The Orange City – Seville

My wife surprised me with a birthday gift of a weekend city-break to Seville, Spain. It’s a city that I’ve never visited before, and so I was genuinely excited to see what this southern city of Spain had in store ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ

Making A Rough To-Do List …

What I’ve learnt from previous road trips and visits abroad is how important it is to have a basic idea of what to see & do – otherwise you’re simply rambling aimlessly, potentially missing wonderful experiences and sights, quite literally around the corner from you.

To that end, it became very clear that Seville had a lot to offer: sights, cuisine, history, and art. Soon a quick hit-list emerged.

Quintessential Seville … The Bull Ring
Plaza de EspanaLas Setas de SevillaCatedral de Sevilla
Giralda towerRoyal AlcรกzarCasa de Pilotas
Torre del OroTriana areaSanta Cruz area
Places to see !

And of course … plenty of unique experiences !

  • Try as much local tapas food as possible !
  • Ramble the narrow streets & alleyways old Jewish quarter of Santa Cruz
  • Climb to top of the Giralda bell tower
  • Visit some of the local bars and simply take in the atmosphere
  • See flamenco dancing and wandering street performers playing Spanish guitar

Looking at the weather ahead, it was to be mild / warm temperatures (16ยฐC / 60ยฐ F) but cold in the evening, requiring a light coat.

Bringing A Film Camera …

The big debate I had internally was would ISO 200 film really be suitable – on one hand, it’s Spain so there ought to be plenty of bright sunlight during the day, but on the other hand, the cathedral quarter of Seville is a rabbit warren of shady streets & alleyways.

Also, I was conscious that I didn’t want the flow of this enjoyable weekend experience to be spoilt with film photography unnaturally slowly down proceedings, so autofocus was a must.

In the end, I decided upon the following:

CameraCanon EOS 300V

The predecessor to Canons very last consumer film SLR, the 300X. An amazing super compact, super lightweight interchangeable 35mm SLR released in 2002. It has an accurate 35 zone metering system, and 7 snappy autofocus points. Perfect for hassle-free quick snaps and easy to carry around.
LensCanon EF 24-85mm f3.5-4.5

Amazing, inexpensive lens – tack sharp in the center from 24mm through to 80mm, only needs f8 for sharp edge-to-edge images
Film2 x Kodak Gold 200

Has nice grain, reasonably good dynamic range, and an overall warm orange tone that would match the anticipated light of Seville
35mm Film equipment choices …

As I write about the film equipment choices here, let me give a big shout-out to my friends at for the incredible dev & scan service. The detail and tonality captured from my negatives was superb, as always ๐Ÿ’ฏ๐Ÿ†

Orange Trees & Alleyways …

A walk through the cathedral area proved to be absolutely breath-taking – large swathes of orange, yellow and red walls everywhere, gorgeous leafy orange tree alcoves, hidden fountains and quaint churches.

Orange trees line the streets …

What made it all the more enjoyable was the fact that there were lovely cafes & tapas bars dotted at almost every intersection โ˜•๏ธ With the cusine being excellent in most of places.

Before you ask, yes, there really are oranges on the trees, despite it still being technically winter ๐ŸŠ

Looking back at the images, I was really happy about my equipment choices : a) the modern film SLR allowed me to focus on creating compelling images instead of being distracted by the equipment & process, b) the flexibility & sharpness of the Canon EF 24-85mm lens was truly excellent, and c) the metering accuracy of the Canon EOS 300V was shockingly good. Some of these shots could have been easily fooled with a 60-70’s center-weighted metering system, if you weren’t skilled enough to override it, but my 2002 cheap & cheerful Canon 300V rocked it !

Plaza de Espana

Getting to visit some of the iconic architecture of Seville was a real treat, but of course, number one on the list has to be the iconic Plaza de Espana. Built in 1928 for the World Fair exhibition of 1929, it was designed to showcase the latest in Spanish technology and industry at the time.

A quick look at Google Maps the night before revealed that the Plaza was only a 10 minute walk from where we were staying – great. However, when we woke up the skies were grey, it was cold, and other than the wonderful street art we encountered, it wasn’t looking all that inspiring as we headed over. However no sooner had we arrived did the sky above the Plaza start to clear ๐ŸŒค

Plaza de Espana … So unique

We spent hours walking through the Plaza, admiring the styling, design, colours, the intricate tiled mosaics … simply jaw-dropping ! It was all cleverly divided into the 4 ancient kingdoms of Spain, while each of the ornate alcoves representing the different provinces …

What made the visit here all the more memorable was the impromptu Flamenco dancing to traditional Spanish guitar music we got to experience.

Moorish Influences

For almost 800 years the Moors ruled Andalucia, and their North African influence is both unmistakable and mesmerising.

Beautiful reflections at Real Alcazar …

I was pretty excited to be visiting Real Alczar, a Spanish palace which is still in use today – with its beautiful ornate gardens, elaborate mosaics, stunningly tiled walls, and wonderful water features.

Added to that, was a visit to Catedral de Seville with it’s 104m high Giralda bell tower. Apparently the cathedral is one of the largest churches in the world … and the views from the top of Giralda tower across the city were breath-taking.

I thought that nothing could top Real Alcazar and the Cathedral, but the 15 min ramble through the confusing, narrow alleyways to Casa de Pilotas was the biggest surprise of them all. This unassuming building had some of the most incredible architecture and artistry I’ve ever seen !! I quite literally had to sit down at one stage, as there’s so much to take in !

Waffles – Mushrooms

Before leaving Seville, we took a leisurely walk up to the north of the city, through the commercial shopping area, to see Las Setas – an amazing 25m high wooden structure completed in 2011, that you can walk above.

Leading lines & geometry …

This was a photographers paradise – with me thanking my lucky stars I had a focal length of 24mm to capture what was on hand, as it was quite unlike anything I’ve ever experienced !

My roll of Kodak Gold 200 was simply loving the cyan-blue Seville skies, the warm colour laden shadows, and the bright light reflected off the structure.


Well, what a surprise – I never thought a city could offer so much, especially from a photography point-of-view. The colour, the textures, the light, the shadows and the variation !

Whether you’re shooting analog or digital, if you want a city break that’s both relaxing and full of sights, make sure you put Seville on your to-do list.

In the meantime, keep shooting film !

Instagram :: #irishanalogadventures

Kodak Gold meets Sligo & Leitrim

A month or two ago, myself and my wife, Mairead, decided to hit the road and spend a long weekend visiting the wonderful scenery around her childhood hometown of Sligo. It’s a beautiful part of Ireland, that has a lot to offer by way of photogenic sights, and many things to see & do … and so why not bring a few rolls of 35mm along for the trip too !

So much to see !

The happy problem of staying at lovely Milk Harbour for the long weekend is that there’s so many things in close proximity … almost too much choice ! Fantastic ๐Ÿคฉ

  • Benbulben & Ben Wiskin – the iconic ‘Table Mountain’ of Ireland, while Ben Wiskin looks like a shark fin !
  • Gleniff Horsehoe – a wall of mountain, with a circular one-way road, which has become an instagram mecca !
  • Eagles’ Rock – another iconic sight: a pinnacle of rock towering above the landscape
  • Mullaghmore Strand – a beautiful beach with massive surfing waves nearby, but also providing great sights north & south of the famous Classiebawn Castle
  • Coney Island – nice views across the bay, with the Slieve League Cliffs of Donegal in the far distance (the highest sea cliffs in Europe)
  • Glencar Waterfall – a great little tourist spot for the view & lunch, but more importantly its road back to Sligo city offers the best views of Ben Bulben (in my opinion !)

The photography equipment choice was really simple: a couple of rolls of Kodak Gold 200, a 70-210mm telephoto lens and my trusty 28-80mm walk-about zoom lens ๐ŸŽž๐Ÿ“ธ

Into the heart of the mountains

It’s so strange to acknowledge the fact that even though I’m an Irishman, having travelled all about Ireland hiking – I’ve never actually seen Gleniff Horeshoe nor Eagle’s Rock with my own eyes until this mini road-trip !

Mandatory Selfie …

The weather forecast was predicted to be sunny Friday, wet Saturday and scattered rain on Sunday … welcome to the Atlantic coast ! So it was of no surprise that when we tried to make a quick visit to Gleniff Horsehoe on Saturday, it was a complete wash-out ๐ŸŒง๐ŸŒง In fact it started raining so badly, that we quite literally couldn’t see 10 meters in front of us !!

It was a case of keeping our fingers crossed, and hoping the weather forecast app on my phone was correct … and wow, it was ! The sun came out briefly on Sunday morning and my roll of Kodak film loved it ๐ŸŒฆ

Benbulben … epic !

The Wild Atlantic Way

Of course being in Sligo & Leitrim puts you directly on the path of ‘The Wild Atlantic Way’ – an amazing 2,500km coastal route along Ireland. It has everything from gentle seascapes, to roaring waves, to nestled waterfalls … of course, with a roll of film I found I had to pay close attention to the light, as it was tricky at times ๐ŸŽฏ

The above 3 photos proved to be the most challenging of the weekend:

  • The cloudy & hazy causeway to Coney Island was a lot brighter than it looked, and required intentional overexposure
  • The simple low-tide image of the moored boat was really tricky, as it was a lot darker than you’d think – I had to underexpose this by a stop
  • Finally the orange cloudy sunset had so much contradictory shine on the ocean, so I had to underexpose it 1.5 stops

Wrap-up …

I have to say one it was a fantastic weekend, with so much to see, do and photograph ! If you haven’t been to Sligo & Leitrim yet then please put it on your to-do list for 2023 as it’s a gem of a location, and it loves 35mm film ๐ŸŽž๐Ÿ’ฏ

Until next time, keep shooting film ! Paul

Instagram :: #irishanalogadventures


Eagle’s Rock as the sun pops through the thick cloud …

Don’t Make These Mistakes

I like to think that over the last 4-6 months I’ve got a pretty good handle on my film photography technique, but that’s only because I must have made EVERY MISTAKE in the book over the last 3-4 years !! ๐Ÿคช

So allow me to share some of these mistakes with you, so you don’t have to experience the same amount of wasted money & occasional anguish !

This is a LONG read with plenty of my film camera disasters for you to gasp at, however I’ve tried my best to make it speed-readable … so please bookmark this page, dip in & out of it, and come back to it at later stages in your film journey.

New Equipment = New Tests

One thing I’ve slowly discovered with film photography, is that buying more expensive gear doesn’t necessarily produce images any better than cheaper ‘plastic’ versions, in fact, some of my more expensive ‘collector’ items have failed more when least expected and require more maintenance !

So I’ve learnt the hard way, that whenever I get a ‘new’ camera (or lens) the 1st film roll MUST be used for sanity checks … the ‘wasted’ money in doing this exercise, is better than the emotional hurt & pain of defective / blank photos of a beautiful landscape !

Camera Test Frames …
  1. Leave the lens cap on, go outside where it’s bright, and take 2 photographs with the shutter set to 1 sec and the aperture to f5.6 – one held horizontal the other held vertical. This will test for light leaks the foam seals around the shutter box being defective, causing aurora style red/yellow swooshes to appear on your developed film)
  2. Focus on a object in your kitchen, leave the aperture at f5.6 and take photos at 1/30, 1/15, 1/8, 1/4, and 1/2 – your developed film should show 5 photographs getting progressively brighter by the same amount, i.e. the shutter timing is reliable
  3. To test your exposure meter, take 2 test shots of : a) something bright white, ensuring you get your exposure needle/meter in the middle, and b) something dark black, again with your exposure needle/meter in the middle. If you get back two developed photos with the brightness quite dull & boring, it means your exposure meter is working, as it’s pushing you to middle-grey.
  4. The above 9 photographs will inadvertently prove that the film advance mechanism is actually working too … and that you’re not shooting photographs on the same single frame over & over
  5. If you’ve got a ‘new’ lens, then test your lens – take test photos of a close-up object with the aperture wide open (e.g. f1.8) to closed down (e.g f22) through all it’s full f-stops (f2.8, f4, f5.6, f8, f11, f16 and f22). This is to help you see where the lens is soft in the corners vs. when it’s finally sharp edge-to-edge. It will also highlight whether you’ve got a wonderful film camera with a badly defective lens, which is very soft all along one side of the frame … been there. done that, not a very nice experience !! ๐Ÿฅบ
  6. Finally, if you’re using a flash-gun, take 4 test shots indoors at f5.6 with: a) the flash on manual 1/2 power, b) the flash on TTL mode, c) flash with the shutter speed at 1/60, and d) flash with the shutter speed at 1/250. This will test that the hot-shoe is actually working, the shutter plane movement, and whether your camera needs more manual assistance with TTL vs it being fully automated.

Camera Calamities

Even when you have a fully-functioning film camera, there’s plenty of things that can catch you out, and leaving you cursing at your newly developed film frames !

Opening the back accidentally (left), rewinding the film too forcefully (right)

Here’s some of the horrible mistakes things I’ve experienced:

Winding on FilmOlder non-motorised film advancing cameras, require you to physically wind the film forward after releasing the shutter. This is where things can go horribly wrong … the dreaded blank film frames !
I once missed an entire sequence of wonderful shots at sun-set because my film wasn’t actually advancing at all … the film had slipped off the spool … entirely my fault ! ๐Ÿ˜ฉ

TIP #1 : Do yourself a big favour and watch a YouTube video of how to insert the leader of the film roll correctly onto the spool of your camera. Some cameras require ninja-style loop-backs through narrow slots. You’ll be surprised how a quick 10 sec instructional video clears things up.

TIP #2 : Don’t be fooled by the shutter counter increasing as you wind the film … pay close attention to the take-up dial on the other side of your camera, and ensure it’s rotating too. You should always feel tension in the film advance lever too.

TIP #3 : Make sure that you haven’t left the multi-exposure mode on … sometimes I’ve forgotten I had this mode on, or sometimes forgotten how to actually switch it off ! Urrrgh
Set the ISO correctlySome old cameras don’t automatically read the film speed (the DX code) … I’ve been caught out, to my horror, taking out a roll of ISO 800 film, hastily switching in a roll of ISO 200 film, and not changing the ISO speed ! Urrrrggggh = frames which are a dark, muddy mess ! ๐Ÿ˜–

TIP #4 : Remember the phrase “before changing lanes, check your speed” … ๐Ÿ˜‰ Get into the habit of checking your film speed setting no matter when you insert a new roll of film.
Make sure your shutter box is clean I once had an entire roll of film get developed and scanned, only to show a thin horizontal streak/scratch across every single frame in the roll !

TIP #5 : Get yourself a small rubber air blower, and regularly turn your camera upside down, and gently blow upwards into the shutter box (do NOT touch the delicate shutter blades). This will help ensure no debris trapped inside, which can scratch your film.
BatteriesOlder 60-70’s film cameras may use LR44 watch cell batteries, while cameras from the 80-90’s may use CR123 & CR2 batteries. However, I’ve been sabotaged by an old battery suddenly dropping voltage in cold weather, causing my cameras’ exposure meter to behave erratically, and not only that but on a separate occasion, cause the lens aperture to become inoperable.

TIP #6 : Always, always bring 2 sets of spare batteries in your camera bag / pouch (keep one set warm in your pocket if you’re out in the cold).

TIP #7 : Always take the batteries out of the camera if you’re not going to use it for a few days, as sometimes they drain away slowly.
Removing FilmSometimes your camera, if it’s automatic film advance, may have speed options for film rewind … sometimes the ‘fast’ mode can damage the film !
I once had a roll of film show strange vertical lines on the last 3 frames, these are film ‘stretch marks’ which appear when too much tension is being applied to film when rewinding ๐Ÿ˜ณ

TIP #8 : Rewind your film back slowly where possible, especially with certain higher ISO films

TIP #9 : I once received a roll that was 90% blank frames from the film lab …. why ? Because I accidentally opened the back of the film camera, without checking if there was film already in the camera first ! Remember the phrase: “Before opening the oven, check if there’s already a cake in there”
Camera Calamities

Technique Tackles

The amount of time I’ve made stupid mistakes, wasting film frames, because I wasn’t taking photographs properly … you’ll see what I mean below:

Exposure meteringWhen I got my very first film camera, it was 95% mechanical – only the little light meter required power from a little A76 watch-battery.
However, I must have had half of my first 4 rolls wasted because I didn’t fully grasp how to meter light correctly. Old film cameras don’t auto-magically nail exposure like digital cameras ! ๐Ÿ’ป

TIP #10 : If you’ve got an old-school camera, learn the Sunny 16 rule … it’s a great yardstick for understanding whether you’re in the right ball-park with your aperture choice when shooting outdoors

TIP #11 : Please read my blog post “Getting Centered” it will give you lots of helpful advice, tips and examples on how use 60-80’s center-weighted metering with confidence.
Film loves lightSurprise surprise, film is the opposite of digital – film loves lots of light, easily handles over-exposure and hates being under-exposed (caveat: expect for slide film) !
The minute you start seeing developed frames that are murky, muddy, indistinct … that’s usually a sign of your shutter speed being too fast / your aperture not open wide enough

TIP #12 : if in doubt, point the center of your camera to the area in your photo which has shadows, and lock your exposure on that !
Getting focusA lot of the older cameras will either have no auto-focus, or maybe 1-3 auto-focus points if you’re lucky. The amount of photographs I took which were blurry at the wrong place, drove me nuts, especially at longer focal lengths !

TIP #13 : Practice manual focus technique, rocking the focus forwards, back and then splitting the difference to land somewhere in between. Don’t forget f4 – f8 is your friend !
Technique Tackles

Film Foibles

The final area where I made silly mistakes was not fully appreciating that not every film stock is made equal, that they behave differently.

Know your film stockThere’s essentially 3 film types: slide, c41 colour and black & white. For anybody getting into film photography, just stick to c41 colour and black & white, as they’re more forgiving of technique errors.

Secondly film comes in different sizes … be careful !! If you’ve got a 35mm film camera you need to order film that is ‘135’ / ’35mm’. I’ve had birthday presents that had to be send back to the shop as I received 2 rolls of medium-format 120 film instead of smaller 135 film ๐ŸŽ
Get to know your filmThe next surprise with film photography is that different film stock can make dramatic differences to the end result … smooth, low contrast vs highly detailed and punchy.

TIP #14 : When you’re first starting out, just try two rolls of Kodak Gold initially – get to know how it behaves, on cold overcast days, warm sunny days, inside your kitchen using flash, and at night. That will help you build up experience, before you try more expensive specialised stock.
Get your negatives backAs I mentioned in my blog post “Negative Experience” the rolls of film are your RAW files, if you ever want to get the highest quality print or scan, you must have the negative frame to work with …

TIP #15 : Always pay the extra little bit of money, to get your negatives sent back to you. You’ll be thankful in the future.
Use a trusted film labPlease, please, please send your film to be developed & scanned at a reliable & trustworthy film lab. How do you know you can trust them ?

Here’s a few quick check-list items to help you decide:

1. Can you get your film negatives back via registered post / courier ?
2. Can they can push / pull film ?
3. Are different scanning sizes on offer, and do they have samples for you to download and inspect ?
4. Will the scans they provide get stored on a proper cloud service, so you can still get access to scans from last year or the year prior if your laptop decides to quit !
5. Finally, do they provide some form of online customer chat channel, where you can contact them, ask questions, and they can offer answers & advice ?

I’m not getting paid for saying this, so I’ll just say it, I’ve been hitting with rolls of film almost every two months for the last 2-3 years, and they tick ‘yes’ to everything I listed above. The quality of their film dev & scan work is simply jaw-dropping at times ! ๐Ÿ†
Yes, I know there are other film labs out there too, but I’m just saying – get a lab you can trust ๐Ÿ‘
Film Foibles


The journey into film can be both joyous and frustrating at times, however ultimately it’s enriching & rewarding, gaining you hard-won fundamental skills that digital photography can’t offer to the same extent.

As I say, I know this was a long post, crammed with a lot of content, but I do hope it helps you on your film journey ๐Ÿ˜€ Bookmark it, and revisit it time and again, when you’re getting strange issues, or if you’re about to put new film into a new camera ! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Until next time, keep shooting film !


Instagram :: #irishanalogadventures

Battle of the High ISO Colour Films

I’ve been very keen to write about this topic, because whether I like it not, high ISO film is often an inescapable fact-of-film-life here in Ireland & UK, as it’s habitually cloudy and overcast.

So over the last 2 years, I’ve amassed enough real-world photos & experience to offer some help & guidance on high ISO 35mm negatives. I hope this blog post helps !

The Contestants

Now, when I say high ISO, I mean anything above ISO 200 … so that rules out all the usual bunch of Gold’s, Ektars, colourful Lomo’s, etc. I’ll be honest and say that being an amateur photographer, budget is an important part of the film negative decision process too.

To that end here’s the five contestants I have to hand:

35mm Film Name & BrandFilm ISO / SpeedApprox. Retail Price 2022
Fuji Superia400โ‚ฌ9-โ‚ฌ11
Kodak Ultramax400โ‚ฌ10-โ‚ฌ12
Kodak Portra 400400โ‚ฌ14-โ‚ฌ16
Lomography Color Negative 800800โ‚ฌ14-โ‚ฌ20
Fuji Pro 400H400โ‚ฌ15-โ‚ฌ25
High ISO Colour Film Negatives

The first disclaimer is that I never got an opportunity to photograph the same subject in the same lighting, and make precise pixel-to-pixel comparisons. That said, I’m not shy about shooting in low-light, night and tough high-contrast situations, so I’ve got a solid understanding of how the films behave.

Fuji Superia

So this is cheapest of the bunch, but wow does it packs a punch, I’m very impressed with how this 35mm film handles itself. On a trip to Paris, it handled dark interiors with ease, catching surprising amounts of details, and very acceptable dynamic range ๐Ÿ’ฏ.

ISO Rating400
Colour ToneTends to be be a little be a colder blue in tones, with accents of yellows
GrainVery smooth and very fine, looks like an ISO 200 film not 400
Details & EdgesFantastic details and great edge sharpness
Fuji Superia Summary

Kodak Ultramax

This is the high ISO film stock practically all of us start with, as it’s familiar and ubiquitous. It’s genuinely great for those walk-about photos on overcast days, and interestingly enough pretty good for flash photography, with pleasing skin-tones ๐Ÿ“ท.

ISO Rating400
Colour ToneTends to be a somewhat yellow, with blues taking on a cyan accent
GrainVery noticeable especially in skies & clouds, while not entirely off-putting, it’s definitely something you will not be able to ignore
Details & SharpnessNice details and very good sharpness
Kodak Ultramax Summary

Kodak Portra 400

The image quality, as you’d expect from Kodak Portra 400, genuinely lives up to the hype – it’s quite phenomenal. I’ve put this film in punishing light situations and it’s never let me down – the dynamic range is great.

That said, it’s not the best choice for daylight landscape photography, as the colours are very warm, and need tweaking in post process – unless you’re photographing sunsets ๐Ÿ˜‰

ISO Rating400
Colour ToneTends to be a very yellow with accents of orange
GrainSuperior fine grain, almost like ISO 100 film – quite amazing really
Details & SharpnessSimply superb details and excellent edge sharpness
Kodak Portra 400 Summary

Lomography 800

Now this recent addition to my 35mm film journey has surprised me the most – the versatility of box-speed, 800, colour, film is something never to be ignored. For me, this film has made the impossible possible – capturing images handheld, that I wouldnt have dreamt of !

Now make no mistake, the grain is noticeable, however, it’s very similar to Kodak Ultramax and manageable.

ISO Rating800
Colour ToneTends to have accents of blue and yellow. I would also add that it has punchy colours at night, but less so during the day.
GrainVery noticeable in featureless areas, similar to Kodak UltraMax, and something you will not be able to ignore
Details & SharpnessGood details and pleasant edge sharpness
Lomography 800

Fuji Pro 400h

I found this now-discontinued film, to be in the same league as Kodak Portra 400 – the image quality is simply stunning, considering it’s ISO 400. In addition, as I’m more of a landscape photographer, the dynamic range is fantastic, and colour tones of 400h are definitely more suited to forests & mountains, than Portra 400.

ISO Rating400
Colour ToneTends to be have green accents and hints of yellow.
GrainSimilar to Kodak Portra 400, superior fine grain, almost like ISO 100 film
Details & SharpnessSimply superb details and excellent edge sharpness
Fuji Pro 400H Summary


Considering it’s 2022 there’s still a useful array of high ISO colour film available for everybody, suitable for all styles of photography and budget. It’s simply all about figuring out how much you want to spend, and whether your choice will give you the best flexibility & image style.

I hope these insights, from my own personal experience, helps somewhat. Until my next post, keep shooting film !


Walking with Ireland Analog

On Sat 29th Jan I got a chance to attend the @IrelandAnalog photo-walk, organised by @marcargentique. It was a fantastic opportunity to participate in a fun day-out, wandering through the streets & parks of Dublin City, shooting rolls of film, along with many other film camera enthusiasts.

Mandatory Phone Selfie !

A Growing Trend

I must say, it was great to finally get a chance to meet Marc in person, have a chat, get his reactions to the day, the film community as a whole, how social media has catapulted the community, and of course the activities underway – as we navigated the streets of Dublin city, dodging traffic and pedestrians ๐Ÿ˜‰

To Marc’s credit the IrelandAnalog community on Instagram has grown rapidly, with there being a steady uptick & interest in film photography – not just capturing photos on film, but developing them too.

What was most inspiring was the diversity of attendees at the photo walk: representing many different walks of life, varied experience levels, and vastly different cameras & film choices … it was simply wonderful !

Decisions Decisions ?

Getting down to the nuts-and-bolts of photography on the day for me: I’ll admit that it was difficult trying to decide what I needed to bring for the day. Hmmm … a day in January around Dublin city when it’s mixed weather, significant differences in lighting, and not exactly sure what I might actually be photographing ๐Ÿค”

In the end I decided to be sensible, and just bring the following:

  1. Black & White: Nikon F80, 18-35mm f3.5-4.5, Fomapan 200 film
  2. Colour: Nikon N80, 28-80mm f3.3-5.6 & 35mm f2, Kodak Portra 400 film

I know from wandering around urban-scapes, you definitely need a wide-angle to capture the expanse of streets & architecture. Meanwhile, when you’re finding yourself in deteriorating lighting conditions, you’ll need a fast prime, for myself a 35mm f2 seems to work best, as I find 50mm in the cities just too restrictive.

Light fading over the river Liffey

Variety & Lighting

Being an engineer, I’m always drawn to architecture, leading lines & anything that’s impactful. So I was hoping to capitalise on the uniform rows of Georgian buildings, the intriguing arched alleyways in-between, and of course bricks & cobblestones.

I was rapidly noticing that the biggest decisions I had to make were not about composition and subject choice, but rather light metering & exposure levels !

Glass and Concrete

The variations subject-to-subject were significant: dark alleyways vs bright reflections vs bare vegetation vs strong contrasts. With both cameras on centre-weighted metering, it was all about paying attention to what needed to be truly ‘dark’ vs ‘light’, and by that I mean -1 vs -0.5 vs +1 vs +1.5 over what the meter was telling me. It was a lot of work !

In a lot of situations I was sincerely hoping hand-held 1/15 and 1/30 seconds was going to work … and the good news is that old-school sniper technique of slowing down your breathing, and gently squeezing the shutter release at the end of your exhale really works ! ๐Ÿ’ฏ

Breaking It Up

Of course, you can’t ignore the art and vegetation – after all, that’s what can break up the seemingly monotonous nature of the city buildings, and what makes Dublin beautiful. Admittedly January isn’t the best time to catch Dublin City in bloom, but if you look hard enough you’ll spot little nuggets of interesting compositions that pop out (even if that happens to be a Badminton shuttle-cock wedged into the gate of the National Concert Hall !)

Closing Time

By 3:30pm at Iveagh Gardens I could see that the low winter light was already starting to fade, getting swallowed up by the buildings. I knew from my phone app that sunset was at 5pm … hmmm, might there actually be a pop of orange or red in the sky over the river Liffey ??

I’m glad I decided to keep rambling further afield, swinging past Trinity College and on down to Custom House quay, as the sky was starting to light-up, and along the banks of the Ha’Penny Bridge there was some glorious colour, which my roll of Kodak Portra happily lapped up !


What an enjoyable day ! It was fantastic to meet new people, with a shared passion in photography, and in particular film photography. It didn’t matter what camera you were using, nor how you used it, just as long as you were there, contributing to something bigger than yourself.

I’m already looking forward to the next one ! ๐Ÿคฉ

Before I wrap-up, I have to give a few shout-outs:

  • Of course, major thanks to @IrelandAnalog / @marcargentique for organising the film photo-walk event !
  • Big thanks to Alex, Juri & Caleb at / for the negative dev & scans in record time !
  • A shout-out to @analogue_keith and @thedarkroomlife for sharing their photos of me ! ๐Ÿ˜œ๐Ÿคฉ
  • A shout-out to @#analogshootersireland and @addictedtoireland for their support

Until my next post, keep shooting film !


Film scan editing – Analogue meets Digital

This is one blog post I’ve been really looking forward to writing and sharing … !

On my 35mm film journey, it became obvious that even though film has the ability to capture surprising levels of detail and cover an impressive dynamic range, the ‘final product’ was often in the hands of the operator behind the printing and / or scanning equipment, especially in these 3 situations:

  1. High contrast scenes – landscapes with deep darks and detailed skies, all of which have to be retained
  2. Dark scenes – evening / blue hour scenes, where film has to keep those dark elements
  3. Mixed lighting – jumping between tungsten & sunlight in the same roll of film

Something had to change … I had to try take back control, but setting up a darkroom wasn’t on the cards : enter the digital editing suite, Adobe Lightroom ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

However, let me share a few use cases, which will help explain more about why I had to bring in this digital tool into my film photography workflow.

Example #1

On this beautiful autumn morning, I could clearly see through the viewfinder of my Nikon FE2 a hazy, a deep sunrise creeping slowly over the misty fields below. Even though my 35mm negative scan did an amazing job at pulling out the details from the film, it was still lacking the overall image balance, with crucial elements being ‘lost’ in the shadows.

The original film scan is on the left, while the version with a little bit of Lightroom editing fairy-dust is on the right:

Sunrise – before & after

Example #2

This unforgettable spring scene saw strong sunlight from the left hitting the beautiful architecture, and the bold green wheat, coupled with dark moody cloud elements overhead.

The original scan (left) seemed to be overly yellow, missing the cloud elements I could clearly see with my eyes, and the green wheat lacked contrast … a few Lightroom tweaks later (right) brought my film scan closer to what I saw with my eyes:

Spring – before & after

Game Rules …

The funny thing is that I embraced analogue photography to escape the clutches of the mindless automation with digital photography, yet there I stood, realizing that in order to unleash the full potential of 35mm film scans, a little bit of digital era spit-n-polish was inescapable !

However, the important thing I have to point out is that there are a few game rules to editing 35mm film scans, as it’s all about balancing authenticity after all:

  • Rule #1 – it’s not a digital RAW file so “keep it real” and authentic to the medium of 35mm film ! The grain shouldn’t suddenly disappear, the overall colour tones shouldn’t shift dramatically, the contrast shouldn’t shift radically !
  • Rule #2 – use the editing to address highlights & shadows which may not be fully realized in the scans
  • Rule #3 – use editing to help resolve strong colour casts and / or white-balance issues that reduce the overall impact of the image
  • Rule #4 – use editing to address blemishes & artifacts that take away from the power of the image
  • Rule #5 – I repeat, keep it authentic !

Edit Walkthrough

So let me walk you through my film editing process, what it is I change, why I do it, and how I do it.

My hope is that by sharing this information, in an honest & forthright manner, it might encourage you to explore new avenues to maximise the potential of your 35mm film scans, other than the physicality of the medium (film choice, lens choice, lens filters, etc.)

Editing Process – Before (left) vs. After (right)

So what changed ?

  • The clouds are now visible & present ๐ŸŒฅ
  • The yellow colour cast from Kodak Portrait 160 has been dialled back somewhat, to reflect the colder bluer-greener morning scene that was actually there ๐ŸŽ›
  • The shadows have been opened up & the highlights have been closed in โš–
  • The Lilly pads at the bottom have been brightened up a touch, as they’re the star of the show ๐Ÿ“ธ

Step 1 – Overall Content

The first step is to realise and maximise the overall content by addressing the exposure, contrast, highlights & shadows in one bold step:

Step 1 – Cheat sheet

What I’ve noticed with my film scans over the last 2 years is that I always have to reduce the ‘contrast’ and reduce the ‘exposure’ first and foremost to start revealing a lot more underlying structure, which in turn makes the changes to the highlights & shadows more effective.

The scans can also look a little flat (which is great initially as it implies the underlying content is being maintained), so a punch into the ‘whites’ and ‘clarity’ help bring this next level of content across the line:

Step 1 – Maximising basic scan content

Step 2 – Skies

For me, the skies in my 35mm scans always seem to be the weakest component that needs to be resolved, even when using soft/hard graduated filters. So now that I’ve increased the amount of content in step 1, I begin addressing this deficiency by using the simple application of a gradient mask.

Step 2 – Gradient cheat sheet

Note how I am being sensitive to the overall feel of the film – I’m intentionally reducing the contrast, as I lower the exposure, while applying the highlight reduction. It’s a delicate balance to reveal the detail without getting all digital about it:

Step 2 – Bringing back the skies

Step 3 – Colour Cast

Certain types of film will have different colour casts – Kodak Portra adds yellow, Kodak Gold adds orange, Fuji C200 adds green, etc. Most film is designed for daylight (approx. 5500k) so it’s natural to expect additional colour shifts when you’re taking images at dawn vs. evening vs. heavy overcast vs. summer blue skies.

What’s crucial here is that overall colour tone ‘look’ shouldn’t be lost, after all that’s what makes the image recognisable as 35mm film … but instead unnecessary shifts in colour are balanced sensibly:

Step 3 – Dialling back colour casts

This step is something that’s conducted on a frame-by-frame basis, depending on the photograph.


Ok, so that was a lot of info … however, I hope this detailed behind-the-scenes walkthrough of what happens with some of my 35mm film scans helps. As I say, it’s not something I do with all my film photos – it’s primarily the 3 situations I mentioned at the beginning.

I absolutely realise this digital workflow step in the realm of analogue photography is NOT for everyone, however in my case, I feel it helps me address the small gaps in what I saw through my optical viewfinder vs. what I received ๐Ÿ˜‡

Until my next post, keep shooting film !


Road Trip – Photographing the Kerry Mountains

When deciding to hike the 3 highest mountains in Ireland in one day, a lot of preparation and smart decisions were going to be necessary, especially when 35mm film photography was going to be an important part of the experience.

What to bring ?

I did a lot of research about the Coomloughra Loop hike, how it encompasses Skregmore, Beenkeragh (3,313ft / 1,010m), Carrauntoohil (3,407ft / 1,039m) and Caher (3,284ft / 1,001m), and in particular the infamous Beenkeragh Ridge which joins Carrauntoohil to it’s name sake, Beenkeragh mountain.

It became very obvious that this was something I was going to have to prep for, a few months beforehand … getting fitter, ensuring I had the right equipment, getting familiar with the weather patterns and routes, ensuring I knew when & where I could turn-around if conditions got bad.

Travelling light, bringing emergency items, with room for extra water and a bite to eat was the priority ! To that end, I decided that my Nikon N80, a 28-80mm ‘walk about’ lens, my 70-300mm telephoto, and two rolls of Kodak Portra 160 film were all I could bring. No tripod, no ultrawide, no prime lens, no filters, no adapters … ๐Ÿ˜ฏ๐Ÿ˜‡

Mandatory selfie as I head to the 3rd summit, Caher

For 4 days prior to the hike I was continually checking the weather, in particular the cloud-base height on my app, Windy. No point travelling all the way down to Killarney Co. Kerry to climb 3 mountains with zero visibility !

Wind & Low Visbility

The views from Skegmore were beautiful, however I couldn’t help but notice the clouds getting lower as I got closer to Beenkeragh … uuurgh. However this was something I anticipated, as my weather app had predicted it was not to last and that they would be scattered clouds later … ๐Ÿคž

By the time I hit the 1st summit, I could barely see beyond 20m in front of me. As a momento, I took these snaps along the route to Beenkeragh before I reluctantly packed away my Nikon N80 ! ๐Ÿ˜’

The Clouds Lift

It was decision time … the visibility was still bad … I nervously made my way down from Beenkeragh, trying to locate the start of the ridge across to Carrauntoohil … checking, and cross-checking maps, compass, gps location … if this wasn’t the right location, or if the visibility didn’t improve it would be time to turn back, as this section of the hike would be too dangerous.

Fortunately I quickly found the path across the ridge, and I kid you not, as soon as I started edging my way across it, the clouds started to lift – beautiful views down O’Shea’s Gulley and out across the eastern approach to Carrauntoohil appeared !

I was overjoyed ! The rest of the hike could continue ! ๐Ÿคฉ๐Ÿ‘

What was wonderful about the camera, lens & film choices, was that I didn’t have to worry or fuss – I was able to get my photos onto Kodak Portra film, while focusing on getting safely across the ridge and up to the summit of Carrauntoohil

The Home Stretch

Having been on the summit of Carrauntoohil twice before, it was like meeting an old friend that I hadn’t seen in a long time – I took the opportunity to drink water, have a bite to eat, tighten my hiking boot laces, and watch other hikers arrive & leave : the majority of them celebrating their ascent with hugs and shouts of joy ๐Ÿ™‚ The views across county Kerry and onwards were simply beautiful.

For me the hike onwards to the last summit, Caher turned out to be the real highlight. What an exhilarating hike, close to the mountain edges, steep drops, and views down to the glaciated lakes below. I was so happy I brought my film camera !

Creating and composing film photographs on the sides of mountains, hand-held, in changing weather conditions can be daunting at first, however, I learnt to use the following rules of thumb:

  • Aperture & Shutter speed : Use the aperture that guarantees a shutter speed that you will help you avoid camera shake (i.e. approx. 1/focal length … e.g. a 50mm requires 1/60 or faster, a 35mm requires 1/30 or faster). If that means you’ve got to shoot at f2.8, f4 or f5.6, so be it … I would much rather have a crisp artistic shot, than a blurry shot with great depth-of-field !
  • Make-shift Tripod : if you’re lucky and your film camera has a self-timer, don’t forget to put it on a rock / stone-wall, etc. which can improvise as a tripod. I usually put my camera on my hat, which allows me more flexibility in adjusting & straightening the image. This helpful tip will allow you use f11 and longer shutter speeds when it’s overcast.
  • Focal Point : when using 24-50mm focal lengths and being forced to use f4 to f8 apertures on big scenes, you’re best focussing on something a third of the way into the frame, preferably something eye-catching – a rocky outcrop, a clump of grass, a distinctive colour change in the landscape.
Sublime vista …


When embarking upon bigger photographic endeavours, it really does pay to prepare, prepare and prepare !

For me this was one of the most memorable film camera experiences I’ve ever had, and I hope what I shared helps you somewhat if you wish to try something similar.

In the meantime, keep shooting film !


BTW: a big word of THANKS to for the fabulous film dev & scan, the quality & turnaround time was phenomenal ๐Ÿ†

๐Ÿ’ป Instagram: @irishanalogadventures

Film Photography at Night

Photographing at night with film can be a daunting proposition … the thoughts of receiving 36 frames that are murky, muddy, and containing patches of off-black nothingness is what usually puts most people off the idea … we all know too well, film does NOT like being underexposed.

However, I did a lot of research before attempting it myself, and I’m delighted to say it paid off, so let me share what I learned, and you can give it a whirl with confidence ๐Ÿ˜Š

Preparation …

Before you even put a roll of film in your camera and step out into those orange street lights, there’s an important number of ‘operational’ elements you need to consider. Getting these right will immediately help increase your ‘keepers’ success rate:

  • Tripod : for 75% of film night photography you’ll most likely require a tripod. Embrace it, and simply ensure you’re mindful of where you set up, so you’re not in the way of passers by
  • Lens choice : do try use a prime lens with the lowest f-stop possible (f1.4, f1.4, f2) – with urban night photography I found 28mm or 35mm to be ideal
  • Aperture : to get as much light as possible, I recommend that you set your aperture wide open and then nudge it down between 1/2 and 1 stop (e.g. I set my 35mm f2 prime to either f2.4 or f2.8). This is because most lenses are generally not their best wide open, and require a small amount of stopping down to reduce aberrations and lower than usual contrast of street lights
  • P-A-S-M : I’ve found aperture priority to be very reliable when dealing with shutter speeds of less than 20 seconds, otherwise manual mode is perfectly good
  • Film : you’ll need ISO 400 – 800 – 1600 – 3200 film. To that end, I’ve found Kodak UltraMax 400 (colour) and Ilford Delta 400 & 3200 (b&w) to be excellent for my purposes, however there’s a lot of choice so don’t be afraid to experiment!
  • Film Rating : if your camera permits it, override your film rating and set it to 1/2 – 2/3 a stop slower than it actually is … this a great trick, which helps compensate for reciprocity failure (film not sensitive enough for accurate shutter speeds slower than 1 second). For example, I set my Kodak Ultramax to be ISO 320 instead of 400.
  • Blue Hour : do try and get the most of your photos within the 1-2 hour window after sunset / before sunrise. You’ll gain helpful light for focusing and a beautiful dark, inky blue sky. Either side of those two hours, and it’s going to require more effort, with your artistic focus on shape, light & shadows. 

Night Metering

This is usually the part where things can go wrong, but I’ve since found out that it’s easier than I thought, provided you stick to these helpful metering tips:

  • Center-weighted
    • When composing your photo, simply point the middle of your viewfinder to something within the overall frame, that is neither: 1) a bright light nor 2) the darkest shadow. Lock in that shutter speed … boom, job done.
    • Examples: in the courthouse photo above, I took the exposure reading from the central door, while in the barber-shop photo I took the reading from righthand side of the chair.
  • Matrix / Evaluative
    • I find matrix metering in dark conditions sometimes over-exposes, particularity when it adds exposure calculation bias on where the specific focus point happens to be
    • So … simply lock your exposure compensation to -1/2 or -2/3, and fire away … easy, boom !

Work In Post

What you’ll notice with colour film night photography, especially when you use standard colour film (e.g. Kodak Gold, Kodak UltraMax, Fuji C200, etc.) is that there will usually be a very strong orange colour casts … this is because the film isn’t designed for these lighting conditions, it’s meant to be used out in the sunshine ๐ŸŒค

As a result, I usually adjust the colour temperture of my digital scans in post, pulling the temperature back into the blues, so it looks a little closer to what I saw with my eyes, without losing too much of the film’s character

Final Thoughts …

One interesting thing worth noting is the age of your lens … if you look closely at my black & white photo below you will quickly notice it is aglow with beautiful star bursts !

Ilford Delta and 35mm star bursts

Taking photos at night with an old lens from the 60-70’s, that has straight aperture blades instead of curved ones produces these remarkable features, and they are more pronounced with certain light sources than others. Something to keep in mind ๐Ÿ˜‡

Also don’t forget about up-close bokeh shots … as you see in some of photos above, night lights also make for amazing bokeh balls ! Just find a suitable impromptu, close-up subject (e.g. bicycle seat / wheel, fence railing, street flowers, guttering, etc.) and open your lens right up ๐Ÿ‘

Either way, I hope this deep-dive into film night photography helps you somewhat, especially as the evening light draws in faster from Sept onwards.

Give it a go, and I hope it opens some new creative avenues for you !

๐Ÿ’ป Instagram: @irishanalogadventures

Problems With Portra 160

I’m going on record and saying “please be very careful if you’re planning on using Kodak Portra 160 for landscape photography” …

The last week has seen me simultaneously jumping with joy and cursing in frustration at the scans from two rolls of Portra 160 !

  • The fine details are stunning ๐Ÿ‘
  • The dynamic range is amazing ๐Ÿ‘
  • Thematically the colour profile is beautiful ๐Ÿ‘
  • But … the colour casts that occur in extremes of light conditions are a major headache, in particular way too much yellow ! ๐Ÿ˜ฒ๐Ÿ˜ฉ
Kodak Portra 160

What really brought this message home was when I imported new Kodak Portra 160 scans into Adobe Lightroom, alongside some accompanying digital photos I happened to have taken at the same time.

You can see that there’s a significant yellow-lime colour cast in the Porta 160 image, that’s occurred in bright, contrasty conditions at Hook lighthouse. I would normally chalk this down to white balance variations … but to my surprise, regular white balance tweaks didn’t solve the problem ๐Ÿ˜ฎ This never happened with my rolls of Kodak Portra 400 … this was something I wasn’t expecting ๐Ÿค”

In order to get Portra 160 even close to the actual scene, which the digital image accurately recorded, I had to perform colour calibration adjustments in Lightroom:

You can see how I’ve had to push red’s into orange territory, and the blues into the green to help offset the yellow imbalance. To be clear, I was very mindful of staying true to film and preserving its own particular ‘look‘ – the task at hand was to correct colours which simply didn’t seem to be handled adequately at all for the scenes I was trying to capture.

At this stage in the experimentation I was happily claiming victory, I had a useful preset created in Lightroom which I could reuse again and again … that was until I hit my next photo in the roll … dark, damp, overcast Irish skies … no, Portra 160 doesn’t like that light neither !

So while the bright sunlight caused a yellow cast to appear, the dark overcast conditions caused a strong yellow-orange cast … hmmm … more work required. This entailed also moving both the red & blue calibration sliders this time in the opposite direction:

This behaviour of Portra 160 was a big shock for me, and since 70% of my photography is landscape oriented, it’s a major ‘hassle-factor’ I need to consider when / if continuing to use the film.

Interestingly enough, I imported a roll of Kodak Gold 200 into Lightroom shortly afterwards, which contained a few overlapping shots, and everything just worked … no calibration required, just the occasional white balance tweak … how bizarre ๐Ÿ˜ฒ

… and of course there’s moments of brilliance with Kodak Portra 160, as it worked beautifully well in this scenario, when you compare digital vs Kodak Gold vs Kodak Portra, unedited, side by side:

… how I happened to have 3 cameras on me, at the top of Mount Leinster was fortuitous in the extreme !๐Ÿ€ However I hope that in sharing these experiences of mine, they may help you in your journey with 35mm film.

Until my next post, choose your film wisely ! Paul

๐Ÿ’ป Instagram: @irishanalogadventures

Negative Experience

After shooting a couple of rolls and really getting into the swing of film photography, there was one thing that was begining to become a problem … what to do with all my negatives

However I quickly discovered after a little bit of surfing, that you can buy negative strip pages, which are designed to sit in a standard ring-binder. These pages are usually made of a light, semi-transparent paper, and contain 6-7 horizontal panels to store cut negative strips.

Tips for using these

After a little bit of trial-and-error, I found that it was best to have the strips containing 5-7 frames, for ease of inserting the negatives. In addition the golden rule was to let gravity assist the negatives sliding into the panels.

Labelling your negatives

When labelling, I found the following was important to note for each roll of film I stored in the pages (no rocket-science here, just common sense ๐Ÿ˜‡):

  • The date the roll was developed (simply because a roll can sit in a camera for a few weeks)
  • What film & film speed it is
  • What camera the roll was used in
  • Highlights of what images were taken on the roll and/or location

Crystal ball …

What’s important to consider here is that sometime in the future you might require these negatives again … these are the highest quality originals of your images … your analogue RAW files. I say this because I’m guilty of not having a single negative from my days of using film 20 years ago ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

While my photography skills have certainly advanced since then, there are definitely images for which having a higher resolution copy now would be wonderful.

Looking to the future, maybe somebody will manufacture an amazing, do-it-all, 24mp negative scanner that’s inexpensive and produces 14-bit RAW files straight to a micro-SD card (not some of the cheap ‘n nasty jpeg scanners you get on Wish and AliExpress)

Update: there ARE some great scanners that produce high-res jpeg & tiff files (e.g. Pacific Image Prime Film XAs super edition, and the Plustek OpticFilm 8100, etc.)

Alternatively, who knows, I might even decide to invest in my own DIY digital negative scanning set-up, with a macro lens & smart lighting, and put my Sony & Nikon full-frames to an alternative line of work ๐Ÿ˜‰

Until my next post, get archiving your negatives ! Paul

๐Ÿ’ป Instagram: @irishanalogadventures