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Isolation Photo Project, Day 66

A few weeks ago, I exposed a roll of RetroChrome 400 35mm film with my Pentax Spotmatic II at the Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park.

NOTE: I'll begin this experience report with a brief disclaimer. It's been less than two years since I returned to shooting 35mm film after switching to digital photography over 20 years ago. I've inundated myself with as much 35mm film education as possible between web articles and advice from experienced film shooters. But, with my former experience way in the past and limited recent experience, this review is coming from a relatively novice point of view.

A few weeks back, I went on a photography adventure with my Asahi Optical Co. Pentax Spotmatic II and the SMC Takumar 55mm f/2 lens, armed with a roll of Film Photography Project RetroChrome 400 35mm Colour Reversal Film. I couldn't contain my excitement, snapping away all 35 frames in a few hours. Finding the right shutter speed and aperture settings to centre the metering needle was challenging, and it forced me to explore the Pentax ES II setting. Most of my frames were born along the Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park, near the iconic Kingston Mill House—my frequent muse. Out of the lot, I cherry-picked the top ten images to share.

My canvas was the scenic Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park Trail, near the Kingston Lock and the picturesque Kingston Grist Mill. It felt like the perfect stage to test my 35mm film skills.

Kingston Locktender's House
Kingston Locktender's House · Friday 8 May 2020 · Asahi Pentax Spotmatic SPII · SMC Takumar 55mm f/2
Kingston Locktender's House
Kingston Locktender's House · Friday 8 May 2020 · Asahi Pentax Spotmatic SPII · SMC Takumar 55mm f/2
Kingston Lock
Kingston Lock · Friday 8 May 2020 · Asahi Pentax Spotmatic SPII · SMC Takumar 55mm f/2

According to the Darkroom website's description, RetroChrome is a special 35m film originally designed for industrial and governmental purposes. Kodak sold it as a colour reversal camera film tailored for daylight photography, with applications ranging from news and sports to industrial shots. This expired 35mm film has been in cold storage since 2004, and despite its age, it was expected to perform well at its intended box speed of 400 ISO.

When I received an email from Darkroom, I expected it would say that the cartridge was blank. However, the email brought a pleasant surprise—a notification from Darkroom that my FPP RetroChrome 400 Colour Slide Film was successful with the E-6 development process. The Darkroom's NORITSU KOKI EZ Controller had worked its magic. The email said that the negatives were now scanned and ready for download. I had opted for the high-resolution Super Scans producing JPEG images at 4492×6774 pixels.

Kingston Grist Mill
Kingston Grist Mill · Friday 8 May 2020 · Asahi Pentax Spotmatic SPII · SMC Takumar 55mm f/2
Kingston Grist Mill
Kingston Grist Mill · Friday 8 May 2020 · Asahi Pentax Spotmatic SPII · SMC Takumar 55mm f/2
Kingston Grist Mill
Kingston Grist Mill · Friday 8 May 2020 · Asahi Pentax Spotmatic SPII · SMC Takumar 55mm f/2
Kingston Grist Mill
Kingston Grist Mill · Friday 8 May 2020 · Asahi Pentax Spotmatic SPII · SMC Takumar 55mm f/2

I added EXIF data to my images using Exif Editor.

While I had a fair idea of how the scanned negatives would turn out, thanks to samples on the Film Photography Project website and Flickr, I knew mastering exposure with my Spotmatic II required finesse.

As for the film's signature grain and colour cast, it delivered as expected. Some frames did lean towards slight overexposure, but a little tweak in Adobe Lightroom added that missing pop. Still, the grain remains noticeable. While I like the shots of Kingston Mill House and Lochtender's house, I admit that the greenery didn't excite me.

Would I go on another RetroChrome 400 adventure? Absolutely, but next time, I'd enlist the aid of my Pentax ES II or Pentax P3 for automatic metering and aperture priority. Scenes featuring vintage diners and 1970s cars parked against downtown backdrops could make for captivating subjects.

Millstone River
Millstone River · Friday 8 May 2020 · Asahi Pentax Spotmatic SPII · SMC Takumar 55mm f/2
Millstone River
Millstone River · Friday 8 May 2020 · Asahi Pentax Spotmatic SPII · SMC Takumar 55mm f/2

How about you? Have you ventured into the world of PP RetroChrome 400 Colour Slide Film? What's your take on the enchanting grain and hues it brings to life?

Submitted as part of the 100DaysToOffload project.

Isolation Photo Project, Day 5: Sourlands Ecosystem Preserve

Last night I had to ask my wife what day of the week it was. I'm losing track of time as each day blends into the other. Regarding Jeff's isolation project, I'm not sure what day this is1, and I'm not strictly following the rules2, but I want to continue using the project as a distraction. Having something to look forward to is helping with my anxiety. I've also decided to write these posts as the day goes along instead of waiting to the end of the day.

The alarm clock sounded off at the usual 6 AM, and I woke up to take my Synthroid3 then went back to bed and slept for another half hour. I'm using the fact that I don't have to commute to get just a bit more sleep every day, which is helpful considering that I'm going to bed late.

I have a regular rotation of breakfast foods which includes either yoghurt (Siggi's is my favourite brand), bagel thins, lox (smoked salmon) and cream cheese, or homemade sausage, egg and cheese biscuit, or oatmeal made in the InstaPot. All of these meals are around 30g of carbohydrates, usually less. I find that my blood glucose stays in range more often if I limit my carbs per meal to about 30g.

This morning I wanted to try something different, and for some reason, French toast popped into my head. I thought it would be easy to make, but I searched a recipe for a recipe anyway. To keep the carbohydrates to under 30g, I sprinkled Monk Fruit in the Raw instead of powdered sugar and skipped the maple syrup.

D&R Canal State Park Trail | 27 March, 2020 | FujiFilm X-T2 | Fujinon XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR

I had my regular endocrinology appointment today. Every six to eight weeks, I do a fasting blood test which the endocrinologist reviews and we discuss and adjust any items to improve diabetes care management. My A1C is down, but I still need to lose some of the weight I gained from the steroids. She wants me to try afrezza. On the drive back home, I stopped on Middleton Road in Plainsboro to capture this photo of people walking along the D&R Canal State Park Trail.

Once I was home, I noticed a group text message started by my friend Angel. We haven't had our regular weekly evening beer at the Brick Farm Tavern. She suggested that we do a virtual drinking session. We kicked around some times and agreed on 7 PM.

Bhavna came home around 2:30 PM, and we decided to enjoy the warm and sunny weather with a hike in the Sourlands Ecosystem Preserve in Hopewell. It had been a while since we had hiked the trail and we got turned around on the path a few times. Kiran remembered that when she was a child, we had attended a session with Sourland Stewards during which she had learned about vernal pools and the amphibians of the Sourlands.

Sourland Ecosystem Preserve | 27 March, 2020 | FujiFilm X-T2 | Fujinon XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR
Mud, rocks, and wood planks | 27 March, 2020 | FujiFilm X-T2 | Fujinon XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR

The trail was even more wet and soggy than the Pryde’s Point-Alexauken Creek Trail that Bhavana, and I hiked earlier in the week. I didn't find many flowers, but I did find the early leaves of Trout Lily. I want to return to this area next week. I am still on a hunt for round-lobed Hepatica, the most beautiful flower I have seen in the Sourlands.

27 March, 2020 | FujiFilm X-T2 | Fujinon XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR

We kept misreading the hiking trail signs and had to double back a few times to find the yellow trail around back to the car. We hiked for about an hour and were exhausted by the end of the hike. My favourite bar and restaurant, The Brick Farm Tavern, re-opened offering a limited selection menu for pickup only. Bhavana called ahead and ordered the Wood Grilled Double Brook Bratwurst.

Beepeeper by Flounder Brewing Co. | 27 March, 2020 | FujiFilm X-T2 | Fujinon XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR

We made it home just in time for me to get a quick shower, pour a teku glass with Beepeeper craft ale from Flounder Brewing, and sit to eat dinner, while on the Zoom session with my friends.

Submitted as part of the 100DaysToOffload project.
Sourland Ecosystem Preserve Trail Map
Sourland Ecosystem Preserve Trail Map

  1. I think it's day 5. 
  2. Jeff had mentioned photographing around the house and the back yard or the surrounding woods. I'm going much further afield while still maintaining physical distancing recommendations. 
  3. Synthroid must be taken on an empty stomach a minimum of thirty minutes before eating.