35mm · Film photography · Photography

Church Alley

This interesting little street caught my eye while I wandered around Bakewell a few weeks ago. I think it would make an interesting photograph under most conditions, but the contrast caused by the emerging sunlight definitely brought it to life. I think stepping back a little might have benefited the scene but IIRC I think I was backed up against a wall. As a result the end of the Church Alley sign has been truncated by two letters.

The Controlled Zone sign kinda contemporises the scene somewhat, but I’m not one for trying to create faux oldy-worldy scenes with my photographs, and having this sort of street furniture in the shot will date it and make it old-fashioned at some point anyway I guess. Similarly the television aerials – in this ever more online world, I wonder how long it will be before television transmitted over the airwaves disappears, leaving these antenae as relics of a bygone age?

Church Alley

Olympus OM-2n, Zuiko Auto-S 50mm f/1.8 & Ilford HP5+. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 9mins @ 20°.

Taken on 18 September 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

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Fencepost near Baslow Edge

Another dip into my (recent-ish) archive with a shot taken at the start of the year which I’d not published on Flickr until a couple of days ago. It shows a weather-worn fencepost beside one of the footpaths near Baslow Edge. Not sure why I didn’t publish it before – I possibly had a surplus of images to upload or something.

I ventured up town again today and finished the roll of HP5+ in my recently acquired OM-2. I felt much more inspired than I did on yesterday’s outing, although I’m still not convinced I have anything great to show for my efforts. I think that, as this has been my first roll through this camera, that I’m subconsciously treating it as a “test” roll and as such didn’t want to invest too much effort in the photos in case there’s an issue with the camera (not that I have any reason to think there might be). Anyway, the roll is shot now and I’ll hopefully get it developed tomorrow.

Moorland fencepost

Olympus OM-1, Zuiko 28mm f/3.5 & Ilford Delta 400.

Taken on 4 Jan 2020

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Baslow

A photograph today that was taken back at the start of the year. I made it during a trip out to Baslow Edge and shot it using the Zuiko 75-150mm f/4 lens I had with me.

While I published several photographs taken during that trip here on the blog, this one has lain untouched on my hard-drive.

It shows the view looking down on the village of Baslow from atop the edge that is named after it.

While I don’t do it often, sometimes it’s nice to just have a look back through photographs I made previously. I often find a few surprises in the form of images I’d forgotten about completely, or ones which, while not doing much for me at the time, now hold appeal on a fresh viewing.

Baslow

Olympus OM-1, Zuiko 75-150mm f/4 & Ilford Delta 400.

Taken on 4 Jan 2020

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Expired Film Day 2020 – I won a prize!

Back in mid-March I posted about my entry into this year’s Expired Film Day competition. I’d entered three images shot on a roll of Kodacolor Gold dated 1989. All three photographs had been made during my visit to Magpie Mine.

A couple of days ago I was alerted to the fact that one of my photos had won in one of the categories – the Lab Rat’s Choice award! I’m not sure that I’ll be able to use my prize as it’s a free dev & scan of a roll of film. In itself this is a nice prize, but as Old School Photo Lab (who kindly provided the prize) are based in New Hampshire, USA, and I’m in Yorkshire, UK, the cost of mailing a roll of film for development will likely outweigh the benefit of taking them up on their kind offer.

Whether I manage to claim a prize or not, I’m nevertheless flattered to have had my photo win in one of the categories.

By way of connecting todays photo to the words in the post, here’s a picture taken of the same location, on the same day as my winning entry. This one shot on a different camera and film though.

Scale

Yashica Mat 124G & Fomapan 100.

Taken on 16 March 2020

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Musings on the pandemic and lockdown and celebrating VE day

This week I heard that my aunt’s father died from Covid-19 infection. He was resident in a care home where ten more people including a member of staff have died after contracting the virus. There are apparently over a dozen others in the same facility showing signs of infection. Because of lockdown restrictions, his family were unable to visit other than to look in from a window, and so he had no direct contact with his loved ones when he passed away. The funeral will have restriction on attendance, and there can be no church service. They are obviously heartbroken. What would already have been a very difficult experience is made all the more terrible by the conditions in which it has taken place.

He was a WWII veteran, having fought through Western Europe from D-Day until he was injured by enemy fire in Holland, wherupon he returned home to recover. Now he has died during the current pandemic.

As the lockdown in the UK has been in place for over six weeks, and as the incubation period of the infection is up to fourteen days, this means that he has become infected since the lockdown began. At some point, most likely unknowingly, someone has come into contact with a contaminated surface or an infected person and had brought the virus into the care home where it has spread amongst the residents and staff. This fact illustrates why social distancing and proper hygiene is so important if we are to get the situation under control. The high number of deaths due to Covid-19 in UK care-homes is a tragedy.

Earlier this week, government sources gave hints that there would likely be a lifting of some of the lockdown measures announced this weekend, and some hints were given as to what these might be. The mainstream press had a field day. Headlines were written in a way that all but implied that the lockdown would be coming to an end. This, along with the VE Day holiday seems to have resulted in a considerable number of people suddenly relaxing their commitment to the lockdown rules to hold street parties. While many of these street parties were clearly described as being held in such a way as to maintain social distancing rules, it has become quickly apparent that this fell through in many cases with people mingling together like the virus has gone away. I’ve seen footage online of people having group singalongs and even a whole street of residents performing the conga. While they did appear to be two metres apart, I’m not sure this constitutes a necessary activity, even if it was 75-years since the war ended.

My fear is that we will now see a spike in infections in the coming weeks, just as things were starting to get a little better. I can only hope that more WWII veterans (and indeed anyone else) does not become infected or killed by this virus as a consequence of people’s desire to get out and celebrate. It will be a terribly irony if further survivors of WWII lose their lives as a result of people celebrating the end of it.

I don’t really have a picture to illustrate the words in my post, so here’s another from my pre-pandemic outing to Magpie Mine.

Stay safe everyone.

Track, puddle and mine remains

Yashica Mat 124G & Fomapan 100.

Taken on 16 March 2020

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Focusing fun

I went for a walk before work again this morning and shot a few more frames with the Bronica.

One of the things I always find a little tricky with medium format cameras is focusing – specifically those with focusing screens as opposed to rangefinders. I find it easy to get the focus looking good on the screen at initial glance, and for medium / long / infinity distances, especially at smaller apertures, that’s usually fine. But when it comes to close subjects, particularly if I’m shooting wide open, then it’s a different matter.

I find that I’m second guessing myself, twisting the focus ring back-and-forth by marginal amounts, never quite sute if a fraction of a degree one way or the other is the setting that will nail perfect focus on my subject. Flicking up the magnifier, squinting at split prisms and sparkling polygons of ground glass until my eyes ache. I think it stems from a number of images where I was feeling confident of my focusing only to discover later that the negs were soft in the places it mattered.

It’s not too bad with a tripod, where I usually have the gift of time to get things spot on, but on situations like today where I was shooting handheld and at wide apertures, it’s trickier (my fault for loading 100asa film I guess). Even a slight momentary sway of my body is easily enough to spoil a shot.

Will today’s shots suffer from bad focusing? I guess I’ll have to wait until I finish the roll and develop them, but I’m certainly looking forward to the days where I’ll be able to leave the house purely for photography, carry a tripod if required, and not have to bolt the attempt to make photographs onto an exercise outing.

Today’s photographs come from Magpie Mine again. If you’ve followed my blog over the fast few months, you may find the first of the three familiar – some of the compositions are very close to those I shot on the same day with my Zeiss Mess-Ikonta and a roll of 30-year expired Kodacolor Gold.

Two trees a chimney and a gate

History on a hill

Magpie Mine

Yashica Mat 124G & Fomapan 100.

Taken on 16 March 2020

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Getting it wrong

I got up early this morning for a pre-work walk. The weather has turned nice again, although at the time I went out it was quite chilly and at points on my route there was frost on the ground in shaded areas. I decided to take the Bronica ETRSi with me in case there was something worth photographing as the camera has a part-used roll of Fomapan 100 loaded and I though I might grab a few more frames as I walked.

I took a few shots – one of the local signal box, one of some wildflowers beside a tree, and then some dew-coated cobwebs in the vegetation next to the river. After taking this last shot I checked the frame counter to see how many shots remained and was surprised to see that it still said 5, the same number that had been displayed when I set out on my walk.

Puzzlement, and concern that there was some problem or fault causing this quickly turned to realisation as to the true cause of the issue.

A couple of days ago I’d used the camera to make a still-life of some ornamental fruit that we have in a display bowl in the kitchen. As the light was dim in the kitchen, and as the film is quite slow at 100asa, I’d mounted the camera on a tripod, inserted a shutter-release cable, and then locked up the mirror before taking the shot. Or so I thought. What I’d actually done is switched off the camera’s multiple-exposure protection. The switches for this and mirror lock-up look practically identical and sit next to each other on the side of the camera body, and I’d obviously forgotten which was which.

So, as a result of my mistake, I now have a frame that has (I think) four shots exposed upon it. Maybe it will reveal some sort of wonderful happy accident, but I’m not going to get my hopes up.

After rectifying the situation I managed to grab a couple of extra shots on the remainder of my walk, although I suspect the better ones are on the ruined frame.

Today’s photo is from my trip to Magpie Mine in March. It has little to do with the content of today’s post, but was shot on a roll of the same film.

Near Magpie Mine

Yashica Mat 124G & Fomapan 100.

Taken on 16 March 2020

35mm · Film photography · Photography

The size of a tree

I took these two photographs on my way back to the car after visiting Magpie Mine back in March. The light in the village here was lovely and I finished the roll of Delta 400 that was in my (somewhat tempremental – it sometimes decides that it’s won’t fire, until suddenly springing back into life a few minutes later) Sure Shot Supreme making photographs of some of the scenes.

I didn’t really pay heed at the time, but on seeing the scan of this first image it really brought home to me just how big trees can grow in comparison with their surroundings. This one towers above the house it stands beside and I wonder which of the two came first?

Giving trees a sense of scale

It’s not really a tall tree in the scheme of things either, there are much larger ones to be found – including true titans such as the giant sequoia’s that grow in the western US. I think that this one is a sycamore (judging by the texture of the bark at least), but it’s very possible that I’m wrong. There was a time when I was younger that, in true boy-scout fashion, I could readily identify a whole range of trees from their shapes, leaves, fruit, bark etc., but it’s a skill that has faded over time. I still know the obvious ones – oaks, chestnuts, maples – and I would recognise sycamores from their leaves and seeds – but I’m not sure I’d know an ash from a birch these days without looking it up. I have a book of British flora and fauna, so maybe I’ll see if I can refresh my knowledge.

Scenes that catch your eye

Canon Sure Shot Supreme & Ilford Delta 400.

Taken on 16 March 2020