Near my home is Oxleas Wood, one of the few remaining areas of ancient deciduous forest in London, dating back over 8000 years. If at all known today, Oxleas is usually associated with Severndroog Castle, an 18th century folly built to commemorate Sir William James’s conquest of Suvarnadurg fortress in western India. The Wood is much valued by the local community which has, from time to time, been obliged to defend the place from thrusting road builders and politicians.
Away from Severndroog, it’s quite possible to walk for half an hour in Oxleas without encountering another human being. The forest is enveloping and tranquil and it is this mood that I am trying to capture photographically. Dead trees, shadow patterns and leaf cover often fill the frame. There is little colour of note. I had visualised these images in monotone and created a custom preset in Lightroom with a warm cast (rather than straight greyscale) for the conversions from E6 (Provia and Velvia). I will be returning with Ilford FP4+ soon as an experiment in this project’s early stages, but here are some initial results.
Last Saturday’s weather was fantastic – sunshine all day – so I picked up Gordon early and headed east to the Thames Estuary.
En route via the A13, we formed a rough plan of action: start at Tilbury then work west along the north side of the Thames to Grays and Rainham. Access to the shore itself is hindered in several places by private industrial sites with no public right of way. Nonetheless, when you can reach the riverside, there’s an interesting blend of footpaths, detritus and nature at the water’s edge.
Walking the Thames on an east-west axis, I often shoot things frontally. I like the stacking effect this creates with walls, buildings and the sky: factories loom up and wall graffiti are mounted on a facing plane. There’s often a pleasing simplicity and symmetry to these compositions.
The Tilbury river wall graffiti are a mixture of mod culture references and melancholy (and often enigmatic) statements, plus the usual less imaginative tagging. Such is the current paranoia of fossil fuel companies, our wanderings attracted the attention of security staff from Tilbury Power Station who thought it necessary to check that we were not a) environmentalists, or b) terrorists. They went away disappointed but probably relieved to briefly escape the CCTV monitors for some fresh air.
Technical notes: these pictures were shot on Fuji Velvia 100 and Provia 400, scanned on an Epson V700. Most were taken hand held using a Mamiya 6.
Click here to see the Thurrock photo gallery
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.
I spent two weeks on Patmos last month. It’s a small Greek island in the Dodecanese chain, chiefly associated with John of Patmos, the reputed biblical author of the Book of Revelation or Apocalypse. Patmos is arid but beautiful, blessed with a fine climate and endless light.
Though I packed a digital SLR, it didn’t see much use – the Yashicamat came first. I brought my usual slide film (Fuji Provia 400) and some print film (Fuji Reala 100) for the first time. Daily temperatures around 31 degrees Celsius (88 degrees Fahrenheit) had shooting at dawn and dusk most days, avoiding the harsh light and heat of midday.
Patmos was created volcanically around 7 million years ago; its topsoil is loose and has the texture of Granola, crumbling beneath your feet as you scramble around. Arriving on location pre-dawn, I fell over more than once whilst clambering with my tripod and camera equipment in the dark. At dawn, the window of great light lasted around 15 minutes so it was essential to have shots pre-visualised and locations scouted beforehand.
The ‘Rock of the Apocalypse’ shots were made at dawn in Petra bay. The shoreline at Petra (Greek πέτρα, literally ‘rock’) has a tangible volcanic rim shape and the bay is dominated by a large rock of geological and historical interest. The rock contains grottoes inhabited by early Christians and, according to a controversial theory outlined by an Austrian lady I met, it may have been be the cave site of John of Patmos. This theory is of course regarded as errant by the Orthodox monks managing the ‘official’ cave and fortress monastery at Chora. History aside, the rock formation is very sculptural and makes an excellent photographic subject.
Boulders, wiry plants and rocky outcrops drew my gaze on Patmos. The hillsides at Grikos turned fiery at dawn (see ‘Hillside at Grikos II’) and came out rather over-saturated in print film (which is already sensitive to red) so I adjusted this in Lightroom. Comparing C41 (print film) and E6 (slide film) results from this trip, C41 shots like ‘Massey Ferguson, Grikos’ have more muted tones and smoother contrast. The E6 Grikos harbour images have a different look altogether, something I can best describe as ‘glassy’.
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.
I’ve just had some Provia back from the lab – a new gallery will appear soon.
I’ve had my first test roll of 120 film (Fujifilm Provia 100F) back from processing – here are some results:
F11, 1/125 (yes, it was getting quite dark at this point)
Having seen the results, I’m satisfied that the Yashica is working correctly and coherently with my light meter. So my next step is to take the camera out and try to capture some more artistic shots.