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Little Tributes to Chatsworth Flowers | Part 1 Garden Peonies

A large proportion of my film photography of recent years has been created from the beautiful light, colours and textures of one of my favourite places in the world, the gardens at Chatsworth House. It’s funny and wonderful to think of the unexpected paths life can take us along, and my love of Chatsworth is a prime example. A combination of random factors and intuitive desires led to me meeting, falling in love with and marrying my husband. We settled in his home town of Chesterfield on fairly practical grounds after saving up for our first home a few years after we left university. Although I’d visited (and loved) nearby Matlock Bath once as a child, I didn’t have any other connections to Derbyshire, or any deep longing to spend particular time there. But we ended up living there happily for over a decade, and a practical location choice gradually became a dearly beloved home over the years I spent there. And out of the many beautiful places I’ve had the privilege to spend time, the gardens at Chatsworth House are one of my very favourites. One of the things I love most about them are the ever-changing seasonal displays from the trees, plants and flowers. Our strolls around the grounds inspired the deepening of my interest in flowers, and during this time I learnt more and more about the names and flowering seasons of many of my favourite blooms. On an early summer visit a couple of years ago there was a gorgeous display of fluffy, fragrant peonies at the bottom of the kitchen garden, and unfortunately I had run out of film! I took a few iPhone photos but they really didn’t do justice to the colourful array. I haven’t yet managed to make it back to Chatsworth in peony season to correct this, but I was so excited to find out that our new back garden thousands of miles away has peonies, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting their arrival. So here they are, a mini collection in homage to my Chatsworth peonies, and I’m glad I popped out on their first proper day in bloom to capture them at their best (alongside a pretty Salvia) despite the cloudy conditions, because a heavy downpour shortly afterwards has made them sadly ragged already. But they’ll be back again next year!

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All shot on Fuji 400H film with Contax 645 and dev/scan at Canadian Film Lab

Streets of Hope | A Colourful Day on Kodak Ektar

It’s difficult finding time to work on my own film at the moment, much less time to put together a blog post. It seems I might end up doing things in reverse order, since these are my most recent shots (captured earlier today, no less!) and I have literally hundreds of film photographs going back months and possibly years, that have yet to see the light of day. I’m excited at the thought of getting to them; of reliving the memories they will evoke. But putting together a spontaneous collection from today’s walk whilst it’s still fresh in my mind has been fun.

It’s a long weekend here in BC and indeed across Canada, as on Monday there is a national holiday to celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday. Which is a rather charming concept for a British citizen living in this beautiful land (in the UK, strangely enough, Victoria Day does not exist). With this long weekend some glorious weather has rolled in, bringing with it a host of campers, hikers and holiday-makers, and introducing a new, lively feeling to the sleepy town of Hope. Ever since we moved here we comment as we drive or walk about town, how many quirky and beautiful features hide around every corner, and how great it would be to spend some time wandering with our cameras. So today – until we got too hot – we did just that.

It has been a long time since I’ve had a proper outing with my Rolleiflex. It’s a camera I love but which I find more challenging to use than my Contax 645 or my Canon AE1, and I’ve had some struggles trying getting results I’m happy with. I seem to either produce photographs I really love, or ones that I’m very disappointed with. But it’s a lovely, lightweight camera for photographs on the street…and with its unusual appearance, for some reason I feel less conspicuous wandering along commercial and residential streets with it than I do with a more conventional looking camera (I should say, my ultimate aim is to never feel conspicuous when I’m out taking photographs on the street, whatever camera I’m shooting with!) It probably goes without saying that this was a day crying out for Ektar and even though the saturation on some of these might hurt your eyes just a bit, I think it was the right choice. With my Rolleiflex skills a little rusty I set out with low expectations for my photographs, and because of this I was a little more free and relaxed choosing and taking my shots. I’m happy to say that my slightly haphazard approach paid off and resulted in a set of images I’m really pleased with. The final image is included because I love azaleas so much, and this vibrant pink colour in particular, and also because a gigantic fuzzy yellow bumblebee flew into my shot and he’s there if you look hard enough among the bright blooms.

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A January Walk at Thacker Marsh | Kodak Portra 800

I may just have mentioned before how much I love shooting my Canon AE1 in combination with Kodak Portra 800…but I’ll have to say it again! I find the richness of colour and detail so beautiful to my eyes, as well as the rendering of soft and golden winter light and the gorgeous greens. The weather has been very cold here over the past few weeks, but just recently it has nudged back up above zero. Whilst we haven’t let the bitter temperatures deter us from heading out to shoot, it was certainly much more comfortable on this particular day, and the evening sunshine looked very promising. Thacker Marsh is a beautiful and peaceful spot very close to our home and it has quickly become one of our favourite places in the area to stroll and take photographs. The sunlight was simply magical, whether directly lighting the trunks and branches with warm, colourful light or creating drifts of golden mist and making every little detail of moss on twigs stand out in backlight. There were many little moments of wonder and discovery, and I feel so lucky to be able to go back there again any time to see and feel more of the magic of this place.

All photographs shot on Canon AE1 with 50mm 1.8 lens (with a new lens hood!) on Kodak Portra 800 film and dev/scan Canadian Film Lab

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Kay Thompson - January 23, 2017 - 8:29 am

Stunningly beautiful

Beautifully Unintended | A Short Walk in Agassiz

This small collection of images was the result of an unintended departure from the norms of my film shooting. Setting off on any kind of trip at the moment involves extra thought and time associated with the weather (choosing the best combination of clothes, shoes, camera gear, and then putting them all on) and on this occasion the rush to finally leave the house resulted in me taking the ‘wrong’ lens with me. I usually shoot with a 80mm lens on my Contax, and on this day when I came to take it from my bag I found that instead I had my 45mm. I was quite disappointed and felt wrong-footed…this is a wider angle lens that I am happy to use for landscape photography, but for my usual style of ambling round, capturing details and light that catch my eye, I wasn’t sure how it would work out. But never mind, this lens was all I had and the blue sky, snow and lovely heritage buildings of Agassiz were far too enticing not to shoot. So we walked (gingerly and not for very long…the paths were liberally coated with snow and ice) and I shot with far less intention than usual, not sure what to expect from the lens and feeling slightly out of control and unhopeful. Today, a few days later, I was oddly excited to see the images and now that I do, I feel surprised and satisfied with the results.

Continuing with the mood I am also now blogging these with much less forethought than usual and totally out of order (there are many older photographs than these to compile and publish). Even the brief stop in Agassiz itself was not completely planned: we were really on our way to nearby Harrison Lake.

This all links with a vague aim I have, perhaps best worded as ‘thinking less and doing more’. It’s a vague aim because I’m apprehensive about it, but this blog post is one of my first efforts so I’ll see how well it continues.

All photographs shot on Contax 645 with Zeiss 45mm 2.8 lens on Kodak Portra 800 film and developed/scanned back at Canadian Film Lab HQ.

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Kay Thompson - January 8, 2017 - 8:50 am

I love seeing your beautiful photos as I will never be able to visit these wonderful places myself

Erica - January 8, 2017 - 10:56 pm

That’s lovely to hear, thank you Kay xx

Kath - January 9, 2017 - 9:26 am

Love the colours and light, I can really feel the place! Good luck with the doing thing! I’m trying ‘being’ rather than doing……not much success so far lol! Xx

Erica - January 9, 2017 - 3:43 pm

Thanks Kath, really pleased you like them. I find that overthinking and worrying is preventing me from doing things so that’s one of my sims at the moment. Trying to just ‘be’ sounds like a good idea too :-) xx

A new favourite place | Portra 800 in the snow

We first discovered Christ Church on a hot September day, out wandering from the central Rotary Park in town into the side streets to explore our new home. Finding out that Hope was home to the oldest church on mainland BC was a very exciting moment for me. I love history and architecture, and although the age, scale and style of this beautiful little building is very different from the stone-built Gothic creations I adore in the UK, Christ Church is just as wonderful in its own quiet way. We finally had time to spend a little more time there several months later when we ventured out into the snow with our cameras to capture some rather magical light at this very special place. All images shot on Contax 645 with Kodak Portra 800 film and developed and scanned back at Canadian Film Lab.

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Kay thompson - January 8, 2017 - 8:52 am

So beautiful

Erica - January 8, 2017 - 10:55 pm

Thank you Kay xx