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My Canadian Garden in Autumn | Kodak Ektar

This morning I was just about to start work, but I popped down into the kitchen to get a glass of water first. Our kitchen – just as it did back in the UK – has patio doors that open on to the back garden, and I could see that the light was just beginning to filter through the trees and bushes on the eastern side of the garden, setting the autumn colours aglow. I couldn’t resist grabbing a roll of Ektar and taking some shots on my Contax. Film photography is one of the ways I connect with my environment, and exploring my new garden with my camera in my hand – noticing the way the light works, finding beautiful little spots to appreciate – was such a lovely experience. When the first sunlight hits damp surfaces, huge swirling plumes of steam drift out into the air and the light filtering through the orange leaves is soft and colourful all at once. Our new garden is a truly beautiful place, and I love it so much already. I can feel the haven that it will become for us, and when we stepped into it on a blazing hot August day when we were looking round it on our first viewing, it was the main feature that drew me to the house and made it feel right. The sun was beating down and there were flowers, birds and butterflies – and a lush blue-green soaring mountain behind! I couldn’t believe my eyes, it was so incredibly gorgeous, and it was hard to believe that it might be ours. Despite this, I miss our old garden. It too was a beautiful and peaceful little place, and my husband Christian and I created it. The house was new when we bought it, and the garden was bare earth. Over the years we planned, planted and cared. Christian built the deck and pergola with his dad, and his mum helped tend the trees. Our families came to visit and we had barbecues in it. My parents bought us an Acer that took pride of place in the corner and grew strong and dazzlingly beautiful. Christian and I sat together watching the breeze ruffle the leaves, talking or reading or just looking. We held our wedding reception in it. We watched the shrubs and trees grow taller and stronger. I sat out most mornings before the day began, to drink a cup of tea and feel the peace and calm. More and more birds visited over the years as we put out food for them. Bees came. Flowers grew, all chosen and planted by us. It’s that connection – borne out of so much ‘hands on’ contact, time and ever-changing experiences – that I’m looking forward to developing with our new garden. I think that our old home felt so much like home because it was infused with our spirit and that of our loved ones, and that as we settle and grow here, welcome visitors and create happy memories in it together, so too will our new home become our special place of contentment and serenity once more, as it is already starting to be.

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Blakeney High Street | Kodak Ektar |Spring Holiday

I’ve had these images assembled for quite some time, and then life got rather busy. I never tend to mind a delay between taking a photograph and then doing something with it, because it’s great to look at images with almost-fresh eyes, and enjoy reliving the memories. This time around there’s a more unusual feeling to the delay, because between taking these photographs back in spring, and the moment now where I sit writing this blog post, my husband and I have moved to another country! So I thought that in this blog post I would not only reflect on the lovely mini holiday during which these images were captured, but on my experiences since then.

To the images first…this is Blakeney, one of mine and my family’s favourite spots, and a place filled with happy holiday memories. This time around we went for a short break in mid spring, as a belated gathering for my birthday. The sun came out just before it completely dipped down behind the buildings of the pretty high street, so I headed out quickly with my Contax and a roll of Kodak Ektar film. The colours, textures and light were all calling to me, and I knew Ektar would do them justice…it never lets me down and is pretty much my all-time favourite film. Just look at the way it captures all of the beautiful nuance and detail in the shadows and the highlights…I just feel it is the closest I can get to capturing the full depth and beauty of scenes like this as I see them with my own eyes. The first shot shows Bank Cottage, which was the gorgeous little cottage where we stayed, and all of the other photographs were taken within a two minute amble up or down the high street. My favourite photograph is near the end, where I was taking a shot of the door to the cottage as I was heading back in, and my sister Holly popped up just inside the cottage and did something cute, as she so often does.

After this holiday things seemed to speed up, and life became quite a whirlwind of work and preparations for our move, though with plenty more lovely family memories mixed in. Now we are one week in to our new adventure here in beautiful British Columbia in Canada. There is so much to take in! We’ve travelled around BC extensively on our many visits here, but of course everything feels so different when a place is your home. It’s still just as beautiful, in particular during these last few days where the sunshine hasn’t stopped and the gorgeous mountains all around go on and on and on, surrounding you across vast distances as far as your eyes can see. But now we can’t just enjoy the scenery, the wide open spaces and the wilderness that awaits us outside the city limits. Instead – for now – we have to focus on a million other things…finding out where to shop for food and toiletries being small things; finding and buying a car and a home being huge things! We only have a small number of our possessions with us, with the rest not due to arrive for several weeks, and we’re not in our own home. Certain elements in the run-up to our move went unpleasantly and stressfully wrong, but rather than having time to recover and reflect, we have had to charge headlong into the next life-changing step. We’re having to make big decisions that we’d usually deliberate for weeks or months over within the space of hours or days and when we’re at our most tired, and despite the common language, everything seems to come couched in unfamiliar terminology. Those are some of the challenges that we’re facing, and even in the space of this first week things have been up and down and then back up again, all within the space of a few hours. Throughout it all, having the love and support of our families behind us is making all the difference. We’re so fortunate in this, and it’s such a comfort to be able to see and speak to them all so easily through the wonders of modern technology, sharing all of our news and hearing all of theirs. Knowing that we’ll continue to live our lives together despite the extra miles between us has made this move a possibility for us, and we’re already feeling the benefit of being able to keep in touch so readily.

For the most part, I’m feeling positive and strong, and I’m looking forward to having time to stop, breath, look around and enjoy the beauty around me (with my camera in my hand of course!)

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One shot in Sheringham | Spring Holidays

When I’m on holiday my camera bag often becomes my handbag, so that everywhere I go I have a neat, single receptacle for everything important. Camera, film, meter on one side of the equation; purse, lip balm, hairbrush on the other! It meant that on a flying visit to Sheringham as part of a recent mini break to North Norfolk, not only could we pick up some cash and lunch as intended, but I could also take a quick shot at the bottom of the high street where we had wandered down to take a look at the sea (it was wild and cold, a little unseasonal for mid-May, and we didn’t hang about for long!)

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Canon AE1/Agfa Vista 200/UK Film Lab

Easter on Ektar | An Early Spring Walk at Chatsworth

The gardens and house at Chatsworth are closed to the public for a few months over winter, and every March when they reopen Chris and I like to pay a visit as soon as possible. At Easter we experienced the first sunny day after the start of the new season, and it also happened to be my birthday weekend! We were too early for the laburnum arch to be in bloom, but we wandered in the stillness of the First Duke’s greenhouse enjoying the astonishing camellias with their array of colours and their beautiful, waxy blue-green leaves, took in the awe-inspiring Pinetum, picked our way down the pretty ‘Trough Waterfall’ and admired the avenue of bamboo on our way to the maze square. Since it was my birthday, we even finished up with a nice lunch in the restaurant!

My Canon AE1 has become one of my favourite cameras for personal photography, because it’s so small and lightweight for enjoying a long amble, and it produces beautiful results and detail. Kodak Ektar has once again rendered the scenes almost exactly as I remember them, but with its usual extra dose of film magic and colour.

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This next part of the walk is the ‘Trough Waterfall’ leading down to the Azalea Dell. Always pretty, on this visit it was one of my favourite parts of our walk. Picking my way down the trough waterfall stepping stones I looked back behind me from where I’d come, and thought this conifer tree at the head of a pretty little drop in the waterfall, had the feeling of something out of a fairytale. Then turning back around to continue my descent I was amazed by the beautiful, contrasting shadow and light on the small pine tree right in front of me, and the way its roots spread out along the ground.

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The Pinetum is at the far end of the gardens at Chatsworth, and at its edge there are some beautiful views out between the trees, over the parkland. The circular stand of pine trees you can see over on the right hand side of the frame near the top of the rise but not breaking the horizon is another favourite local haunt.

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All photographs shot with Kodak Ektar film on Canon AE1 with 50mm 1.8 lens and developed/scanned at UK Film Lab.

Jessica | Vintage colour on Kodak Ektar film | April 2016

Chris and I first discovered Jessica on a walk around the industrial estate that plays home to UK Film Lab. It’s a great place to explore. Especially on a sunny Sunday the bright colours from the variety of buildings and surrounding trees and the noises from unidentified manufacturing processes combine to give the feel of an eerily deserted playground. We found Jessica when we took a turn up what we thought would be a barricaded dead-end but instead found an avenue of previously undiscovered industrial units. One of the units belonged to a tiny MOT testing garage, and tucked away between the side of the unit and a row of trees, there we found her. She was a beautiful and exciting find, and I was even more excited when I took a chance on opening the passenger side door, to find that not only was she unlocked, but that the leather Rover keyring was still in the ignition. A lack of engine meant that the owner obviously isn’t too concerned about the possibility of her being whisked away. We weren’t armed with the correct camera gear that time around but we vowed to return soon. So yesterday evening we did just that. The spring light streaming low through the branches of silver birches and hawthorn dappled her sides, illuminating what appear to be decades of lichen, moss and cobwebs. She has quite a pretty resting place, don’t you think?

I took these photographs on my Contax 645 with Kodak Ektar film pushed one stop in development, and developed and scanned back at UK Film Lab.

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