First time in Barcelona a few weeks ago. Went there as part of work (the NIPS’16 workshop on private machine learning) but stayed for the weekend to enjoy the city. Lovely place, saw the mayor attractions, including several of Gaudi’s work.
Although seemingly unknown to the non-French speaking part of the world, La Reunion island a few hundred kilometers east of Madagascar is an amazing little place, offering everything from sandy beaches, whale watching, parachuting, downhill biking, water rafting, lava tunnels, jungle, forgotten mountain villages — and of course wonderful diving. Only bad part is that the roughly ten hour flight makes it expensive to get there.
We went there for an active vacation and got exactly that: up around seven every morning and sleeping tightly before ten. We had rented a small hillside bungalow on Airbnb for 30 euro a night and a silly little Peugeot that, while never failing us, didn’t seem to be in its right element.
Volcanos play a significant part on the island, separating the rough weather on the west side of the island from the clam and sunny east side. And providing the centre with yet another climate: rain forest.
As in these two rolls of film, the tragic Charlie Hebdo shootings filled up a large part in-between the typical events this winter. Having participated first and foremost as a peaceful demonstrator, I’m happy that bringing the camera along that day allowed me to capture a bit of that very unique atmosphere.
The first roll contains a bizarre mix of family christmas photos, random walk around Paris, and a scenes of shootings.
The second roll covers the peaceful demonstration, as well as more winter travelling.
Both were Kodak Portra, and on a technical note I’m actually surprised how well it stood up to the clearly underexposed evening shots.
A few shots from an extended weekend in Rome. Lovely place, yet apparently even more deserted by the locals and taken over by tourists than Paris, at least at this time of the year.
Perhaps I’ve been loosing the touch a bit lately, or perhaps the light is harsher down south, but surprised by how many of these are overexposed — seeing the limit of the otherwise very forgiving Kodak Portra 160.
A few weeks ago I was heading for a week-long conference in Copenhagen and figured I’d only bring the Nikon FM as my only camera, and the practical 28-70mm lens as my only lens. And since this is a slow lens I went with a fast film: a Kodak Portra 400.
It had been a while since the last Portra, and even though I’d halfway declared it my general-purpose go-to film, I’d also kind of forgotten how good it is, perhaps thinking it a bit boring even after all the adventures into Lomography films and cross-processing. Fortunately the prints brought a very happy surprise! Perhaps it plays a part as well that I’ve switched back to my old (and more remote) printer after the inconsistent prints from the Precisa 100, but in the end I really like the result.
While the above film was shot within a week, I also recently finished a Kodak Portra 160 that’s been in my Olympus OM-1 since last autumn. And although it’s apparently against recommendation to let a film in a camera for that long due to light leaks, radiation, heat, and what not, this indicates that the advice should be balanced against the increased quality of the photos when you are more picky about releasing the shutter!
By a series of coincidences I again this year ended up spending part of the summer in Sweden. This time also in a tent, but with an old friend instead and with even less modern day luxury.
From our little trip to Norway and tenting in Sweden last year I’ve been wanting to try a more Bear Grylls kind of trip close to nature, and for some reason my old friend Tim has also had the idea that hiking might be the way forward.
We talked about the south-east of France, Berchtesgaden National Park in Germany, and even the highlands in Scotland. But in the end it was pretty hard to beat the Swedish Allemansrätten; not least because of its liberties and the country’s beautiful nature, but also because our nordic bigger brothers have laid out very promising routes with spots for drinking water and shelters: without a car and unable to find concrete route suggestions in the southern countries we started to wonder if we could find accommodation every night, and decided that it must be the intermediate stage.
So, we ended up settling on Öresundsleden in Skåne. It turned out to be a great choice, both because of the nature it took us through, but also because it seemed to fit our beginners level pretty well: we hiked for a week and managed to just cross the line where a bit of padding on our own shoulders seemed in order.
As the pictures show the route takes you through a lot actually: open landscape, dense forest, and what (by a Dane) could be called mountains. We also went through a lot of small fishing villages and as a result enjoyed splendid fish, often several times a day. Highly recommendable!
By the way, I only brought along an old analogue camera (an Olympus OM-1). For one, I’ve been more into that stuff recently. Secondly, it doesn’t run out of batteries so no worries if there are no outlets around. And thirdly, it’s cheaper to replace if broken or lost.
I shot a total of around 50 frames on two different films — a Fujifilm Superia and half a Kodak Portra — and besides some issues of not being able to focus too well (only took the 35-70mm) they came out pretty decent. Since I just used my little table for setting the exposure, with the errors this implies, both films also seem to be quite forgiving, and hence candidates for a good general purpose colour film.
And Allemansrätten? It worked great; brilliant concept! And only once did we add to the statistic of Danes breaking it; in our case a kind park ranger knocked on the tent at 8am to inform us that we were in a restricted area and had to leave.
By Kodak’s own statement their Portra 160 film is “the ideal choice for portrait, fashion and commercial photography — whether in the studio or on location — [in that it] delivers exceptionally smooth and natural skin tone reproduction”. However, a lot of people also seem to like it as a general purpose colour film so I decided to give it a try.
Now, the Portra is the most expensive film, but also the easiest to come by: Negatif+ has always had them in stock and I often see them when stopping by in other photo stores. The other films on the other hand were ordered from macodirect.de (which has a good selection but adds a somewhat high fee for a relatively slow shipping). Moreover, from various discussions online I’ve gotten the impression that it’s the highest quality film of the four, both in terms of grain, tonal rendition, and exposure latitude.
For my thoughts on the film, it definitely has an unique colour toning, in particular, it seems, for greens and reds (for instance in Light Strokes and Port de l’Arsenal). This is not a bad thing, and in fact I like that it is something different that the JPEGs from my digital camera.
It doesn’t produce saturated colours and I’m not getting the vulgar impressions as I did with the Vista nor the disappointments with the Ektar. Moreover, it renders skin and fur very naturally: The Twins (In Chair), Scholastique (with Irka), and The Twins (Lying Around).
It hence seems that it is down to either the Superia or the Portra, and luckily I have one of each coming up with an overlap in the scenes. Comparing only the scans of the films, although all done by Negatif+, does also introduce some uncertainty in that it is unknown how much colour manipulation is performed in their scanning process; for the next comparison I’ll hence also look at prints from each film.