Wales from the air

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Trearddur Bay

I travel between Cardiff and Gwynedd on a semi-regular basis, and my favourite (and fastest) way is by plane. Last time I tried it before Christmas, the 40 minute flight turned into a 5 hour taxi ride, after a three hour delay due to dense fog. This flight was definitely more successful, since we arrived at Anglesey a full two minutes early!

Not much to report here (for this blog at least), but here are some of the stunning views you can enjoy on this journey:

Cynon and Taff Valleys

Brecon Beacons National Park

Talybont

Talyllyn

Harlech Coast (almost being obscured by clouds)

Caernarfon Bay

Holy Island and South Stack Lighthouse

Beast from the East: The Sequel

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Water flowing from Roath Lake into Roath Brook
(You can probably tell from the photo that it was still snowing at the time!)

Film stock: Ilford HP5 Plus (120)
Shot at ASA 400.
Developed: Self-developed (Ilfosol 3)
Camera: Mamiya 645

It kinda feels like we just had snow like two weeks ago.

…oh wait, that’s because we literally did have snow two weeks ago!😂

Also, did I mention it was my birthday? Yeah, going out and taking photos of the snow is not an activity I normally associate with my birthday, and yet here we are! I’m already contemplating the fact that this was my first ever birthday snow day, but probably my last too. Obviously this was something to take advantage of.

My last batch of snow photos was heavily focussed around Bute Park and the city centre. This time, I thought I would venture in the other direction and head to Roath Park to see what it was like over there. Obviously the snow was nowhere near as bad as last time, and Cardiff managed to not panic this time – all the buses were still running for the whole day. Despite this, I did venture out the fron door and was faced with a literal blizzard (by which I mean it was snowing and windy at the same time… I realise northern Europeans are currently laughing at me!)

Bridge over Roath Brook

As I expected, Roath Park was looking just as magical as I would have expected (although, Roath Lake completely froze over last time, and I’m kinda gutted I didn’t get to see it). A roll of medium format film has fifteen shots on it when shooting in 6×4.5 format, and I finished the entire roll before I even had a chance to think. After heading home via lunch, I got started with the developing process.

Some of my previous black and white work was developed using Rodinal, but this time I opted for Ilford chemicals and used a regular developing process. Unfortunately, I hadn’t quite mixed enough chemicals to cover the entire film and there was an entire strip on the top of the film that was under developed. I guess that’s one mistake I’ll definitely be learning from!

Nonetheless, I did get some pretty good results from this – despite the mistake – and I’m pretty pleased with the photos!

Palm trees covered in snow is obviously a pretty weird sight

Dog walkers in Roath Park

I used to live in Roath, and the thing I miss most is being a 20 second walk from The Rec

This tree stood out to me as being particularly photogenic

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Redscale

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Some seagulls chilling on the dock

Film stock: Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400 (35mm)
Shot in redscale at ASA 100.
Developed: Express Imaging
Camera: Canon A-1

It’s been a while since I’ve shot any film (January if my records are correct!) and, as well as having my film drawer screaming at me for some attention, I was also in the mood for something a little more experimental.

Those of you who already do film photography and are active on Twitter have probably been exposed to this already, but I noticed a lot of photos being shared under the hashtag #BIFscale18, and it got me curious about redscale photography. Not being one to simply buy something premade, I wanted to use some of my existing stock and decided to reverse and respool some of my film. I tried a few of the film photography places here in Cardiff, and none of them stocked reusable film cannisters (yet!!), so I had to resort to eBay and wait a few days for my package. I guess film photography is definitely on the up, but bulk loading hasn’t quite caught on yet amongst casual photographers.

Those of you who’ve been to Cardiff will probably recognise this as the Wales Millennium Centre

To my surprise, the forecast was looking good for Tuesday and I decided I would finish work and just head straight to do some photography. Luckily, my office is at the northern end of Atlantic Wharf, so there’s plenty of scope for photography there – especially if you walk through it and head to Cardiff Bay. (I did have a bit of a headstart the night before though, and shot a few frames near where I live in Heath).

Once I finished shooting, I headed over to the film lab on City Road. I think we’re quite lucky here in Cardiff to still have a film lab that doesn’t involve sending it off and waiting a week. I normally develop my own film at home, but I do try to use them from time to time – it’s important we use them and keep them in business!

Lloyd George Avenue

I actually managed to get there just in time, and got my film processed immediately and had my negatives in hand within about 10 minutes – can’t complain! I think my film did cause a moment of confusion for the member of staff who thought I might have made a mistake and bulk loaded the film the wrong way round, but I explained that it was intentional, and it caused the staff to chat amongst themselves about redscale photography.

Needless to say, the colour palette for this photoset is fairly limited(!) but I’m pleased with the results and how many images turned out well.

Still life closeup from my walk through Atlantic Wharf

Cardiff’s ever changing skyline

Cardiff Bay and Penarth

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Lousy Smarch weather

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River Taff, as seen from the Taff Trail near Gabalfa

Despite my previous complaint about how well we handle the snow, I completely understand why it makes little sense to spend millions on preparing infrastructure for a snowstorm that generally occurs about once every few years.

I do enjoy them though, because it provides photographic opportunities that don’t happen everyday, so I can’t complain too much. It also meant I got to work from home for a few days, so I took the opportunity of not being tied to a building with fixed opening hours and went out for a few walks over the course of the few days (and obviously made up the time afterwards).

These photos were taken over the course of a few days during Storm Emma, The Beast from the East, or Snowmageddon; depending on what you want to call it!

Blackweir Fields

Blackweir Fields

Blackweir Bridge in Pontcanna Fields

A redwing decided to pay our house a visit.
(Is it just me, or are there suddenly a lot more birds as soon as it snows?)

I’ve never seen Park Place this empty at 8pm!

If you want a summary of these last few days in one photo, then this is it!

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Night photography at Bute Park

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Llandaff Fields after dark

I’m still not entirely sure what drives my photographic decisions, and my urges to do some photography are sometimes the most random thing ever. After finishing work last night, I noticed that the sky was clear and decided it had been a while since any stars had featured in my photos.

I live a short distance away from the Taff Trail, but I’d never really seen it at night. Now, I’m not saying I was expecting it to be dangerous or anything, but I was surprised by how many people were walking and cycling the trail at night. If I lived in London though, I probably wouldn’t have done this if I’m being completely honest!

I think night photography is one of my favourite types of photography, and it’s where you can find me in my element. I hope you enjoy looking at these photos as much as I enjoyed taking them.

Trees from the Taff Trail

The Taff Trail

Blackweir Bridge

Llandaff Fields

Cinematic Magic

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Film stock: Kodak Vision3 5219 (35mm)
Shot at ASA 500.
Developed: Self-developed
Camera: Canon A-1

Most of the film I’ve been shooting so far has been photographic film, so I decided to try something a little different for a change.

I’ve had a few spools of cinema film for a while, but I’d never really got round to using them. In light of this fact, I decided my 35mm camera needed some love, so I loaded it up with some Kodak Vision3 5219 (an ISO 500 tungsten balanced film) and went for a bit of an adventure around Cardiff (and Penarth). I’ve decided I really like this film, and I’m tempted to just live out the rest of my days in tungsten balance because life would look so much prettier!

I shot an entire roll in the space of a day, so you might also be able to tell from the photos that I spent a significant amount of time on this. This journey involved a walk into the city centre, which is where I spent some time wandering in and out of the arcades – some of my favourite places in Cardiff. From here, I trekked over to Penarth by bus and made my way back into Cardiff via the barrage.

In hindsight, this may not have been the wisest decision – it rained for pretty much my entire walk. But I wasn’t going to let a bit of rain get the best of me, so onward I persevered, and I’d like to think the photos I got were worth it…

Another rainy day in Cardiff

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Film stock: Fomapan 200 (medium format)
Developed: Self-developed
Camera: Mamiya 645

I had no plans this weekend. The main reason for this was the rain – I’d told myself I might go out and do some photography, but the weather wasn’t looking too favourable. As the day progressed though, I decided I needed to do something – if I did nothing whenever it rained, then I’d probably never achieve anything considering I live in Wales! 😂

At about 2pm, I made the decision that I would venture out and brave the rain, and I also decided I’d test out a new film in the process – Fomapan 200. Once I was out, the rain wasn’t quite as bad as I had expected it to be, but my route through Bute Park did mean I was walking under a canopy of trees the vast majority of the time. If I need to get into Cardiff city centre and I’m not in any rush, this is probably my favourite walking route to get there. My plan in the future is to walk this route a number of times using different films (and at different times of the year – Autumn colours on Ektar anyone?)

Like I said I’ve never used Fomapan before, but I’ve decided I like the film. It’s a little grainier than any other film of this speed, but it has a certain pleasing aesthetic to it. (To be honest though, I don’t think grain is of any particular concern at ISO 200.) I’m also not quite sure how exactly to explain this, but the photos have a certain warmth to them(?) I know they’re black and white photos and there’s no colour in them, but there’s something I can’t quite put my finger on – maybe someone else can tell me what I’m seeing?

Given the advantage of hingsight, I would have probably chosen a film of at least ISO 400, but that’s not really a criticism of the film – just a criticism of the day in general and how dark and rainy it was!

Anyway, without further ado, here is the image set of the day:

Fairy light portraits

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Film stock: Ilford Delta 3200 (medium format)
Developed: Self-developed
Camera: Mamiya 645

I haven’t really been much of a portrait person in the past, and I’ve never shot anything above ISO 400 (on film at least – I definitely have on digital). I had a roll of Delta 3200 sitting unused in my stockpile of film, and I just needed to find some use for it. In the end, I decided to do some portraits with additional (non flash-based) lighting.

This was a very experimental roll of film, and I wasn’t expecting any miracles from it, so the fact that even just 3/4 out of 15 shots turned out well was a pleasant surprise – it’s always difficult doing low light photography when you can’t even review your shots afterwards. The other thing that also surprised me was the graininess, or the lack of it rather. I’ve used some really grainy films at ISO 400, so I was expecting this film to be a whole lot worse. Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely a grainy film, but just nowehere near as bad as I’ve seen with some other film styles.

So without further ado, here are the small handful of photos I actually think turned out well:

Obviously thank you to Eva and Louise for being such willing models for this shoot. 🙂

Malta

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Film stock: Kodak ColorPlus 200 (35mm)
Kodak Ektar 100 (35mm)
Developed: Express Imaging
Camera: Canon A-1

I’ve just come back from a week in Malta.

Initially, I decided we hadn’t had enough sunshine and warm weather in the UK and that the situation needed to be rectified. Now that I’m back, I’m actually glad that the weather is somewhat cooler!

A few things I learned during my time in Malta…

  • You don’t need to be able to speak Maltese to understand the universal “phwoar, it’s too hot” gesture that people make.
  • Buses turn up whenever they damn well please. Usually anytime between ten minutes early and fifteen minutes late.
  • Maltese people hate Arriva just as much as we do in Wales – they used to run their buses and only lasted about two years before abandoning the country.
  • It should theoretically be possible to catch a bus from one side of Malta all the way to the other side in less time than it takes to catch a bus from one side of Cardiff to the other, but the traffic usually means this doesn’t happen.
  • It’s difficult to avoid reminders that Malta used to be British when you see red phonebooths, post boxes and pelican crossings.

This was actually the first trip where I didn’t take a digital camera with me. I did obviously take my phone with me and used it for photos, but the only SLR I had with me was the Canon A-1. I spent a week in Malta and used four rolls of film but, in the interests of not bombarding everyone with a million photos, here are a select few photos from my trip:

Brecon and the Perseids

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Film stock: Rollei Infrared 400 (medium format)
Shot at ASA 50*
Developed: Self-developed
Camera: Mamiya 645
Canon EOS 70D for the digital photos

*The box speed of film is always measured using all light because infrared films are sensitive to infrared as well as visible light. Since we’re blocking out the visible light with a filter, it effectively reduces the ISO speed of the film.

As part of the #SummerFilmParty on Twitter (which has a really active film photography community if you know where to look), I decided to challenge myself to shoot something a little different than usual. The official rules (which can be found on the Emulsive blog) allowed for a variety of different film styles, but the one that really caught my eye was infrared – being able to see what you’re shooting is overrated anyway!

I deliberated with myself for a while, as I wasn’t entirely sure what I would shoot. As the weekend drew to a close (and with it the deadline for shoot week), I was running out of ideas and resigned myself to just wandering around Cardiff on Saturday and just taking random photos. Suddenly though, an opportunity presented itself: My friend was playing at one of the pubs during the Brecon Jazz Festival (or as we described it in an effort to make it sound better, he was playing the “Brecon Jazz Fringe”) and asked me to come along. I agreed and said I’d be bringing my camera along with me and that we’d be stopping for photos – the route between us and Brecon involves travelling through the Brecon Beacons National Park. He duly agreed, and that was my weekend sorted.

Here are some of the photos I managed to get. Infrared has a certain look to it that I like, and this definitely won’t be the last time I shoot with infrared film.

Oh, wait. That’s not all – did I mention this weekend was also the peak of the Perseid meteor shower?

I obviously managed to convince my friend that we also needed to trek out somewhere in the Brecon Beacons away from light pollution (he lives in Merthyr Tydfil, so it’s not too far to trek). The Beacons are a designated international dark sky reserve, and make for some brilliant night photos:

I also convinced him that it needed to be after midnight.

…and that we might spend a considerable duration of time outside in the cold.

…and that he’d potentially have to watch me get frustrated when a meteor streaks across the sky in the opposite direction to where my camera was facing!

Yeah, that last one did actually happen. Unfortunately, it was the best meteor of the entire shower, and it streaked across the sky flashing a brilliant green leaving a trail that lingered for a good ten seconds.

So I managed to get the third best meteor on camera!

The only issue with the photo is that the lens I used was really wide – an 11mm crop sensor lens. It was good for capturing as much of the sky as possible at any one time (since we never really had any idea where the next meteor would appear) but, as a consequence, any meteors captured look small and far away.

But hey, at least I managed to get one!

I also learned something about the brightness of the moon – the peak of the shower coincided with a full moon, and I learned that it wasn’t just the sun or artificial lights that caused lens flare.

Who knew moon flare was even a thing?