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Pulled Kodak Portra 400 | Rover V8

The last time we walked around the industrial estate where UKFL HQ resides we came across a collection of industrial units tucked away around a corner, and to our surprise we found an old abandoned car- a Rover V8- engine removed, but keys still in the ignition. At the time we first came across it I was shooting b&w film and Erica was camera-less, so we decided to return another day with colour film. Further to my previous experiment pulling Portra 400 in development, I decided to experiment some more to see if I would like it just as much as before and to see whether the particular traits I had experienced during scanning would be apparent again.

I’m happy to say that I’m really liking the effect that pulling has on Portra 400. As I’ve said before, I don’t usually shoot Portra 400 for my own work and prefer the colour palette of Fuji 400H, so I’ve been keen to experiment with Portra 400 to see if I can find a look with it that I like. As I found with the previous rolls that I’ve pulled, there is actually quite a remarkable difference in how ‘available’ the shadows are during the scan process, compared to Portra 400 that has been developed normally. The combination of brightness, shadow detail and contrast are almost perfect for me without having to do hardly anything other than colour correction.

So here are the images of ‘Jessica’, shot on my Pentax 67ii with Portra 400 pulled in development at UK Film Lab. If only a car could talk, I would love to hear her stories of a time gone by.

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Ilford FP4 | A New Favourite B&W Film | Sheepbridge Industrial Estate

It’s been quite a while since I shot any Ilford FP4, but I saw a batch of it in the fridge and so I decided I’d try some out in my Leica M6. The location we went to was the industrial estate where UK Film Lab resides; we’re very lucky to work on what’s actually quite a pretty industrial estate….surrounded by trees, on most days there’s an abundance of birdlife to be seen and heard, and on many a day I see the same photographer walking around armed with his super-telephoto lens and tripod. Many of the industrial units have small planted areas or lawns, and it just makes for a nicer, more pleasant feel to an area which has the sole purpose of being a home for industrial business.

One aspect that I particularly like about this location is that if you look hard enough there’s always something different to see; this time, the door to a small derelict building next to UKFL was hanging open on its hinges….it had either rotted and broken under its own weight, or it had been broken into. Either way, we finally managed to see inside and to our surprise it became evident that the building had previously been some kind of electrical sub-station. On the wall we found hanging a collection of handwritten meter readings going all the way back to the 1970s, and a key which appeared to be for the door. Everything else inside had more or less been stripped, but leaving behind curious structures and bits and pieces.

Walking further around the estate we found a small area tucked away that we’d not seen before. There were a collection of industrial units but no signs of life apart from a very conspicuous blue Vauxhall Cresta parked up outside one of them. Apparently these cars were manufactured some time between 1954 to 1972, but it looked like it was fully in use, unlike the yellow, engine-less Rover we found parked round the side, keys still in the ignition!

Here are the photos I took, starting and finishing at UKFL. All shots taken on my Leica M6 with Leica 35mm f/2 Summicron, and of course processed at UK Film Lab.

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April 10, 2016 - 9:44 pm

Erica - I love this collection of images! Thank you for a lovely walk xxx

Fuji 800 NGH II | UKFL Neighbourhood

I’m not highly in favour of shooting expired film. Firstly, you never really know what condition the film has been stored in and so unless you have a large batch it’s difficult to run a test to determine how to expose it. Secondly, buying fresh film is the best way of supporting the few film manufacturers we have, and thereby doing all we can do to keep film going. I do, though, like to occasionally shoot a roll of expired film especially if it’s a film stock that’s no longer available, and so a few weeks ago we headed out in to the area surrounding UK Film Lab and I shot a roll of Fuji 800 NGH II in 220 format using my Pentax 67ii. It’s a shame that this film stock isn’t available anymore, but I loved the results from this roll.

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April 6, 2016 - 6:40 pm

Paul Krol - The film looks amazing. I shot a roll of it once on my P465n but it was with much harsher light and too much contrast. Yours looks great. I still have a few rolls left so will try again in some different light conditions.

April 6, 2016 - 7:04 pm

christian - Thanks Paul, I was really pleased with the results. Really wish this stock was still available. Think I’ll hunt some down on eBay. Looking forward to seeing your results when you shoot your rolls.

Pulled Portra 400 | An Experiment

I hardly ever shoot Kodak Portra 400; I tend to find Fuji 400H suits me better in terms of the overall colour palette I like so I thought it would be interesting to experiment with pulling some Portra 400 in development to see whether I can find a look that I like with this film stock. Now, pulling colour negative in development is rarely necessary unless you’ve done something dramatically wrong, so it’s fairly rare to come across colour negative being pulled. It can also be a dangerous game to play given that colour negative is usually best when exposed for the shadows and given some over-exposure…doing something that reduces the density in the negative is not something you would normally want or need to do otherwise you risk the negative not having enough detail. With that in mind, I rated my Portra 400 at ISO 400, metered for the shadows, and added roughly 1 stop more exposure; doing this ensured that I would be exposing to put a good amount of detail into the shadows. I then pulled the roll 1 stop during development back at UK Film Lab.

As you might expect with reducing development time, to the eye the negatives look slightly less dense and less contrasty than you might expect with normal development. The experience during scanning was also a little different to when I scan Portra 400 that’s been developed normally; in order to bring out shadow detail in over-exposed and normally developed film the density adjustments on the scanner are the key…in essentially brightening the scan you open up the shadows without blowing the highlights, and this has the effect of reducing the contrast and giving an overall bright look. What I found when scanning my pulled film was that shadow detail was more obvious and I didn’t have to adjust density as much as I do for film that’s been developed normally. This is really quite important for me simply because I don’t usually choose to brighten my images in the scan beyond the level of brightness that was actually in the scene, meaning that if I want to access that shadow detail I often have to do it in an edit. That’s no big deal given that the detail is there anyway, but if I can expose and develop my film in a way that gets me closer to my desired look, then that’s what I want to do. Additionally, if in doing this I can find a look from Portra 400 that I like for my work, then that’s all the better because it means I have access to more film stocks!

So here are my results, all shot on my Pentax 67ii and developed/scanned back at UK Film Lab. Generally, my observations during scanning and from looking at the results are that this pulled film is softer and less saturated than Portra 400 that’s developed normally. If anyone is thinking of trying pulling film for themselves, my only caveat is to judiciously check your exposures and ensure that you are definitely putting enough detail in the shadows.

01-Pulled Portra 400 Colour Negative02-Pulled Portra 400 Colour Negative03-Pulled Portra 400 Colour Negative04-Pulled Portra 400 Colour Negative05-Pulled Portra 400 Colour Negative06-Pulled Portra 400 Colour Negative07-Pulled Portra 400 Colour Negative08-Pulled Portra 400 Colour Negative09-Pulled Portra 400 Colour Negative


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Dawn Light | Low key Kodak Ektar and Fuji 400H

It’s no secret that I like winter. Spring and summer are often considered to be the most colourful times of year, full of life rather than the hibernation seen during winter but I’ve always loved the colours during winter, though, and the light I find far more interesting and characterful in comparison to summer. I like that winter feels like a time for nature to rest, to replenish and recuperate ready for a new year – a time of excitement for things to come. We saw the weather was forecast to be clear today so we decided to be up, out and in position in the Peak District in time for sunrise to see what we might capture. We arrived around 20 minutes before sunrise and it was unseasonably mild which was quite welcome. I tend not to shoot much with a tripod but what with the lower light levels I used it for almost every shot in this collection below. The photos are presented in sequence, so from before the sun was up, through sunrise (which was almost imperceptible due to the appearance of cloud on the horizon), and to early morning sun. All photos are a mix of Fuji 400H and Kodak Ektar, and are shot on my Pentax 67ii with a mix of 55mm and 105mm lenses. All film processed and scanned at UK Film Lab.

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Stanage Edge | Derbyshire Peak District

Some time ago, in fact February of this year, friends Michael and Andrea visited us after having only conversed via email in the course of us processing their film. We gave them a quick tour of UK Film Lab and then headed straight to Stanage Edge in the Peak District. We’d previously had quite a bit of snow but certainly around our home area it had long since melted, so we didn’t feel too prepared for the snow and ice that greeted us on arrival at Stanage Edge. Armed with cameras we walked with some trepidation up the rocky path that leads up to the Edge, passing the odd group of much better equipped ramblers. Nevertheless after a fairly dark and moody start, the weather did clear a little and we enjoyed the cold surroundings with likeminded friends. All photographs shot with my Leica M6 with Leica 35mm f/2 Summicron lens using Fuji 400H. Processing by UK Film Lab.

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Fuji 400H pushed 2 and 3 stops | Longshaw Estate

Many people know that I am a Fuji fan, and it’s not because of the myth that it’s the ‘pastel’ film. It’s not that I don’t love Kodak film stocks, because Ektar is one of my favourites, but I find Fuji 400H such a flexible film stock whether you have light or dark, and contrary to the myth perpetuated by one particular photographer, Fuji 400H is incredible when it comes to under-exposing it in camera  with a view to pushing in development. I simply do not see any other film stock delivering such faithfully natural results after push development.

I’ve been going through my photo archives as I’m aware I have a not insignificant back catalogue that I’ve never brought to the light of day. Here are a few shots taken at twilight during autumn 2014. All shots are taken with my Pentax 67ii. The b&w is Ilford Delta 3200 and all the colour shots are Fuji 400H and apart from the final shot were taken at ISO 1600 and pushed 2 stops in development. The final shot in this blog post was 400H exposed at ISO 3200 and pushed 3 stops in development. Processing by UK Film Lab.

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