35mm · Film photography · Photography

More Ektachrome re-scans and a street portraiture outing

I decided today to start a long-considered project to make portraits of strangers. It’s not an original idea – many others have done it before – but the aim is to make one-hundred portraits of people I don’t know. This is not something that comes naturally to me, both from a technical photographic angle – portraiture is not something I’ve done very much of – and also from a social aspect. By nature, I’m something of a shy, somewht introverted person, and approaching someone I don’t know to ask them if I can make their portrait is a definite challenge. So it was with no little trepidation that I decided to make a start today.

I decided that I will shoot all the portraits with my Yashica Mat 124G and use Kodak Portra 400. The choice of camera is for a number of reasons:

  1. It makes nice photographs
  2. I like the square format for portraits
  3. I’ll hopefully get better quality images from a medium format camera
  4. Because it’s a TLR, I hope that it will be disarming / start conversations in a way that an SLR maybe wouldn’t

The Portra was chosed because:

  1. It looks great
  2. It has a excellent exposure latitude which gives me flexibility when shooting in changeable light.

The first person I asked today said no, which wasn’t the best for my already shaky confidence, but I perservered, and the next two people both agreed to let me make their portraits. In all, out of fourteen people I asked, just three declined to take part, and there was no animosity whatsoever from anyone.

I photographed a range of people, both men and women, young and old. A couple of my subjects had cameras, so I approached them thinking that they might be more embracing of the idea of my taking their photo. A couple were street musicians, so they’re probably used to being photographed. Everyone else was a person who looked approachable, including a girl manning an ice-cream van, a couple of men who looked like they might be waiting for their wives to come out of shops, and a girl carrying a large potted plant. The latter girl asked what I would do with the photos, so I gave her the name of my blog. If you’re reading this, thank you agian for letting me make a portrait. 🙂

On the whole I was very pleased with how the day turned out and it gives me confidence to do the same again. I’ll get the film sent off for processing next week and will hopefully have some results in a few days time. Fingers crossed that they turn out ok!

For today however, I’ll post a few more of the re-scanned Ektachrome slides that I shot at a steam rally last year. The film really seems to lift in good light.

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Steam rally scenes

A variety of vehicles

Land Rover

Nikon F80, Nikkor 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 D & Kodak Ektachrome.

Taken on 30 June 2019

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Re-scanning some Ektachrome

Last year I treated myself to a roll of Kodak’s re-issued Ektachrome film. I shot the whole roll at a steam rally (none of those this year, sadly 😦 ) and was looking forward to the results. Unfortunately, they weren’t what I expected – or, at least, my scans weren’t.

FILM - Popular

Sheffield Steam Rally 2019 rescans-7

The slides themselves looked pretty nice. One or two of them were a little off on the exposure and looked a a bit dark, but nothing extreme, and the colours looked great. When I scanned them though, the colours were off and the levels were out considerably. Lots of deep contrast and strange, oily tones to the more vivid colours. Shadow areas lacked detail and I had to adjust the Tint and Temperature controls to make them look halfway decent. Some of them were beyond even this rectification though (or at least my skills to correct it).

FILM - Picnic set

Sheffield Steam Rally 2019 rescans-9

The scans were made on my Plustek 8100 and Silverfast, a scanner and software that serves me perfectly well for most of the other things I scan – although this is primarily black and white. I did the best I could with them and posted some to Flickr, and a few on this blog (here, here, here & here), but otherwise wrote them off as a bit of a disappointment.

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Sheffield Steam Rally 2019 rescans-8

Recently however, I’ve had a hankering to shoot some more slide film, and shot a roll of 17-years expired Ektachrome the other week which gave surprisingly nice results. Not perfect, but more than I could have hoped for given the age of the film and my scanning it using Epsonscan – a package that I’ve always struggled to get satisfactory colours with (again, probably due to my skills with it as much as anything else).

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So, I decided to revisit my 35mm Ektachrome slides for a fresh attempt. This time I tried something different.

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Sheffield Steam Rally 2019 rescans-2

Back before I bought my Plustek, I’d tried some alternative scanning applications to see if I could improve my colour scans on my Epson V550. One of those was Silverfast, the other was Vuescan. Silverfast software is linked to your scanner, so the copy I have for my Plustek won’t work on my Epson (something I dislike – If I buy a piece of software, I’d like it to work with different pieces of hardware thank you. It came with the Plustek though, so I’ll not complain too much). Vuescan however, will work with anything you own and has free lifetime updates if you buy the Pro version. As I still had the demo version, I decided to try it with my Plustek and the Ektachrome transparencies.

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Lo and behold, the results looked much more promising than the scans I’d managed with Silverfast. I was pretty happy about this and, as Vuescan is discounted at present, decided to fork out for the full, non-watermarked version and give my Ektachromes a fresh attempt.

FILM - A golden age of coach travel

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It took a bit of trial and error, but I think I’ve found a setup that does a good job on them. Certainly an improvement over the original scans to my eyes, so I thought I’d publish a few examples here today. I think the new scans are a noticeable improvement – a lot of the horrible green tinge has gone (how I didn’t spot that originally I don’t know) and there’s a lot more shadow detail. They’re in before and after pairs, the before shots first.

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Sheffield Steam Rally 2019 rescans-4

Nikon F80, Nikkor 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 D & Kodak Ektachrome.

Taken on 30 June 2019

35mm · Photography · Film photography

Kodak Gold woodland

A couple of photos taken in woodland beside the Chesterfield Canal, the smell of wild garlic heady in the morning air. Although I’d started my walk quite early, because of the time of year the sun had already risen quite high by the time I made these photos.

Wild garlic woodland

This sort of scene, with sunlight dappling the woodland floor is beautiful to look at but often makes for disappointing photographs due to the difference in dynamic range between the sunlit highlights and the much darker shadows. While the eye deals with such things without issue, film and digital sensors tend to fare poorly. Still, I took a couple of shots because I thought I might get away with it in this instance as there was more shade than sunlight. I think they turned out quite well for a consumer grade film.

Natural reclamation

Nikon F80, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 AF-D & Kodak Gold 200.

Taken on 31 May 2020

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Bathroom light

A possibly familiar composition today for anyone who’s read earlier posts on my blog. It’s a photo of our bathroom window taken from a similar position as the Holga shot in this post from back in March.

I think I prefer the Holga photo if I’m honest, with it’s low-key look and inky black shadows, but I like this one too. The pair of spectacles adds something and the hint of green foliage through the frosted glass window pane is nice as well.

In the bathroom

Nikon F80, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 AF-D & Kodak Gold 200.

Taken on 31 May 2020

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Lone tree

This is a photo that came out much nicer than I expected it might, which is always a nice thing to happen. Taken a short while after yesterday’s image of the church at Thorpe Salvin, this was maybe a quarter mile away. Luckily I’d brought my Sigma 105mm lens with me which gave me just enough reach to make the picture. I don’t think it would have worked with the 28-80mm as the tree would have been too small in the photo and other distractions would have crept in at the sides.

I like the minimalism and the colours (although they’re probably a little warmer than they were in reality – I tried a re-scan of this shot on my Plustek too, but it looked much worse than the lab’s Nortisu scan).

Another day

Nikon F80, Sigma 105mm f/2.8 OS HSM & Kodak Gold 200.

Taken on 31 May 2020

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Thorpe Salvin church early one morning

A photograph of the church at Thorpe Salvin which I made early one morning when out for a walk. This is a version scanned on my Plustek with Silverfast which I prefer to the lab scan done on a Noritsu on this occasion. My scan is a little noisier, but the colours and contrast are much punchier and not as warm as the lab scan.

The church at Thorpe Salvin

Nikon F80, Nikkor 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-D & Kodak Gold 200.

Taken on 31 May 2020

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Golden light

One of the effects of midsummer where I live in the UK is the position of the sun in the evening when it sets. In the winter it drops behind a ridge of hills to the west, blocking its light a little earlier than it might if we leved somewhere flat. In the height of summer however it sets to the north-west, descending in such a way as to shine between two houses across the street from us. The downside of this is that the living room (and our eyes) are filled with bright light, meaning we need to shut the blinds if we want to see the TV. The upside is that some beautiful evening light floods into the rooms on that side of the house, sometimes making for a nice photograph or two.

Today’s photo is one such image. The light on this evening filled the kitchen with a stunning golden glow and alighted on our knife block and a glass of orange juice stood beside it. It looks almost like the white balance on the photograph needs to be tweaked, but this was the shade of light that shone that evening.

Golden light

Nikon F80, Sigma 105mm f/2.8 OS HSM & Kodak Gold 200.

Taken on 19 May 2020 (I think!)

35mm · Photography · Film photography

Snail and cane

On the patio behiand our house stand a number of planters containing various flowers and shrubs. We haven’t re-planted any of them this year and they’re in a slightly sorry state with weeds growing amongst the remnants of the original inhabitants.

One of the pots contains a lily which flowered recently but is now dying back down again. At some point the pot must have had a different occupant though as there’s also a cane sticking out of the soil that would have been used to train and support some other plant.

Halfway up this cane is a small snail shell. I suspect that the snail is no-more. The shell has been afixed there without moving for months now, so is probably glued to the cane by what remains of occupant. It’s now been immortalized in photographic form though.

I’m not honestly sure when I made this photo. Sometime in May is my best guess. When I go out-and-about to a location I can use Google Maps’ history to remind me of the date I visited a place, but shots made at home have little evidence to place them in time.

Small snail-shell on a cane

Nikon F80, Sigma 105mm f/2.8 OS HSM & Ilford XP2 Plus.

Taken sometime in May 2020 (I think)

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Walking in the Moss Valley again

I’ll post a few more shots from the roll of expired Lloyds Pharmacy 200 today. Probably the last ones I’ll post from this roll unless I stick up a few odds-and-ends at some point. Tomorrow will likely mark the return to black-and-white.

I’ve been writing more diary-type posts recently and I’m wondering if I should illustrate them differently, or delay their contents – they’ll probably work better if they contain photographs from the events depicted, rather than stuff I already have to hand. The downside being that the events documented in words will likely be dated by the time I post them as it’s rare that I’ll shoot, develop, and scan a roll on the same day I shoot it.

Graveyard path

I got up early today (for a Saturday, at least) and drove out to the Moss Valley again for a walk. I’d mapped out my route the night before and the app on my phone optimistically suggested it would take an hour. I can only assume that the app doesn’t take hills into consideration when calculating walking speed. Or stopping to make photographs, for that matter.

It was the first time that I’ve taken this particular route, or part of it anyway – the latter half involved a section of footpaths that I’d walked last year, albeit from a different starting point. It started off simply enough with a pleasant stroll alongside The Moss, the small river after which the valley is named, and I stopped to make a few photos of the river.

House in the morning light

Soon, however, it was time to leave the valley bottom and ascend to the highest part of the route – a climb of over three-hundred feet. While I wasn’t worried that my heart would explode or anything, I was properly sucking in air by the time I completed the initial, steepest part of the climb. Shortly afterwards I discovered that I’d gone off-route into some private woodland (although a sign informed me that walking was allowed – good job I’d left the bikes and horses at home!). A quick check of my map showed me that this path would still bring me close to where I’d intended, so I carried on rather than turn back.

After exiting the woods and then skirting some fields of growing crops, the path took me towards a route through a farm that would exit onto the road where I needed to be. Or so I thought. Upon reaching the farm a sign on a gate informed me that I shouldn’t proceed further as the farm was self-isolating. I wondered for a moment if I shouldjust chance it and hurry the short distance through the farm, but I decided that I’m not that sort of person and so, with a sigh, turned around and went back the way I’d come.

Checking the map again showed another path I could take – this one would add about a half-mile to my journey, but at least it would be unseen territory and, hey, I was intending to get some exercise anyway, so what the hell.

Twenty minutes later and I was back on track on the planned route with the additional bonus of (apart from one short, but steep stretch) it all being downhill back to the car now.

I shot my twelth frame as I got back to the bottom of the valley (I had an extra roll of film in the bag, but decided the one roll would do for today) and finished the short distance back to my car. It had been a pleasant, if tiring, walk and I felt good for taking it. I’ll hopefully develop the roll tomorrow (today’s developing was set aside for the roll of HP5+ I shot the previous time I walked in the Moss Valley last weekend).

Beighton Gospel Hall

Nikon F80, Sigma 105mm f/2.8 OS HSM & Lloyds Pharmacy 200 (expired 2008).

Taken on 21 April 2020