Infrared at Crook Hall Gardens

After my recent foray into converting scanned colour film images into fake-infrared using Adobe Lightroom I was enthused to load a roll of “real” Infrared fiilm into my Yashicamat 124G twin-lens reflex. The film chosen was Rollei IR400, which has a nominal ISO of 400 as the name suggests, but to take account of the use of a Hoya R72 filter, I rated the film at ISO 6. This represented a six-stop allowance for the filter factor, which may be on the higher end of the range needed on the sunny day in question; ISO 12, or a five stop filter factor, may have been enough. Anyway it doesn’t matter too much as there’s some flexibility to adjust appearance in post-processing.

The film was developed in Kodak T-Max developer for 5m46s at 21C in a Jobo processor, based on the times listed in the Massive Dev Chart, adjusted for temperature and continuous agitation.

The venue was Crook Hall Gardens in Durham.

2015-6-7, Yashicamat, Rollei IR400, R72 filter, Crook Hall Gardens, TMax Dev, 007

2015-6-7, Yashicamat, Rollei IR400, R72 filter, Crook Hall Gardens, TMax Dev, 003

2015-6-7, Yashicamat, Rollei IR400, R72 filter, Crook Hall Gardens, TMax Dev, 008

2015-6-7, Yashicamat, Rollei IR400, R72 filter, Crook Hall Gardens, TMax Dev, 010

2015-6-7, Yashicamat, Rollei IR400, R72 filter, Crook Hall Gardens, TMax Dev, 012

2015-6-7, Yashicamat, Rollei IR400, R72 filter, Crook Hall Gardens, TMax Dev, 011


There are some other shots taken at Crook Hall Gardens on previous occasions on my flickr stream.

One shot – Look over there

I don’t normally post blog articles which are just a single image, but then I thought, it’s my blog, why not?

Look over there

I took this in Plessey Woods, Northumberland, with the Fuji GA645Zi and Kodak Portra 400, converted to mono in Adobe Lightroom.

A walk around Berwick with Fomapan 100

After my exploration of the rocks at Spittal (see here) I took a less formal walk around with Spittal with just a 35mm camera and a Yashicamat. I wasn’t sure what was loaded in the Yashicamat but the film counter said there was 2 shots left … errm… as it turned out there was no film in the Yashicamat. See, many cameras don’t activate the film counter when there is no film loaded, but the Yash does, and it has no film reminder holder, so that’s my excuse ..

The 35mm was the Olympus 35ECR which I have previously written about, loaded with my first roll of Fomapan 100. My reason for the using the Olympus was, obscurely, that I had recently purchased and ran a roll of Poundland Agfa Vista through the slightly-similar Olympus 35RC, and that reminded me of the Olympus 35ECR and I wanted to check it was still working.

The film was more grainy than I expected for an ISO100 film -perhaps I have been spoilt by using TMax 100 –  but at least it wasn’t curly to load into the developing reel or to scan. I developed in Kodak TMax Developer and after scanning applied a light gold tone in Adobe Lightroom.

I probably won’t buy any more Fomapan, but I have another roll loaded in the new Olympus 35RC, and will blog about that camera when the roll is finished. I’m also waiting for a couple of rolls of Polypan-F to try out. Yes, I know I said “Farewell to 35mm” but these are just side projects for a bit of fun, not serious photography, let alone (ahem) “fine art” photography.

Converting to “Infrared” in Adobe Lightroom

Just a quick post to show the results of messing around with Adobe Lightroom and some scans of colour negative images taken with Kodak Portra film.

Recently I had a pleasant walk around Bollihope which is part of Weardale in County Durham. I had the Fuji GA645Zi loaded with Kodak Portra and a Yashicamat loaded with Ilford FP4. As I looked at the bright green foliage I began to think it was the right time of year to be shooting some Infrared Film, but I didn’t have any with me. I’ll put that right by loading either Rollei IR400 or Ilford SFX into the Yashicamat as soon as the FP4 is finished, but in the meantime I decided to see what the “infrared” develop preset in Lightroom could do for me.


I have some presets which are third-party addons but this one is Adobe-supplied. I am not sure what Lightroom version it was first supplied with, but I think it appeared when I updated from LR2 to LR5. If you don’t have it on your Lightroom system, it should be easy enough to create one.
The key points are to set the yellow and green colours to +100, and the Aqua colour to +50.


You might want to increase to contrast, increase the exposure, and hold back the highlights as well:


Note that negative clarity has also been set; this gives an effect a little like the “aura” that the old Efke IR film gave.

Once you have the options set the way you want them, just click the “+” sign next to “Presets” in the left-hand pane …


… and check the relevant boxes in the screen below, and give your preset a name.


Of course, after applying a preset, you are free to make any other changes you want to suit the individual image.

Anyway, here’s the results I got. You might like them or you may think that they are an abomination and no substitute for the use of infra-red film; it’s your choice.

2015-5-23, Portra 160, Bollihope, GA645Zi, 16-2

2015-5-23, Portra 160, Bollihope, GA645Zi, 14-2

One final word – if you apply these settings to a scan from black-and-white film, then you won’t see much effect, and foilage may go darker rather than lighter. That’s because you can’t amend the individual colours in a “true” mono image, because there aren’t any. The preset will work with either a colour digital file or a scanned colour film image.

Location: Spittal

Despite living in the North East of England for a little over 50 years, I’d never visited Spittal until this month. Spittal is (arguably) a suburb of Berwick upon Tweed, which lies close to the border between England and Scotland.

It must be said that Spittal on the whole is not fantastically photogenic. There’s a nice enough beach for locals to walk on but you wouldn’t drive 60 miles from Newcastle just to see the beach, because there are numerous better beaches further south in Northumberland, such as Bamburgh, Embleton, Druridge Bay.

The thing that DID attract me to Spittal was an area of rocks just 30m long by 5m wide, consisting of highly weathered layered sandstone; I’d seen a couple of images from my flickr contacts.

RZ67, Velvia 50, Spittal Rocks, 5-border

Many of these shots have no indication of scale, which I like – are we looking at rocks 2,000 feet high or 2 feet high ? (Answer – 2 feet)

For this trip I used my Mamiya RZ67 with either the 110mm or 65mm lenses. Although I’ve been using the Fujifilm GA645Zi a lot recently, this subject needs (a) close focussing, and (b) a big viewfinder so you can check what’s in focus

RZ67, Velvia 50, Spittal Rocks, 6-border

Working at close range, the depth of field is pretty limited. I wanted most of the scene to be in focus so used f22 for most shots. I used the depth of field preview to try and check the focus, but the screen gets very dim when you step down to f22 so this wasn’t a perfect method. I also tried multiple versions of the same image with varying focus points, with a view to trying out focus stacking, but haven’t got round to trying this yet.

So that's what happened to the baked potato I dropped !

So that’s what happened to the baked potato I dropped !

RZ67, Velvia 50, Spittal Rocks, 3c-border

Fuji Velvia, accidentally under-exposed

All four images above were taken on Fuji Velvia 50, which I haven’t used much recently as I now generally prefer negative film due to the wider exposure latitude. However I figured that in the absence of any sky or deep shadows, Velvia should be able to handle the dynamic range quite well. The last one was problematic because I accidentally underexposed by maybe two stops (and took three versions with a view to focus stacking, all incorrectly exposed. I think what happened was that I took an accurate meter reading, but failed to transfer those settings to the camera. Although Lightroom was able to pull back an image, I’m not so happy with the result so this scene will be attempted again in the future – providing I can actually find the exact spot.

EDIT – I produced another version by transferring the file from Lightroom to Photoshop and simply using the Auto Colour command. I’m much happier with this version:

spittal rocks-photoshop version


After the roll of Velvia was used up I changed to Kodak Portra 400, which of course has a very wide exposure latitude.

2015-5-16, Spittal, RZ67, Portra 400, Digibase, EpsonScan010-border

I found that the exercise of making these semi-abstract images was a good discipline in composition. The subject matter is just lines, curves, and textures, with colour playing a supportive role. There is no well-recognised version of what a “standard” image should look like, as a point of reference, as there would be with, say, a portrait. There isn’t even a “right way up” as you can turn the images left, right, or upside down to get the result that pleases you … and that might not be the same thing that pleases other viewers.

A rock with an angry face. Portra 400 film

A rock with an angry face.
Portra 400 film

Small differences in camera angle can make a large difference to the composition. I can’t imagine doing this type of image without a tripod because, apart from the practicalities relating to the shutter speed, I needed to study the viewfinder carefully, especially checking the edges for unwanted intrusions.

I hope to go back to Spittal soon. Of course, the key elements will look the same, but the arrangements of trapped small stones, and the sand left behind, will change with each tide; and the intensity and direction of light will also provide different opportunities. The sun was fairly strong on my visit, but I waited for cloud cover before pressing the shutter. I think light cloud would be the optimum situation, and suspect that rain need not stop play.

Apart from the rocks pictured above, another feature I noticed was a stream emerging from a small cliff at the end of the promenade, which obviously had a high iron oxide content, as the rocks around about were heavily red-stained (effectively with rust, which also got left behind on my camera bag and boots).

2015-5-16, Spittal, RZ67, Portra 400, Digibase, EpsonScan016

I didn’t do the scene justice on this visit but will revisit the area around the stream outlet next time.

Now here’s a map which shows you exactly where to find these features. There’s plenty of free parking nearby, and it’s not far to walk from the car parks to the rocks. There’s also a cafe on the sea-front which serves enormous toasted teacakes with jam….

Location: High Cup Nick

High Cup Nick is a u-shaped glacial valley in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which is a pretty dramatic location, at least by the standards of the North Pennines. It lies on the Pennine Way, and in this guise it is often walked on a route from Teesdale crossing west across the Peninnes to Dufton. However, for my first visit I chose a circular route from Dufton, starting off up the valley of Great Rundale Beck, and traversing across Backstone Edge to reach High Cup Nick before returning to the Pennine Way.

According to the guidebook I used, this is a route of around 11.5 miles, so I decided to take the Fuji GA645ZI rather than the heavier Mamiya RZ67. A Manfrotto monopod doubled up as a walking pole.  I managed to make the route a bit longer because after a mile or so I tried to take a photo and found out that the camera batteries – still the set that came with the camera when I bought it – were flat. No problem, I thought, I have another set in the camera bag… which turned out to be the wrong size. I quickly thought through the options. Carrying on without a working camera was theoretically possible but would probably make me miserable. So, thankful that I had made this discovery early on, I returned to the car where I thought I might have a bag of batteries including some of the right size, and definitely had a couple of other cameras.

Armed with the correct batteries I found in the car, I got back to the same place about 40 minutes later.

High Cup Nick

High Cup Nick. It was near this point that I dropped my lens cap. The cap for the Fuji GA645Zi is very camera-specific and difficult to replace, so a little light scrambling was required to retrieve it.

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Cycling through the Outer Hebrides, with camera

In May 2009 I finally got around to completing a trip I’d been planning for about twenty years, namely to cycle through the Outer Hebrides islands of Scotland, from Barra in the South to Lewis in the North. Of course, I took a camera with me and since every ounce of weight had to carried I wanted to keep the weight down.

My camera equipment choice was:

  • One 35mm SLR – the very light Canon EOS300 which I have previously blogged about
  • Canon 50mm/f1.8 standard lens
  • Sigma 24mm wide-angle
  • Gorillapod SLR mini-tripod.
  • Cokin 2-stop and 3-stop graduated neutral density filters and holder
  • Bellows-type lens hood
  • 3 rolls of Fuji Velvia 50 1 roll of Fuji Sensia 400 slide film

4 rolls of film would give 144 shots – which some people would use up in an hour of digital shooting, but it did last me throughout the eight day trip, and in fact I didn’t finish the last film – I think I took about 120 images in total.

Abandoned boat on Vatersay

The only item I wish I had left behind – although it didn’t weigh much so this doesn’t really matter – was the gorillapod. I only used it once, because it can only really raise the camera a few inches off the ground, unless you are lucky enough to find a table, fence, or flat rock, in the exact position which gives you the composition you really want. I’ve since sold it.

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