35mm · Film photography · Photography

Pollard and pylons

This pollarded willow tree sits at the southern end of Woodhouse Washlands close to the A57 flyover (in fact, you can see the shadow of the flyover at the base of this image – I thought about cropping it out, but it would take the foot of the tree closer to the edge of the frame than I’d like). The field was pretty muddy and had a considerable number of cow pats deposited about on the day so I decided to use the zoom lens to get me closer. While it may not be to everyone’s taste, I like the contrast of the fields and trees on the left with the industry of the pylons and factory units to the right. The track fills the gap at bottom right nicely too.

Pollarding cuts trees
off at height, not at the base
as coppicing does

Pollards and pylons

Pentax P30T, Takumar-F Zoom 70-200mm f/4-5.6 & Ilford HP5+. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 9mins @ 20°.

Taken on 27 December 2020

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Downhill track

It’s one of those days where I can think of little to say. I’ve found a photo to publish and written one of my (likely not very good) haikus, but otherwise I’m suffering from a brain full of tumbleweed. So I’ll leave it at that and hope normal service resumes shortly.

If you look up close
See a small figure crossing
And heading downhill

Lane

Pentax P30T, SMC Pentax 50mm f/1.7 & Ilford HP5+. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 9mins @ 20°.

Taken on 24 December 2020

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Oh flock…

So, my first week of Couch-to-5k has taken a dip on day three where it appears that I’ve gotten myself a calf strain. I managed to walk home ok but the pain has increased since (at least when I move around) and the range of movement has reduced. Absolutely brilliant, eh?

I’m dissapointed that I will likely now have to put the running off for a while. Not because I’ll miss the activity itself – running isn’t something I can say I love doing – but because I do want to increase my fitness and, more importantly, support my son as he runs too. I’ve no idea how long the injury will take to heal before I can run again (even assuming it is a calf-strain. I’ve not spoken to a healthcare professional about it as yet, so it might be something else), but online self-diagnosis suggests it can take up to six weeks to fully recover. Bah!

Like a cramp, it felt
as I tore my calf running
Excercise. What Fun…

At present I can’t really even consider going for a walk until it heals a little as I’m moving about like a pirate with a wooden leg at the moment. I should have stuck to walking!

Here’s a flock of birds and some power lines from a few weeks ago when I was able to move around uninjured. 🙂

Flock in flight

Pentax P30T, SMC Pentax 50mm f/1.7 & Ilford HP5+. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 9mins @ 20°.

Taken on 24 December 2020

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Steps into a field

Another thin skim of snow greeted me when I awoke this morning, although it had melted a few hours later and bright blue skies appeared. Had I not been working I might have gone for a walk and made a few pictures, but that wasn’t the case. In the event, I still grabbed a couple of images later in the afternoon when I saw some of my wife’s ornaments catching the afternoon sunlight. I used the Yashica Mat with the close-up lens set. Still ten more frames to shoot though, so it may be a while before they see the light of day (well, for a second time!).

Today’s haiku:

In the USA
Georgian Democrat double
Turn the Senate blue

And to finish, another picture from the Christmas Eve walk.

Steps

Pentax P30T, SMC Pentax 50mm f/1.7 & Ilford HP5+. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 9mins @ 20°.

Taken on 24 December 2020

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Lockdown part III

Well here we are again. The whole country locked down tight for the third time in less than a year (although, to be honest, the second lockdown was less severe and I didn’t really notice any difference). We’re now back to staying indoors except for essential reasons such as shopping for food / medicines; work (if you can’t do so from home); to provide care (or to escape danger); and for exercise no more than once a day (in your local area).

I gues it will mean my photography is limited once more to things at home, or opportunities I have when out for a walk. I’ve just started Couch-to-5k this week, but at this early stage it’s all I can do to keep running and making photos is the last thing on my mind on those outings. Maybe that will change as I become fitter.

I still have a pretty large archive of images that have never been featured on the blog, so I won’t run out of things to post, but I do think that I might run out of new things to post depending on when, where, and how I am able to get out with a camera. I’ll just have to see what happens, I guess.

I like this time of year for photography. Murky weather can make for very atmospheric shots, and pleasant days are blessed with low-angled sunshine. As the lockdown is set to last until mid-February at least (when the government hopes to have the four highest priority groups of people vaccinated), and probably into March, it looks like I will miss out on these conditions for the most part (or will at least need to get more creative and better inspired by my local area). As for my own vaccination, looking at the numbers of people elligible and where I sit in the priority list (basically just above all the fit and healthy young people who aren’t even included), it will probably be just before Christmas 2021 when I get my own jab!

I do hope that this summer will be less restricted than last at least though. Not because I want to sit on busy crowded beaches or visit touristy hotspots, but just to have the freedon to hop in the car and go somewhere nice for the day. I mean, I’d like that freedom any time of the year, but the summer would do for now.

Hope you are all keeping safe and healthy out there.

I’ll leave you with today’s haiku and another photo from Christmas Eve when I was able to go for walks a little further afield.

On my desk I see
Two green frogs on a keyboard
Are they musical?

Wooden stile

Pentax P30T, SMC Pentax 35mm f/3.5 & Ilford HP5+. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 9mins @ 20°.

Taken on 24 December 2020

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Over the hill

My two week’s leave came to an end and today marked my return to work. The last things I did before the Christmas break seem distant and yet the two weeks seem to have flown by in an instant!

Work resumed today
I now need to remember
What it is I do

Another Christmas Eve walk photo today. I saw this house / farm peeking over the growing crops in this hillside field and thought iw ould be nice picked out with the telphoto lens. The footpath through the fields was a somewhat nerve-wracking experience as it had a thin skein of surface mud that threatened to take my feet out from beneath me! I don’t thinks I would have gotten hurt, but muddy and wet would be unwelcome all the same. Luckily I managed it to the bottom intact.

Just over the rise

Pentax P30T, SMC Pentax 50mm f/1.7 & Ilford HP5+. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 9mins @ 20°.

Taken on 24 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

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Autumn in the Limb Valley

I took some leave last week in the hope that I would be able to get out an about capturing some autumn colour before the leaves fell, but this was hampered by the pincer movement of a Tier 3 Covid-19 restriction being placed on our county and my old friend, bad weather. The Tier 3 restrictions prevented me leaving the borders of South Yorkshire, but there are still many, many other places I can go make photos within the boundary. It was the dull, rainy weather that was the main anchor on my activities. While I subscribe to the saying: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing”, my cameras are sadly not weather sealed so, no matter how suitable my atire may be, the use of vulnerable camera gear forms an Achilles heel.

So, when there was a break in the weather on the Wednesday morning, I decided to make the most of it and set off for the Limb Valley, a wooded area to the south-east of the city that rises into the hills at Ringinglow at the edge of the Peak District. I’ve never walked the valley before and only realised it was ther because I saw some photographs a colleague of my wife had posted. Not having any better plans, it seemed a good place to visit.

Autum in the Limb Valley

I decided that I would use the opportunity to test the newly acquired Zenzanon 50mm f/2.8 MC lens that I’d bought to use with my Bronica ETRSi. I had been looking for a wider-angle lens on and off for a while to complement the 75mm f/2.8 that came with the camera. I missed out on one a few weeks ago when I was outbid at the last moment, so when I saw this one with a buy-it-now option for half the price of the one I missed out on I got in there fast.

Autumn arboreal

The lens was described as having had a lot of use, with some loss of paint on the barrel. It also said that there was some slight haze in the centre of the glass. I examined the photos that were shown on the auction and felt happy with the cosmetic condition – as long as it works properly, I don’t mind a few scrapes here and there. The haze wasn’t very apparent in the photos so I decided to take a chance and clicked the button to make the purchase.

Forest shades

Upos arrival, I can’t really find anything to complain about. The cosmetic wear is nothing serious, and I can’t see any sign of the haze at all, and it hasn’t (that I can see, at least) made its presence felt in the photos I’ve made so far.

Beech glow

I also decided to use the outing to try out some more expired film that I’ve recently picked up – a few rolls of Superia 100 in 120 format. It’s a consumer grade film, but there are precious few options for non-professional colour film for medium format now, so I decided I would take a chance on it. The scans from the negatives tended towards a green cast slightly, but I’ve beebn able to sort that out in Photoshop without any real issues and I’m generally happy with the results for the film.

Woodland bridge

On the whole I’m really happy with the results from this outing. So much so that I moved them up my pile of stuff to scan and publish (I normally do this in a pretty strict chronological order – blame mild OCD or something:)). It means that they get published pretty close to the period of autumn in which ther were produced.

Bronica ETRSi, Zenzanon 50mm f/2.8 MC & Fujifilm Superia 100 (expired 2008). Grain2Pixel conversion.

Taken on 28 October 2020

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

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Emley Moor transmitter

I’ve been meaning to visit the Emley Moor television tower for some time now so, while on a week’s leave from work recently, I decided to take the opportunity.

The transmitter is visible from miles around (although not from where I live, it being fully obscured by all the hills around Sheffield) and can easily be seen from the M1 or A1 roads whenever we’ve driven north. As well as it being an impressive sight, it also provides a pang of nostalgia for my childhood where, on days I was up early before television had started for the day, there would be a bombastic start-up broadcast announcing that “Yorkshire Television was broadcasting from the Emley Moor, Belmont and associated transmitters of the Independent Broadcasting Authority“, accompanied by a stirring orchestral piece that gave the impression that a bunch of Spitfires and Lancaster bombers were fighting off an attacking German force or something, so much like a WWII movie theme it sounded.

 

Although I’ve seen the tower on numerous occasions, this was my first close visit since one time I went to one of my friends’ relatives houses who lived close to it. That would have been the better part of forty years ago! My, how time flies!

It took a little over half-an-hour to drive there (most of the trip being on a fast route up the motorway) and there’s a small car-park beside the road near the transmitter. I’d planned some potential shots in advance from the comfort of my PC by using Google Street View. As the cameras on the Street View cars have super-wide-angle lenses though, it’s difficult to know exactly what your own shots might look like, and unless I moved away a considerable distance from the tower (it’s already quite a distance from the road as-is), it was impossible to fit it into the frame with the 80mm lens on my Yashica Mat 124G, so the first couple of pictures here show only the base of the tower. Well, towers actually – the thin metal mast is a temporary structure that was constructed in 2018 to maintain broadcasts while the main tower undergoes maintenance. The upper sections of the metal mast were lowered into place by helicopter apparently.

 

Emley Moor transmitter

 

The concrete tower is 1,084′ tall and the metal mast 21′ shorter. The concrete tower is the tallest free-standing structure in the United Kingdom and was built in 1969 after the previous mast (the second one built on the site) collapsed due to an accumulation of ice. Although not open to the public, there is a lift that takes people to the equipment area that operates at the top of the tower. It apparently takes seven minutes to reach the top in the lift.

 

Emley Moor transmitter-2

The official name of the structure is The Arquiva Tower, after the company that operates it, but it is commonly known as Emley Moor.

I had to drive further from the tower in order to get the full structure in the frame, and even here I’ve had to correct some very noticeable converging verticals. I like the way it towers over the farmhouse in this shot.

 

Emley Moor transmitter-3

Another wide shot from even further away. I like the cyclist that has just entered the bottom left of the scene. Because of the angle of view, the temporary tower appears to be much taller than the main structure in this picture.

 

Emley Moor transmitter-4

In all it was a nce trip. There isn’t an awful lot to do at the tower given it’s privately operated with no public access, but it’s very impresive to behold from close up.

Yashica Mat 124G & Ilford Delta 400 (@800asa). Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 8 mins @ 20°.

Taken on 21 July 2020