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Pulled Portra 400 | Coquihalla River Walk

It’s funny the things you sometimes don’t do even when they’re on your doorstep. If we walk down our driveway, turn right and then right again, there is a short walk to the end of a dead end road where it then becomes forest with the Coquihalla River immediately behind. Its literally no more than 5 minutes from our front door. For some reason, we have never walked all the way down the street and through the trees despite knowing that there is a trail. Today, though, wanting a walk close-by because I was wanting to spend time in the afternoon clearing up the garden (considering it has been under too much snow until recently) we ventured down the street and walked the trail. To our surprise we found it cut through the pine forest and then followed the river, eventually bringing us round in a circuit back close to home; it’s definitely going to be a location we walk to more often. I took along my Pentax 67ii and a couple of rolls of Portra 400, and as I usually do when shooting this film stock, I exposed for the shadows and pulled it one stop during development. I find it really works well particularly for contrasty scenes and allows great detail in the shadows and highlights. Camera: Pentax 67ii | Film stock: Kodak Portra 400 pulled one stop | Lab: Canadian Film Lab

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Hope on a Rainy Day | Kodak T-MAX 400

Being in the mountains, the weather and view from the window is constantly changing. That has benefits as well as drawbacks, as I found this weekend! Being in a valley we get a lot of low cloud and it clings to the treetops and drifts by quickly but silently. I was amazed the other day when returning home to find cloud hovering a few feet above the road outside our house, skirting around the front garden (or ‘yard’, as Canadians say!) but neatly going up our driveway; as I looked down the road I could see cloud hovering above the whole road and forming a regimented pattern as it swirled low up each driveway it came to. Seeing all of this lately has made me want to go out with my camera to capture some of this more subdued yet atmospheric weather, so when the rain stopped yesterday we headed out to the nearby marsh to a spot I had driven past recently and made a mental note to return to it with some film. I got into place, tripod up, mounted the camera, and then sure enough the rain started to come down. I managed a couple of shots in the rain and then made a run for the car and returned home. A few hours later the rain stopped, so we jumped into the car again and headed back to the marsh; walking quickly back to the spot I’d been at before, I put my tripod up, metered, and mounted my camera. And then the rain promptly came down again. I squeezed in one more shot, feeling annoyed.

Today the forecast was saying rain for the afternoon, but in the morning the cloud was low and just what I was looking for so after waffles for breakfast we got back into the car and headed out. As we reversed down the driveway a few spots of rain landed on the windscreen but not wanting to abandon hope we carried on and drove out towards Silver Creek and the airport. The rain started to get a little bit heavier just as I mounted my camera onto the tripod (as I have now come to expect) but I carried on and used various random object to try to keep rain from the lens and filters I was using. I still have plans to capture more of this atmospheric weather and I’d like to get more into trees next time, but I’m pretty pleased with how these turned out. Film stock: Kodak T-MAX 400 | Camera: Pentax 67ii with 55mm lens and grad filter | Lab: Canadian Film Lab

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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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