A Pan American Adventure; Part 3 – Arequipa

Upon conclusion of our ‘organised’ itinerary we had reserved a week or so of spare time to head elsewhere in Peru. So in escaping the excitement of Cusco, the highs and lows of our trek and after a gruelling >12 hour bus journey, we arrived in Arequipa – a colonial city in the south of Peru.

We had intended to remain active once there and considered a trip up the local, omnipresent volcano, El Misti. Unfortunately, the relative lull in our program meant that we succumbed to an enforced laziness and a stomach bug (don’t eat pizza in an empty restaurant) which inevitably led to a few days of down-time and a leisurely pace.

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Downtime in the shadow of El Misti.

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A Pan-American Adventure; Part 1.0 – Cusco, Peru

The past 5 years has seen me embark upon an educational journey. One for which I had previously fought and struggled, but which eventually led to me losing my convictions prior to its completion. Though complete it I did, and recently ended up with my doctorate.

During the summer just gone, I handed in my thesis and was examined successfully and as a post-hand-in/viva celebration, my other half and I took to the wind, spending the best part of 2 months visiting Peru, Seattle, Vancouver and Reykjavik. In this post I shall be referencing and depicting our first few days in Peru, where we spent time in Cusco. Though first, let’s get some technical talk out of the way.

Space and weight constraints meant that I could only take one camera and that WAS going to be a film camera! So I decided, due to it’s robustness and apparent versatility and durability, to take the Pentacon Six with my Zeiss Biometar 80 mm f2.8 attached. I also took 12 rolls of Kodak Portra 400 and all shots in these posts will have been taken using this set-up and generally exposed at ISO 200. As usual, all films were processed, printed and scanned by Ag-Photographic’s Photolab service.


The journey to Peru was one of the longest and somewhat disconcerting journeys I have had the pleasure of making! Travelling from Heathrow, we changed in Bogota and Lima, before making the final leg to Cusco also by plane. Over-zealous airport security and the inevitably tight airline seating space were highlights. Plus anyone who has flown into Bogota may well know the insane level of turbulence you will experience when landing there.

Anyhow, in one piece and with all baggage intact we arrived in Cusco somewhat bedraggled. For our first few days we had booked into a room in someone’s house via AirBnB and we so relayed our directions to the driver of one of the ‘official’ cabs which can be acquired at the airport. The journey wasn’t too far thankfully, and one of our hosts was waiting to greet us.

Our room was basic but lovely, with a great mountain view. We were also furnished with coca leaves and a thermos of hot water, which was to become a staple of our Peruvian component. Come evening we were, as one might say, knackered! We thus hit the sack quite early and took up our adventure the next day.

I’m not going to take you through a day-by-day account, but suffice to say that we spent our time exploring on foot and also took advice from our hosts on certain things to see or where to buy groceries – this gave us the chance to see places that one might not ordinarily visit.

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Kodak Portra 400 – Park Hill, Sheffield

More Park Hill.

The afore-maligned, post-war re-housing effort has recently been receiving a lot of attention. Last week’s Sheffield Design Week had stalls up there and viewings in the new units in collaboration with  the company responsible for the, as yet partial, refurbishment whilst members of the Royal Photographic Society recently produced a glossy photobook, (which contains some pretty awesome images).

My interest has correlated with this upsurge in promotional activity, but has for the most part been separate. Though I did partake in a viewing and certainly had some delicious pizza last Saturday!

The show apartment was itself interesting, with some innovative space saving design bits, comprising elements that echo the industrial nature of the area and thoroughly had the whole functional minimalism thing going on. Hopefully the regeneration plans they have made see it out to full completion.

Years of accumulated grime and decay have painted the undeveloped portions of the site a decrepit and concrete grey. I believe the original colour scheme had contained blue and yellow elements, which if you look hard, you can spot when walking around the inner facade.

I loaded the Pentacon Six with some Kodak Portra 400, affixed the Biometar 80mm and mooched up there an afternoon a couple of weekends ago. The sun was in full effect, the sky with few clouds; a perfect day and a complementary film to shoot the “streets in the sky” in an attempt to rediscover those original colours and to capture those new ones, often reflected in the plastic safety windows and ubiquitous metal panelling that have been installed over time.

Unfortunately my analogue Profisix has decided to pack in, maybe once my thesis is submitted I can look into fixing it, but until then I’m metering using a digital Gossen Mastersix that I managed to get along with my Profispot. As usual, I used a grey card instead of the latter, though hopefully with the advent of more time to waste, I can soon start learning zone metering! This roll was metered at ISO 200.

Some cropping, straightening and saturation modification was perpetrated in PS but developing and scanning is thanks to Ag-Photographic’s Photolab service.

Anyhow, enough waffle. Enjoy!


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Fujicolour Pro 400H – Sheffield Photowalks; City Centre & Kelham Island

Having been out hiking a little less than usual in recent weeks, one alternative has been to head out early’ish and take to the streets of Sheffield.

I often head down towards Kelham Island, the ex-industrial area of Sheffield that seems to always be in a state of permanent gentrification. The place is steeped in history, though is now predominantly devoid of big industry, thus can often give off a somewhat melancholy air. On the other hand, some skilled, cottage industry still exists, some of the new development is helpful and the locale is populated with a number of pubs, of which many would have served the original workforce, and now are known as some of the best that Sheffield has to offer.

The resulting shots showcased here represent two rolls from separate trips; one such Kelham Island walk, and another that also continued closer to the city centre, also taking in the ever maligned Park Hill Flats. The flats, (originally envisaged as a government-led, post-war re-housing scheme), have been a visual icon of the city for decades, and once hosted a thriving community. Now the flats are torn by development, dereliction and the last remaining, legal residents.

Both rolls were shot on Fuji Pro 400H, using my Pentacon Six TL, with a Zeiss Biometar 80mm f2.8, (zebra version); though one roll was shot at ISO 400 and the other at ISO 200. All metering was done using a Gossen Profisix in conjunction with an 18%  grey card. Some cropping, contrast and saturation  modification has been perpetrated in PS, but rolls were developed, printed and scanned by Ag-Photographic.

The Moor, Sheffield City Centre. Fuji Pro 400H. shot  at 400
The Moor, Sheffield City Centre. Fuji Pro 400H. shot at 400

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Fujichrome 64T II (expired) – Sheffield – Evening Photowalking

Good evening! It seems to have been ages since I last posted anything but I finally managed to get some colour films sent off for development, and I still have a few b&w rolls in the fridge, which hopefully I can get around to developing sometime soon!

A few weeks ago, loaded with some expired Fujichrome 64T II, I took the Rolleiflex, Profisix and tripod out for an evening photowalk; heading out around the immediate outskirts of Sheffield city centre, ultimately towards the city’s old industrial heartland, Kelham Island.

This was my first experience using a tungsten-balanced film, and given that the film was expired, to help with determining the correct exposure I decided to try out an app I came across via a post from Francois on the Filmwasters forum. This app allows you to plug in the details for your film, and it gives you a read-out of upper and lower suggested ISO settings. For a 07/2002 expiry date, and the ISO 64 film rating, the app suggested ISO 25.

To complicate things, 64T II is a colour reversal, slide film, and according to internet wisdom this means that you can achieve better colour results if you underexpose the film, (the opposite is an often used technique when using colour negative film). However, with the film being expired, results will vary based upon several factors, not least how it has been stored, as such it may be wise to test for yourself. In the end, I decided to use the app’s recommendation, but also shot a second exposure at ISO 40 with the aim of underexposing.

I further post-processed the scans from Ag Photographic’s Photolab service, boosting the exposure and changing the white balance.

The first shot is of the reverse of the Cemetery Road entrance to the derelict cemetery, located just off Ecclesall Road; the Sheffield General Cemetery.

Entrance to the Sheffield General Cemetary. ISO 25, +1 exposure in PS.
Entrance to the Sheffield General Cemetery. f16, 15s, ISO 25, with +1 exposure and white balancing in PS.

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Ilford FP4+, Shot At 100 – Pentax SV.

Shot over the X-Mas and NY period on the Pentax, through a Pentacon 30mm f3.5 lens; this film was home developed in Perceptol 1+3 dilution, for ISO 125, and represents my first 35mm developing nightmare!

120 film is a cinch to load onto the old Paterson developing reels, though I had previously had a problem with the reel coming apart during inversion; thus ruining a roll of 120 Ilford Pan F+. 35mm turned out to be pretty much impossible, no amount of releasing and re-spooling was enough to get the full roll on, it just kept on bunching and ripping. And to add insult to injury, the previously occurring fault also featured in tandem, with the reel, (supposed to adjust to fit 35mm or 120 film), popping open, releasing the film inadvertently at the most inopportune moments. Anyhow, after much sweating and swearing, I had to lose a third of the roll, so there went the NYE pics; which were probably drunken-blurry anyway.

Despite the annoyance, it’ s interesting how certain kinds of visual artefact can add to the allure of film. They isolate and accentuate aspects of the image, directing our focus and nursing our nostalgic tendencies but irrespective of character, I guess that the banding evident in these images is probably down to the ‘bunching’ of the film during loading and the resulting uneven exposure to the developer within the tank, (at a guess anyway, please feel free to make any other relevant suggestions).

This old reel and tank was generously gifted to us by Sarah’s Dad, and has allowed us the opportunity to delve into home developing, but given the persistent fault in this old reel, I think I might try and get hold of some of the stainless steel reels and tanks; though these might take some time to source second-hand, as some of the UK-made Hewes products are no longer being manufactured.

Some cropping, straightening and contrast modification was undertaken in PS Elements. Anyhow, enjoy.


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Photowalking: Sheffield, City Centre.

These shots were taken on a number of days, a few months ago, probably sometime in the summer, when Sarah and I had been taking the Rollei for walks around Sheffield city centre; locations including Crookes Valley Park, Kelham Island and the Porter Brook.

We shot this roll using a grey, metered Rolleiflex T, on Ilford HP5+ at box speed, (ISO 400), and in accordance with the Massive Dev Chart, we home developed the film in Perceptol 1+3 for ISO 400. Our first home-developed B&W film was processed using de-ionised water, but due to potential cost and weight constraints, we decided to try out plain-old tap water. I also decided to use our darkroom lamp, as opposed to the main light, throughout development until after the fix-stage; in case this was responsible for the ‘fogging/over-exposure’ evident in my first post.

Again the resulting negatives were ‘scanned’ using a lightbox and Canon 500D dSLR with a Sigma 18-250mm superzoom attached, though this time I tried to flatten the film using the negative holder, (Autoneg), from our Durst DA 900 enlarger. I had originally intended to use some recently acquired macro-bellows, but figured out that I need extension tubes for the lens I intend to use, (next time maybe). Plus, I still need to get the hang of contrast manipulation.

And again the dreaded vertical scratches are in full force, like I said in my inaugural post, unfortunately we didn’t realise that we were incorrectly loading the film until after a few rolls of film had been shot. It adds character to some images at least!

Anyhow, despite the scratches, tap water and dSLR scan, they appear to have turned out reasonably well. Perceptol 1+3 and HP5+ are pretty well suited it would seem; but I guess that’s for you guys to decide.

Crookes Valley Park
Crookes Valley Park

Continue reading “Photowalking: Sheffield, City Centre.”