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Canada on Film | Contax 645

In October, Erica and I made our 6th visit to Canada, and we took a 3 week roadtrip starting in the Rockies and extensively exploring British Columbia, eventually heading over to Vancouver Island, up to Alert Bay on Cormorant Island and then back to the mainland for a few days before flying home from Vancouver. It’s a place we love and a place where we have taken A LOT of photos, and although we always travel far and wide and visit new places each time, we also return to a few of our favourites each time too. I remember on previous trips, I’ve deliberated over what camera and lenses to take, and invariably I struggle to decide and end up laden down with nearly everything, ‘just in case’. This time however, I made the decision to shoot exclusively on film, and my kit was dramatically slimmed down. I wanted to see Canada through different eyes, and I do actually look at scenes differently when I know there’s film in my camera rather than a digital sensor, both because I’m probably going to take just one or two shots of a scene rather than many (in other words I am going to take more time and consideration before hitting the shutter button), and also because shooting on film renders scenes in a different way and I do end up taking some shots on film that I wouldn’t consider taking with my digital SLR because I know in the past digital has failed to really capture the subtle nuances. This is one of the beauties of film….it seems to be able to capture the subtleties in a scene…subtleties that you’d be hard pushed to describe, but you know when they’re missing from a photo. I have to say I have never enjoyed taking photos as much as on this trip. The combination of seeing so many amazing places in conjunction with shooting on film was just perfect for me. I will never shoot holiday photos on digital again, that’s for sure.

So it was a big learning experience for me, and an exciting one at that. I took a medium format camera – the Contax 645 – along with a Carl Zeiss 80mm f2 lens, and also a Carl Zeiss 45mm f2.8. The latter could have stayed at home because I used it only for one shot the whole trip! My other camera was a 35mm rangefinder: Leica M6, equipped with a Carl Zeiss Sonnar f1.5. I chose to just shoot black and white through the Leica. On the Contax I shot on manual and used my Sekonic 508 to take meter readings. I used this approach for the Leica too, though sometimes just relied on the TTL meter built into the M6.

The films I shot were as follows: Fuji 400H & 160NS in medium formats, Portra 160 and 800 in medium format, Ilford Delta 3200 in medium format, TRI-X 400 in medium format and 35mm, T-MAX 100 in 35mm.

This is going to be a mammoth post jam-packed with photos, so here it is, starting with Fort Langley, BC.

Below are shots I took along with Kane Valley Rd in BC. Deep in the middle of nowhere, this was a magical drive with magical light.

Kaslo, BC.

Kaslo Motel. This place was originally built by Japanese prisoners of war.

Yahk, BC, just north of the border with Idaho USA.

The ‘Yahk Soap Company’ make quite a claim (see picture below this one). So strong was the claim that we had to verify it, and I have to say, they’re right…my chai tea lip balm, is the best lip balm I have ever used.

Sandon ghost town, BC.

Lake Minnewanka, AB, on one cold and frosty morning.

Mount Rundle, Banff, AB.

Coalmont, BC. An ‘almost’ ghost town.

Check out their signs as you enter town.

Alert Bay, Cormorant Island BC. We stayed for 3 nights on the island, and it rained – heavily- the whole time. It got to late afternoon on our last day and I’d not taken any photos of this place, so we ventured out armed with Ilford Delta 3200 as the light was fading…this film perfectly captured the atmosphere of this remote island. This is the goverment dock…

First Nations totem pole, with the island’s derelict hospital in the background.

The ‘Big House’ of the First Nations people who inhabit the island. This is where they hold their meetings.

The old cannery on Alert Bay, now defunct.

First Nations burial ground, Alert Bay.

A church in Creston, BC. This is the only shot I used the 45mm for!

Curlew, Washington State, USA.

Erica at Two Jacks Lake, AB.

On the Kootenay Ferry (‘the world’s longest free ferry ride’!)

Seats on the ferry…

Merritt, BC. This is Canada’s country music capital.

Okanagan BC.

Osoyoos, BC, and Spotted Lake.

Telegraph Cove, BC.

Tofino, BC.

Ucluelet Lighthouse.

Deep Cove, North Shore Vancouver.

Mini doughnuts in Steveston, BC. Doughnuts included ‘maple syrup and bacon doughnut’, which I have to say was delicious.

Comox, Vancouver Island.

And last but not least, our trusty car (Kia Sportage) that took us safely on our 2500 mile trip!

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December 21, 2012 - 5:24 pm

Mark Tierney - Superb Christian! I don’t really know much about film but I love the look of the colour images.

December 21, 2012 - 7:56 pm

Darren Roberts Photography - Love the post, glad you were able to visit the best place on earth! (I may be a little biased)

December 28, 2012 - 4:32 pm

Polly Alexandre - These are absolutely stunning Christian…what an incredible landscape. It’s not a country I am familiar with and these photographs transported me there completely. I especially love the houses and the landscapes.

January 13, 2013 - 12:09 am

Kate - I’m sat here with my step-dad who has spent 22 years living in that fair country showing him your beautiful – GORGEOUS – photos of his beloved country. We’re hatching a plan! Totally inspirational. What a magical set! Thanks for sharing 🙂

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