A photo from the archive today, made a couple of years ago back when we were under the first covid lockdown here in the UK. I’m pretty sure I’ve not posted this image before – I searched for the camera, film, and the words “pylon” and “power lines” and nothing showed up, so finger’s crossed.
I was going to post another shot from the curly expired Tri-X, but it was another frame with the odd marks and, given the nature of the scene, I couldn’t photoshop them out to my satisfaction so decided against uploading it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s the last day of the year, so time for a roundup of my favourite photos from each month.
I remember on the day we got this snow that I felt the urge to go out and make photographs, but also feeling quite cosy inside our warm home. My wife had a letter that needed to be posted though, so I went out. I wasn’t sure what camera to take, especially given the large, heavy flakes of wet snow that were falling, so in the end decided on the Holga. It’s plastic body and lack of any delicate components was a pretty safe choice given the conditions, but more than that, it’s cheap plastic lens once more produced a set of images that had a distinctive look that I felt really suited the day.
Back in mid-february on a cold and frosty day. remnants of snow still on the ground in many places, I went for a good long walk. I shot two-and-a-half rolls of film that day with the Yashica Mat 124G and my Canon Sure Shot Telemax. There are several that I like, but this one is my favourite – the power-lines, wonky fence, and potholed farm-track adding character to the scene.
March is a hard month to choose a photo from as there are several that I really like – I must’ve gotten out with the camera quite a lot that month (and I think it was when the winter Covid restrictions were lifted, allowing me to travel further afield again). The shot I’ve chosen is packed full of atmosphere, but the grainyness was unintentional. Most of the frames on the roll show far less grain but a couple – mainly shots with a lot of low-contrast fog – really emphasise it. I’m not sure if it’s a factor of the scanning or post-processing or a combination of things, but in this image I think it really benefits the picture.
In April the Covid restrictions were loosened to allow people to meet up outddors, so I went out for walks with my dad on a number of occasions, mostly taking a long looping path near to where he lives that traverses what used to be Orgreave pit and coking plant – the one that gained infamy as the site of the “Battle of Orgreave” during the miner’s strike in 1984. The area is now an area of parkland, gradually taking on natural growth as the years pass by, but the area to the north-west is now the site of the Waverley housing estate. This estage has been developing over the past decade or more now and is pretty big – effectively a district in itself, and new homes are still being constructed. This photo shows some of the work that was ongoing back in the spring, and I liked the “New Topographics” feel of the scene.
The firs half of 2021 was definitely top-loaded with photographs – my Lightroom catalogue has 232 images from May alone – a volume of output which would slip later in the year – but more on that when we get there… Again, there are many photo’s I could have picked from this month, but this one reminds me of the day it was taken most of all. You can read the full story here, but to say it was a relief when I got to the point when this picture was made cannot be understated.
The image here was made at the country park at Pleasley. As with Orgreave (mentioned above) this is another former coal mining area reclaimed to nature and outdoor pursuits. In this case though the mine workings have also been preserved as a museum. While I didn’t have time to visit the museum, I wandered around the park and made a number of photographs, including this one.
While I mostly shoot film, I do still have my old Nikon D3200 DSLR and a few lenses knocking around. One of the lenses is the 35mm f/1.8 DX. This is designed for use on crop-sensor cameras, but I’d read that it would also work on full-frame cameras with some mild-ish vignetting if the aperture is opened up. As the lens is small, light, and very sharp, I decided to give it a go with my Nikon F80 film camera. The vignetting was noticeable, but not distracting and actually gave a nice feel to a lot of the images. The main downside was that the auto-focus was very slow on the F80 for some reason, meaning a few shots were a little soft. This was my favorite image from the set.
August’s film photographs are mostly from three trips – one to a steam-rally in Cheshire, one to Bakewell in the Peak District with my wife, and another trip with my wife to London. Looking at the photos in Lightroom against the ones on Flickr there are loads of shots that I never uploaded. This one I did though, and it’s here as a reminder of the day we visited Notting Hill to see the Portobello Road market. The market was notable by the fact that it was very underpopulated on the day in question – this is what you get for visiting during a pandemic I suppose.
Again, the only film photos from this month are from a couple of day trips, this time to Mablethorpe and to another steam rally in Cheshire (I visited both these steam rallies as the ones close to home had been cancelled this year, but also because a bunch of folks from an online photography forum I’m a maber of were atending too). This shot was from my annual day-trip to Mablethorpe though. The ice cream wasn’t intended to be offset, but I forgot about parallax when focussing on close objects (it was held at arm’s length). In the end it was a happy accident though as I quite like the way it is framed.
So, we reach October and the first month where I made no film photographs at all. The reason was that we had a new kitchen fitted in September and them moved straight into having the whole upstairs of the house re-decorated and re-carpeted. This meant that not only were most of my cameras boxed up while we shifted furniture in and out of rooms, but that when I did have the opportunity to go out and do some photography, I was too tired to make the effort. I did not enjoy October very much.
And if October was bad, November was the worst. On the 13th our young cat, Stan, was hit by a car and lost his life. Most of my posts in November following this sad event were about my grief over his loss and were the first time that I posted digital photos on here. I found that speaking about how I felt – literally pouting out what was on my mind – was helpful and therapeutic. I did take a few film photos at the start and very end of the month though and the one below is the one I like best. Perhaps its somewhat melancholy air suits the month in which it was made.
And so we reach the final month of 2021. Again, not many photographs were made this month and, of the ones that were, I still have a lot of them to either upload or even develop yet, so they won’t see the light of the blog until 2022. Of the ones I did upload though, this shot of a wet rhododendron bush in the back garden is the one I like best.
Well that’s the roundup done for another year. I hope that 2022 brings better times for the world and that we can start to come out of the pandemic. Whatever may happen though, I wish you all a very happy new year. See you in 2022!
The final two frames from this roll of Shanghai GP3 which I shot just before Christmas are shown here today. Almost the final two anyway – there is still another I might use if needed, and a few more shots of leaves covered in raindrops, but I’ve started scanning a fresh roll that I developed today, so hopefully those will start to appear soon.
Tomorrow I need to think about doing one of those “Looking back at the year“-type posts with my favourite photos from the past twelve months. It will be interesting to see which ones I choose from the autumn’s crop of images – I feel like that entire period was something of a dry spell and I’m not sure what I will choose. Anyway, that will appear tomorrow all being well.
Yashica Mat 124G & Shanghai GP3. Lab developed in Xtol.
Here’s another photo from my foggy morning walk just before Christmas. The tree in today’s photo will likely feature again tomorrow or the day after as also go a long shot of it – I’m still stretching out the posting of images from this roll of film until I get one of my other rolls developed. Thankfully my fresh bottle of DD-X arrived today so I might get one of them sorted out tomorrow.
Yashica Mat 124G & Shanghai GP3. Lab developed in Xtol.