Updated: Nov 8
A Stroll Through Lesnes Abbey Woods on Fuji Acros and Kodak 320TXP
In the southeast of London, there are some beautiful woodlands to go for long, relaxing strolls in - Joyden's Wood near Bexley and Lesnes Abbey Wood near Thamesmead are two of my favourites. The light that filters through the tree cover provides not only a diffuse light and ethereal atmosphere, but also some truly awesome lighting situations. But it's not just the lighting - the structure of the trees is truly mind boggling at points, depending on the age of the tree.
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My favourite camera to take to the woods is the Fujica GL690. You might ask - why such a large and cumbersome camera? The reasons are threefold:
It's the largest format medium format camera I have;
It's a rangefinder, with a very bright rangefinder patch, so no struggling in troublesome lighting conditions to focus through the lens; and
It uses leaf shutter lenses.
The combination of points 2 and 3 mean that, although the lenses have a relatively slow maximum aperture (f/3.5 for the 100mm and a whopping f/5.6 for the 65mm), I can still handhold the camera at 1/8s and achieve acceptably sharp images. Indeed, I've braced myself against a tree before and shot at 1/4s and been happy with the result.
Given the lighting in the woods is necessarily low - even when it's full, bright sunshine outside the woods, this ability to focus and shoot at slow speeds is critical, even when using a mid speed film like Kodak 320TXP.
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The images below were shot - for the first set - on Fujifilm Neopan Acros (the original stuff, not the newer, Ilford-confected formula) at EI400, and the second set on Kodak 320TXP at box speed. The details on both sets are quite spectacular and I would have no problem shooting Acros at 400 all day long (it's one of my favourite films to push process). Kodak's 320TXP is already fairly grainy so I'd likely not push it - in fact, I might be tempted to give it a little more light (possibly EI200/250) and develop for box speed.
Camera: Fujica GL690
Lenses: Fujinon S 100mm f/3.5 or Fujinon S WS 65mm f/5.6
Film: Fujifilm Neopan Acros 100 or Kodak Tri-X Pan Professional 320 TXP
Developer: Kodak Xtol (Acros) or Kodak HC-110 dilution H (320TXP)
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All photography in this article is copyright © 2023 Michael Elliott. All rights reserved.
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