Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Weekend Retreat off the Beaten Path.

Somewhere between Huntsville and Algonquin Park on Bella Lake is a small piece of paradise. My long weekend road trip took me to Billie Bear Lodge, a family owned cottage resort that acted as our base for photographic expeditions.  What I love about this place was the fact it is off the beaten path, in this case Highway 60.  The first thing I did when I got out my car in the parking lot, I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and just listened.

I was up there during low season, it was quiet, as in you don't hear civilization quiet and that is an addictive quality when coupled with your surroundings. My friends showed up shortly after I arrived and we took over the lodge at the resort and made dinner Friday night. I have a soft spot for places like Billie Bear Resort, the accommodations are rustic but that's what I like about it.

Billie Bear Rd.

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One of many Billie Bear Cabins

A Quiet Spot

Front Row Seats

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End of the Season on Bella Lake

Camera: Nikon F3HP, various Nikkor lenses
Film: Fuji Pro 400H 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A small word on Photographic Gear

I follow a site called the Art of Photography and they have a great series of video podcasts, well produced and geared to wide photography enthusiast audience. I'm sharing two of them today to give an idea what is in my camera bag. 


This is a podcast on 35mm film photography and a great showcase on the Nikon F3HP, one of my favourite cameras and I consider it my go to for critical work. What I found interesting is the F3 was in production for around 18 to 20 years almost from 1980 to 2002 depending what source you want to refer to. The other interesting fact is the camera was designed by Italdesign chief Giorgetto Giugiaro who also designed for Ferrari, Maserati and Volkswagen in the 1960s and '70s. 



A second podcast, this time on twin lens reflex cameras. For the record I own three:  a Rolleiflex Series 3.5 Zeiss Planar, Rolleicord IV as well as Mamiya C220 and all of them take amazing photographs. TLRs are compact and relatively lightweight cameras save for the Mamiya which is a boat anchor in terms of weight. Rolleiflexes are a cult camera in terms of collector value depending on the model and are surprisingly still being made in the digital age.



A quick recap, both videos are from the Art of Photography video podcast archives on Youtube, the creator and host is Ted Forbes. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Taking the Road Less Travelled


I like taking the scenic route. A few weeks ago I was up Algonquin Park way with friends for a long weekend of photography from the Friday to Sunday, honestly it wasn't long enough.  While the others took Highway 400 through Barrie, I took the 404, cut through Uxbridge and then hopped on the Trans Canada Highway North (#12) passing through Brock Township in the northern part of Durham Region.

The Smith family emigrated from Forres Scotland arriving  in what is now Durham Region the early 1830s.  My branch of the clan settled in Cannington Ontario becoming merchants owning the town's feed store. My great granddad William George Smith and family left for Toronto in the early 1900s due to changing economic realities and agricultural practices. They are buried in a family plot in the Presbyterian cemetery Concession Road 11.

A great uncle of mine Dr. Masson Smith (granddad's brother) was the town physician in Beaverton roughly 20 minutes drive further north along the Trans Canada. Unfortunately I don't know that much about that part of the Smith clan other than Great Uncle Masson was one the revered community leaders in Beaverton.

Cannington and Beaverton are real small town Ontario, they are not distant suburbs of Toronto or a tourist destination like Elora or St. Jacobs. Both are pretty towns but are what they are, small regional centres for surrounding farms and there is not a lot going on. I understand why Great Granddad W.G. Smith sold the feed store and moved the family to Toronto just over a 100 years ago.

As far as I know, I'm the first family member from my branch to visit since the 1940s and I go up once a year to have a look around. Still don't know exactly where the old feed store is located, I have it narrowed down to one intersection.

The black and white photos were shot in Cannington and the colour shots were taken in Beaverton.


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Beaverton On a Friday

Wooden Nickel

Beaverton Main Drag

Cameras Used:

Nikon FM2 with Ilford HP5 400 black and white film
and a
Nikon F3HP with Fuji Pro 400H colour film.


Friday, October 18, 2013

Fall Road Trip Part One

Uxbridge Station
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Old Budd Rail Car

A few weeks ago I fell off the grid took the scenic route up to a lodge near Algonquin Park to meet up with friends for the weekend and take lots of pictures. I like driving through Durham Region as I have a strong family connection to the area. I took a route through Uxbridge because I wanted to photograph the York-Durham Heritage Railway's northern terminus and I have a weak spot for old trains. Been there last year but suffered light leaks in the camera gear I was using at the time, didn't suffer that problem this time around.

Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to take pictures of their Alco Road Switcher  which was in operation in the yard, I have walked around on their day off but I kept my distance from the operating locomotive for safety reasons, there's always next time when I'm in the area to get a decent photo.

I drove through Uxbridge to get to Highway 12 or the Trans Canada Highway so I can get to Cannington for lunch. More about that next time.

Camera used: Nikon F3HP with a Nikkor Ais 50 f1.4
Film: Fuji Pro 400 H. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

For Those Just Tuning In


My (new to me) F3


Hi everyone, I figure this is an opportune moment to re-introduce myself for those recently discovered my blog. My name is Bill and I’m a photography geek, this medium is a personal passion of mine and thankfully I don’t earn a living at it. 

Checking out previous posts, you’ll notice I still shoot with film and use mostly manual focus 35mm and medium format cameras stretching from the mid 1950s to the 1990s. As a byproduct, I collect cameras from this time period, in particular Nikon, Leica and Rolleiflex, not a cheap hobby but a lot cheaper than collecting and restoring vintage Porsches. 

People ask why, film it’s simple I like the workflow besides I spend enough time in front of the computer with work as a marketing communications consultant. That being said there are few digital camera systems I have my eye on but I’m not in a rush to invest just yet. 

I process my own black and white film. I’m partial to Ilford’s HP5 400 and Delta 100 ISO films along with Kodak Tri-400 and Fuji Neopan Acros 100 in medium format for black and white. Each film has it’s own signature that can be influenced by the choice of developers and I’m partial to Kodak’s HC110 and Xtol as well as Ilford’s ID-11.  

As for colour film I shoot what’s called C-41 which is more commonly known as colour negative. For now I'm dropping my colour rolls off at a processing lab, that may change once I figure out a process to do it at home. My go to colour films are Kodak’s Ektar 100 and Portra 400 along with Fuji’s Pro 400 H. 

The photos posted on this blog are scanned from the negative by an Epson V500 flatbed scanner. It’s not bad but there is far better out there, comes down to what you can afford. I use Vuescan control software saving the images in Tiff format and do minimal post processing in Aperture. As a rule the only adjustments I make are cropping, dust removal and if necessary minor adjustments in the colour curves function. 

Stay tuned for some upcoming posts from a recent trip up north to Algonquin Park and surrounding environment. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Mono Cliffs Provincial Park Part Two

Mono Cliffs is one of those secret magical spots I to go hiking and a few weeks ago I led a photo walk with 15 members of the Oakville Camera Club. The big challenge when organizing field trips for the club is keeping things fresh and the park delivered in a big way and we were fortunate to get a sunny day after the fog burned off.

For those wondering where Mono Cliffs Provincial Park is, budget about an hour and 20 minutes driving time northwest of Toronto by taking highway 410 then drive along highway 10 through Orangeville and then turn right along Mono Centre Road #8, go east and keep an eye out for the signs for the park. It's not a difficult hike but I would recommend wearing hiking boots.

As I mentioned earlier, the best part of Mono Cliffs is closing your eyes and just listening, after a minute you realize you can't hear civilization.

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Reflected Colour

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Camera gear used

Square format: Mamiya C220f with the 80 f2.8 Sekor lens.

35mm format: Canon F-1n with either the FD 28 f2.8 or 50 f1.4 lenses.

I used Fuji NPH 400 in medium (square) format and Pro 400H in 35mm for film.