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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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