b&w

3 rolls by Laura Daly

Over Christmas I spent quite a lot of time with my film camera - trying to learn more about exposure, composition, contrast, and just how to work more smartly.  Because of course, every image costs in the film world.  This post contains some images from the first three rolls of film I have ever shot - I can't say how satisfying (and exciting) it was to see these images on the roll of plastic as I pulled out the developed film from the tank for the first time...

Roll 1 - Ilford HP5+

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I decided for my first roll to be a film classic; Ilford HP5+.  So many people had recommended this film as either their go-to, or a great beginner's film to experiment with.  It has a really nice grain that I personally think compliments black and white portraits.  It isn't too oppressive, but is noticeable, and it adds a nice mood to the images.  This film also had a reasonably pleasing contrast - the images above were not really corrected for exposure or contrast in Lightroom (dust and marks were removed).  If there was one thing hindering me when shooting that roll, it was getting used to the split prism-type lens focusing that the old Nikon lenses had.  Some images I thought would be nice and sharp just weren't (although, this might be due to the fact I was shooting pretty wide open because of the low level of available light!), but this hopefully will begin to sort itself as I get used to shooting this medium with this gear.

Roll 2 - Ilford Delta 3200

This was the roll I was really looking forward to shooting.  Some people hate it (too grainy), but I love the roughness of it, coupled with the quite strong contrast (...at least, heavier than the HP5).

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Perhaps counter-intuitively (or at least going against the grain of what people normally do with this film), I decided to shoot some candid portraits of my new nephew with my mother.  I actually found that the lovely contrasty tones made the highlights pop, giving the images some nice soft, dreamy character.  This worked well coupled with the bokeh being produced by the Nikon 105mm - I was pretty pleased with the results.

Also, I was onto my second roll and I hadn't messed up the developing yet...I'm not sure exactly how contrast and general film characteristics can be affected by the development temperatures and times used; perhaps something for me to look into in the future...

Roll 3 - Ilford Delta 400

My last roll over the christmas period I shot was a roll of Delta 400.  Delta is generally considered the Rolls Royce of pro films, so I was interested to see how this (more expensive) film compared to the cheaper, but identical ISO, HP5+.  I did shoot some more portraits with this roll, but I also took it with me when I was shooting in Snowdonia over New Years (see my previous blog post) as I was keen to see its potential and performance shooting landscapes.

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The grain is pretty similar between both films (maybe, if I squint, you could argue the Delta's is a bit finer...) but the tones across the board are in my opinion a bit more pleasing with the Delta.  This film also seemed a little sharper, and responded better to light sharpening in Lightroom.  As a film for landscape photography it worked pretty well - especially in dull conditions, it was useful to have that raised sensitivity.

I really enjoyed the whole process over the holidays.  Slowing down and properly considering a shot, then having to wait to see if I got it right, then the development steps themselves.  It is definitely something I will be continuing with, and I have already bought in some more rolls ready for my next outing.  I've even splashed out and picked up some colour negative stuff (some Portra 160), which should be pretty fun...

Le Tour en Cambridge! by Laura Daly

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The Tour de France had its Grand Depart this past week in the UK. The third stage left from Cambridge, my home city and luckily my place of work closed for the day! So I got into town early and pitched up outside the Fitzwilliam Museum. This is the photo story of the day, enjoy! [All images captured with a Nikon D90 and either a Nikon 50 mm f/1.8 or Tokina 11-16 mm f/2.8 lens]

People arrived early in Cambridge to grab the best vantage spots.

A few lucky cyclists were allowed to cycle part of the course a few hours before the race came through.

The caravan is a tour favourite - the cars of the sponsors speed through a couple of hours before the cyclists, chucking out freebies (sort of) towards the spectators.

The French sent over everything with the tour - their own police escort included!

The crowds slowly built up throughout the morning. Every cyclist that came through got a big cheer!

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And finally...it was time for the tour to come by. So many photomotos accompanied the peloton.

Hours of waiting for around 30 seconds of seeing the tour. But completely worth it - the atmosphere was amazing. The cyclists looked like they were really enjoying seeing all of us by the road to send them on their way.

Team Sky in particular got the biggest cheers of the day, being our home team.

A huge fleet of support cars followed the peloton through. All of them trying to keep close to the cyclists led to a few close calls...

Some vehicles were lagging behind.

And then it was all over. Time for everyone to make their way home.

Rough Seas by Laura Daly

Hunstanton-mono-3427 The joy (and sometimes, frustration) of shooting outdoors is competing with the British climate!

The north Norfolk coast is almost infamous for the high winds and sudden downpours, and on Monday I experienced a bit of everything! However, this made for a more interesting backdrop to the North Sea. I felt this image was best suited to a mono conversion, with all the white horses in the sea and the clouds behind. [Nikon D90, 50 mm f/1.8 @ f/16, ISO 200, 1/80th sec]

On this trip, I also played around with my ND filters and got some interesting effects. More to come.