Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Single file traffic

The road-sign depicted in today’s photo feels pretty apt at present. As the news of the coronavirus pandemic hit and became widespread last month there was an upsurge in panic buying in the shops. Some of these things seemed logical – hand-sanitiser, for instance, is a useful substance to help keep you safe from inadvertently contracted viruses on your hands. Soap and water is similarly effective, but I guess not as convenient for carrying in your pocket or in your car. Paracetamol was another item that soon found itself in short supply and, again has a logical basis for being so – namely it’s use in reducing temperature during a fever. And while I can undestand the benefits of having dried pasta given it’s long shelf-life, the quantities that some people were buying was over-the-top – unless your family eats pasta every meal of every day, you don’t need that much.

Other items seemed less logical (or at least to a degree). The number one thing here was toilet-paper. I’m not quite sure where this particular panic originated, but I first saw it mentioned by my nephew. He lives in Australia and he posted an image of empty shelves where the toilet-paper once sat in the supermarket. Before long the phenomena had reached the UK and spread around the world – panic buying of toilet-paper seemingly has a faster and more effective transmission rate than the COVID-19 virus! While I can understand how no-one wants to be left short of toilet-paper, again the volumes that some individuals were buying were ridiculous, some people buying dozens of rolls at a time. It’s not even as though a primary symptom of the virus is diarrhea or anything, in which case I might have understood.

The result of this panic buying was that stocks that should have met the needs of all instead became scarce, with some unable to source any at all. It even began to generate black-market activities (reports of stores being broken into and their stocks of toilet-paper stolen), and price-gouging as unscrupulous traders hiked the cost of in-demand items.

The result here in the UK has been a complete change in the way that people have been allowed to shop, firstly by stores limiting the quantitiy of items shoppers have been allowed to purchase, but also, because of the lock-down, implementing strict people-control measures to limit the number of shoppers in stores at any one time. This has led to large queues in the car-parks outside supermarkets as people wait for their turn to enter. In some parts of the country these have been boisterous (and, significantly, meant lots of people lining up in close proximity). Thankfully, in the stores close to us, the queuing has been orderly and well spaced and these measures have resulted in better access to produce as well as a losening of the restrictions on quantities (though some items are still excepted).

We’reΒ  into spring, and will be coming up to summer soon, so queuing outside is probably not that much of a hardship. That said, here in the UK the weather can be somewhat “changeable” to say the least, so it will be interesting to see how people fare in queues if the weather takes a turn for the worst.

FILM - Village roadworks

Bronica ETRSi, Zenzanon 75mm f/2.8 & Kodak Tmax 400.

Taken on 29 January 2020

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Cascades at Hell Bank Plantation

One of the ways I like to find potential locations for photography is by browsing Ordnance Survey maps. Usually I look for public footpaths and rights of way and plan a walk in the hope that there might be something interesting to photograph along the route – usually there is. I’ve loved to look at Ordnance Survey maps ever since I first came across them as a child – specifically the 1:25,000 scale Landranger maps. They’re a treasure trove of detail with their beautiful design and iconography, and just skimming across them will turn up evocative little identifiers for things like trig points, towers, tumuli, wells and all manner of other intriguing things. And so it was on this occasion, where my browsing alighted upon the intriguingly named Hell Bank Plantation which also had a little marking stating “Waterfalls“.

So last Saturday, after my walk along the River Derwent at Calver, I decided to head home via a route that would take me to Hell Bank Plantation so I could see what it was like as a location.

After a wrong turn that would have gotten me where I needed to go – if I was on foot(!) – I finally took the right route and managed to get a parking space at the top of the plantation (where a decent number of other vehicles were already parked). The entrance into the plantation was via a stile a few yards from where I’d parked and the trail led down into the pine woodland. After a short distance the main footpath had a fork with the narrower branch heading down towards where I assumed the stream and waterfalls would be.

FILM - Gnarly

The path led me across the stream and then took a left turn so that it descended into the valley with the stream on my left, now at the bottom of a steep-sided gorge. I could see a number of cascades of water down there – nothing spectacular (although I guess it will be much more exciting after some heavy rain) but attractive nontheless. After walking down the valley a couple of hundred yards, it became apparent that there was no easy way to get to the stream from this path down here so I back-tracked. Back near the top I found a place where, with care, I might get down to the water. So, using my tripod as a walking pole, I eased myself down the steep bank to the bottom.

FILM - Hell Bank cascade

Near the bottom was the remains of a stone bridge about ten feet wide, broken in the middle and covered in moss. Thankfully, it also looked like there might be an easier way back up the opposite bank when I finished with my photography. I made my way upstream a little to get in position for some photos – while the stream wasn’t a torrent, there were still some pools that were plenty deep enough to submerge my walking boots fully, so careful progress was required. When I found a good spot I took an incident meter reading and also a couple of spot readings of shadows and highlights to see what they would show (the average wasn’t too far off the incident reading, so I went with that). As I wanted to try and get everything in focus, I metered for f/22 which gave an exposure of around 2 seconds.

FILM - In a narrow gorge

After taking a number of shots I retreated to the broken bridge and, as I’d hoped, was able to climb the eastern bank with relative ease and from there walked back uphill to the car and the journey home.

FILM - Cascade

The processed negatives were a little on the thin side, although not unduly so, and I’ve ended up with contrasty images that I like – at least where the stream and cascades of water are concerned. Some of the other shots (including the bridge) are somewhat busy and I think, if I return to the location, it deserves colour to properly seperate the vegetation, rocks, water and wood textures in the pictures.

There is also another waterfall further down the valley according to Ordnance Survey. πŸ™‚

Bronica ETRSi, Zenzanon 75mm f/2.8 & Kodak Tmax 400.

Taken on 25 January 2020

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

The Old Queen’s Head

Dating back almost 550 years, the Old Queen’s Head is the oldest surviving domestic building in Sheffield, constructed at the end of the Plantagenet period. The building became a pub in the 1860s when the venue next door extended into this one. Prior to this the buidling was used as a house and may have been a banqueting hall before that. Mary, Queen of Scots was imprisonned in Sheffield in the late 16th century (although not in this building!) and it’s believed that this is where the pubs name is derived.

FILM - Old Queen's Head

Holga 120N & Kodak Tmax 400.

Taken on 10 January 2020

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Crucible Theatre

This is The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. It was opened in 1971 and, as well as hosting plays and similar performances, has been the venue for the World Snooker Championship since 1977. The theatre has an unusual stage layout with the audience sitting around three of its sides. The building holds Grade II listed status.

Just opposite (to the right of the scene in this photo) lies the Lyceum Theatre, a more traditional (and older – dating back 120 years) venue.

FILM - Crucible

Holga 120N & Kodak Tmax 400.

Taken on 10 January 2020

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

I waited and waited but no train came

This photograph was taken from almost the same spot as yersterday’s image – atop a railway bridge – that one depicts the view to the right from here.

I stood atop this bridge waiting for a train to enter the scene for almost 15 minutes, but none made its presence felt. As I’d walked to this location, three trains had passed in quite close proximity, so I’d hoped for another, but nada. After a while, my legs began to feel the chill so I decided to move on, sure that as soon as I got beyond range I’d hear the sound of another locomotive and curse my decision to move, but (surprisingly, given my usual luck) I didn’t.

Before I left though, I took this photo. Part of me thinks it’s better without a train anyway.

FILM - To unknown places

Holga 120N & Kodak Tmax 400.

Taken on 18 December 2019

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

On a lunchtime walk

While I’ve not listed any new year’s resolutions this year (I’ll only go and break them anyway), one thing I do aim on doing is losing some weight (ha ha ha) and part of this process will be to try and get out and walk more often. I’m fortunate in that I have a country park within easy walking distance of home which has a footpath that makes a circuit around two of the lakes there. In all it’s around four miles to walk from home, around both lakes, and back home again (although a mile can be shaved from that by skipping the path around the smaller lake).

While the park is a good thing to have on the doorstep, it’s not the most inspiring location for photography – or at least the sort of photography that I favour. The park has been in existence for almost forty years now and was built on reclaimed mining land. The trees and shrubs planted at its inception are well into adulthood but, despite this, the way that they are arranged (in small, impenetrable, copse-like, groupings) means that most of the park is open grass that slopes gently to the lakeside. While this gives good lines of sight across the water, the views aren’t ones I find especially inspiring, especially as the park sits in a bowl of hills, most of which have easily visible and bland-looking suburban housing or industial buildings on them.

Despite my moaning here, I’m grateful the park is there, and it will undoubtedly be the venue for some of my walks. I think it’s only fair that I challenge myself to achieve some nice photos on my visits.

I’m also fortunate to have a number of other pleasant walking locations within 5-15 minutes drive from home, and I plan on making use of those too. The agricultural land where these lie is criss-crossed with public footpaths and rights of way and I’ve found that even the most unlikely looking paths can throw up some surprisingly beautiful photo opportunities if you take the time to look for them.

Today’s photo was taken just above Renishaw golf course. The hills in the distance have plenty of buildings, but the mist on the day did a great job of obscuring them and making the scene look far more rural than it is.Β  The power-lines and farm track make for a couple of great leading lines, and it’s the sort of scene that works a charm when photographed with the Holga.

FILM - They play golf down there

Holga 120N & Kodak Tmax 400.

Taken on 18 December 2019

35mm · Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Day 365 – Twelve favourite photos from 2019

My initial plan for today’s post was to publish 12 photos that were taken this year but which haven’t featured in the blog, but on second thoughts I’ve decided to take the more traditional route. There might still be some that never appeared here before though – I tend to upload more stuff to Flickr than gets featured here – so aren’t you the lucky ones. πŸ™‚

Today also marks the 365th consecutive blog post of the year – a target I attempted once before but which fell through when other events in my life took precedence. Not every blog was written on the day it was posted – in situations where I’ve been away from home I’ve pre-written blogs and then scheduled them to automatically publish (or made them live from my phone). Because of the way I link my photos from Flickr, I’ve found it’s a complete PITA to try and write and publish from mobile devices.

Anyway… Before I get on to the pictures, I just want to take the time to thank all who’ve viewed, interacted or commented on my blog over the year and to wish everyone a happy new year.

So, the photos…

January – This tree sits on the moors just south of Sheffield and is just a few metres from the roadside. It’s distictive shape made for an easy composition. Sadly the tree has now suffered damage – the last time I passed all that remained was the trunk as the upper branches have been broken off. 😦

FILM - In a lonely place (35mm)

Nikon F80, Nikkor 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 AF & Fomapan 400. Taken on 20 January 2019

February – Eyes in the back of his head? One of the tenets of street photography is to be prepared and ready to catch that decisive moment when it occurs. Sadly, this is rarely the case for me and I’ve missed loads of potentially nice shots due to fumbling with the camera. This was one of the times I didn’t.

FILM - He's got eyes in the back of his head

Olympus 35 RC & JCH Streetpan 400. Taken on 15 February 2019

March – Portraiture is not something I have much of an interest in, particularly studio portraits (although I do enjoy looking at environmental portraits), so when an opportunity arose to photograph some models at the local camera club I wasn’t sure whether I’d enjoy it or not. While I can’t say it ignited any desire to take more portraits, I was very pleased with my results, one of which is below. It isn’t prefect (the creased backdrop lets it down a little), but the way the Sigma 105mm lens and the Kodak P3200 rendered the images is lovely.

FILM - WPS Model Session-2

Nikon F80, Sigma 105mm f/2.8 OS HSM & Kodak Tmax P3200. Taken on 19 March 2019

April – A gate on a public footpath through Edale in the northern Peak District National Park. I think this photo has a certain charm to it, there’s a sense of mystery as to where the path leads and what might be beyond the gate. This is from the penultimate roll of film through my Yashica Mat 124G last year. I shall have to rectify this situation and shoot with the camera again post haste!

FILM - A path near Edale

Yashica Mat 124 G & Fomapan 100. Taken on 20 April 2019

May – During May I visited New York with my family. It’s the second time I’ve visited (and I’d love to return – although I think my wife would prefer somewhere else in the US if we get across the Atlantic again) – I could have spent all day, every day just walking the streets taking photos. It was a family trip though, so I grabbed whatever I could. This is just a view down 7th Avenue after a rain shower, but it screams New York to me.

FILM - 7th Avenue

Canon Sure Shot Z135 & Ilford HP5+. Taken on 28 May 2019

June – A box of pre-owned pool balls on a stall at the Sheffield Steam Rally. I think I might have said at the time that colour would have been a more obvious choice here, but I love the contrast given by the HP5+.

FILM - Balls

Nikon F80, Nikkor 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 D & Ilford HP5+. Taken on 30 June 2019

July – The beach at Scarborough. My wife and I took a trip to the seaside and I shot a roll-and-a-half of film during the day. This is just a snap of the beach, the people enjoying themselves there, and some yachts in the sea beyond, but it has a nice “Martin Parr” feel to it that I like. It was also an opportunity to test the little Pentax Espio compact that I’d bought for Β£1 a fortnight before.

FILM - On the beach

Pentax Espio 140M & Fuji Superia 100 (expired 2008). Taken on 13 July 2019

August – Taken at the Lincoln Steam Rally – the first time I’d attended this event, but it was huge and I hope to go again in 2020. I shot four rolls of film on the day, but this Ektar shot of a vintage truck is a favourite. The almost 70-year-old Zeiss Mess-Ikonta continues to impress with it’s superbly sharp lens.

FILM - ERF

Zeiss Mess-Ikonta 524/16 & Kodak Ektar. Taken on 17 August 2019

September – A day trip to my childhood seaside haunt: Mablethorpe. It’s a place I’m always drawn back to, even though I’m always slightly disappointed that it hasn’t remained frozen in time as I remember it from when I was a child. Another day where several rolls of film were shot (including three botched rolls through my Holga because I had it set to bulb mode!). I’ve many photos from the day that I like, but this is the one that always springs to mind when I think back.

FILM - Water dragon

Olympus 35 RC & Kodak Portra 400. Taken on 13 September 2019

October – I took a trip to Doncaster racecourse with my dad, and this is one of the photos from the day. The weather was awful, with heavy rain all day, but oftentimes bad weather makes for good photos.

FILM - A day at the races

Olympus OM-1, Zuiko 75-150mm f/4 & Ilford HP5+. Taken on 25 October 2019

November – This shot is potentially my favourite of the whole year. The simple but beautiful charms of the Holga coupled with a wonderfully foggy day made for some amazing photographic opportunities.

FILM - The path untaken

Holga 120N & Kodak Tmax 400. Taken on 30 November 2019

December – December is a little difficult as, as I type this, I have three rolls of film waiting to be processed still and there might be a showstopper on there (or possibly not), but this image that I took just before Christmas on a lunchtime walk is definitely worthy of the spot. It’s another Holga 120N image, but cropped to a 4×3 ratio (the bottom of the frame has a river in it, but it didn’t add a lot to the overall image and the landscape crop works much better. The way the Holga renders out-of-focus details is wonderful, and almost impressionistic in style.

FILM - Breaking through

Holga 120N & Kodak Tmax 400. Taken on 18 December 2019

So there you have it. Twelve favourite shots from 2019. As with any list like this it’s subjective, and if I were to do it again tomorrow several of the selections might change, but for now it will do.

One final word – I’ll proof read it later, so apologies in advance for any typos or grammatical goofs. πŸ™‚