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Category: bronica sqa

Lightbox Monday #6 – Glacier National Park on Velvia

Bronica SQ + 80mm f2.8 + Fuji Velvia 100 (Glacier National Park, 2015)

Bronica SQ + 80mm f2.8 + Fuji Velvia 100 (Glacier National Park, 2015)

Spending 4 days in Glacier national park in September 2015 was a fantastic trip. The landscapes are phenomenal and the hiking excellent. I’d decided to take a full pack of gear of DSLR kit and my trusty Bronica loaded with some Fuji Velvia. I’d never shot it before in medium format so it would be a bit of an experiment. These two shots are a couple of the best; I especially like the saturation in the blues and greens. Like my previous attempts at using Velvia I was punished though on quite a number of shots by my sloppy metering. Overexposure soon causes the colours to go drab and uninteresting whilst the lack of latitude with underexposure put a few frames that would’ve probably been OK with a negative film like Ektar beyond saving.

I’m not sure I’ll put slide film through the Bronica again anytime soon. Primarily due to the cost, but also because I’d want to have my DSLR with me to meter which ends up being a whole lot of gear. However these images do serve as a reminder that, when exposed correctly, this film can provide me with very pleasing results.

Lightbox Monday #5 – Ford 5000 Tractor Portrait

Bronica SQ + 80mm f2.8 + Kodak TMax 400 (Shropshire, 2017)

 There is an excellent restaurant in Northwood in Shropshire set up by family friends and outside there is a quite epic display of the proprietor’s tractor collection. There must be 20-30 tractors there, all Fords, mainly shipped back in containers from New Zealand. It reminded me my camera collection at least doesn’t take up too much space. My wife did not share that point of view. 

The Ring of Kerry – Ireland

Bronica SQA + 80mm f2.8 + Kodak Portra 400 (Ireland, 2017)

Despite only being an hour and a half flight away from London, I had never previously visited the Emerald Isle. After living abroad in the US and New Zealand I realised I had traveled far around the world but had not spent enough time exploring whats on my doorstep. I booked a 3 day long weekend trip flying to Cork with the plan of driving around the coast and the Ring of Kerry. 

Bronica SQA + 80mm f2.8 + Kodak Portra 400 (Molls Gap Ireland, 2017)

I drove from Cork to Cloanakilty for Lunch and then take the coastal roads to Bantry where I’d stop the first night. Saturday the route was through the Killarney National Park and onward anti-clockwise around the ring of Kerry, staying the evening in Waterville (apparently Charlie Chaplins favourite holiday destination!). The next day would mainly consist of the drive to Cork and a short trip to the Blarney Castle, where you can kiss the Blarney Stone (if thats your sort of thing – and it does seem to be the thing to do for busses and busses and busses of American tourists). 

Bronica SQA + 80mm f2.8 + Kodak Portra 400 (Ireland, 2017)

Bronica SQA + 80mm f2.8 + Kodak Portra 400 (Killarney National Park Ireland, 2017)

From a photography perspective I took my Bronica as I hoped to get some good landscapes in medium format. I also took my digital, which to be honest I should have left at home (although it was useful for metering!) What I would say is that (good) weather can be unpredictable. The light for the whole trip (including sunset and sunrise) was relatively poor as it was a mixture of fog, rain and only small glimmers of blue sky. I’d taken 3 backs for the Bronica with a roll of Portra 400, TMax 400 and FP4. As it turned out I only took 2 exposures on FP4 (this was supposed to be for long exposures keep reading for more context). Getting the photos back I must say that I much prefer my B&W TMax images (another post with these coming soon). I took quite a few similar shots at the cliffs of Kerry in both B&W and Colour and I think the B&W works alot better with the overcast sky. The colour ones are ok, I like the purple heather, but I think colour is actually more of a distraction to the power of the landscape with these. Despite generally being a big fan of the square 6×6 format I’ve found myself cropping quite a few down to a conventional image ratio. Acquiring a 6×4.5 back is definitely on my to do list.

Bronica SQA + 80mm f2.8 + Kodak Portra 400 (Ireland, 2017)

I ‘d taken a tripod expecting to do some long exposures with an ND filter, something I’ve not done yet on film. However, somewhat stupidly, after setting up my first shot on a beach just out of Cloanakilty I went to change the shutter to Bulb mode and I was perplexed; where the hell was it? So it turns out there is no bulb mode on the body, but some lenses have a switch on them to allow this. I didn’t end up trying this out until I got home and I can report its a bit of a pain in the arse. You’ve got to unscrew something and then flip the switch back to stop the exposure. At least this way it doesn’t run down the batteries.

Bronica SQA + 80mm f2.8 + Kodak Portra 400 (Ireland, 2017)

If you’re reading this researching a trip like this some tips I would give:

  • Check out Giles Normans work (such as Ireland: Timeless Images) for inspiration
  • Leave more time – 3 days to do the ring of Kerry and the south Coast from Cloanakilty was not really enough time to relax – it was alot of driving.
  • Definitely visit some seafood restaurants (such as O’Conners Seafood in Bantry which was excellent)
  • Try and see some music while you’re there. I saw some excellent traditional Irish music at the Lobster pub in Waterville.

Lightbox Monday #4 – Tones of Scafell Pike

Bronica SQ + Zenzanon 80mm f2.8 + Ilford Delta 100 + Self Developed with TMax 1:4 Developer (Scafell Pike, 2016)

Lugging my Bronica up England’s highest peak at least was worth it for this one shot. It was an overcast and foggy day, but I like the way the film has captured the texture and tone of the mountainside here. Unfortunately I only have two shots left from this trip due to an error in development.

In an effort to reduce my costs while shooting more film I’ve started to home process black and white film once more. During my Imperial College days I learnt the basics in the excellent darkroom the photo society had there and then continued with a makeshift bathroom in my flat after graduating. I never really got back into it when I moved abroad and I’d stopped using monochrome films so much because to get a roll processed at my normal labs in London were over a tenner each; this soon adds up and also was making me hesitate before each shot when really I should be experimenting with photography more.

Anyway, the error. This was the first 120 film I had self developed in at least 4 years. Whereas before I had a nice dark bathroom to use, my current flat does not, so I am having to use a changing bag for the first time. Its pretty much a pain in the arse and seems especially so when loading 120 film onto the plastic patterson reels I have. I completely butchered this film. When the roll went stiff I didn’t realise the film had got so jammed that it crumpled and ripped. Trying to keep my frustration at bay I decided the rip was too bad to continue winding it on so cut my losses (literally). I couldn’t actually remember what was on this film so at the time I wasn’t too bothered, it was collateral damage in reacquainting myself with self processing.

The remaining shots came out well but I was pretty gutted to realise this was my Scafell Pike roll. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to go and lug my Bronica up there again sometime!

Bronica SQ + Zenzanon 80mm f2.8 + Ilford Delta 100 + Self Developed with TMax 1:4 Developer (Scafell Pike, 2016)

Bronica in the Sky

Bronica SQ + Zenzanon 50mm f3.5 + Kodak Ektar (NYC, 2013)

I took my Bronica along with me when taking a helicopter tour shortly after moving to NYC. It was quite a challenge to frame shots with the movement of the helicopter and the back to front nature of using the waist level finder, so I had to straighten them up in with cropping. I’m also not really sure if I like how the colours scanned in, so I tried to correct the white balance in digitally. Despite this I do really enjoy these photos, particularly the one above. I used to work in one of these buildings so its a pretty nostalgic shot for me.

Glacial Waters

Bronica SQ + 50mm f3.5 + Fuji Velvia 100 (Glacier National Park, USA)

This above is a shot of Iceberg Lake in Glacier National park. Its nearly a 5 mile hike to this spot, but it these crystal clear waters were definitely worth it. I’d debated not bothering to take the Bronica with me and just sticking with my digital Nikon D7100. However stubbornly I took it and put up with the extra weight in my backpack. I find this constantly a tough decision when on hiking trips, as I do really enjoy capturing images like this on medium format, but traveling with a MF body and a couple of lenses along with a DSLR (+ lenses) does sometimes feel like overkill. For my next trip (which is to Zion National Park) I’m going to take one of my Zeiss Ikon folding cameras instead to save on weight. Maybe I should go the opposite way, and just take the Bronica instead!

This was the first roll of medium format slide film I’d used. To be honest I think I would’ve been better off using Ektar instead for its latitude, as I clearly didn’t nail the exposures as well as Velvia would like (an getting a bit of a purple tint that I’ve tried to edit out digitally). That being said I think the way it captures the crystal clear water in the photo above is great and to be honest the time of day these were all shot (mid afternoon) was not really good light to shoot with.

Here are some more shots with the Bronica from the trip (all with velvia 100).

Monument Valley

Bronica SQ + 80mm Zenzanon f2.8 + Kodak Ektar (Utah, 2013)

There was a forest fire nearby providing the mist on the evening I arrived. At first I was disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to get any good shots, but actually it produced my favourite shot from there. I think it makes the landscape mysterious.

Grand Canyon

Bronica SQA + Zenznon 80mm f2.8 + Kodak Ektar 100 (Arizona, 2013)

Fog in Frisco

Bronica SQA + Zenzanon 50mm PS + Kodak Tmax 100 (San Francisco, 2013)

Budapest Castle

Bronica SQA + Zenzanon 80mm f2.8 + Ilford HP5 Plus (Budapest, 2012)

Bullring

Bronica SQA + Zenzanon 80mm f2.8 + Fuji 400Pro (Birmingham, 2012)

Its not black and white… thats just the sky in the UK…

Transamerica Building

Bronica SQA + Zenzanon 80mm f2.8 + Ilford HP5 Plus (San Francisco, 2013)

Lloyds Building

Bronica SQ-A + Zenzanon 80mm f2.8 + Ilford HP5 Plus (City of London, 2012)

Lake District

Bronica SQ-A + Zenzanon 80mm f2.8 + Fuji Vevlia 100 + Epson v500 Scanner (Cumbria, 2016)

I’d not been to the lake district since a child, so I gathered some mates and drove up there with the aim of climbing Scarfell Pike (Englands highest mountain). The scenery driving into the park was magical, there was dense mist and fog hanging off the hills, with sheep sauntering nonchalantly by the side (and in) the road. As we drove further in, along the side of Wastwater lake, I was stunned by symmetry created by the reflection and the mist.

Whilst I enjoy this picture, it highlights to me again how Velvia is not a forgiving film to use. This image was maybe underexposed by a stop and a third, and thats what adds the purple bias in the colours. I think I made the mistake of metering this photo from my Nikon D7100 in matrix mode, when spot would have been much more appropriate. Will the increasing cost of processing E6 and my lackluster results with slide film to date, this may be the last roll of Velvia I shoot for a while.

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