Black and White Film Photography

Firstly, I would like to give you my apologies for the recent lack of activity. The end of 2023 and beginning of this year took a turn in an unplanned direction and photography (and other things) had to take a back seat for a while. I’ve not even taken many photographs with my shiny new iPhone 15 Pro since getting it.

Hopefully though now that the weather is improving, I will start to feel inspired to take off the lens cap a bit more often and get outside with one of my many cameras.

I did film photography for several decades before changing over to digital photography about 20 years ago. At one point in the mid 1970’s I did a lot of black and white film photography and I had access to a dark room and all the equipment to process my own films and print my own negatives. I enjoyed the process. But I’ve not done any of that in the last 40 or more years.

In the last 20 years, my use of my film camera has sadly decreased to may be one or two rolls a year. However, I still enjoy using my Canon EOS30 film SLR camera, but it is quite a challenge compared to digital these days. There are times when I wish I still had some of my other film cameras such as the Olympus OM30 I used in the 1990’s.

The other major difference to digital photography is cost, the cost of film and of getting it processed etc. That has put me off doing it too often. It’s a sort of treat to do it once or twice a year.

After a bit of research I’ve found a company here in France that does film processing, scanning, printing etc. They are Nation Photo, they are based in Paris, but they do a mail order service. I did enquire locally about the cost of film processing, but it was a crazy expensive price. The Nation Photo site is available in English as well as French 😉🇫🇷

Nation Photo do quite a quick turn around. I posted a film to them last Tuesday, and I received an email back from them a week later with a link to download my images in TIFF format. They will post the negatives back to me sometime this week I guess.

For a change this time I decided to give Black and White film another go, it is many years since I shot in black and white apart from on my digital camera. I loaded up a roll of Ilford HP5, a film stock I’ve not used in ages. The grain is very evident in the resulting images but it adds to the creativeness of them I guess.

Once a month the local automotive club meet up in the town market square, naturally there are quite a lot of old French cars (2CV’s and the like), but there is also a good selection of other makes from around the world. I don’t go every month, but I was determined to ‘finish off my film’ last month.

Here are a small selection of my photographs from this recent film.

I’m reasonably pleased with the results. I have done some small adjustments to the images you see here, mainly to increase the contrast levels and some cropping.

Backing up your computer.

Far too often, I hear about people who have ‘lost’ their computer files. Happily, there are many ways to easily avoid such a disaster these days.

Firstly, how do you organise your files? Having tens or hundreds of them on the desktop is not best practice. Try to follow a ‘clear desk policy’, only keeping files on the desktop that you are currently working on or frequently (i.e. daily) need to access. All other files should be saved and stored in appropriately named folders on your computer hard drive.

Backing up your computer is essential! Hard drives are a commonly used method, but¬ – it’s a big ‘but’– they do fail after a finite time. However, you shouldn’t need to worry about that horror if you have a proper back up strategy in place.

I’ve always followed the ‘3-2-1’ back up rule. This means I have:

  • Three copies of each file, including the original,
  • On at least Two different drives,
  • And One copy stored ‘off-site’.

For example, I might have a document stored on my internal computer hard drive, a copy stored on a separate external hard drive, and the third copy synced to Dropbox.

However, whenever I change the copy on my internal hard drive, the copy in Dropbox (cloud storage) will be updated, and the second copy on an external hard drive will also be updated within an hour automatically via Apple Time Machine or if you are a Windows user there is a similar application such as Backup and Restore.

Therefore, at worst case I will have potentially only lost a few minutes’ work on a document should there be a drive failure or computer failure.

Going back to external hard drives, please do not use them for storing your original files and photographs on them as they tend to fail more frequently than the internal drive on your computer. You should use them only for backing up. The place to store your original files is your computer!

One back-up solution is to use two external drives to back up, with the system alternating between the two drives automatically. The likelihood of both failing at the same time is remote.

Check your back-ups are working from time to time. Make sure that the back-up drive is fully up to date, in the same way you have made sure that your applications and operating system are up to date.

What camera should I use today?

Anyone who is a fountain pen user (and I am one too) will know the issue. You have far more than you can sensibly use at once!! The only difference with cameras is that it doesn’t matter if you swap from one to another every day or week!

Except may be for film cameras, imagine having several cameras loaded up with different types of films and then trying to remember which one had what film in it. You could dedicate a Filofax to keeping track of all of your cameras!

In the last few weeks I’ve been cycling through my cameras as the mood has grabbed me.

I’ve loaded up my Canon EOS30 with a roll of HP5 black and white film, I really need to get a move on and finish off the roll, I have another unused roll in my bag to use as well. I’m a rather infrequent user of my film camera these days. The cost and the challenge I suppose.

On the digital front my EOS100D has seen quite a bit of use with the 28mm pancake lens. That with a simple wrist strap makes a great ‘guided tour camera’. We went on a local history tour last week, exploring the history of the railway in our town here in France. It was a big employer in the town once upon a time, not so much so these days sadly, although we do still have a passenger service.

Following the publication of this video about the Nikon D700, I used my Nikon D300 for a few days. Although I’m less familiar with that camera, I still do enjoy using it. It pushes the grey matter a bit to do so, but I love the results I get with the camera.

Please do watch that video even if you aren’t a Nikon shooter I’m sure you will appreciate the cameras a lot more.

I didn’t realise that Lucy and her partner were such big fans of Nikon cameras as well.

Do follow Lucy on Instagram and of course here on Substack, she is a great inspiration to me when I’m looking for new ideas of photos to take, to try and get myself away from photographing the same scenes all the time!

Then a few days ago this video was released

That made me dig out my old Canon EOS20D of similar vintage to the EOS5D. The 20D is quite a weighty beast a bit like the Nikon D300

Steven Heise did a great video review of the EOS 20D about a year ago:

His channel is excellent if you are looking at older DSLR cameras or even older mirrorless cameras.

Keep that lens cap off and keep taking photos.

Take care

Scan in those old slides

‘Slide shows’ are a little outdated in the modern era of sharing images on the internet. But in the days of analogue photography, a correctly exposed slide image is just about as good as it came.

I was recently looking for some old slides of my own taken in the 1970’s from the early days of my photography hobby. I didn’t find them. However I did discover a box of slides I had completely forgotten about from 1978 and some more from 1984/85.

I set up my flat bed scanner to be able to scan slides which it can do 4 slides at a time. After a bit of experimenting I managed to get it to do them unattended. Pop in the slides, hit scan and it would do a two pass scan and then save the individual images.

Seeing the images again for the first time in over 40 years has brought back a lot of happy memories. I’ve shared a few on line as well and been contacted by several old friends from back then as well. It has been a wonderful memory filled week.

Get out your old slides and live on the memories again.

A house I lived in Cyprus back in 1983. Some old cottages in Bebington. A new housing complex in Milton Keynes I lived in back in 1978. And me…..yes with significantly more hair than I have now, taken with my first car in about 1978.

A Chance Meeting

I have been on holiday in Slovenia and Austria these last couple of weeks.

One evening we were sat in a restaurant in Ljubljana at an outside table, whilst waiting for our food to arrive. I noticed several keen photographers passing the restaurant at intervals of a few minutes. Two or three passed us before I started to think this has to be an organised group of some sort. All of the cameras looked fairly serious, expensive newish model mirrorless or high end DSLRs or one sort or another.

They all looked keen, focused on looking for that must take scene or shot. ‘In the zone’ if you know what I mean.

I had enjoyed taking plenty of photos myself. I regretted not chatting with any of these photographers in Ljubljana.

Today we were on a tram here in Vienna and a young woman and her boyfriend (I presume) got on the tram with us. Both were carrying cameras, but I noticed they also both had film cameras on straps too. He had a Canon EOS300 and she had an Olympus OM2.

I had no clue what nationality they were, but I took a chance and in my native English. I just said

‘Excuse me, it’s nice to see that you are in to film photography as well as digital’

They both smiled and we got in to a great chat about photography for about 10-15 minutes before we arrived at our destinations and we went our own ways.

It turns out they were students on holiday from near Stuttgart in Germany, but their English was perfect. I speak no German at all!

We didn’t swap contact details, I wish I had now, but I didn’t want to appear to be too ‘weird’

It was great to just chat with some other photographers and have an exchange about our mutual interest.


Vienna tram

Next time you see a photographer, say hello!

Camera Bags

We all have obsessions, be it new cameras, old digi-cams, or other items we ‘just like’. Bags of one sort or another can become an obsession.

If you own more than one camera (and who doesn’t!) then I’m sure you have an equal number of camera bags to go with them…. or more!

Look after your camera bag, do the occasional maintenance on it and it will last for years, decades even!

I got back one of my first camera bags recently. I had passed it on to my son years ago, he stopped using it and had moved on to a Peak Design backpack of some type and my old camera bag sat collecting dust along with a Canon EOS600D he wasn’t using. He passed on to me the bag and the camera! Double Win!! (Centre bottom in the photo)

I had forgotten all about this bag, it was looking a little sorry for itself. But I emptied it out and went to work with a soft bush and the vacuum cleaner, then the soft bush and some upholstery cleaner and it came up looking quite respectable. Ready for another orbit of the globe!

Over the years I have moved to different brands of bags. I had a phase of using Lowepro bags and pouches in various sizes, I have quite a few of their bags. Some bought to be used as camera bags, a couple that I have used as a ‘man bag’ but occasionally as a travel bag or camera bag.

Camera bags make great general travel bags for your personal items, electronics etc. With a soft interior lining and dividers you can easily locate things inside your bag during your journey or at your destination. A quick scan of the bag lets you know if you have left something behind etc.

I still have and occasionally use a Lowepro Mini Trekker bag (Back left in the photo) from the late 1990’s. The only thing that has needed replacing is the elastics, which my wife did an excellent job of changing. It is a smallish backpack, but not too heavy when full and you are on your feet in a town or city for a number of hours. It fits in to most airline carry on limits too.

The different limits of different carriers is a major bug-bear of any traveller these days. There’s no one standard limit. There are size limits and weight limits.

That brings me to the largest camera bag in my collection! The Think Tank Photo Airport Commuter. (Back right in the photo) I bought this for our tour of USA and Canada in 2015, I was able to fit all my camera gear, laptop and iPad and all the cables and adaptors etc in to the one bag. Fully loaded though it was close to the carry on weight limit!

I’ve used this bag quite a bit on non-air flight trips, when going by car or train. It’s brilliant with a suitcase/holdall, I am fully prepared for anything. It can take a couple of camera bodies and a variety of lenses, a Macbook Pro plus a tablet and everything is stored neatly inside.

One of my favourite bags for photo walks is my Lowepro Orion AW (Top centre in the photo). It’s a two part bag, the main camera bag and also a rucksack add-on. I tend to just use the camera bag on its own. It will take a full size DSLR with battery grip and some extra gear as well. With the waist strap taking some of the load, it is not so bad on the shoulders. With the top hinging away from your body you can easily access the inside of the bag to do a quick lens swap.

Smaller bags also have their place in anyones collection. I have a couple of Lowepro Nova bags (Front left and right in the photo), they can take a camera, lens, spare lens and some batteries etc. They a compact, but still nicely padded inside to protect your gear and have a generous size shoulder strap.

Choosing a camera bag is a very personal thing, it will depend on how much you need to carry with you. I like having a range of sizes to choose from. I hate having a bag that is way too big. Having one that is the right size for what I’m carrying is just perfect.

What is your favourite camera bag? Please comment below.

Thank you once again for joining me.

Nikon Camera Settings

I’ve had the Nikon D300 since August 2021, it was a gift from a friend, the camera was her late husbands. Fortunately the camera came with the manual and three books dedicated to the D300. I was also given quite a few accessories and lenses too.

I’ve since added an additional lens the Nikon 10-20mm wide angle zoom to go with the 18-200mm I regularly use on the D300.

I was surprised how many accessories are still available for the D300 given how long it has been discontinued. Although I suspect the accessories are common to later cameras.

I bought a couple of new batteries as I didn’t know the history of the original ones that came with the camera.

Having got over the initial steep learning curve of discovering where all the settings where located on the camera. Manual in one hand camera in the other!

I enjoy using the camera, but I feel like I could get more out of the camera with some fine tuning of the settings.

Another dive in to the manual and books showed me that the Nikon D300 as well as other Nikon’s have a set of memories called ‘Shooting Banks’ and ‘Custom Setting Banks’ These let you set the camera up with different parameters for different types of shots and then you can easily change from one set of settings to another by just going from one ‘bank’ to another ‘bank’

None of my Canon cameras have this type of feature you have to change all the individual settings to your choices.

In the book: David Busch’s Nikon D300: Digital SLR Photography he has dedicated a long chapter on how to set up the memory banks with a set of suggested settings for the camera in different scenarios.

I will be going through this chapter in detail to optimise the settings on my camera. I think it will be time well spent.

Canon Powershot SX120is

We bought this camera in about 2010, it replaced a previous 2004 model of Canon Powershot camera (S60?) that had become faulty and it was sadly beyond economic repair.

My wife used the SX120is for a few years until she got an iPhone and then eventually the Canon was tucked away in a small camera case and forgotten about… that is until recently!

The SX120is boasts a 10MP CCD sensor, oh yes it has those three important letters on the spec sheet… I hadn’t realised it until I was researching the camera in more detail and that made me want to look in to it a bit more.

After all it’s a camera we already own, so no trawling Ebay or similar for other cameras that are increasing in price after been highlighted on a You Tube video somewhere 😉

The lens zoom range is quoted as being 36-360mm F2.8-F4.3, I tend to use it at the wide end and rarely use the zoom capability which is via the normal rocker control on the top of the camera surrounding the shutter release button.

The camera can shoot in Manual, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, and Program Modes. It has a glut of scene modes too, which I’ve never really attempted to get my head around. It does video but it’s not very impressive at 640×480 at 30f.p.s. not that video is of any interest to me!

The camera uses two AA batteries, whilst it recommends rechargeable NiMH batteries it seems to fail on low battery with those very quickly these days, so a setting internally needs recalibrating I suspect. I use it on normal batteries instead. A small CR1220 battery keeps the internal clock (date and time) alive.

Storage is via an SD card in the base of the camera where the batteries slot in. The camera only shoots in JPEG, sadly no RAW format in camera is available. The results are reasonably good though.

There is no viewfinder, but there is a 3 inch screen on the back, which is clear enough in most situations.

For more details on specs and reviews etc see DPReview.

And some sample photos taken recently with the camera without any editing. Just my usual countryside walk local to our house on a fairly grey overcast day in March. Yes the river is in full flood at the moment! But our house is a good 50 metres above the river.

One of the things I really like about this camera and this type of camera is how you can tuck it in a jacket pocket and have a camera with you can still take reasonable photos and you feel more involved in the process compared to using a smart phone camera.

#nobadcameras #ccdcameras #canon #digicam

‘Standard Lens’?

For many years the 50mm focal length has been considered to be the ‘standard focal length’ because it was considered to be similar to what our own eyes see.

If you examine this notion though, a lot of people challenge that ‘theory’. Recently I watched this video by James PopsysThe New Best Focal Length?

He is a landscape photographer who I’ve been following for a few years now. His photography has inspired me quite a bit.

He explains why 40mm might be closer to our own natural field of view.

For some years I’ve tended to use a zoom lens, but these can be quite bulky and heavy. The later is something you don’t want if you are travelling.

I recently bought a Canon EF-S 24mm f2.8 fixed focal length lens. Fitted to my APS-C cameras that results in an equivalent focal length of 38.4mm close to 40mm. This lens is very shallow and lightweight. The combined weight of the EOS100D body and lens is only 545 grams and as you can see it is very compact.

This camera set up will be perfect for a couple of short trips I’ve got planned in the coming months. Yes a fixed focal length will make me zoom with my feet a bit more, but for simple shots it will be perfect. I can carry an extra battery pack in my camera pouch ‘just in case’

Using a fixed focal length for me is like going back 30+ years in terms of photography. But a big advantage is the larger base aperture, so better shallow depth of field. Yes, framing a shot precisely isn’t as convenient but it’s not a major disadvantage.

What is your ‘Go to set up for travelling?’

I took the following photos on a bit of a grey and cloudy February day to test out this camera/lens combination on our typical local countryside walk. I will use this combination some more in the coming weeks.


Current Cameras

I still enjoy shooting film with my Canon EOS30, a camera I’ve owned from new. I find film enjoyable, but quite hard work to use compared to digital after about 20 years or so. Shooting film isn’t cheap though, but as an occasional indulgence it can be good for the soul.

I still occasionally like using my Canon EOS20D, low on MegaPixels, but nice and ‘chunky’, it has quite a bit of heft to it. No video, but as you will discover that doesn’t concern me. I bought this new back in 2004, I use it with the battery grip. I initialy used it constantly for about 10 years.

In 2015 I needed something a bit more compact and lighter for a trip to USA and Canada, it was a holiday of a lifetime at the time. I bought a Canon EOS100D it is tiny compared to the 20D, but it fits the bill for me.  Yes it does video, but I’ve only ever used it less than five times for video.

In 2021 I inherited a Nikon 300D camera and glass. It was a bit of a culture shock, having never used a Nikon DSLR before. Fortunately as well as the Nikon manual I was also given three other books devoted to the D300. I spent quite a bit of time ‘learning’ the system and the differences to my Canon ‘roots’. I would say I’m still learning, but I’m enjoying the process and the differences. In a way the D300 re-kindled my interest in photography.

Looking for videos about the D300 I discovered ‘One Month Two Cameras’ and Lucy’s Analogue Adventures… so good things come from older cameras!

More recently at Christmas 2022, my son (who inherited my interest in photography) passed on his ‘no longer used’ Canon EOS600D, after giving it some TLC and recharging the batteries etc. it has become my ‘go to camera’ most of the time. It falls between the 20D and 100D in terms of size and weight, may be a little bit lighter than the D300. It does the job. Being ‘another Canon’ the transition was quite quick in terms of getting it set up and adapting to using it.

I nearly forgot! Tucked in my messenger bag is a Canon Powershot SX120is, it nearly qualifies as a digicam, again there are some limitations with it, no viewfinder being one of them. But again fun to use compared to just using my iPhone!

What of the future? I really don’t know… but for now I’m enjoying the ones I have. Remember there are #nobadcameras

Until next time, it’s time to take off that lens cap and take some pictures.