During the month of June we saw our first seasonal snowfalls that arrived a bit later this year compared to last year. I decided it was appropriate to shoot some film photography – large format in the snow. My choice of film was Ilford Delta 100, HP5 Plus and some Kodak Tmax 100 & 400. My location of choice was near the Matroosberg Reserve outside of Ceres in South-Africa, this is approximately 160km from my home. En route there I was able to anticipate what the snow conditions could look like by the volume of snow that had fallen on our Hex River Valley Mountains. This is not my first time shooting snow on 4×5, in fact last year I had done so in Sutherland, South-Africa. As our town Worcester, which is situated in the heart of the Winelands region is surrounded by mountains, one can awake to an ever-changing mountain view from our bedroom windows; that is when the cloud cover is not too low.
The colour images were taken on my Nikon D5 digital camera and gives one the sense of vivid colours and visual sense of the scenes en route to my final destination. There was a fair dumping of snow in Ceres, but not as much as I had experienced in April 2019, which still remains my benchmark for snowfalls in this region.
It was a later start to the day, and on arrival there were so many cars parked up at an old oak forest on the Bo-Swaarmoed Road near Matroosberg Reserve. People were having fun building snowmen, making snow angels, small children experiencing snow for the first time and crying from the cold – it is not cottonwool afterall! I found a parking space near the location I wanted to shoot at, took a walk around to find a scene that I wanted to photograph. Besides the 4×5 large format gear, I also took along my Pentax 645n and shot a roll of Fuji Velvia 50, this is in for developing, as I currently don’t home develop E6 yet.
One of the first scenes I photographed was where the Oak Forest created a leading line from the right into my scene. I used a Nikon SW 75mm lens on my Shen-Hao HZX-45II camera for all my shots and was well pleased during editing that upon zooming I was able to see someone taking photos of a tree, people playing and snowmen in the distance.
Ilford Delta 100 is a lovely fine grain film as you can see from these images. It is an ISO 100, medium speed, exceptionally fine grain, black & white film. Ideal for photographers who want to capture maximum detail, superb image quality and sharpness. Excelling in scenes that are detail rich, its exceptionally fine grain makes Ilford Delta 100 the perfect choice for many applications or genres. Showing outstanding quality at its recommended rating of ISO 100/21°, Ilford Delta 100 will also produce stunning results rated between ISO 50 and 200.
Ilford Delta 100 will also produce stunning results rated between ISO 50 and 200
The clouds weren’t too fast moving, however they were varying in thickness which made for rapidly changing and challenging lighting conditions. With large format, there are no electronic bells and whistles that can be found in digital cameras. People brag about their 15+ fps, this is more like one frame per 15 minutes! My scenes were all shot using a LEE 23A Light Red Standard filter. I shot the various scenes on both Ilford and Kodak film stocks. This meant a sheet was shot with and without a filter to see which I liked best.
After two frames of Ilford Delta 100 I framed up another composition on Ilford HP5 Plus. I quite liked the framing of the oak trees in the overall scene.
Ilford HP5 Plus is a high speed, fine grain, medium contrast black & white film making it an excellent choice for journalism, documentary, travel, sports, action and indoor available light photography. Nominally rated at ISO 400, HP5 PLUS produces negatives of outstanding sharpness and fine grain under all lighting conditions. It has been formulated to respond well to push-processing and can be rated up to El 3200/36°. It’s wide exposure latitude makes it a great choice for beginners, those returning to film as well as the more experienced professional users.
Ilford HP5 Plus – it’s wide exposure latitude makes it a great choice for beginners and experienced professional users
Here again the dance was the same, one frame with and without a LEE Filter. Ilford FP4 & HP5 Plus are very similar to Kodak Tri-X which is a more gritty, grainy film compared to their Delta range, I would say a classic film.
Whilst setting up my shot, I was approached by a young man who had an impressive amount of knowledge regarding large format photography. After chatting a while I discovered that he too was a medium format film shooter. That was so refreshing to speak with someone who actually knew about my craft and we ended up swapping Instagram accounts. There are many ignorant people out there that have absolutley no idea what large format photography is. There are probably less than 10 active large format shooters in South Africa, if not on film then those on wetplate.
Kodak Tmax 100 is their finest, and Tmax 400 their sharpest black & white film
Kodak’s Professional T-Max 100 is a medium-speed panchromatic black and white negative film characterised by an extremely fine grain structure along with high sharpness and resolving power. By utilizing a T-GRAIN emulsion, the grain pattern resembles a patterned, tabular form that maintains effective film speed while reducing the appearance of grain during enlarging or scanning. This film has a nominal sensitivity of ISO 100/21° and also features a wide exposure latitude, broad tonal range, and responds well to push development and zone system development changes. Tmax 100 & 400 is very similar to Ilford Delta 100 & 400.
Overall I am very happy with how the results turned out, it is always a good day out when everything runs smoothly and after developing you have images. It never gets old when you open the Paterson tank and your negatives look good! If you would like to join me to shoot some film photography – large format in the snow, or any other environment, get in touch!
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