Another trip to Bothal

I’ve blogged about the Northumbrian village of Bothal before and I couldn’t resist another visit this Autumn so I thought I’d share a few images. I took the Mamiya RZ67 and finished off a roll of Portra 400 that was half-used, shot a roll of Fuji Velvia 50, then loaded a roll of Ektar which is still in the camera.

Here are a few Velvia images, concentrating on the lovely acer tree which grows around the war memorial, outside a church, and is usually at it’s best around Remembrance Day. It was a very wet day but that only made the leaves glow with even more colour.

2015-11-7, RZ67, Bothal, Velvia 50,  chems, 002-Edit 2015-11-7, RZ67, Bothal, Velvia 50,  chems, 001 2015-11-7, RZ67, Bothal, Velvia 50,  chems, 003 2015-11-7, RZ67, Bothal, Velvia 50,  chems, 004 2015-11-7, RZ67, Bothal, Velvia 50,  chems, 010

I don’t shoot much slide film nowadays as I prefer the wider dynamic range of negative film, and also because I have to pay for it to be processed commercially. Although I have processed slide film at home, that requires maintaining a different set of chemicals alongside those I need for colour negatives, and the chemicals would go off before I get the chance to use them up.

However there’s no doubt that Velvia and Provia both look great in the right circumstances. I have two or three rolls left in the freezer which will get used sometime.


Remembering half-frame : the Olympus EE series

In recent years Olympus have revived the name “PEN” for their mirrorless four-thirds digital cameras, but from 1955-1981 the name referred to a series of half-frame 35mm camera. Half-frame means that two images are taken in the space normally used for one 35mm image; the resulting negatives were 18mm wide * 24mm high and all the half-frame cameras I’ve seen provided a vertical format image.

Two of these cameras have come through my hands before being sold on; an EE2 which took the colour images below and an EE3 which was used for the black and white film. They were very basic cameras, with a selenium cell meter around the lens, programmed auto exposure, and fixed focus.

I can’t find an image of my PEN cameras before I sold them, so here’s one from Wikipedia:


By Hiyotada (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Having twice the number of images on a roll of film can be seen as a bonus or drawback; a bonus if you want to get the most return on the money you spend on film purchase and processing, and a drawback if, like me, it takes you a long time to work through a 24 or 36 exposure film, never mind 48 or 72 images. I think that the roll of colour film took from 2010 to 2012 to finish ! Of course, the smaller negative size does place severe constraints on image quality and most of the images below have had a fair bit of processing in Lightroom to get them to this point.


Ultimately the death-knell of half-frame was sounded by full-frame 35mm cameras which were barely any larger in external dimensions but offered negatives of twice the size. These days I’m mostly shooting medium format, and my favourite 35mm back-up is an Olympus 35RC (or even two of them) which offer far more manual control and image quality without any decrease in carrying ability.

I don’t suppose I’ll be shooting any more half-frame but it’s been fun looking back over these images.


Portra 400 at Finchale Abbey on the River Wear

I took the Mamiya RZ67 and tripod down to Finchale Abbey, which lies a few miles outside of Durham on the River Wear, and shot some Portra 400. The film was home developed in the Fuji Hunt X-Press C41 chemicals.

2015-10, RZ67, Finchale, Portra 400, Fuji chems, 004

2015-10, RZ67, Finchale, Portra 400, Fuji chems, 002

2015-10, RZ67, Finchale, Portra 400, Fuji chems, 003-Edit2015-10, RZ67, Finchale, Portra 400, Fuji chems, 007

Ektar at Tarn Hows

Last week we took a family trip to Tarn Hows, a delightful small lake a few miles from Coniston in the English Lake District.

As it was a family walk rather than a photo expedition, I left the Mamiya RZ67 at home and took the Fujifilm GA645Zi combined with my lightest tripod, which is OK as long as it’s not windy. I knew I would need the tripod as I would be shooting Kodak Ektar, ISO100, possibly in low light levels in the woods.

I’ve been shooting mostly Portra recently but Ektar is also a fine film and works well with Autumn tones.

Tarn Hows

In the right conditions Tarn Hows some fine views of the Langdale Pikes and the Coniston Fells, but as it was hazy and there were quite a lot of people about I concentrated on smaller details and tried to exclude the sky.

Tarn Hows #1 Tarn Hows Tarn Hows Tarn Hows

Tarn Hows

The film was processed at home using the Fuji Hunt X-Press C41 kit.



Fuji Hunt X-Press C41 chemicals – instructions

I’ve recently started using the Fujifilm C-41 Film X-Press Kit to process my colour negative film, to replace the Digibase C41 kit I’d previously used. I’ve been quite happy with the results so far, although more time is needed to establish whether there are any advantages over the Digibase kit.

Anyway the point of this post is that I lost my copy of the instructions which were included in the kit; I searched around the internet for a copy and couldn’t find an “official” source but did find a scanned copy, which was unfortunately a little difficult to read. So I distilled the main points, missed out the non-English language variants, and made my own table, which I thought I would publish here as a reference in case anyone else has the same problem.


If you prefer a PDF version, click here

While I’m posting, I may as well show a few examples of images developed with these chemicals. All the images below were shot at St Abbs Harbour on medium format Portra 400 in a Fujifilm GA645Zi, developed in the Fuji kit with a Jobo CPE-2 processor, and scanned on an Epson v700 with ICE dust-removal turned on, and polished in Adobe Lightroom.

2015-8-30, GA645Zi, Portra 400, Fuji Hunt C41, St Abbs, 015

Harriet J

St Abbs harbour

2015-8-30, GA645Zi, Portra 400, Fuji Hunt C41, St Abbs, 008

2015-8-30, GA645Zi, Portra 400, Fuji Hunt C41, St Abbs, 001

Abstract painting2015-8-30, GA645Zi, Portra 400, Fuji Hunt C41, St Abbs, 007

A happy accident – overexposing Portra 160

Recently I put a roll of Portra 160 through my Canon FTb, a camera which I hadn’t used for a while, as I’ve been shooting mostly medium format. I’ve sold most of my Canon FD lenses so the only one I have left is a 50mm f1.8. The FTb hasn’t been put up for sale because it has a dent in the pentaprism and the meter doesn’t work, so it wouldn’t fetch much on eBay.

The film roll lasted through a trip to Allenbanks, to Durham Botanical Gardens, and to Alnwick Castle, accompanied by a Sekonic Twinmate exposure meter.

The “accident” became obvious once I’d developed the film, as the negatives were very dense, indicating overexposure. Once they were scanned, I could see that they all had very narrow depth of focus, and yet I had been shooting, most often, at f11. I went to check that the lens was stopping down correctly, and indeed it was stuck at f1.8.

I transferred the lens to a Canon FX body, fired the shutter a few times, and the lens returned to normal. But the question was, could I produce some useable images from these overexposed negatives?


Detail of a wooden statue at Durham Botanical Gardens

Detail of a wooden statue at Durham Botanical Gardens

I think the answer was yes, but of course the viewer can decide for themselves. Portra is legendary for it’s ability to withstand over-exposure (and under-exposure, to a lesser degree).

2015-8- Canon FTb, Portra 160, Fuji Hunt C41 chems, 025

This one was probably the most overexposed – five stops over


2015-8- Canon FTb, Portra 160, Fuji Hunt C41 chems, 002

I really like the backgrounds produced by shooting at f1.8. I know that others rave about wide-aperture shooting, but as I mainly shoot landscapes rather than portraits, I’ve not done much of that till now. In fact I used to own three different Canon 50mm f1.4 lenses but never used them deliberately at full aperture.

2015-8- Canon FTb, Portra 160, Fuji Hunt C41 chems, 007 2015-8- Canon FTb, Portra 160, Fuji Hunt C41 chems, 020 2015-8- Canon FTb, Portra 160, Fuji Hunt C41 chems, 024

2015-8- Canon FTb, Portra 160, Fuji Hunt C41 chems, 028

Artwork in Durham Botanical Gardens

The camera used for this session

2015-8- Canon FTb, Portra 160, Fuji Hunt C41 chems, 026

After this happy accident, I’m going to try to include more wide-aperture images. I’ll probably do this with the 110mm f2.8 lens on my Mamiya RZ67 – f2.8 on medium format produces about the same depth of field as f1.4 on 35mm, and I’ll have the advantage of the bigger negative size.



Single image: poppies

Autumn is my favourite time of year for photography; and yet I find myself trawling through summer images in my Lightroom archive and decided to share this one.

The poppies were in a pot waiting to be planted in the garden; I took them to an upstairs windowsill and photographed them against the light with Fuji Provia 100F film in a Mamiya RZ67.

2015-6,  RZ67, flowers, Fuji Provia 100F, 001

I’m not sure they liked being photographed though; when they were planted in the garden they didn’t thrive whereas two other pot-fuls planted at the same time did fine.




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