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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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Industry, history & beauty | Chesterfield on 35mm film

I live in Chesterfield, a Roman town that can trace its roots back to the first century AD. A key part of Chesterfield’s identity (and indeed that of many other Derbyshire towns) comes from its industrial history, which includes coal mining and a variety of manufacturing activities. Throughout the town industrial landmarks rub shoulders with residential development, and along Sheffield Road and its side streets – a five minute walk from our home – this takes the form of brick-built terrace homes that sit alongside steel castings factories and machinery plants. Shops are housed in some lovely Victorian buildings…one of the best ways to appreciate the architecture of Chesterfield is to look up, above the sometimes tacky shop frontages and glaring signs, and see the often elaborate details of brick and stonework. Unfortunately evidence of much of the town’s important industrial past has been fastidiously erased as new retail developments have come along. On the site of an early 20th century glassworks now sits a gigantic Tesco, several other chain stores, and a football stadium. It was sad to see the massive and beautiful brick chimneys come down, and a shame, I think, that they couldn’t have been preserved as a centrepiece to the regeneration efforts. Of course, things always move forward and people need amenities. But as we remove so many of the historic footprints of our towns and cities, they become more and more alike, with less and less of their unique identity visible.

All photographs captured on my Canon AE1 and developed & scanned back at my lab, UK Film Lab. On a slight whim I decided to shoot Kodak Portra 400, which is quite a rarity for me. I usually use Fuji 400H or Kodak Ektar, or more recently I’ve loved my results from Kodak Portra 800. I think the Portra 400 has done a good job, particularly in capturing the slate grey sky moments before a freezing snowfall sent us scurrying for home.

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Christmas holidays in Shropshire | Part 4

Here is the final instalment of my 35mm film photographs from a lovely few days spent with my family over Christmas. The next two villages that my sister Holly, my dad and I visited on the final day of our stay, were Worfield and Pattingham. Worfield is now a very special place in our family, because Holly married her husband Matt there in April 2013. I have so many happy memories from that day…Holly, me and our mum getting ready, having our hair and make-up done at Holly’s house, walking arm in arm with my mum up the hill to the church, watching the beautiful ceremony unfold while Chris took photographs, all the way through to dancing the night away at the reception. This was the first time I’d been back to Worfield and it looked so pretty in the sunshine. Once more we just enjoyed one another’s company as we wandered around with our cameras (I was once again shooting Fuji 400H in the Canon AE1). Then we finished our morning in nearby Pattingham before heading back to Holly and Matt’s for a bite of lunch. All in all we had such a lovely couple of days, enjoying the festive atmosphere as we played board games, watched TV together and enjoyed our village explorations.

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I managed to partly recreate a photograph from the wedding, with Holly and my dad posed outside the church gate:

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This little road was something of a dead-end but my adventurous dad kept going long after Holly and I thought it was time to give up…he just wanted to see around the next corner in case something good was there!

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I still love shooting medium format film but I have to say I’ve really been enjoying my 35mm film recently too, and particularly the portability, versatility and great results from the Canon AE1. As usual, film developed and scanned back at my lab, UK Film Lab.

Christmas holidays in Shropshire | Part 3

On the next day of our visit to Shropshire, my sister Holly and I went out with our dad for a trip around some of the pretty neighbouring villages. It was such a gorgeous day, with the soft yet sharp winter light that I love, and brilliant skies. The first village we stopped at is called Claverley, and we began our wander in the churchyard. The colour of the church stone was so striking against the blue sky. The back of the church overlooks fields and trees, and we saw (and heard) a cackling green woodpecker flying from one tree to the next, along with a noisy group of Fieldfares. Bird watching was one of our favourite childhood hobbies and on countryside walks with Holly and my parents, I would always be found with a pair of binoculars round my neck, joined in a few years by my first camera, a present from my Granny Irene. After we emerged from the churchyard we walked down a lovely little hill, where some of the houses are built into the red sandstone embankment that rises up on one side of the road. We didn’t walk very far but we enjoyed our amble so much. Lovely company and lovely things to photograph – the perfect combination! On this trip I once again took the Canon AE1, loaded up this time with Fuji 400H film and developed and scanned as usual back at my lab, UK Film Lab.

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