Showing posts from February, 2009

Ilford FP4+

I found a folder of old negatives today. Some of these go back a couple of decades and more to the days when I used a twin lens medium format camera for landscape photography. Not a lot has changed despite the convulsions that imaging has undergone over the past 18 years since the advent of digital capture. Ilford have also undergone their own corporate convulsions and have survived to be strong in a diminishing market. Monumental change can create specialist and niche markets. Ilford FP4+, as well as several other legendary emulsions from Ilford, Kodak and Fuji, is still available to those who are determined to work with film and chemistry to create their images. Long may it remain so. Film does not give the instant gratification of digital, the gratification comes later, but what film did give us was the ability to understand light and relativity. We learnt by our mistakes and by getting our hands dirty. We did not learn by histogram. I think those of us who understand film…

Changing seasons

Saint Sunday Crag and Fairfield across Grizedale.

We have 12 degrees Celsius today. We also had goldfinch, greenfinch, chaffinch, bullfinch, starling, blue tit, great tit, robin, blackbird and house sparrow at the feeder together this morning. The snow has gone completely, the sun is shining and the birds are singing. Yes, it's early days, but there is a change in the season. I wonder if the shot above of St. Sunday Crag and Fairfield from two weeks ago will be the last fresh snowfall image I will make until next winter?

I hope not, but that scene is far removed from the weather today. Changing seasons bring changes to emotions, the first warm day of impending springtime brings with it feelings of anticipation of the year ahead.

The journey continues......

Camera bags

The question of camera bags pops up quite frequently on outdoors forums. I have a dislike of camera bags of any kind. They are heavy, bulky and usually over-designed. Camera equipment does need some protection from the elements, but I am completely unconvinced that cameras need to be cossetted in padded bags. I generally use lightweight Exped drybags of varying sizes and colours to indicate what they contain. Even my large Fuji GX617 lives in a drybag inside my rucksack. One great advantage of using drybags is that the bag can be slipped over the camera and lens when mounted on the tripod to protect delicate equipment from rain, sleet, snow and mist. If I am carrying my Nikon around my neck as I sometimes do, It's very convenient to clip a drybag over it for weather protection.

A couple of years ago I was at the Canoe Expo exhibition in Coventry and I came across this company. AboardUK Marine Equipment are based in Cornwall and make some useful waterproof bags for sailors …

Sandy Hole Pass

I camped in a gorge downstream from here the previous night. I didn't exactly rush to get packed up in the morning as there was thick fog and I only had about 5 miles to walk to Vur Tor for my next camp. When I emerged from the gorge, I found I had left the fog behind. I had been camping in a temperature inversion. What a beautiful morning I had been missing! It was crisp, there is hoar frost on the grass and ice on the rocks in the river. I'm not at all moved by most of the myths surrounding the moor, much of that is perpetuated for the tourism industry, but the peace and solitude of Dartmoor is a precious thing.

Fur Tor (or Vur Tor...or even Vwr Tor)

I have finally got around to scanning some of the transparencies from my New Years Eve/Day backpacking trip to Dartmoor. I'm quite pleased with this shot of Fur Tor at sunset and it has made a nice 24x72" print. The warm colour temperature belies the wind chill at the time. The ground was frozen and the wind was quite strong, as can be seen in the blurring of the grass. I find this differential between the movement of grass and the granite outcrop quite pleasing. The superb Fujinon large format lenses that I use on the Fuji GX617, in this case the 90mm lens, are designed to be used at very small apertures. Typically I work at f22 to ensure maximum depth of field from foreground to horizon. Most small format lenses, such as those used on dslr's for example, are adversely affected by difraction degradation at apertures of f16 and below.

My film of choice is always RVP, either 50asa or 100asa. These slow emulsions and small apertures mean that shutter speeds sometimes…

Bradgate Park

It was a beautiful morning this morning. Too good to be in the office, so I decided to take a walk to the neighbouring village of Newtown Linford. Bradgate Park is adjacent to Newtown Linford and was once the home to Lady Jane Grey, the Nine-Day Queen.
Some of the ancient oak trees in the park are reputed to date back to the time of Lady Jane and there may be some truth in the legend that many of these truncated old trees were decapitated after Lady Jane Grey's beheading on February 12th 1554. Deer herds are maintained in the park and I was fortunate to spend time catching some early rays in the company of this fine red deer stag
'Old John' is the folly on the hill on the right and to the left is a war memorial comemorating those local people who gave their lives in both World Wars.

Bushbuddy Stove

I know woodburners are currently very popular, but they are rather good! They're fun to use and free you up from having to carry fuel. I followed a couple of outdoor blogs where different types of woodburners had been tested and reviewed. Having spent a bit of time assessing the options, I decided to order a Bushbuddy from Fritz Handel in Iskut, BC. This kind of stove is ideal for my forthcoming wilderness canoe trip in Sweden in May. Last year, I had to keep a close eye on the amount of methylated spirit (denatured alcohol) that I used for cooking and making tea or coffee. In a wilderness area there are no outdoor shops around to buy more should you run out. A woodburner is the logical choice. I can take meths or burn wood if I wish and not have to worry about fuel, wood is plentiful in Sweden.
Fritz Handel is a perfectionist, this is evident in his workmanship and attention to detail. The Bushbuddy is a lightweight work of art! It fits perfectly inside a Snow Peak 900ti…

Gitzo GT1550T Traveller tripod

A good tripod is essential for successful landscape photography. For several years I have used a Manfrotto Carbon One 440. It has been a reliable and sturdy platform. Apart from ocassionally having to tighten the lever leg locking screws, the Manfrotto has done it's job very well. Fitted with the 443RCZ ball & socket with quick release head, the total weight comes in at 2.24kg. Even with the Fujinon 300mm tele lens mounted on the Fuji 617, the Manfrotto has proven itself to be rock solid in moderate winds.

This sturdiness comes at a price. Even with carbon fibre construction, 2.24kg is a weighty piece of kit to carry on the hill. For a long time I have looked for something lighter and just as stable. This was a bit like searching for the Holy Grail of tripods, but I came across the Gitzo GT1550T Traveller at the Focus on Imaging exhibition in Birmingham in 2007. This tripod is so compact in it's collapsed state that I almost passed it by as being too small to be wo…

Striding Edge....pt2

The forecast for Tuesday was for a clear day, and this was perfect. I decided to go back up to the ridge and retrace my route from the previous day again with the Fuji 617. I left the Nikon behind this time and took the Ricoh GRD2 for the record shots. It was one of those glorious mountain days that you wish would never end. The air was like crystal and the sun was warm, although the temperature was -3 down in Glenridding and rather less 3000' up. How different 24 hours can be! I have a soft spot for Helvellyn. It was the first 'proper' mountain I climbed with a few mates over 40 years ago. I am always reminded of that time when I visit Helvellyn. We have all remained friends. A great mountain with great memories for me.

Ricoh GRD2
Wide angle converter

Striding Edge....pt1

When I saw the weather forecast for the week beginning 1st February, I thought a trip to the Lake District would be a good idea. I wanted some winter shots of Striding Edge and Helvellyn. Heavy snowfall was forecast for parts of the UK during the week. As it happened, I left some of the heaviest snow behind in the Midlands. The South West also saw a lot of snow and, as usual, the country ground to a halt as he effects of the weather took hold. I took the motorhome and parked overnight by Ullswater. It snowed during the night and I decided to move to Glenridding on Monday. The inevitable happened and I was snowbound in the carpark at Glenridding for a couple of days, which is exactly what I intended to happen!

The snowfall began to back off about 10am, so I loaded my rucksack with a Nikon D3 and 14-24 f2.8 lens and the Fuji 617 with 90mm swa, tripod, film and lightmeter. Quite a hefty load, both cameras and lenses are substantial chunks of gear. The Berghaus Extreme Climb has b…