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. 

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