May 19, 2020

Baker's Dozen #2: Ilford fp4+

If the first iteration of my Baker's Dozen series kept me at home, the second has me venturing out a little further on a familiar road. I spent a Friday afternoon after school along the Columbia River, crossing the Oregon/Washington border and traveling on through the Wallula Gap and its neighboring overlook.

Port Kelley, Washington
Port Kelley, Washington. The first frame on this roll and my first stop on the trip.

This route is a great standby for me. A familiar friend that I join when I can't take a longer trip. Or don't have that option or the time. It hasn't gotten boring to me yet, even after dozens of trips over the last 12 years or so. And every time I go through there with a camera, I see something new. Or something old in a new way.

Twin Sisters, Washington
Twin Sisters, Washington is just around the bend from Port Kelley.

This particular mid-May afternoon had some beautiful, puffy clouds against a blue sky, with just a hint of a wind coming from the west. I chose fp4+ for this trip because of its familiarity and predictability with a red #25 filter. This is a contrast to my first post in this series, which involved a film that I was shooting for the very first time. Bringing along a film stock that I've shot dozens of times before in that scenario gives me the confidence to fully consider my compositions and what I want to accomplish with a photograph.

Overlooking Wallula Gap
Hatch Grade Road provides some spectacular views of the Columbia River at Wallula.

Film photography being, well, film photography, we're subject to the mechanical limitations and inevitable failures of our equipment. As successful as this roll was on this trip, I did come back home with a casualty. About halfway through the roll, I discovered that the aperture blades weren't moving smoothly through each setting. I set the timer to bulb and gently tested each one. Sure enough, the blades weren't meshing from f/8 to all the way open at f/2.8.  I still had a few frames to shoot to finish the roll, so I left the aperture at f/22 and hoped it would do its job until I got home. We came in on a wing and a prayer, as I've heard a few WWII vets say in my younger years.

So, I'm sending the 80mm f/2.8 off to be serviced.  I'm told they'll have it 4-6 weeks, which doesn't sound unreasonable during this age of Covid. In the meantime, I do have a 180mm f/4.5 that I don't use nearly often enough. I keep wondering if I should do this same trip using that lens, and then see the difference.

Abandoned thresher above Wallula
An abandoned thresher sits along Hatch Grade Road in Eastern Washington. It deserves a little more of my attention when I go through there again.
Because, after all, the same route next time could bring completely different results. Here are a few more images from this roll:

Columbia River Clouds
Hatch Grade Road
Wind turbes spin above Wallula, Washington
Clouds over the Wallula Gap

Edit: As I look a little more critically at a few of these photos, I'm seeing a little light leak creep in at that top left hand corner. It's slight, and barely perceptible in most cases, but it's come up before. I need to be mindful of sunlight hitting that corner of the camera. When I shoot some higher speed film at 1600, I wonder how much of a problem it will be given the increased sensitivity to light? Looks like I need to do a test to find out. 

May 12, 2020

Baker's Dozen #1: Ilford Ortho Plus

I did two things six months ago that I'm just now getting around to: I bought some Ilford Ortho Plus film and announced my Baker's Dozen project for 2020. In both cases I had the intention of addressing much earlier in the year. In February/March I had an illness and surgery to deal with, and then we had this whole Covid-19 thing that has dampened a lot of travel plans. It's May now, so travel plans or no, I need to do some shooting. 

The light here was hazy sunlight, about f/11 or so.

To be sure, I bought this film knowing it was going to have a different tone palette. I wasn't just going to slap on a red #25 filter and get some big, contrasty clouds against jet black skies. In fact, I wasn't going to be able to use a red filter at all. As I have seen others posting online over the last few months, it certainly has some best-use cases. 

This rock fountain is the centerpiece of our landscaping project.

Not wanting to do traditional landscape shooting with it, I looked around for an alternate subject that might take advantage of its characteristics. Instead of mountains and sky, I wanted to look for some wood, metal and vegetation. Our recent landscaping project included all of that with our wood fence, metal windmill and spring plants. The basalt rock slab with a continuous flow of water flowing over it was just icing on the cake. As I am working much from home these days, it's been a pleasant place to park next to with my Chromebook and coffee on these really nice mornings. 

Some nice tones can be had on vegetation with this film.

Now, about the film. It's nice enough, and I can certainly see myself using it on architecture or other human-made artifacts. At ISO 80, though, it's probably too slow to be an effective street film, especially when hand holding. On the other hand, I do like the water motion I was able to get with the slower speeds. I've seen a few photos of waterfalls (sans sky) taken with this film and it's quite a compelling look. These particular photos were all taken with a somewhat filtered, hazy sunlight. Probably f/11 or so. It should be able to handle direct, f/16 sunlight just fine. I have a few rolls of it left, and one in 35mm format, so it will be good to try it in different light settings. After it's gone, though, it will really have to be a special occasion for me to pick it up again. Unless, of course, I can find a subject I like to shoot that really works well with it.

May 10, 2020

Document Your Life/Roll in a Day

I decided to combine a roll-in-a-day project with a #documentyourlife theme. Like many others, I work mainly from home these days, and am lucky enough to have a back porch and some nice, sunny spring days to spend it with. I shot these with Ilford Delta 400 at ISO 1600 and pushed two stops in Ilfotec DD-x. I haven't shot this film nearly enough, but I was reminded how well it pushes that far with unobtrusive grain. It might very well be my next bulk loaded b/w film.

Coffee is a huge part of my morning.

Alstroemeria on our kitchen table with direct window light.

I work from our back porch table on many of these nice spring days.

A view of our rock garden.

Our school hallways are supposed to look like this in July, not May.

I see things in our backyard in the right light a lot more than I used to.


Here's the whole set on Flickr: 

Roll in a day May 7 2020