monochrome

Fujifilm Neopan Acros 100 by Laura Daly

Up to this point, my experiences with black and white film had been purely with Ilford stock.  HP5+ and the different Deltas were what I started with, but many people regularly recommended Fuji Acros.  Silverprint UK is usually my go-to site in the UK for film, and once again their price for 120 rolls of Acros was too tempting.  Being a 100 speed film, Acros is generally known for shaprness, fine grain and great detail.  It is also of course best used in bright conditions.  During my visit to Wimpole (see also Kodak Portra 400 and Fujifilm Pro 400H) I tested out a roll of Acros to see what it could do.  Of course, being a test I did take some images in less than ideal conditions (think dark pig sheds) to see if you could still have this film in your camera for a general, versatile walk-about film. acros-124acros-123

Shooting into the sun, the film still retains a great amount of shadow detail, but the sky also still retains texture - it's not blown out as it likely would be in a digital file.  (Note - doing this did lead to some light leak onto the following frame. Not a big deal but definitely noticeable...)

Heading indoors, I had to deal with some pedestrian shutter speeds with my Yashica, which only has a maximum aperture of f/3.5.  Luckily, the design of a TLR means it is relatively straightforward to brace the camera against your body and take a shot with a shutter speed less than 1/15 (the main time to look out for in terms of technique is pressing the shutter).  In some shots I got the exposure a little bit wrong, with one or two images being a little dark - this is recoverable in Lightroom though.

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With more unusual lighting, the contrast of Acros can be amazing.  For this image I shot into a barn, waiting for the goat to pass by the little door into their outside area.  Even in this extreme dark (metering for the highlights of course) there is still detail on the barn wall - the edges of the planks are clearly visible.  This is pretty incredible, considering how bright the goat is (there is also detail here too, it is not blown out).

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So, what are my impressions?  As you can probably tell, I'm a big fan of this film.  The latitude, contrast (in the right conditions), great detail, sharpness, pleasing but unobtrusive grain makes this a fantastic film for a wide range of settings.  I wouldn't hesitate to put this film in my camera when on the street or at a location such as Wimpole.  I would perhaps stay away from it in indoor settings (unless brightly lit), but this is as much to do with the slow film speed as it is to do with the aperture that can be achieved by my Yashica.

There wasn't much information out there in terms of development.  I used this method (Ming Thein blog) - Ilford DD-X, 6.5 minutes at 24 degress water temperature, then standard 1 minute of Ilfostop and 6 minutes of Ilford Rapid Fixer.  Seemed to work very well, so I ill be sticking with this in the future.

Go on, get some.  You won't regret it...

 

Snowdonia, New Years Eve by Laura Daly

Usually on a christmas break (with jobs as hectic as ours) you would normally assume lie-ins and slow days, and you would be correct, except for when we are in scenery as striking as Snowdonia, North Wales. A wake up call at 6am on New Years Eve.  We were greeted by partially cloudy skies and some light rain, which immediately screamed great potential for a decent sunrise, and a restoration of my faith in the BBC weather service.  Tryfan was our destination, meaning a 90 minute drive was ahead of us.  Luckily no one else was as stupid was out and about, so we made good time.

Leading up to Tryfan, we passed through a spectacular valley, but unfortunately there was nowhere to stop and park, but this is a definite future shooting site (on the A5 just west of Capel Curig).  Tryfan itself has a small car park which was empty, and it also contains the start of the (very well looked after) trail up the mountain.

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100 yards up the trail you will come across a bridge.  There had been a lot of rain so the stream passing over the rocky hillside and running under the bridge was in roaring good form.  The image above was actually taken on the way back down - the sun had risen and promptly hid behind heavy, threatening cloud.  This left little option for me but to convert into black and white.  However, with the long exposure and the milky white waterfall, there was a nice amount of contrast.

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The path up the mountain is maintained by the National Trust and so was in really good condition.  It also cut a beautiful path up the hillside, creating some lovely leading lines of the grey rock contrasting against the greens and browns of the vegetation.  Up to this point the UK had not seen any cold weather.  At all.  But this high in Snowdonia there was a light dusting on the peaks, helping them stand out against the rapidly evolving sky.

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At this point the sun was about to come above the horizon, and the sky was trying to work out if it wanted to show any colour.  The building clouds caught a little light, but the sunrise was not developing as nicely as early morning excited me thought it would.  However, with the promise of some great views regardless, we pressed on through the bitter winds.

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After about a 20-30 minute hike (including photography stops), we reached Llyn Idwal, the first of the lakes on the route to the mountains.  Again, a full stream was gushing out at high speed, adding a dynamic aspect to the image I managed to capture above.  All the images I shot this morning were achieved with the Nikon D750 and the 16-35mm f/4.  I continue to be mightily impressed with the amount of data the sensor can capture - this image needed a little help in Lightroom to bring out the shadow detail and the colours, but I think this really reflects our experiences of the morning.

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There's a different mountain ridge across the lake, again being cut in two by a stream running down from the lightly dusted snowy cap.  Only after I got this image back into the computer did I spot the moon cheekily placed above the left peak!

I also took my Nikon FM2n on this hike, and shot a couple of images on some Delta 400 - I will be developing this roll in the next few days and will include the images in an upcoming post about my first few rolls of film shooting...

The lake was as far as we were willing to go on this occasion - the weather was closing in and we chickened out decided to make our way back down safely.  However, a fantastic vantage point for Snowdon itself was only a 10 minute drive away, so we made our way there before the bad weather settled in for the rest of the day.

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This was one of the last images we managed to capture where the summit was actually visible (3 minutes after this image, a torrential downpour started, and didn't stop until we left the national park! Typical...).  I was in two minds about whether to keep it in colour, as the light was not producing very punchy colours.

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This last mono image was one of my favourites of the day.  The misty clouds slightly veiling the summit, along with the deeply dark foreground hills, cut through by a fast moving stream.  I think black and white works excellently in mountainous, poor weather terrain such as this, and this image rounded off a really enjoyable trip into the mountains of Wales.

Golden Gate Fog by Laura Daly

A shot of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. If you look closely, you can see one of the America's Cup boats practising for the race proper. Nikon D90, 1/320 sec @ f/11 using a 50 mm Nikkor f/2.8.

At the moment I'm trying out a Wacom tablet, in order to decide if I should take the plunge and buy one myself. So for this edit I was mainly practicing using the adjustment brush for some dodging and burning. They seem pretty useful so far, although it takes some getting used to in terms of where the pointer is/will end up!

Self-review of 2014 by Laura Daly

After a not-so-long look at the images I have captured this year (I haven't gotten out with my camera as much as I would have liked), I decided to choose my 10 favourite images from the year. Of course, these are my ten favourite images TODAY; next week I may well choose a different ten! In any case, it was pretty useful to see what I had shot over the year, to see if I had improved, and to help me think what I might like to get out and shoot in the new year. So here are my ten favourite images from the year, from January through to December.

#1 - Beyond the sea

It was a bright day when the sun came out on the north Norfolk coast, so trying to get blur in the sea was not easy! I currently don't have a big stopper, which would have been ideal here. The filters I have (especially the cokin ones) create a horrible magenta cast, which I had to remove in Lightroom.

#2 - Le Tour

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

#3 - Gendarmerie

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

#4 - Watery path (mono)

I originally uploaded this image in colour, but as part of my (kind of) self review, I had a re-edit of some images. Used a brush mask overlay to try and make the river a bit brighter to draw the eye.

#5 - Black water

This was the same river as #4 in the highlands of Scotland. Image was cropped slightly to remove a chunk of distracting sky.

#6 - Bowfiddle

Beautiful rock formation on the north-east coast of Scotland. Again using the Lee Little Stopper here. The sky was so bright, I could have really done with the Big Stopper!

#7 - Fairy Glen

Fairy Glen Falls - accessed via a lovely walk (about 30 minutes), with a slightly tougher section of stairs and slippery ground at the end. Worth it!

#8 - Light in the dark

The sun burst through the clouds at just the right moment so that it lit up Inverness across the river.

#9 - Concorde rear

The rear of a British Airways Concorde at the Scottish Museum of Flight. They had the rear wheel down, which helps show just how long this aircraft really is...

#10 - Purple Inverness

After a bit of work, many images can undergo a massive transformation in Lightroom.

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!

Crowds

Anticipation

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.