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A Dusky Wonderland

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I don’t often arrange my photographs in a Blog post in the order they were taken, but these tell a story of a journey to me. We have been to this place a number of times but this day we set off on a different path. We ended up back where we always start, but the route and the experience were completely different. It was also a walk that nearly didn’t happen. This weekend was one of our first off work in I’m not sure how long. The weather forecast looked dire, it was dark and dank, and since our home is currently very spick, span and cosy, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to completely hole up at home, and do very little else. But come mid-afternoon on Saturday, I felt a tiny urge to be outside with my camera. It was raining slightly at this point but the forecast told us that there might be sunny intervals for an hour or two. We’ve been photographing weddings for several years now, so we’ve learnt not to take the weather forecast too seriously, but nevertheless we decided to have a little faith! Setting off we were heading for a different location but then a little voice told me I wanted to come here instead.

And I just can’t believe the light we had. And the utter stillness. And the way the November bracken looked like fire. It had been raining for days on end and had only just stopped. The ground was sodden but the grass was emerald with shining raindrops. As we continued our walk I began to feel like I was in Narnia as the hundred year winter thaws. Each new place had a barrier to cross, and then it felt like stepping into a different world. We climbed over a rushing, swollen stream headed by a small, dark, tumbling waterfall. On the other side the trees were almost black but the sun was burning red and gold through the undergrowth and around the trunks and branches. Amongst the clustered firs, the sun was slowly sinking away and the softening rays kissed the edges of bark and leaves. Walking on, the trees opened up and I stopped to look back at the elegant arc of a stand of tall, thin pines, before heading on towards the last patch of dark woodland. Here, smooth beeches lead finally to a wall, whose rough green-grey stones marked the edge of a farm dipping down into a valley. We watched as the final throes of sunlight subtly illuminated the soft, dark, comforting trees, before taking a turn back towards the way home, where a gentle sunset helped light the way and a silvery mist whispered up from the ground.

All of these were taken on my Rolleiflex 2.8F on Fuji 400H, developed & scanned by me at UK Film Lab. The first two thirds were all pushed 1 stop, and the final five images were taken with the very last drops of available light, pushed 3 stops. I’m so amazed and happy at how they all turned out, and captured this journey so very beautifully.

For a little more technical information on the shoot you can check out the version on the UK Film Lab blog.


Light and Dark

Sometimes it gets dark too.
Sometimes it plummets, changes suddenly,
Seems to twist cruelly.
We hold onto each other tightly.

Cracks and holes appear in the ice.
I feel afraid,
And all I can see is down, dark.
You take my hand and together
We walk around them carefully,
On towards the light.

For you are the magical and the everyday in my life,
The vital second piece of my soul.
Sometimes we may look down together, into the dark,
But mostly we look up, up,
Up into dizzy clouds of joy.
Joy not from achievements, or things, or anything I can name except love.

You make the night a little shorter,
The day a hundred times brighter.
Your magic and my magic fit together,
And together is how we work through life:
How we walk, dance, stumble, sing;
How we look around us at beauty, are still, are alive.

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Gold, Red & Green: A Magical Autumn Day on Film

I spent a wonderful few hours taking these photographs, I developed and scanned the film back at the lab, and I selected my favourites. I loved how the images all looked together, and I was sitting down to prepare my blog post, when I suddenly realised that I didn’t know what to write. Over the years my writing and I have had our ups and downs, but by and large, writing is the mode of communication with which I’m probably most comfortable. I don’t know whether it was plain old tiredness that prevented my thoughts and words from flowing, or maybe I felt that the images themselves were enough to tell the story of this blustery, bright then cloudy, free-spirited Autumn day.

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Photographs taken on the Contax 645 at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire. Some images are shot on Fuji 400H, some on Kodak Ektar pushed two stops in development, and some (in a little experiment as our first time pulling colour film) on Kodak Portra 800 pulled one stop in development. All developing/scanning by UK Film Lab.

Holky - October 26, 2014 - 9:19 am

These are amazing!

Erica - October 26, 2014 - 2:46 pm

Thank you sig, it was such a lovely walk, with the wind blowing and the sun popping in and out, and I was so happy at how well the amazing colours translated into film.

Sonia Jansson - October 28, 2014 - 10:32 pm

England is still pretty alive, compared to Sweden. All the golden magic is gone.

These are very living photographs, Erica. One can almost reach for the leaves and smell the autumn air. No words needed.

Erica - October 31, 2014 - 7:23 pm

Thank you Sonia, I am pleased you think so!

A Little Balance

I recently had my first day off work in weeks. It’s something of a myth that self-employed people can take holidays or chill out whenever they feel like it…certainly in the longer term my husband (and in this context business partner!) and I will be aiming for an improved work/life balance, but for now, it’s work that holds sway the majority of the time.  At the moment I’ve been working so long and so hard that I’m feeling a little unlike myself.  A little of my natural spark, my deep-seated love of life, is feeling subdued.  I needed to do something to remind me of its existence; to breath some life and tranquility back into myself; to enjoy the beautiful world outside.  So we went for a day out to walk around the gardens at Chatsworth, cameras in hand.  I strolled, I looked, I spotted beautiful things to carefully frame and commit to film.

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All photographs taken on the Rolleiflex 2.8F, Reala film, developed and scanned by me back at UK Film Lab

Siegrid - July 26, 2014 - 5:10 am

dearest Erica, first of all I love these pictures. Secondly I really really hope you find that balance quickly so you can enjoy the simple things in life and leave work be once in a while at least xoxoxo

Music in the Woods

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I have a little theory, that sometimes when things are really, really supposed to happen, they come together beautifully and in a way that meets every expectation and even exceeds your hopes.  Creative inspiration can be a tricky, fleeting and sometimes troublesome thing.  I’ve had times in my life when I’ve worried that I won’t ever feel another creative spark, and it’s a scary feeling.  As I get older though, I realise that the everyday stresses and struggles of life can inhibit our creative impulses, and that this isn’t something we should feel bad about.  Rather we should accept it, and realise that we simply have to make more of an effort to be inspired.  To take opportunities and try things, even when they don’t come easily.

The photography shoot I have shared here is an example of both something that came from a flash of creative inspiration, and something that took effort to achieve.

This is Jay, who I have known via Facebook and photography for a little over a year now, but who until this shoot, I hadn’t met in person.  She is a talented photographer and musician, and a beautiful person inside and out.  When Jay posted on Facebook that she wanted to have some photographs taken on film, with her cello, I was instantly inspired, and begun to have a sense of the mood that I could create through my photography.  This was so exciting.  Although I have worked professionally as a photographer for a number of years now, for some reason I have struggled to truly ‘see’ myself as a photographer. This was the first time that an idea for a purely creative shoot had entered my mind so freely and so happily: not a professional job; not a ‘styled shoot’ designed to showcase the work of wedding industry suppliers; just a creative experience that would hopefully result in beautiful and meaningful images.

The effort involved was in actually making it happen:  translating it from “wouldn’t it be cool if…” to actually going out there and doing it.  Not that the practical arrangements were difficult in any way.  Jay and I don’t live that far apart, and she really wanted it to happen too, so we honed the date and location pretty quickly.  But I was nervous and doubting myself, and I had so much work to do.  Taking time out to do this seemed so indulgent!

But to cut a long story short, we did make it happen, and I’m so very glad we did.  Jay is a wonderful person.  I’m so happy to have met her in person and to have had this experience with her.  This is what she has to say about her relationship with her cello:

“The cello has been a part of my life since I was barely 6 years old; many kids had an ‘invisible best friend’.  Me? I had my cello. We went everywhere, and did everything together. Heck, we even travelled the world together. After 26 years, I realised I had fallen out with what I THOUGHT my cello represented. I didn’t know who or what she was to me anymore, and I was really sad. Truthfully, I was heartbroken. I thought it was her, but it was me. Turned out, I just needed to find myself, and not be confined to the “shackles” of classical music. I needed to stop seeking validation from others, and enjoy the amazing gift I already had. It’s getting easier. Day by day. And it’s still just as cool and lovely as before.”

I’m truly thrilled with the photographs.  The whole experience of the shoot with Jay, of seeing the images unfold in front of my eyes and then seeing them appear from the negatives that I developed, was even more wonderful than I imagined.  I hoped to create a set of images that evoke many of the feelings I associate with my experience of creativity:  a varying mixture of fear and joy; introspection and openness; but ultimately a deeply personal and important refuge.

Images shot on the Contax 645 on Fuji 400H, Ilford Delta 3200 & Portra 800 film. Developed and scanned by UK Film Lab.


Isabelle - May 7, 2014 - 3:44 pm

Oh gosh girl you are soooo amazing! Love this shoot and all the frames in this post!!

Jay Emme - May 7, 2014 - 4:10 pm

Erica, you have no idea how many times I’ve looked at this post today (and how often I will come back to look again). You did an amazing job, and considering I get so twitchy in front of the camera, it felt so natural for a change! Your images are gorgeous, and I pretty much NEVER say that when it’s me in the photo. Thank you SO MUCH for helping our tiny idea grow into something beautiful. xx

Andrea E - May 7, 2014 - 4:31 pm

these are flipping gorgeous !

Molly Matcham - May 7, 2014 - 5:16 pm

Wonderful that you made this happen Erica, truly beautiful and very meaningful photographs. X

Luc - May 7, 2014 - 5:39 pm

Well done, this is very poetic, loved every single frame.

Belinda McCarthy - May 7, 2014 - 5:49 pm

Lovely images – I think the last one is my favourite, I love the way the winding path leads to the cello.

I spent a lot of time in this neck of the woods (literally!) as my grandmother lived on the Lickey Hills – it’s somewhere still very special to me and I love to see images of it :)

Erica - May 7, 2014 - 6:37 pm

Thanks Belinda! Isn’t it a beautiful place :-) So glad you enjoyed the photographs.

Erica - May 7, 2014 - 6:38 pm

Thank you so much Luc, I really appreciate it!

Erica - May 7, 2014 - 6:39 pm

Thanks so much Molly…it was such a wonderful experience and I’m really pleased you like the photographs xx

Erica - May 7, 2014 - 6:40 pm

Thank you everyone, your comments are so lovely and much appreciated :-)

Sonia Jansson - May 8, 2014 - 8:13 pm

This blog is a keeper!
Amazing session, Erica!

Jane Haglund - May 12, 2014 - 7:25 pm

This is lovely Erica!!