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Thacker Marsh | Hope BC | Portra 800

This afternoon we headed out for a walk and I took my Leica to check that a recent repair had done the trick. There is something particular I have noticed here in Canada, and it’s how often there are incredibly fleeting moments that appear one second and are gone literally the next. So many times I’ve been confronted by an amazing moment of light, and by the time I’ve raised my camera to my eye, the moment has disappeared. This afternoon, however, was not one of those occasions. It was the last few minutes of sun before it would dip below the mountain behind our house, and suddenly the sun came streaming through the forest and the trees and water started to steam in the sun. I was there to see it happen and after taking 2 shots I blinked and it was gone. This first photo below is the first shot I took and I love how it captured the sight in front of me. It also shows that my camera appears to be working!
Film stock: Kodak Portra 800 | Lab: Canadian Film Lab | Camera: Leica M6 with Leica 35mm f/2 summicron.

 

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Downtown Chilliwack | Pentax Zoom 90 | TRI-X 400

I discovered that my Leica M6 shutter needs some attention, so at the moment while it’s being repaired I am without a small, compact 35mm option. Consequently when we headed to Chilliwack recently to run a few errands and walk around the old downtown area I decided to dig out my dad’s old 35mm compact Pentax Zoom 90 and load it with a roll ok Kodak TRI-X. I’m really quite impressed with this camera; admittedly I tried to shoot mainly directly lit shots and the few backlit shots I took did not have quite as much exposure as I would’ve liked, but overall I like the way the auto exposure worked and the autofocus was also pretty good. I quite enjoyed strolling around not having to consider focus and exposure and I definitely see me using this camera more in future. Processing: Canadian Film Lab

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This is Hope: Part 3 | Portra 800

Continuing with my theme of shots around Hope, a few days ago we had a walk around some of the places in Hope that are within walking distance of our home. When we arrived in late summer we walked by Thacker Marsh and the Coquihalla River, and I knew back then that I would look forward to seeing these particular places change with the seasons. We’ve had snow on the ground for a few weeks now, and generally low temperatures have meant that it’s not yet disappeared and in fact has been added to at regular intervals! It’s quite unusual for this area, but because Hope is located on the edge of interior BC its weather can really go two ways; affected and tempered by the Pacific, or influenced by the same systems that affect the interior. For example at the moment we’re experiencing an ‘arctic outflow’ that brings cold temperatures from the interior of BC to the lower mainland and coastal areas.

So here are some shots around Thacker Marsh along the old Kettle Valley railway, and down by the partly frozen Coquihalla river. These are all shot on Kodak Portra 800 with my Pentax 67ii. Film processing by Canadian Film Lab.

 

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Tofino Christmas Part 1 | Kodak T-MAX 400

2016 was a busy year. A very busy year, in fact. January to July was business as usual with running UK Film Lab, which is more than a full time job, and during that time we were also preparing for August when we would move house, home and business to Canada. The intervening time was a rollercoaster of house sales, house sales falling through, the busiest year ever for UK Film Lab, an unwanted BREXIT referendum result having a huge effect on the GBP/CAD relationship (and of course not in favour of the GBP!), and a nightmare with our international removals company. And obviously the very difficult emotional side of moving away from loved ones and all that was so familiar.

August saw us land in British Columbia as permanent residents of Canada and we spent our first two months living in an AirBnB in Chilliwack. On our second day in Canada we bought a house and on the third day during a chance visit to the house we discovered something we weren’t happy with and backed out of the purchase and within a day bought the house we have now moved into! Of course, the time we had been so apprehensive about – taking delivery of the contents of our shipping container – arrived, and although almost everything (apart from a couple of bowls!) survived the trip over the Atlantic and then by rail from east to west coast of Canada, we were anxious to set up our lab. That came with its own problems which at the time seemed to take forever to resolve and it was an incredibly stressful few weeks. As a result I found myself having to do things I never thought I would be able to do: diagnosing electrical issues, sourcing custom transformers to deal with excessive voltages coming from our panel and due to a lack of availability of an electrician I had to wire the transformer itself and then wire our own power supply to it…buying tools on a seemingly daily basis, repeatedly taking apart and rebuilding much more of our Noritsu V50P than I was comfortable with…and many other things that I can’t bring to mind right now!

Eventually the day came to open up the lab and it was a gratifying sight to see on our very first day a significant amount of film arriving from far and wide. October, November and December for Canadian Film Lab was incredible and we found ourselves with a level of custom not far off what we would have expected had we been operating in the UK as UK Film Lab, and it was a great feeling to have such a positive start. Consequently by the time Christmas was coming we realised that a break would be extremely welcome and we made the decision to head to one of our all time favourite places, Tofino, on the west coast of Vancouver Island. I think this was our 5th or 6th stay in Tofino and we discovered more new things than ever and although it wasn’t quite the ‘rest and relaxation’ we had envisaged given how much time we spent being out with our cameras, it was a great trip and just what we needed.

I have spent quite a few days debating how to display my favourites from the trip and I arrived at the decision to begin just with the black and white film, and follow later with colour. I have recently been using Kodak T-MAX 400 and it really hasn’t disappointed. I process a lot of b&w film for Canadian Film Lab clients and over the years I have become increasingly impressed with the latitude and dynamic range of T-MAX 400 above other b&w film stocks; the shadow detail it can render is amazing, and the grain is incredibly smooth. So here is my pick of my b&w favourites, shot with my Pentax 67ii and of course, developed and scanned at Canadian Film Lab. I used some extension tubes for the detail shots, and a polariser on some of the landscapes, which I admittedly overdid slightly on one or two frames. Lesson learned! One or two of these will go into my new online print store which I’m hoping to get up and running over the next week or two.

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My photo | Kodak Portra 800

It’s a proud moment to see a photo I took being used by Kodak to promote Portra 800 in their latest brochure. It’s funny to think of the twists and turns that life takes; I remember being in a queue at the McDonald’s drive-thru, and I said to Erica, “I think I should get a medium format film camera.” And so it happened. Little did I know that from that moment, film would go on to dramatically alter the course of my life and change my relationship with photography and the things I take photos of. Here I am several years later running an international film lab from Canada and barely picking up a digital camera apart from the one contained in my iPhone. Film keeps me picking up my camera and keeps me looking at everything around me; I ‘see’ in film tones and in the proportions of my Pentax 67ii camera. I’d like to thank Tim Ryugo at Kodak Alaris for choosing my photo for the brochure and for being a strong advocate for film – it’s amazing to see film going from strength to strength at a time where some film manufacturers are seemingly blind to the evolution of modern film photography.

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Finn Slough | Richmond BC | Kodak Portra 800

I’ve dipped in and out of these photos for quite some time. In fact, it is just over 1 year since I took these photos and I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to put them on here. Nevertheless, here they are alongside the story of how we happened upon this place and the brief time we spent there.

We came upon Finn Slough after a chance meeting with a fellow photographer who we bumped into while exploring Deep Cove in the North Shore area. We’d been ambling around with our cameras – mine a Pentax 67ii and Erica’s a Contax 645 – when another photographer approached us to talk about our cameras. It turned out that she also shoots film so we had a chat with her before she happened to tell us about a place she’d just been to, called Finn Slough. It’s an old boardwalk community not far from Steveston with around 30 residents living in houses that either sit on stilts or float in the water. The history of the community dates back to the late 1800’s when it was founded by the Finnish people who settled there and lived as fishermen. We talked to one lady who lives there who told us that within the 30 people residing there today, there are a few remaining who are descendents of the original settlers there. It was interesting to talk to someone who actually lives in this eclectic community, and in a similarly eclectic fashion our conversation went from talking about the current residents and on to hummingbirds, the harsh temperatures on the east coast, the various debris and detritus she pulls from the water (including a stiletto shoe), and a few other random topics including (apparently!) how many people British Columbians smoke pot! But anyway, we managed to squeeze in this chat alongside a few rolls of film just before the sun went down. I’m so glad we made the trip to see it! These were shot on my Pentax 67ii using Kodak Portra 800. Lab: Canadian Film Lab

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As Colour Turns to Black and White | Portra 800

When it’s clear here in the evening, there are just a few moments after the sun has gone down when the sky is about to turn from blue to black and the mountains are in between colour and black and white. Trees are an inky black and the mountains glow in a subtle and magical way despite the absence of sun; almost but not quite white, and it’s the moment where the last remnants of colour cling to daylight before night is upon us. I’ve been seeing this moment frequently and so the other night I stood on our driveway with my camera on a tripod, and I set about capturing this fleeting phase. This shot was captured in bulb mode, f/11, with an exposure of around 30 seconds…or indeed, 30 Mississippis, because I had no timer and my finger steadily on the shutter button given that I don’t have a remote shutter release for my camera. Camera: Pentax 67ii | Film stock: Kodak Portra 800 | Lab: Canadian Film Lab

 

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