Wednesday 19 June 2024

Sakura Hanami with Harman Phoenix 200

 For this years Sakura Hanami, I wanted to see how Harman Phoenix 200 handled the pink, green and brown hues of the trees filled with cherry blossom. Despite the almost constant dark, wet, cold, dull and gloomy days here in Wigan, I managed to get out on a reasonably bright, yet overcast day in mid April that would diffuse the light and hopefully make the colours pop. I chose to again use my Olympus OM10 with my 28mm f/3.5 and 50mm f/1.8 Zuiko lenses. I loaded my film and toddled off out.

The Cherry Blossom never fails to impress me with it's full spectrum of pinks interspersed with the dark colours of the branches and green leaves. This year, despite not being the warmest start to spring I have noticed over the years, the Cherry Trees had once again taken their chance to put on a superb display for us. The overcast sky did try to let a little sunlight through, but for the most part it was diffuse light.

As I was enjoying the beauty of nature, a couple stopped their car, got out and started taking photos with their phone cameras. It was nice to see it's not just me that appreciates the cherry blossom near my home. Spring always brings a smile to peoples faces as they climb out of the winter doldrums and see the earth awaken with colour.

I was having a lot of fun hunting nice flower heads and generally documenting the display for 2024 that I hadn't noticed I had almost ran out of film. I took my final photo and made my way to the next part of my walk to try out my recently purchased second Balda Baldax, loving named Baldy Jr. Once that was done I headed for home to have a well earned rest and a cuppa tea.

I sent my roll of Harman Phoenix 200 back to Analogue Wonderland for developing. I was very impressed with how my first roll turned out and I was happy to send my other rolls to them. It takes a little time, but it's worth it to give my Harman Phoenix 200 to a proper lab for developing. I would also rather not have it sitting in my fridge for months waiting for me to shoot enough colour film to make it worth my time buying a C41 kit.

When I got my negatives back from Analogue Wonderland I had a good look at them. The conditions gave me a chance to explore Harman Phoenix 200 when shot in diffuse light. It loves to be exposed on a bright sunny day, but an overcast day was a challenge to get my exposures right. I had put my faith in my OM-10 and it's excellent aperture priority metering when maybe I should have gone with my instincts.

I shot it at box speed on a grey day when the sun didn't quite manage to shine through the overcast sky. I could have rated it at 100 or maybe even 50 iso to gain that extra exposure time. However, it does make for a different aesthetic that I would not have got with my favourite Kodak ColorPlus 200. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but we live and learn for another day.

I know the two are miles apart in terms of research and development, but ColorPlus is the cheapest colour film in Kodak's current roster. Harman Phoenix at the very least needs to be on par with Kodak's cheapest film in a wide range of lighting conditions and I reckon it will in future iterations.

I digitised my film using my Nikon D700 (I was counting on it's dynamic range and bespoke colour profile to help me out), Tamron Adaptall 2 90mm f/2.5 macro lens, Valoi 35mm film holder, Pixl-latr and A5 size led light pad. I processed my RAW files with Affinity Photo 2.

When I started processing my RAW files I could see the potential for next years Cherry Blossom season shot on Harman Phoenix 200. I like to keep my editing simple and the auto functions in Affinity Photo usually do the trick with a little sharpening and small adjustments. Colours are decent, there's still that red halation and my exposure settings aren't the best.
Some did need a little more work, but that's ok, it's all part of the fun of editing. They were easily tweaked in Affinity Photo 2. I just need a sunny day to get the best from this film.

Here's a few Cherry Blossom photos from my roll of Harman Phoenix 200 shot with my Olympus OM-10 and Zuiko lenses. I know they are much different to my previous Sakura photos over the years, but that's fine by me. Harman Phoenix is an experimental film and will take time to perfect. In the mean time it's fun to experiment and give Harman as much data as possible. I have placed them and a few more in an album on Flickr you can visit using the link below. I hope you enjoy them.

Sakura Hanami - Harman Phoenix

Wednesday 12 June 2024

Frugal Film Project 2024 - May - 35mm

 I am always leaving things to the last minute and it's something I will forever struggle with. Don't ask me why it keeps happening, I have no idea, it just seems to work out that way. Thus it was that I went for an afternoon walk around the local farm on May 31st 2024. I loaded my OM101 with Kentmere 400 and headed out to say hello to the horses who are back in the fields for the summer. One day I will do this in the first week, not the last.

I had taken a couple of shots in Wigan a day or two earlier and I just wasn't feeling it. I was more concerned with finishing my medium format film, so I left it and I was glad I did to be honest. The light was never going to magically become perfect, it was a hazy afternoon, but better than a few days earlier.

I always enjoy seeing the horses in their fields. They have become accustomed to the strange human with the clicky box thing coming to say hello. They were waiting patiently for their humans to come and see them when I arrived. Horses are quite pragmatic, they tend to trust those who care for them and know when it's time for their humans to arrive. They will also not turn down a treat from passing strangers.

This is a strict NO! If you're walking in the countryside, don't feed or touch any livestock you may encounter on your travels. Horses can get Colic from a number of things, at best it is very painful and can be fatal in the worst cases. You don't know if a horse or a pony has a special diet, so it's best to leave their food up to their humans. You can say hello, horses don't mind you stopping by for a little chat, but it will be a one way conversation. I don't mind that, I was having fun and it seemed like I was only out for 10 minutes when I finished my film and headed home.

I developed my roll of Kentmere 400 with HC110 1+31 dilution B for 6 minutes at 20 celcius and soon had it hanging to dry in my bathroom. I digitised it with my Nikon D700, Tamron Adaptall 2 90mm f/2.5 macro lens, Valoi 35mm film holder, Pixl-Latr and A5 size led light pad. I processed the RAW files with Affinity Photo 2.

I enjoyed my walk to visit the horses. It's always good to get out after a few days of rain and cloudy weather. Here's a few of my favorites from my May roll of Kentmere 400 35mm B&W film for the Frugal Film Project 2024. I have put them and more in my Frugal Film Project 2024 35mm album on Flickr you can visit using the link below. I hope you enjoy them.

Frugal Film Project 2024 - May - 35mm

Wednesday 5 June 2024

Frugal Film Project 2024 - May - 120 medium format

 This month is a tale of two parks, Peel Park in Salford and Mesnes Park in Wigan. I took Baldy the Baldax on our visit to Salford Art Gallery and Museum and, as nature had blessed us with nice weather, I took some shots looking down into Peel Park. The park is noted for being a location in the film adaption of the Harold Brighouse play, Hobson's Choice. It's where the characters Maggie Hobson and Willie Mossop go courting.

Peel Park is not a difficult place to get to. Salford Crecent railway station is close by and my wife and I intend to make a day of it next time we visit. From our high vantage point I could see the lay out was quite ornate and I took a few long shots alongside some shots of trees my wife pointed out for us to photograph. There is a ramp leading down into the park, but Keith was a little worried his faithful chariot would not have enough power to make it back up. I must admit I would have struggled walking up it.

Sadly we had to leave Salford and make our way home, we've had one parking ticket on our travels and we do not intend getting another. We will be back someday as it was an enjoyable afternoon outing, but we might need a sherpa to carry us up that hill after exploring Peel Park more thoroughly.

I needed to finish my roll of film and I made my way into Wigan several days later to capture some shots of Mesnes Park, the jewel near the centre of Wigan, loved by residents who enjoy spending time there or just using it as a part of their walk into town. Mesnes Park was built in the late 1870's - early 1880's and given to the people of the town to use for leisure time after a long week down the mines, in the mills or at the iron works.

Peel Park was built in the 1840's for much the same reason. It was also the first public park in the UK paid for with money donated entirely by Public Subscription. The people of both Salford and Wigan make full use of their parks and it's nice to be able to enjoy some nice scenery on a sunny afternoon.

Both parks were also refurbished in the early 2000's with help from grants awarded by the national Lottery Heritage Fund and the staff at both work hard all year round keeping them looking their best. It didn't take me long to finish my roll of Ilford HP5 120 medium format film in Mesnes Park and I headed home.

I developed my film a couple of days later in HC110 1+31 dilution B for 5 minutes at 20 celcius and soon had it hanging to dry in my bathroom. I digitised it with my Nikon D700, Tamron Adaptall 2 90mm f/2.5 macro lens, Valoi medium format film holder, Pixl_Latr and A5 size led light pad. I processed the RAW files with Affinity Photo 2.

Sadly not all my photos were up to standard as light leaks are once again plaguing Baldy the Baldax. It has to be the bellows that are failing, which to be fair are doing well for 90 years young. I have one more month and then Baldy will have done a full year. I will shoot my June roll of Ilford HP5 and then decide on wether to bring on super sub for the remainder of the year. I have to be honest I didn't think Baldy would get this far and has exceeded my expectations. Tough choice coming up I reckon.

Here's a few favourites from my May roll of Ilford HP5 shot for the Frugal Film Project 2024. I really enjoyed getting out and about and photographing two beautiful green spaces right in the middle of Salford and Wigan. As always I have placed them and more in my Frugal Film Project 120 medium format album on Flickr you can visit using the link below. I hope you enjoy them.

Frugal Film Project 2024 - May - 120 medium format

Wednesday 29 May 2024

Canon EOS 300

 I dont know if cameras are like buses, but it seems like it this week. I've gone through life never owning a Canon camera and suddenly two show up at once. Grab a brew and a tissue, this might get emotional.

A dear friend of mine has been through a truly horrendous period in his life as his Father and Brother both passed away within a couple of weeks of each other. Losing one is bad enough, losing two big influences in his life damn near broke him. Thankfully he's a strong chap with a wonderful family, a dog and a hoss who helped each other get through it. Then it came time to go through his Dad's belongings.

His Dad was a photographer and took lots of photo's of his family as they grew up. My friend was reminded of this when he found his Dad's Canon EOS 300 35mm camera. It had been sat in its box, in a cupboard, since his Dad made the jump to digital. Cue floods of tears and much reminiscing with his family about photos his Dad had taken with it. As with many folks, they weren't sure if you could still buy film, or if the camera still worked, and didn't really know what to do with it. However, my friend knew what to do with it.

My friend promised his Mum he would find a good home for it and sent me a message asking me if I would like to have it. He wanted it to go to someone who would use it rather than it go to a charity shop or be lost in the dark recesses of ebay. He reads my blog and gawps at my photos from time to time and he asked if I would be interested. It took me less time than the fastest shutter speed on the planet to say yes.

A few days later the camera arrived with a nice note thanking me for providing a home for not just his Dad's Canon EOS 300, but his own Canon EOS 300 as well. His Dad was a huge influence on him and, naturally, he got the same camera when his own interest in photography grew. He felt it was important that a little piece of both of them stayed together. I suddenly got dust in my eyes and they started leaking...

Now I am custodian of two Canon EOS 300 35mm cameras, I need to get to know them. That began with sourcing batteries and a lens. Batteries were easy to find, but a lens was the hard bit, there's so much choice of lenses in the Canon EF lens mount, both native and 3rd party. Do I get the ubiquitous kit lens or do I splash out on something a little better? I went for the kit lens.

Yes, I could have got any number of lenses, but the kit lens was the cheap option and you all know I don't like paying much for anything. I don't have a lot of cash, after paying my bills and feeding my family the money I have left goes on film or the odd camera and/or lens. I don't drink, smoke or have my own transport, this is my vice, my midlife crisis, and occasionally it keeps me out of mischief. 

Film Photography doesn't have to be expensive, it's something I have championed since I started my blog. I also have an addiction to cameras costing less than £75 which is why I take part in the Frugal Film Project every year. A swift hunt sourced a Canon 28-90mm f/4-5.6 lens for less than £50 from a reputable retailer here in the UK. The listing described the lens as "like new" and when it arrived it was indeed like new. I fitted the lens, installed the new batteries and loaded a roll of Ilford HP5 ready to head out and pop my Canon cherry.

My first shots were taken in my gardens. Well, I say gardens, but wild meadow is more accurate. I'm not much of a gardener, I leave the wild flowers alone for the bees to feast upon, then my son mows the grass when they go to seed. I managed some photos of dandelions, buttercups and wild garlic on a sunny afternoon before "Sean the Lawn" got busy with his mower. 

I shot the rest of the roll during a visit to Salford Museum and Art Gallery. Our pal Keith had made his annual pilgrimage back up north and he took my wife and I on a day out to visit the museum. Keith had visited this museum when still at primary school half a century ago and it was good to rekindle some memories and grab a photo or two whilst we were there.

I developed my roll of Ilford HP5+ 400 a couple of days later using Kodak HC110, 1+31 dilution B for 5 minutes at 20 celcius and soon had it hanging to dry in my bathroom. I digitised my film with my Nikon D700, Tamron Adaptall 2 90mm f/2.5, Valoi 35mm film holder, Pixl-Latr and A5 size led light pad. I processed the RAW files with Affinity Photo 2.

I enjoyed using my Canon EOS 300 for the first time. It's a midrange 35mm film camera from the final years of film, but don't let "midrange" put you off giving one a try. It's light weight, easy to use and has a great metering system that makes sure you get great exposures with little effort. I'm a Nikon guy, but I found it easy to adapt to the competition and I shall suitably chastise myself before the next meeting of the Cult of Nikon.

It also shoots each frame backwards. When you load your film it winds all the film onto the take up side and each shot you take is immediately re-wound into the cartridge. This means you wont lose your photos if you accidentally open the back with half a roll already used. This is great for beginners and absent minded "experts". We have all done it at some point, I know I have. It's good that Canon decided to use this feature in this camera. 

The Canon EOS 300 is also called the Canon EOS Rebel 2000 in North America and the EOS Kiss III in Japan and it is very cheap to buy at the moment. The market for plastic fantastic auto focus slr's has seen good condition examples, often with a lens, selling for not a lot of cash on ebay and various used gear retailers for quite a while.

Canon full frame DSLR users will find it easy to pick one up and be relatively comfortable with it in no time at all. It uses the same EF mount lenses too. Canon APS-C DSLR users will have to get a full frame lens for it, but many are sold with one anyway. It's all part of the joy of trying different cameras and systems.

Here's a few of my favourite photos from my first experience with my Canon EOS 300. I really enjoyed using it for the first time and i
t wont be long before I am out and about with it again. I have placed them and more in an album on Flickr that you can visit via the link below. I hope you enjoy them.

Canon EOS 300 - Ilford HP5+ 400

Wednesday 22 May 2024

A Kodak day with Kodak ColorPlus in my Kodak Retina 1a

 After finding out that my Kodak Retina 1a is light tight and able to produce nice B&W photos, I wanted to see how it fared with Kodak ColorPlus 200, my favourite colour film. I had to wait a while until the wet weather abated. You have seen enough wet weather photos from me over the last couple of months, I wanted a dry day for a change. It's also been many years since I shot Kodak film in a Kodak camera. My love for photography began with my Mum's Kodak Instamatic loaded with 126 Kodak colour film in the early 70's and I still have a place in my heart for Kodak cameras and colour film.

Eventually the rain abated and we started getting proper spring sunshine. I loaded a roll of Kodak ColorPlus 200 into my Kodak Retina 1a and headed out to see what I could find. I also took my trusty Gossen Trisix selenium light meter to help me get decent exposures and my Watameter rangefinder to help me with the zone focus this quirky camera uses.
Nostalgia definitely came into play for this walk and not a single battery was required.

I took a walk around my local neighbourhood hunting for colour. Post boxes and traffic cones are always good for a photo and it was whilst I was taking photos of them that I had a nice chat with a local resident who is also a photographer. We agreed it was about time we got some nice weather and she had been out and about enjoying it with her camera too. It's always nice to say hello to fellow photographers when I'm out and about. It always puts a smile on my face, albeit a slightly wonky one.

Shop fronts are also good for colour photography as are things found around the farm. The tanker and the animal feeder both looked nice in the dry weather after being dripping wet for months. I also captured some blossom and plenty of foliage adorning the trees that tell the world spring has definitely arrived here in the northern hemisphere. As always when I am having fun, it seemed like I had only been out for a few minutes when my last frame was shot and I headed for home.

I sent my roll of Kodak ColorPlus 200 to the good folks at Analogue Wonderland for developing. I can do it myself, but I'm impressed with their service. I don't shoot a lot of colour film these days, I don't really want to spend a lot on a home colour developing kit unless I am going to use more colour film or It would only go to waste. A week after sending it to them I got the email saying my scans were ready to download and I could see how I had done.

Analogue Wonderland did a great job of developing and scanning my film. The day I shot the film was overcast with sunny spells and it shows in my photos. The scans are basic jpegs, colour corrected and rotated where needed. I can use them as they are and I also know I can easily do a few quick edits if needed further down the line. I like to get my photos right in camera, this no frills camera is simple, but quirky to use and it's very satisfying to see I got most of them right with my basic gear to help me out. 

Here's a few of my favourite photos from my Kodak ColorPlus 200 shot with my Kodak Retina 1a. I really enjoyed my no frills photowalk with not a single battery powered device needed to help me out. Trust in technology is great, but trust in the skills you build over the years is by far more rewarding, especially when the tech you use is older than yourself. 

Analogue Wonderland celebrated their 6th Birthday on May 16th. They have a wide range of film, developing supplies and cameras in stock. They also develop 110, 35mm, 120 medium format, both colour and B&W. You can visit them and maybe buy something using the link below.
No, I'm not sponsored, I just like to give a shout out for folk who provide a great service. This Kodak day out definitely made me happy and I got some decent photos too. As always I have placed them and more in an album on Flickr you can visit using the link below. I hope you enjoy them.

Kodak ColorPlus 200 - Kodak Retina 1a
Analogue Wonderland

Wednesday 15 May 2024

Ferrania P33 - A Brand New Film From Film Ferrania

Film Ferrania, the resurgent film manufacturer based in Italy, have been very busy over the last couple of years. Projects that were put to one side due to the pandemic have been restarted and are now bearing fruit. Film Ferrania have added P33, a 160 speed panchromatic black and white film to their growing roster and I bought a couple of rolls to try it out.

Film Ferrania CEO Silvio says, "P33 is the culmination of our R&D efforts, merging analog tradition with technological innovation. We've meticulously re-engineered authentic emulsion recipes, focusing on enhancing versatility with a higher ISO and simplifying the development process."

This is like going to look at Grandma's recipe book and finding some of the ingredients are no longer available. The R&D dept have had to find modern equivalents, mix it all together and refine it until they got it right. This takes time and a lot of testing. Film Ferrania are in the the perfect place for this as they are based in the old Ferrania R&D lab using the equipment built specifically for small batch testing many years ago.

Film Ferrania also have a dedicated team of Film Photographers, both within their ranks and the wider film photography community, helping them to refine their experimental films to ensure it is ready for the film photography community to enjoy. It has taken Film Ferrania a long time to get to this point. The financial investment needed to refurbish machinery and make film to a consistent high standard has seen a lot of hard work behind the scenes and it's now paying dividends. 

Does this mean P33 is a good film? There's only one way to find out. I loaded a roll of P33 into my Nikon F801S and headed out for a wander to see what I could find to photograph.

I haven't used my Nikon F801S for a while and it felt good to be using it again. I spent my exercise days during lockdown using it alongside my Nikon D700 and loved being able to switch lenses between them both with no problems. This time I was out with just my F801S and had fitted my favourite AF Zoom Nikkor 24-120mm f3.5-5.6 D
walkabout lens to it. I also shot the film at its box speed of 160 iso. The "Matrix" light metering built in to my F801S is accurate and its aperture priority mode gives me great results.

I shot the first half as I made my way home from shooting my Frugal Film Project film that I spoke of last week. I shot the second half a few days later, just seeing what I could find. I visited a couple of familiar compositions and also tried to find different things to photograph. I have been reinvigorated by the sunshine finally breaking through the rain, spring has arrived and my hayfever is under control. 

I wandered around the woodland and the public footpaths across the fields. This year the crop in the fields near my home is back to wheat and I reckon the farmer has rotated his wheat fields of the last couple of years to corn. I will find out soon enough now I can get out more and explore a little further. I also paid a visit to my favourite tree on the wash. It looks great with this year's foliage on.

It always seems like I have been out for only half an hour when I am really enjoying a photo walk, yet a couple of hours had passed, my roll of P33 was finished and I made my way home, thoroughly worn out.

A couple of dates later I developed my roll of Ferrania P33 with Rodinal 1+25 for 5 minutes at 20 celcius as suggested on the manufacturers website and soon had it hanging to dry in my bathroom. I scanned it with my Nikon D700, Tamron Adaptall 2 90mm f/2.5 macro lens, Valoi 35mm film holder, Pixl-Latr and A5 sized led light source. I processed the RAW files with Affinity Photo 2.

As I was editing my RAW files I noticed how the tonal range was very rich and full on P33. I normally do quick edits just to get a feeling for the film and then go back and really dig in and bring out the full dynamic range. Not his time, those quick edits were all I needed to bring the richness of P33 into my photos. There's one or two I would love to print in a darkroom with some deft dodging and burning. Film Ferrania P33 is descended from Ferrania's much loved golden days as the darling of Italian cinema. It really does shine and captures the details in the shadows and the highlights with little effort.

Film Ferrania P33 is definitely grabbing the attention of the community for all the right reasons and, dare I say it, giving people a choice between P33 and the legendary Kodak Double-X. Yes, I'm going there! It also gives Ilford FP4 and Fuji Acros a run for their money and it truly is a genuine contender amongst the slow speed B&W films out there.

 I will be doing side by side comparisons in the summer, but until then, here's a few of my favourites from my first roll of Film Ferrania P33 and as always I have placed them and more in an album on my Flickr account you can visit using the link below. I hope you enjoy them. You can buy P33 from stores around the world or via the Film Ferrania website link below. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

Film Ferrania P33


Wednesday 8 May 2024

Frugal Film Project 2024 - April - 35mm

 April came around and it was the final day of the month before I was able to get out and shoot my 35mm roll of Kentmere 400 black and white film in my Olympus OM101. All the fun and frolics with cameras seemed to be done for the time being and I headed out for a wander with no real plan in mind, just to see what I can find.

I headed for my local woodland and nature trails and had fun photographing the trees as they are growing their new spring foliage. It's nice to see the trees wake up and go from being sleeping giants to wide awake and full of the joys of spring. Insects have been enjoying munching on the green leaves and sipping the nectar from the flowers, which of course helps the nesting birds build their strength ready for raising this years chicks.

I enjoyed having a wander in the spring sunshine and soon had my April roll of Kentmere 400 shot with my Olympus OM101. However, it had been beeping at me and I was pretty sure it meant the batteries were on the way out. I had spares with me just in case and I kept my eye on my frame count. 35, 36, 37.....38. Oh-oh! I began having suspicions and decided to rewind the film, just as a precaution. I hit the button and 2 seconds later the auto rewind stopped.


I headed home in case the film had snapped or something and to get a fresh roll. I put my camera in my dark bag and opened the back. The film had rewound. Time to RTFM*.... Turns out the beeping noise wasn't the battery indicator. It was telling me I hadn't loaded the film properly and it wasn't winding it on.


I retrieved the leader with my handy leader retriever and the lack of any curliness told me all I needed to know. Auto Load does NOT auto load all the time. With a few hours of daylight left I loaded the film again, correctly this time, and retraced my earlier walk. And to prove my bad luck, the light had gone from the great conditions I enjoyed on my first walk and yes, I kicked myself all the way round the woodland.

When I got home after my second walk of the day I was well and truly exhausted, but happy I hadn't missed the deadline through a stupid thing happening to a stupid boy who didn't load the stupid thing properly. I needed a lie down. Insert Captain Mainwaring meme here.....

I took a lttle time to recover and a few days later developed my film using Kodak HC110 1+47 dilution E at 20 celcius. Thank the deity of your choosing that it has images on it! Once dry I scanned it using my Nikon D700, Tamron Adaptall 2 90mm f/2.5 macro lens, Valoi 35mm film holder, Pixl-Latr and A5 size led light source. I processed the RAW files with Affinity Photo 2.

This years Frugal Film Project has been nothing short of a comedy of errors and if I had any hair, I would surely have pulled it all out by now. If it aint a duff camera, it's a lost screw or a film not loaded properly and it has seriously tested my patience. Good thing I already have happy pills....

Here's a few of my favourites from my April roll of Kentmere 35mm B&W film for the Frugal Film Project 2024. This year has been a labour of love, frustration and grim determination to succeed in the face of mechanical shenanigans and weather so foul it caused Noah to get his carpentary tools out. As always I have placed them and more in my Frugal Film Project 2024 35mm album on Flickr you can visit using the link below. I'm going to lie down for a while....

Frugal Film Project 2024 - April - 35mm

* Read The F&%$£!*g Manual! Stupid Boy.....

Sakura Hanami with Harman Phoenix 200

  For this years Sakura Hanami, I wanted to see how Harman Phoenix 200 handled the pink, green and brown hues of the trees filled with cherr...