It is Spring; it is beautiful. The trees are gradually being enveloped in a haze of fresh green leaves, the sun is shining, and bluebells are starting to drop shadow the woods with blue. I am working through the winter’s photographs, looking at places that will soon be made inaccessible by bracken. These are hidden corners, away from the popular footpaths. If they are not quite forgotten—note the stacked logs—then they are quietly neglected. These are my favourite places.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the effects of erosion—by water and feet—on the landscape, and have been paying attention to the residual signs left behind. In the case of this photograph, taken near Ambleside after storm “Callum” in October, rapidly flowing flood waters have pressed the grass flat, almost tearing it up by the roots. Of course these effects are short-lived—the grass will soon stand up again—but they are a record of immense force.
I’ve been working on a project about the River Rothay in the Lake District for a few years now, and it’s gradually taking shape. More information is here.
This winter has been one of the longest, and most miserable I can remember. What has been especially strange is the way the wintry weather continued even when the light was clearly indicating Spring. This was taken in March at Fox How, near Ambleside, in the Lake District.
The resurgence of film photography over the past couple of years is starting to throw up some new and interesting film stocks, after years of decline. Like the best "craft beer," film is emerging as an interesting, quirky product, and some of it is far removed from the cheap film everyone used on holiday twenty years ago. In some cases, such as this Lomography Color Negative 400, "aged" since 2010, the comparison with beer is crazily close.
One of the most interesting to me is Cinestill, which comes in two flavours: 800T, for use under artificial (specifically tungsten) lights, and 50D, for daylight. I have quite shaky hands at times, so finding enough light for me to use a slow film like 50D isn't easy in the UK. Anyway, I took some of this slow, expensive, film to the brightest, sunniest place in Britain: the Lake District.
These images were taken around Loughrigg Fell, and at Coniston, using a 1960 Leica M2, with a 50mm f/2.8 Elmar lens of a similar vintage, and they are scanned straight from the negative, with no adjustments afterwards. Any issues with exposure in these images are entirely down to me, but I've found that this film is quite sensitive to getting the exposure right. Much more so, for example, than a more widely used film like Kodak Portra. Having said that, Cinestill 50D produces very detailed, fine grained images, and the colours are beautiful. The greens in particular are wonderfully vivid, but the overall look is very gentle and nostalgic.
Beyond the laws of physics there are no rules in photography that can't be broken, but even so, the 50mm lens I used for these images is not an obvious choice for landscape photography. Nevertheless, I'm so pleased with the "look" of Cinestill 50D that I'm hopeful it could work in that context, using more appropriate equipment. As you'll see below, the film is especially good for portraits.