Keeping Busy During the Pandemic

Keeping Busy During the Pandemic

As I write this, at the beginning of April, 2020, the Corona virus / Cover-19 pandemic is having a significant impact on people around the world.  It is hitting some areas far harder than others and there are varying levels of restrictions being put in place depending on one’s location.  Here, in British Columbia, Canada, (without going into  too many specifics, as things tend to change) we are still able to do essential things, like grocery shopping, working (in some sectors), etc., and exercise outdoors is permissible, as long as an appropriate distance between others is maintained and there are not large crowds. Many businesses are closed, as are some parks, with restrictions in many of the ones that remain open.  This has meant that I have not been getting out with my camera much, lately.  I did manage to make a few photos of flowers, though.

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Top Ten (favourite) Images of 2016

This is the second annual list of my favourite images from the past year.  I started last year after seeing the great images of many other photographers featured on the great blog site of JMG Galleries. While I was not able to make as many images as I had hoped in 2016, I did manage to have some interesting and new experiences. Here they are, in no particular order:

bw fog trees
It’s all about the light

Living on the west coast of Vancouver Island offers so many opportunities to make captivating images of nature. It’s easy to wander along a beach or into the woods and see something different every time. In the photo above, the fog was slowly lifting and the sun lit up the scene in a way I just had to capture. Converting the image to monochrome evoked just the feel I was looking for.

man taking pictures on a beach during sunset
Everyone loves a sunset

Sometimes you travel a little bit farther for something special, like the above image of a man taking a cellphone photo at sunset, on a beach in Tofino, BC (one of my favourite places to get away from it all).

bubbles in the ice on a lake
Frozen Bubbles

Just around the corner from me is tiny little Poirier Lake, which has trails around it and a little dock.  I was lucky enough to visit it on one of those rare days when it had a little ice on it.  Just next to the dock there were little groups of bubbles that had formed and I thought in this particular group of bubbles was particularly intriguing.  It seemed to hint at the shape of an animal paw/foot, and the fine powder on the bubble just left of centre had interesting patterns on it.  It’s one of those things that if I hadn’t stopped to take a close look, I wouldn’t have seen and I doubt anyone else would, either, as the weather warmed up and the lake was ice free before sundown.

pinwheel looking lights of a ferris wheel at night
At the Fair

Some of the images here made the list in part because I was trying out different techniques than I normally use, or just plain trying to be more creative.  One of these is my image of the ferris wheel at the Luxton Fall Fair.  I had tried a variety of different techniques to capture the motion  of the rides and/or add some intentional camera motion and most of those images seemed pretty standard to me.  This one I combined a couple things and loved the final result.

ornate brass door hinge
Details Matter

Sometimes you just have to make images with the camera you have with you, such as the image above.  This is a detail shot of a brass door hinge (rotated 1/4 turn counter clockwise) on the Grand Mosque in Constanta, Romania.  In this case, I was on a work assignment in the area and did not have my DSLR or any of my film cameras with me, but I am very happy with the results I was able to get using my iPhone.

man standing with two hats
A Street Portrait

I am most comfortable making photographs of nature, landscapes, cityscapes, or even abstract subjects, so something like a street portrait was a bit of a stretch for me.  The gentleman here was kind enough to pose for a photo I made using a century old Ensign camera and black and white film.  Using the Ensign sparked the film bug in me and I have since blown the dust off my old Canon AE-1 and acquired a Hasselblad 500 EL/M.  I am by no means abandoning using digital cameras, but going back to film and even getting back into film development has really got me excited and feeling inspired.  I now have a dedicated film scanner and am looking at experimenting even more… keep watching this blog for more updates on these experiment.

young girl standing in the rain
Smiling in the Rain

Having a satisfying experience with street photography, I continued to expand my comfort zone and when the opportunity came to make some family portraits, I was up to the challenge.  The weather on the day did not cooperate, but adjustments were made and I really enjoyed the photo session.  In fact, the rain, lit by the fill flash, even added a distinct look to some of the images and gave them a more ‘authentic’ wet… I mean West Coast look.

a yellow boat floats in front of an apartment building
In the Bay

Every year, for the past several years, I have joined in the local area Kelby Photo Walk and always enjoy mingling with other photographers and strolling along for a few hours of photography fun.  This year the one I participated in was in Oak Bay and I found this cute little yellow boat, gently floating on the water, which had tiny ripples on it, while there was an imposing concrete apartment building and dark foreboding clouds in the background… I loved the contrast.Remembrance Day CanadaRemembrance Day has a very special meaning to me and I wanted to make an image that would be simple & respectful.  I chose use the poppy we wear in Canada for Remembrance Day, against a dark background and tried to light it in a way to make it stand out.  I almost never use text on any of my images; however, this was different and I chose a very special poem.  Written by Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae while serving in the military as a doctor in Europe during WW I, In Flanders Fields has become synonymous with Remembrance Day ceremonies, and always makes me pause and reflect.

christmas tree shaped light display
The Sooke Traffic Circle Light Tree

The year ended with my creative take on the “Lights of the Season“, which was the winning entry in a contest run by Oopoomoo (one of my favourite photography blog sites).  I had fun putting this list together, but had a hard time getting down to the last ten, but that’s a good problem to have.  I know this year the images covered a wide variety of photography genres and I am sure I will eventually have a more consistent type of image; however, it likely won’t be 2017, as I plan of doing a lot more experimenting and expanding my repertoire.

Further Developments

Last week I wrote about developing my first roll of 120 film.  This was kind of like crossing a bridge on the trail that is leading me from using a film camera again, to actually developing the film.  This week I had it scanned and now can see the results.

a small bridge on a road in the forest

A Bridge to Cross

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Developing Story

I am excited to have recently developed my first ever roll of 120 film (Ilford HP 5+). The last time I developed any film (it was 35 mm B&W) was just over 30 years ago! I will be writing a more lengthy post once I scan the film, but thought I’d give a quick peek at my experience.

120 format film

From the first roll developed

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Things are Developing

I know it’s been a month since my last post and that’s way too long. Once again life has been hectic and it’s been hard to find the time I’d like for my photography hobby. There have been a few developments (pun intended 😉) related to it, though. I now have pretty much everything I need to develop B&W film (but not to print or scan it yet) and once I run a couple rolls through my camera, I will be giving it a go.

film developing chemicals by Ilford

Basic Chemicals to Develop B&W Film and two rolls of 120

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Something Unexpected 

There have been a couple of unexpected things happen lately. First, I became very busy with work and haven’t had time 😞 for photography or to write a new post. Things should go back to normal soon. The second, much more exciting thing is I found a camera that I hoped to get one day and was pleasantly surprised to find one. I am now the proud owner of a Hasselblad EL/M. More to come when I have chance to put it through the paces.

hasselblad on tripod

Ready For Action

view through the Hasselblad viewfinder

Looking Good

The Film Bug Bites

Recently, I have written about the Pocket Ensign film camera I picked up.  That camera has brought back the fun of analog photography to me and introduced me to medium format film, as it uses “120” film, which is still available in many camera stores.  While I have only just started to get familiar with the Pocket Ensign, I saw an old Brownie Hawkeye just like the one my parents had when I was growing up.  Naturally, I had to have it.  The good news is that it is in great shape… the bad news is it takes 620 film, which is no longer produced.

old film camera on the beach

The “New” Brownie Hawkeye

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Turning Back Time For Creativity

A while ago I wrote about how I took an online photography course to help develop my creative side. It was a great experience and I want to keep doing things to challenge myself and explore more creative options, so I took another leap. This time I bought what is technically a Medium Format, antique camera. I say technically because it is certainly not what first comes to mind when I hear medium format (ie. Hasselblad, Mamiya, Pentax… Or one of many others with interchangeable backs and lenses…). It is a Pocket Ensign No. 28 camera (made in England), that is somewhere near a century old and I have been assured it works. It’s by no means in mint condition, but that’s part of the charm.

Pocket Ensign bellows camera with case and Ilford film

The Old Brit

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