London on Film

It's fair to say that I had been travelling a lot recently, with two weeks in the Caribbean and a week in Sarajevo immediately after. I was owed quite a bit of time off, so I had planned for a while to spend a few days in London. There was a time long ago when I remember saying I hated travelling to the city. But now...I'll make any excuse to make the trip down. It's one of those cities where you can just walk and walk with a camera in hand and just shoot. My plan was to visit some areas I had never really been and re-visit areas I had only been briefly.

Unfortunately the weather on my first day was horrific. It was the beginning of May and everyone was back in full winter clothing. Heavy rain in the morning really didn't get things off to the best of starts, and the rest of the day was that annoying constant drizzle that gets everything gradually wetter and wetter, and water all over your camera. Not the best conditions for a 20 year old Leica!

Still....my hotel was I'm the heart of Soho, probably my favourite neighbourhood in London. I love walking out the door and having everything you could possibly need on your doorstep. Amazing places for breakfast, quirky restaurants and great bars. They're all here. It was also a good base as I planned to visit areas east and west of Soho itself. My room was.....cosy! With literally not enough room to swing a cat! But it had everything I needed, and as I say, the room and location were perfect for me as a solo traveller.. It was also across the road from the hotel my girlfriend and I stayed at for my 30th, so it also brought back a lot of great memories.

Day two couldn't have started any better. Clear blue skies, calm (but cold) winds, it was such a contrast to the previous day. The plan for the day was to wander around neighbourhoods I'd never been, or only very briefly walked through. These included Notting Hill, a place I visited last year during the annual carnival. It's fair to say that is NOT how Notting Hill usually looks, it was weird seeing cars in the streets and the shops not covered in protective panelling. On the way there, I walked through Knightsbridge and Kensington. I got a bit carried away with trying to explore every mews I could find too. Most of them are really quaint, and looked beautifully multi-coloured. 

My last day in the city ended how it began, cold, wet and windy. I've no idea how I lucked out on the weather on my second day, but I'm so glad I had at least one day of nice weather. I really struggled to get in the mood for any kind of photography. The persistent drizzle was back and really getting to me. Luckily, it did brighten up towards the end of the day, not long before I had to catch the train home.

Despite the weather, it was still a great few days in the city. It was probably the most amount of film I've shot in such a short period too. These are just some of my favourites.....

All images either taken on the Leica M6 with a Summicron 50mm f/2 (Portra 400) or the Hasselblad 500c/m with a Carl Zeiss T* f/2.8/80mm (Portra 800)


Day 1


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Day 2


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Day 3


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Abu Dhabi - Taking the Hasselblad Overseas

In December last year, one of my last trips of 2017 was to Abu Dhabi. It's been a fair few years since I was last there, and it's always a place I look forward to visiting. 

This was also the first trip where I plucked the courage to bring along my Hasselblad 500c/m. It's certainly not a travel camera, but I was really keen to see what the results would be in the beautiful sunshine, something we don't get a lot of in December back in the UK!

I took a few rolls with me, mainly Kodak Portra 400, and Fuji Pro 400H. 

I'm still getting the hang of shooting with the Hasselblad, but I can safely say that I'm pleased with the results......

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Malvern Hills

Those crisp, clear winter days seem to be getting rarer and rarer in the UK. The forecast for this particular Saturday was amazing, clear skies and low winds. Somehow I managed to persuade my partner to wake up early enough with me to drive over to the Malvern Hills to catch the sunrise. The hills themselves line up north to south, so they're perfect to walk along and watch the sun light falling across them.

I took the Hasselblad with the intention that I would photograph primarily on that, but as I had space in my bag for one more, I took these photos with the X-T2 with the 56mm 1.2 lens.

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Medium Format - The First Rolls

I currently have all my film developed and scanned by a very reputable shop in town, but for my first rolls of medium format, I decided to send them a little further afield.....to Canada in fact! The Canadian Film Lab used to be one of the best in the UK before relocating across the pond, so I was keen to see what they could do.

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Despite being across the pond in Canada, shipping was easy, as they have an address in the UK that will forward packages to the lab directly. Once received by the lab, you get a confirmation email with a link to pay the processing costs, and then it's just a case of waiting for that awesome email to let you know your photos are ready to download. In this case, I received my scans eight days after the initial confirmation email, which was five days before their original estimate. So the total time from me posting the film to downloading my images was a little over two weeks. 

I chose to have the medium size scans, which came in at 3605px on each side. I'm still very  much new to film photography, but I was really impressed with the quality of the images themselves. 

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Despite buying a 5 pack of Portra 160, I only had 4 rolls to use (as I had to sacrifice one to obtain an empty film spool). I've never shot with 160 before, as I've mostly used the much more common Portra 400. I was hoping that the film would at least make the most of the beautiful Autumn colours, which was in full display at the time.

So 4 rolls, 47 photos in total (I missed one frame as I stupidly forgot to wind on the camera body before attaching the film back, so when I wound the camera on to cock the shutter, it skipped the first frame of the film.....lesson learnt there!)

Overall, I'm really happy with them, especially the exposures, which was my main worry shooting on a fully manual camera for the first time. I rated the film at 100, and exposed for the shadows. There were a few frames where I could have done with a couple of extra stops, but nothing major. I'm still learning how to use a light meter in harsh sunlight with strong sunlight and shadows. I also missed the focus on a few shots too. I mainly shot at f/2.8, and the 80mm Zeiss lens has a crazy small depth of field. I took my time on most images, so maybe these were the ones I rushed a bit. The lab includes a feedback report as part of their service, providing general comments on the images from their point of view. They too stated a few images were slightly underexposed, but generally "their were no significant issues"! They also stated a couple of images were affected by flare, and of course, the first image on one of the rolls was blank. Already knew that one!!

Of course, this was the first time I saw the results from the camera itself! So it was a relief to see it worked perfectly, and I operated it correctly too (apart from that one missed frame). The lens is tack sharp wide open. No CA, or blurriness in the corners. Some slight vignetting is the only 'negative' thing I could see in any of the images. The lens produces beautiful out of focus areas too, without any harsh blurred details. I'll definitely play with more shallow depth of field images on the next rolls. 

These are a selection of my favourites, just resized in Lightroom. Some images have been straightened a little, another thing I need to take my time with when composing through the waist level viewfinder.......