Leica

365...

With the start of a new year comes an urge to try something different. It's an excuse to challenge ourselves. Over the Christmas holiday I began thinking about attempting a 365 photography project. Many others I know through Twitter had already begun or would be starting on the 1st January. I have been shooting a lot more film over the last year with the acquisition of the Leica and Hasselblad. I really enjoy shooting film but there is no question that it's an expensive hobby. 

With this in mind I decided to use the 365 as a way of teaching myself more about home developing and scanning. So I decided to embark on a 365 project which involves shooting at least one image per day and then developing and scanning the b&w film myself. I have limited myself to only using my Leica M6 with the Summicron 50mm f2 lens attached and shooting ilford HP5 400 film. I realise I won't be able to produce a great image each day, some days not even a mediocre image. But for me its really about learning more about the process of shooting film and being able to develop and scan myself. I also want to be able to shoot more without having to rely on a light meter.

Now almost a month into the project I can safely say, its been hard. I have set myself the target of shooting at least 1 roll per week (often more) which I then develop and scan over the weekend. This makes it more manageable. I have however struggled to write about each image and to post on a daily basis. This is why I am now sharing January in one post. I will add the last two days into the next post as we fly out to Iceland tomorrow and I wanted to get this up before we leave.

So far I have learnt a lot about the do's and don'ts when developing film. Having now developed a handful of rolls successfully I feel fairly confident with the process. It hasn't been all smooth sailing though. I have managed to ruin one roll by not fixing it for long enough and scratch part of another roll as one of the ball bearings had slipped out of the spool, causing it to get caught when winding on. As frustrating as this has been I realise it's all a learning curve and I won't make these same mistakes again.

Going forward with the project I hope to be able to post more consistently. I also want to try and get some thoughts down for at least some of the images I post. Anyway here is the first batch. The good, the bad and the ugly!

 

 

Lisbon

A couple of weeks ago I hit a big milestone in my life. I turned 30. As this was a special birthday, my wife kindly said she was going to take me away to a surprise destination to celebrate. We both booked a week off work and I had no idea where we would be going. All she said was that it would be hot, so to pack for good weather. After a weekend of celebrating with family and friends, Monday morning came and we set off early for the airport. On the way I was given a poem written by my wife which held the clues to our destination. It took me longer than it should have to decipher the clues and work out that we were off to Lisbon for 6 days. 

I have been lucky enough to visit many amazing parts of Europe. However had never made it to Portugal and didn’t really know what to expect from Lisbon. I was given a guidebook after cracking the poem so was able to begin reading up on what we would be experiencing.

We had a small apartment in Alfama which is the old part of town. This was great as we were able to walk everywhere. It also meant we were in the perfect place to wonder the side streets where the locals hang out. Lisbon really is a beautiful and picturesque city. The mixture of old and new architecture along with the San Francisco like hills and trams make it such a cool place to explore. 

As well as Lisbon we took a day trip out to Sintra to visit the national Palace and the Moorish castle. I can honestly say as castles go it was the best I have visited. Perched high on a hilltop it gave some breathtaking views over the towns and valleys below. Another great thing about Lisbon is that it is only a 30 minute train ride to the beach. With the temperature hitting 32 °C we had two days at Cascais which had great beaches and restaurants and was perfect to escape the city when it got too hot.

During this trip I was really keen to shoot primarily with film. This was all going to plan until I accidentally managed to knock my M6 and bent the winding lever out of shape, which meant it wouldn’t advance properly. I was gutted so switched to my trusty X-pro1. Later that night I did  manage to bend the winder enough to make it turn, so the M6 was just about usable for the rest of the trip. I have since had the winder replaced.

This really was an unforgettable week and for anyone who hasn’t been I would definitely recommend adding Lisbon to your list of places to visit.

All images were taken with the Leica M6 and Nokton 50mm 1.5 VM on Kodak Portra 400 film. Developed and scanned by Carmencita Lab.

Berlin

Going back to work after the Christmas break is never fun. We decided to book a city break so we would have something fun to look forward to in the new year. After some research and many recommendations we settled on Berlin for our destination. It is an amazing city full of history and culture. We had mixed weather but even when it was pouring with rain it didn't stop us from. Berlin is the kind of place where you walk and with every turn discover something interesting. 

There were a lot of highlights from our weekend. Some include watching the sunset from the top of the Fernsehturm tower, exploring the empty Tempelhof airport, looking for bargains at Mauerpark flea market and wandering along the wall at the east side gallery.

Having recently got my Leica M6 I was really keen to shoot with it for the weekend. I took along my Fuji Xpro-1 to shoot with at Night and as my safety net. I wanted to push myself to mainly use the Leica though. Having had some mixed results from first few rolls with the M6, mainly due to underexposure. I took along my Sekonic light meter. I followed Johnny Patience's easy to understand technique on metering for film, from his excellent blog post. This meant I took a meter reading for the shadows of the scene and then just focused on shooting rather than constantly checking the internal meter.

I shot 3 rolls of Kodak Portra 400 and half a roll of Tri-x 400. I chose to try Richard Photo Lab for developing and scanning. I had wanted to use them before but decided to wait until I was more confident with the Leica so that I would be getting back some half decent results. Im really happy with the scans i got back and will definitely be using them again for my next batch of film. 

Here are some of my favourite shots from weekend. We both loved Berlin and hope to go back soon to explore further!

All images were taken with the Leica M6 and Nokton 50mm 1.5 VM.