Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Birches at Bolehills Quarry

Bolehills Quarry, up above Padley Gorge, is carpeted with lush grass and beautiful silver birch trees. It’s a location that likely suits pretty much any type of conditions. The trees cast stark shadows in bright light and look mysterious in mist. These two shots were made around 9-10am while the sun was still striking long shadows.

I scanned these using EpsonScan, which is not something I normally do with colour photos as I’ve been less than successful at getting nice colours from the results in the past. This time though, I think it’s worked very well. Maybe not perfect – I doubt I’ll ever be sure a colour scan is “perfect” – but still a result I’m very happy with.

The Bolehills birch trees
White trunks cast shadows on green
In the morning sun

Bolehills
Bolehills

Bronica ETRSi, Zenzanon 75mm f/2.8 PE & Kodak Portra 160.

Taken on 6 April 2021

35mm · Film photography · Photography

A walk down the Trans Pennine Trail

I’ve got a couple of days off work, making for a long weekend. I’d decided long in advance that I would use these two extra days to take a walk or, more specifically, a long walk. Due to the current lockdown restrictions, I’m still limited in where and how I can travel, but local exercise is permitted so I decided to go for a hike along the Trans Pennine Trail (TPT) on the stretch that heads south to Chesterfield. My plan was to walk to Renishaw, then head along the road towards Eckington, before cutting through Renishaw Golf Course and looping back to the trail for the return leg.

The weather forecast looked promising, with a hope of some sunshine, but the temperature was still forecast to be low, -1° as I left the house, so I wrapped up warm.

I took the Yashica Mat 124G with me along with three spare rolls of film. I also had a few frames left to shoot with the Canon Sure Shot Supreme that’s been in my coat pocket through the winter, and I took an extra roll of 135 in case I finished the existing one. My light meter and a bottle of water finished off the stuff I carried.

This section of the TPT runs along a disused railway line, crossing a number of bridges (and going beneath a few others), and there’s even the remnants of the disused Killamarsh Central station along the way, complete with the northbound platform and pedestrian footbridge. It also runs alongside the Cuckoo Way for part of it’s length – the Cuckoo Way being the towpath beside the Chesterfield canal. Much of this length of the canal is derelict and clogged with vegetation, but there are still stretches with water, which today was frozen over with a frosting of snow laid on the surface.

To the west of the trail lies the valley where the River Rother snakes it’s way northwards and recent heavy rain has left large swathes of the floodplain submerged in water, again now coated with a layer of ice. One of the footpath spurs down into the valley that I’ve walked before was completely blocked by this floodwater, but I ventured to its edge to make a few photographs.

I managed to shoot shoot two full rolls of 120 through the Yashica (as well as finishing the roll that was already inside when I set out) AND finish the roll of C200 in the Sure Shot. I now have a backlog of four rolls of B&W to develop, plus the roll of 135 colour to send to the lab. You’ll be seeing many of these pictures on the blog shortly (I hope!).

In total I was out of the house for around four hours and (if my phone is to be believed) walked for the best part of nine miles and my legs and feet are now letting me know just how hard they worked… It was a good walk and good to be out of the house in the fresh, bright air for so long. I saw plenty of robins along the TPT, plus a few squirrels re-stocking their winter supplies. I might also have quite a nice picture of a horse as well if I didn’t mess things up somehow.

The only downer was when a roll of film didn’t load properly, necessitating my re-spooling part of it while stood in the middle of a field. I hope I’ve not introduced any light leaks onto the film, but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Thanks to the nature of film photography, I can’t show you any shots for the walk until I get them developed and scanned, but they’ll probably start landing in a week or so as I get through my backlog. So, to illustrate a little what the day was like, here’s an older photo from three years ago made during a walk around Linacre reservoirs.

A walk in the woods

Olympus OM-1, Zuiko 135mm f/3.5 & Ilford HP5+.

Taken on 20 January 2018

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Silver birch

While the lockdown continues and my movements are still restricted then I’m tending to fall back on some well used subject matter – trees.

Luckily, while I don’t have much in the way of forrests withing walking distance, there are planty of trees around Rother Valley. The variety feels somewhat limited, mostly being birches and other quick growing deciduous types, but there are more than enough shapes amongst them to make plenty of photos. And, as they say, beggars can’t be choosers.

Took a walk today
Along the Trans Pennine Trail
I made some photos

Silver birch

Yashica Mat 124G & Ilford HP5+. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 9mins @ 20°.

Taken on 21 January 2021

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

In Lady Canning’s Plantation

This is one of the underexposed frames of Shanghai GP3 that I mentioned a few days ago – the least underexposed of the three and it’s been recovered for the most part in post-processing. The other two shots were also made within the trees of the plantation, so I suspect it was caused by poor metering on my part. The next wrst exposed shot has also recovered enough that I might post it too, but it’s noticably more contrasty than this one. The worst of the bunch is mostly “soot and whitewash” unfortunately.

Somewhere in the plantation

Fujica GW690 & Shanghai GP3. Ilfotec DD-X 1+9 10mins @ 24°.

Taken on 23 December 2020

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

In the misty wood

I’ve undoubtedly said this before on here somewhere, but I’ll say it again: Fog and mist are a gift to photography. The diffused light; the sense of calm; the way they hide and obscure distracting detail; and – most of all – the sheer atmosphere (quite literally) that they bring to bear is a wonderful thing to behold.

I do admit to saying this as someone for whom fog and mist are relatively uncommon – at least at the times I’m usually out of bed! I can fully understand the “grass is always greener” sentiment that this bears, and that for those who live in places with regular foggy conditions that this might all be a bit business-as-usual. But for me, well, I love these conditions.

Misty woods #1

So, when I saw the weather forecast showing this day as having fog, I was up early and out with my camera. I went somewhere I’ve been a number of times before – a walk that takes me across the River Rother, through a copse of trees (it’s probably a plantation as the tress – Poplars I think – are in somewhat orderly rows), and then either up to the Trans-Pennine Trail, or looping alongside the river, then down to Renishaw golf-course, and back around to the starting point.

Misty woods #2

I’ve photographed these trees on a number of occasions and know that the look their best in a veil of mist. It’s not a large area and on clear days it’s easy to find a distracting background element creeping into the frame. In fog, however, the trees feel like they go on forever.

Misty woods #3

Bronica ETRSi, Zenzanon 50mm f/2.8 MC & Ilford HP5+ (@1600). Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 13mins @ 20°.

Taken on 7 November 2020

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Tangled

I’m not sure why, but for some reason yesterday’s post didn’t appear in the WordPress Reader feed. So if you’re interested is seeing some autumnal woodland photographs, you can find them here.

Today’s post will be shorter, with just a single photo taken from the same roll as yesterdays shots – the last frame on the roll in fact. This tangle of exposed roots beside the footpath caught my eye as I walked back to where I’d parked the car. I think it’s one that would have worked well in black and white too.

Tangle

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

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

Woodland road (and dealing with some spotty Fomapan 100)

A photograph of a woodland road today, taken on one of the rolls of Fomapan 100 that I’ve been having problems with. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts (such as this one) I’ve been having issues with white speckles of debris when using this film. I ruled out my development process and chemicals – both worked fine when developing other film stocks. I also tried omitting a chemical stop-bath, replacing it with water, and also adding a pre-wash of the film before developing. Nothing seemed to work and the speckles still stubbornly appeared when I developed each roll of Fomapan 100.

Then, a month or so back, I came across a post on the Photrio forum which seemed to detail someone having the same problem. It turned out that other people suffering the same difficulties all had film form the same production batch. One person in a linked post had contacted Foma themselves and been advised that the cause was a harder than usual anti-halation layer on that run of film and that a specific development process might help. I tried the process myself, but still ended up with the smae spots on the negatives, albeit possibly slightly less pronounced than before.

I decided to contact Foma myself and they replied with some similar instructions, although this time I noticed an additional stage that involved a wash of the developed film in an ethanol / water mixture before the final wetting agent stage. I’ve not tried this process as yet and, I suspect, probably won’t – mostly because ethanol seems quite hard to come by, at least at a price that isn’t prohibitively high. It would likely be cheaper to buy some fresh, unproblematic film, than attempt the ethanol rinse process.

I’m grateful for Foma’s response though, plus they sent me a few rolls of film as a goodwill gesture – two rolls of Fomapan 400, plus a roll of Retropan 320. I’ve never shot Retropan 320 before, so I’m quite looking forward to giving that one a go.

Should anyone else be suffering a similar issue when developing Fomapan 100, the instructions provided to me by Foma are as follows:

In case of your already exposed & processed negatives we recommend to you the following procedure to remove the residues of remaining anti-halo layer:

1) Prepare working solution in minimum with 40% of ethanol (optimally 70%).
2) Put carefully the films into spiral´s developing tank or a spiral with the film into similar transparent container with enough ethanol solution, with emulsion layer inside of the cylinder tank/container.
3) Keep the negatives in this solution approximately 45 minutes and make moderate movement each 4-5 minutes.
4) Wash sheets of the negatives in running water from tap for 2-3 minutes.
5) Make standard drying including wetting agent (FOTONAL).

If you may decide to use also other films from the same emulsion number, we advise you to follow this procedure of processing:

1) Exposed films put inside of the spiral´s developing tank.
2) Pour distilled water or water without minerals into this developing tank and keep the films in this solution for 20-30 minutes. Occasional inversion is convenient. This solution, ca. 600 ml, is possible to use in maximum for 2 rolls.
3) Immediately after pouring the water out you can fill the tank by developing working solution keeping standard conditions of developing, best using more alkaline developer, e.g. FOMADON R09.
4) After developing we recommend to stop process just by water bath, best running filtered water, in minimum for the time of 30 seconds in water´s temperature 12-18° C. Using acidic stop bath like FOMACITRO and others is not convenient in this case, because there are needed alkaline baths to help with dissolving the hardened anti-halo layer.
5) Standard fixing.
6) Wash the strips of the negatives in running water for 20-30 minutes (according to higher or lower temperature).
7) Use ethanol solution and other steps (1-5) as described in previous paragraph.

Forest road
There’s a set of power-lines tucked away in here if you look for them…

Bronica ETRSi, Zenzanon 75mm f/2.8 & Fomapan 100. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 8mins @ 20°

Taken on 23 August 2020