Spring has sprung - well sort of.

09th May 2012
In: Blog
A week ago I found myself turning over the next page on my calendar, and was greeted with the three letters that usually signal that spring is well and truly here - MAY.

Well what bizarre spring weather we've had, surely a taste of things to come vis a vis climate change. The year so far had been relatively dry and April started out really hot. There were talks of the limestone being called early. But then a week of cold and snowy weather over Easter followed by what seemed like a fortnight of perpetual rain put the limestone crags back into their wet weather attire and many a climber scuttled back into the indoor walls, leaving only the keen to pick off gritstone sessions between the showers. A bit disappointing for me given the run of (relatively) good form I've enjoyed since February, but never mind. Once again as I type this the rain is pounding at my window.

Photographically its not been all that bad. For one the rainy evenings gave me chance to crack on with my backlog of film to develop and scan. I even found a few shots from LAST spring I'd not got round to push-processing! But outside at the business end of things the showery weather brought some chances to catch good if fleeting light, and damp overcast evenings prompted a bit of lateral thinking in terms of prospective venues to make the most of the flat light.

I usually head out alone to take photos but I have been out a few times recently with S11s latest 4x5 owner Adam Long, who is now toting a Linhof Technikardan and a tripod taller than he is. We headed to Eyam Delph one evening in search of flowering wild garlic but found we were a week or so too early. Undeterred I took the shot below on this occasion despite the lack of flowers, although I treat this very much as a work in progress to revisit.

As many film devotees will have read over the last few months, Kodak's fortunes have again taken a turn for the worse and it remains to be seen if they can keep their business going, especially since their analogue business won't be propped up by Hollywood for ever. Fuji stole the march on Kodak back in the late '80s when Velvia surpassed the venerable Kodachrome as the slide film of choice for nature and landscape work, but their monochrome and C41 products are still in demand. Most of the photographic world seemingly have grave misgivings about the ability of Kodak to pull it out of the bag and get on an even keel, but its easy to forget they weren't always a lumbering mismanaged firm. One of my trips out with Adam on a wet evening found us scouting the marsh area by Froggatt Bridge, a spot I've driven past hundreds of times but never put any time aside to explore. I took this shot below with a single-coated Kodak Ektar 203mm lens dating from Kodak's golden days of the 1950s.

This particular lens was made under licence in the UK and despite its age and simple optical design I can assure you to my eye its every bit as sharp as any modern glass. Its small, light, sharp, covers 5x7" and available pretty cheap - what more could you want? The ones made in the UK even screw straight into any modern Copal #0 shutter. Kodak really pulled out all the stops with these.

Of course Kodak will ever get back to those dizzy heights, but if they can just maintain a stable business as Ilford Harman have done I dare say a lot of analogue photographers around the world will be happy.

(See more recent shots HERE)

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