically the worst shots were the ones where I’d used the light meter app!

Anyway, I roamed around atop the plateau making a number of photos although, if I’m honest, my enthusiasm wasn’t high – I felt somewhat rushed due to the last-minute nature of the trip, plus people kept wandering into my compositions. There was no sunset either…

Down to Carl Wark
Looking down from Higger Tor towards the ancient hillfort of Carl Wark

After a pretty successful session scanning my roll of 135 Velvia 100 previously, I jumped headlong into scanning the Provia 400 when I received the transparencies from the lab. And promptly had the confidence knocked out of me. The settings that had worked so well for me in Vuescan for that earlier roll now served to deliver only disappointment. I know that it’s a different film, and I was also scanning it on my Epson V550 – not the Plustek – as that will scan medium format negatives, but I had hoped that my previous settings would at least serve as a good starting point.

The results were awful. Using the Adobe RGB output setting, that works so well on other scans in Vuescan, here served to produce ugly and blocky purple highligts on some parts of the image. Switching to a different output setting resoleved this, but now the images lost some colour and also seemed to vary in quality by a large degree from frame to frame.

In the end, I resorted to using Epsonscan – an application that has given me less than pleasing results when scanning slides in the past. This time though, it beat the Vuescan files – although it took some considerable faffing in Lightroom & Photoshop before I got something I was mostly happy with and which seemed to reflect what I could actually see on the transparencies.

On Higger Tor
A large boulder perched on the edge of the tor

Bronica ETRSi, Zenzanon 75mm f/2.8 & Fujifilm Provia 400 (expired 2014).

Taken on 20 August 2020