Tag Archives: Isle of Grain

Spring steps

Spring is finally here – time to get out and start shooting.

I started scanning my own film recently after buying an Epson V700. It’s something I used to do as part of a previous job but I’m a little out of practice. For a start, different films scan differently – obviously. More than anything else, performing colour correction well is proving tricky. I’ve mainly been working with Provia scans (which have come out heavy in purple and magenta) and adjusting things in Lightroom.

Anyway, enough technical talk. I drove down to Grain recently and the sun was in just the right place to shoot a derelict barn that had caught my eye previously. Here are some hand-held shots taken with the Mamiya 6.

New gallery: return to the Isle of Grain

Gordon and I met on Grain recently to take advantage of some excellent skies and to take the delightful air of north Kent. If you’ve been following this blog, you already know I’ve spent a lot of time there recently.

I brought the Yashicamat, my tripod and a few rolls of Provia 100F for the trip. Determined to improve my metering skills after mistakes last time out, we visited some familiar spots before heading to Grain beach for dusk.

Determining the right exposure for slide film is a skill I’m working on – it’s alien coming from digital photography, and I think experience and ‘feel’ is going to be as important as reading numbers off the meter. Looking at the tiff scans and processed films from this trip, the exposure is variable: sometimes over, sometimes under, sometimes about right. I’m hoping consistency will come with practice.

In the gallery below, I’ve used Lightroom’s ‘B&W Creative – Creamtone’ preset on three images as an experiment. Lightroom 3 has several new presets which I’ll be trying out in due course. Next time out, I’ll be using Provia 400 for the first time.

Click here to see the Isle of Grain photo gallery

New gallery: Isle of Grain

I’ve spent a lot of time over the summer cycling on the Isle of Grain in north Kent. Last weekend, I packed the Yashicamat and tripod to shoot film and shake off the rust – this was my first trip for a while. It’s been very, very dry this year and the landscape is yellow turning white in places. The wheat and onion fields are being harvested, everything’s pale and waiting for rain.

Schoolboy error no.1 – after finishing the film, I realised that I’d been using my meter on reflective, not incidental, mode all day.  Damn, that meant everything was likely to be over-exposed. There was nothing to do but send the film for processing and pray something useful would return. I used the Darkroom in Cheltenham for the first time – the website’s a bit creaky but their service is speedy: I had the film and scans back within 3 days. As I feared, the photos were overexposed by about 2 stops but I let Lightroom work its magic and they came out tolerably (N.B. I got medium-res jpegs from the lab this time, not tiffs, so exposure recovery was limited). In an odd way, the overexposure suits the parched landscape well.

Here are a few examples, with a link to the full gallery below:

Field, pylons, sky

Lipwell Hill
Northward Hill
Derelict barn

Click here to see my Isle of Grain gallery

Images of the Isle of Grain

Last week I needed fresh air, exercise and photography practice.  So I packed my panniers with tripod and digital camera then caught an early train east to the Isle of Grain, Kent.  Grain’s a good place to get away from London: quiet, nice to cycle around, big skies.

On the way to the train station, this wall made me stop and look, so I reached for the camera:

Now to Grain itself. The early light from 6am to around 7.30am was really nice, then cloud cover gradually spread and sunnier spells were limited, unfortunately.  So I kept moving on the bike and stopped whenever the light improved.

This is a view N from Northward Hill, one of Grain’s highest points:

(NB. I haven’t straightened this yet or removed the barrel distortion, as you’ll have noticed…)

I was trying to use the diagonal sweep from the foreground scrub, through the blossoming trees and ground lines, into the distance.  Colour is muted and the sky is not very striking, though the compositional balance between land and sky seems right.  Worth trying again in more dramatic light and/or weather, perhaps.

Here’s a view W from the same place:

Some colour is introduced by the oil seed rape field and the Portakabins.  The cloud shadow in the middle distance adds something but the flat sky again limits interest, I think.  It was time to move on, so I cycled E/NE to the town of Grain itself on the eastern shore.

View from the coastal path – grey enough for you?

The light and weather were very flat at this point so I thought I’d take some monochromatic photos.  I trundled along the path and tried to capture the texture and lines of the concrete itself:

I like the diagonals drawing the eye towards the water, the muted palette and the contrast of the rippling water below; I’m going to try printing this.

On the theme of concrete, texture and weathering, here are two shots a little further up the path, taken from Grain beach:

I prefer the first (portrait) shot as I think it’s better composed, with the seashells at bottom and the cloudy sky up top; it is also a printing candidate.

Next time I’m going to Grain, I’ll bring the Yashica – it’d be interesting to compare how medium format film captures the last few subjects.