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Unexpected love for a cloudy day | Bridgnorth on Portra 800

I have such a backlog of film to shortlist, edit, blog, and maybe even print, and at times I find it quite upsetting! So many images to be properly discovered and appreciated (by me I mean!), but most of the time I only just manage to find time to develop and scan my film, and then the results have to wait patiently on my hard drive, hoping they won’t be forgotten. I love the process of taking photographs, and then the fact that I don’t get to see them straight away. Then it’s such an exciting feeling, waiting for each image to come up on the scanner, able to see for the first time how well I’ve captured whatever beauty it was that inspired me to press the shutter button. And then I want to do more, create more, get and give more from my images. Putting together a blog post can be a rewarding next step in that creative process, but too often I find myself holding back in some way and for some reason. Sometimes this delay can occur for the simple reason that my eyes and brain are just too tired from working on my clients’ photographs in the lab, to want to strain them further by working on my own photographs. Sometimes I might feel I have something to say to accompany the images, which I overthink until it feels like there’s nothing meaningful or worthwhile left. This time around I’ve taken my delay tactics a step further…I actually put together this little collection over a month ago, pasted them into the blog and then ran away before the words would come!

I took these photographs during the Christmas holidays last year, when we had a wonderful trip to see family and friends back in the UK on our first visit since we moved to Canada. This pretty town is Bridgnorth in Shropshire, very close to where my sister lives, and I enjoyed a ramble around its charming narrow streets with my family, armed with my Canon AE1 and my ‘go to’ winter film, Kodak Portra 800 (as always I then developed and scanned the film back at my lab, Canadian Film Lab). This was a lovely day, with great company, and lots of interesting and engaging sights. What I love most about these images is that I feel the film has transcended what was actually quite flat light. I’m usually inspired by contrast in light; by shadows and sunlight, whether that be in the form of vibrant direct light, rich, colourful shade, or soft, subtle backlight. Grey days – unless they’re moodily dramatic – don’t usually float my photographic boat, but I was quite keen to capture lots of uniquely British images on this trip, particularly of the types of architecture that I miss, and so I took photographs even when the light wouldn’t usually compel me to do so. And I love how they turned out! So the moral of this particular photographic adventure for me was to be prepared to take a few risks, taking shots where the outcome is a little uncertain, and trusting that with sound shooting, film can produce subtle, beautiful results in unexpected circumstances.

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An Autumn Adventure in Yale | Part 2

Continuing our colourful Autumn adventure in Yale, we drove back along the country road heading for home, and noticed a little side road branching off towards the river. Heading down to explore, we were greeted by the sight of a secluded rocky beach on a bend in the river, where craggy ochre cliffs – near gold in the evening sun – rose up from the fast-flowing milky green waters of the Fraser. Brilliant yellow cottonwoods ringed the beach, reaching up delicately into a vivid blue sky, and further in the distance the gently domed mountains were covered in snowy pines. We spent time here soaking it all in and taking photographs, before I wandered to a far corner of the beach where I could make out the tantalising glimpse of a stream running down to the river. This little spot was my favourite of all…a Cottonwood tree lay across the head of the stream, sadly fallen but still with a full covering of golden-yellow leaves. The stream meandered down over river rock waterfalls, between sandy mini-cliffs, carrying with it a colourful surge of autumn leaves. A very special little place to finish our Autumn adventure in Yale!

All photographs on Contax 645/Kodak Portra 800/Canadian Film Lab

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An Autumn Adventure in Yale | Part 1

These photographs are from an amazing little spot about twenty minutes away from our home in Hope; a short, scenic drive north through the Fraser Canyon to the tiny one-time gold rush boomtown Yale. Christian found out about this location chatting to our hairdresser…she told him about a little backroad that forks off the main highway, going over the train track and ending up at a spectacular high overlook above the milky green whirling waters of the mighty Fraser River. This occasion was our second visit, and we seem to come here on days of extreme weather! On our previous visit in August (photos as yet un-blogged) the sun was beating down onto the almost shadeless spot, baking us in 35 degree heat. But on this November day temperatures were hovering around freezing, and the sun at first peeped out only occasionally from the soft clouds, disappearing altogether at times behind the mountains on its low wintery journey across the sky. As mid-afternoon arrived we felt we’d lost the sun for the last time, but round the bend in the river to the south we could see a little beach bathed in sunlight. Those photographs will follow in Part 2. All images captured on Contax 645 with Kodak Portra 800 and developed/scanned back at my lab, Canadian Film Lab.

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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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