Three Mills, shit and sugar – A lovely walk.

Having set myself a task of walking the 78 miles of the Capital Ring walk around London over the next year and setting my start point at Hackney Wick I decide it would be a good idea initially to do a walk around the area of the Olympic Park area. I wanted to explore some of the history and industrial heritage of the area. A good precursor for the start of the walk.

The walk of 3 miles started at Pudding Mill lane and followed some of the Greenway running through this part of London. The weather was dry but it had got colder than it had been recently.

Docklands Light Railway.

Due to engineering works we had to get the train into Liverpool Street, then tube to Bank where we got onto the DLR to Pudding Mill Lane, the start of the walk.

Starting off on a North West direction under the railway we found a great cafe at the Olympic Park and started the day with a bacon bagel and coffee.

Olympic Park

From there we followed the Greenway and Victoria Walk North West as far as the crossing of the Lea Navigation.

The Greenway, formerly known as Sewerbank, is following the course of the Northern Outfall Sewer which is part of the London sewage work carried out by Joseph Bazalgette.

Bazalgette built London’s first sewer network in the 19th Century and was responsible for wiping out Cholera in the capital. The sewers took 16 years to build and are still in use today.

Alongside the River Lea.

Going down on the track to the left before the bridge over the Lea we then took a course South alongside the River Lea Navigation. At this point the sewer crosses the river overhead in an enormous steel construction.

The steel construction which supports the main Northern outfall sewage pipes over the River Lea.

The path was dry and there much to see with boats along the river.

There are many colourful and interesting narrowboats along the canal.

An interesting building across the others side of the river is the Bow Quarter which is the old Bryant and May match factory, redeveloped in the 1980s it is now flats and town houses.

Just before the Bow flyover we had to jiggle round the river at the point where the river splits to travel North East and becomes St Thomas Creek.

Crossing over to the other side of the river we go as far as Three Mill Lane where we cross the river again onto Three Mills Island.

There are references to mills on this site in the Domesday survey of 1086 which is considered to be the earliest record of a mill system in England.

The current mills were bought in 1727 by three local Huguenots. It was a good location for mills with the strong tidal flow giving eight hours of power per tide.

The mills are currently film studios with programs such as Masterchef being filmed there.

Continuing North we travel alongside Three Mills Wall River and stop off at Three Mills Green for a late lunch of sandwiches. East of us across the Prescott Chanel, a tributory of the Three Mills Wall River, are the original and new Abbey Mills sewage pumping stations, something we will be visiting on our next walk.

As we continue North we can see to the West of us Sugar House Island. The Island is named after a striking 19th century five-storey red brick warehouse which still stands on site.

As we arrive at the A118 High Street we cross over to continue our walk back in a Westerly direction to the end at our start point at Pudding Mill Lane DLR station. Before continuing though we stop on the A118 to admire the old Yardley box factory and offices.

Film Test

Rollei RPX 100 with the Pentax P30.

Having just loaded up my Olympus OM2n with a roll of Rollei RPX 100 it has prompted me to write up my results from the last time I used this film

Back in 2019 I had a couple of days out with my Pentax P30 and SMC Pentax-M 50mm f1.7 lens and loaded with a 36 exposure roll of the Rollei RPX 100.

One day was spent through Bishops Stortford and the second day was Saffron Walden which is a lovely town in Essex, and a favourite of mine.

I developed the film in Ilford ID11 diluted 1:1 for 12 minutes at 20 deg C.

My first location was on a walk through Bishops Stortford.

Bishops Stortford.

Top of Wind Hill, Bishops Stortford.
Looking down High Street, Bishops Stortford.
The Gourmet Turk restaurant which used to be The Boar’s Head pub.
Church Street, Bishops Stortford.
The multi-storey car park. Bishops Stortford.

My second location was the lovely town of Saffron Walden.

On the corner of Freshwell Street looking up Bridge Street toward High Street
Looking down Bridge Street Saffron Walden.
Looking up Bridge Street, Saffron Walden.

I scanned the negatives using a Plustek 8100 scanner and was very pleased with the results. The negs have good tonal variation and contrast so it’s prompted me to stock up with some more of this film.

A day at the Fort with the Pentax Spotmatic.

An interesting trip out a while ago with my favourite retro camera of the moment, the Asahi Pentax Spotmatic SPII. We drove up into Suffolk to the end of the promontory where Felixstowe Docks are located. There is an old Fort called Landguard Fort built in the 1500s originally but the present construction dates much later. Being an overcast day and the Fort a very grey concrete construction I thought it would make an ideal subject for black and white film. So, I loaded up with a 36 exp roll of Ilford HP5+ and put a spare in my bag. I took my 55mm f1.8 and my 105mm f2.8 Takumar lenses fitted with a yellow filter for an added bit of contrast.

I love this old camera. It seems to fit my hand so well and I like the weight of it which has a feel of quality. The shutter sound too sounds really great and makes you feel you have an instrument of quality in your hands. The Takumar lenses are brilliant as is the Zeiss 29mm one.

It was a rather grey and overcast day so it was a little difficult in places accommodating the low light levels but all in all I was very pleased with the results.

Some darkroom work

I’ve recently completed converting my loft into a darkroom. It seemed like a natural progression from having got more into my film photography recently..

An ideal time to spend in the darkroom what with this awful weather and being in lockdown.

Did a few trial prints the other day of some photos taken in the Barbican using a 35mm Olympus OM2n.The film was rated at ISO 400 and developed in Ilford ID11 developer.

These are all scans of the actual prints made in the darkroom and printed on Kentmere VC Select Luster multigrade paper.

The first print (above) I made using the settings on the colour head for the equivalent of a grade 2 paper which is a mid way grade. The range of tones at the lower level under the overhanging construction are pretty good, although the upper level balconies are a bit over exposed and losing some detail.

For the second example (above) I reset the yellow and magenta settings on the enlarger colour head to give me an equivalent to grade 3 paper which is more contrasty. The image has more punch and has darker blacks to the shadow area, although the lower part does look a bit under exposed (it does look darker on the scanned image than on the actual print though). It does also have good detail to the upper balcony areas. I may have to redo this and using a bit of cardboard just hold back the lower part by 5 seconds on the exposure in the enlarger.

It is good fun and is an interesting project to be doing in these restricted times.

I’ve also included a few of the other scanned prints of the Barbican from the last session.

More on film. Fomapan 200.

During this second lockdown period I thought it would be a good opportunity to try out perfecting some new film photography. I’ve used Fomapan 400 a fair bit in the past but decided to try Fomapan 200 for a change. Maybe not the best idea during the dull weather we’re having just recently but at least I can get to using a large aperture and throwing the background out of focus.

So I decided to do our local walk which starts at a small church. I first had a look round the churchyard. Churchyards are always good for some texture and interesting light shooting.

The small Church of St Thomas’ at Perry Green, the start of our walk.
A misty day forming a drip on the tap gives it an extra element.
Detail of the church.

Further along our walk we pass the Henry Moore Studio and Gardens. Even though it’s closed at present there is an opportunity to still see some of the sculptures.

Large Figure in a Shelter by Henry Moore.
Hoglands, Henry Moore’s home and now a museum reflected in the visitor centre windows.

The walk takes us round the perimeter of the Henry Moore grounds and then along part of the Hertfordshire Way.

Along the Hertfordshire Way.
My favourite gatepost subject on the walk.

So, what of the film. I developed the Fomapan 200 for 13 minutes in Ilford ID11 at 20 deg C. Ilford ID11 is my go to developer at present. As it’s a powder developer it has an almost indefinite shelf life in it’s powder form so I can purchase a couple of boxes without having them go off before I can use them.

I quite like the tones of Fomapan 200 but not sure the grain appears to be much smaller than Fomapan 400 and I have to say that I think I prefer to use Ilford HP5+ for most of my photos.

Olympus OM2n and Fomapan 200.

I will though try the Fomapan 200 out with another camera/lens combination. This set was photographed using the Olympus OM2n fitted with the 50mm f1.4 lens. I intend to run another 36 through my Pentax Spotmatic fitted with the 55mm f1.8 Takumar lens.

A roll of Fomapan 400 with the Agfa Optima 1035 Sensor.

  • Camera: Agfa Optima 1035 Sensor.
  • Film: Fomapan 400. Rated at 400asa. Developed in Ilford ID11 dilution 1+3 for 23 minutes @20 degC.
  • Film scanned using Plustek OpticFilm 8100 through Silverfast 8 software.
Agfa Optima 1035 Sensor

Why I chose this camera?

Having an interest in analogue photography I like to follow a YouTube channel called Analogue Insights (link at the end of this post). Recently, Max, who is the host of the site has done a review of the Afa Optima 1035. It seemed to be the ideal camera for some Street Photography and as a coincidence there was one on Ebay in mint condition which I purchased for £56.

The camera and it’s features.

The camera is built of metal and is very compact and takes 35mm film. It has zone focusing but if turned upside down it has the distance scale on the underside of the lens. Zone focusing is something I often use for Street Photography so that is fine. The viewfinder is very large and bright for such a small camera and it is equipped with a nice f2.8 40mm lens. The zone focusing settings are shown in the viewfinder which is handy. The exposure is fully automatic but there is an aperture setting on the lens. This though is only operational when using flash.

Zone focusing seen in the viewfinder.
The zone focusing on the top of the lens.

Design philosophy

The camera was one of a series of cameras produced by Agfa through to the late 1970s and the simplistic design philosophy has as it’s roots in that of post war German industrial design. The design is a reflection of the design principles by such great designers as Dieter Rams who was instrumental in the design of the sleek and understated household goods for Braun in that era. “Good design is as little design as possible.” These few words encapsulate the philosophy of Rams. The British-American designer Jony Ive, Chief designer for Apple until 2019 once said of Rams that his work is “beyond improvement.”

This camera was designed by another German design studio. In 1967 Norbert Schlagheck and Herbert Schultes formed the design partnership Schlagheck Schultes Design GmbH and took on work of designing products for AGFA Gevaert AG. The design partnership was located in Munich and they were Influenced by Dieter Rams and his 10 Principles of Good Design. They were responsible for delivering designs for several classic cameras, along with other products. The design for AGFA provided a new and more modern direction for the camera-maker with the large red sensor shutter release being instrumental in the catch phrase for the product of ‘The other red dot camera’. This being a reference to the logo on Leica cameras. Not quite up to the standard of manufacture of Leica of course.

The results of my first trip out with the camera.

I recently was able to visit the National Trust property of Anglesey Abbey. Having just received the camera through the post I thought I’d load up with a roll of Fomapan 400 black and white film and try it out. It was an overcast day so not too much contrast but the white statuary in the grounds set against a dark background of foliage proved to be ideal for a test and I’m quite pleased with the results. The camera was a joy to use and handled very well. Manual focusing was very easy with the 400 ASA film providing small enough apertures to get some depth of field.

My next test of the camera will be to take it out on a trip doing some Street Photography.

Legacy glass on digital Part 1.

Carl Zeiss Jena 29mm f2.8 Lens.

I do like the quality and feel of the old legacy lenses created for the old film cameras. To my mind they are built to a higher standard than the modern lenses made for the consumer market.

I recently saw a Carl Zeiss Jena 29mm lens advertised on ebay and was tempted and was surprised that no one else bid on it. So, I got myself a nice lens of good condition for £31.

There is a lot written about the company of Zeiss Jena and the fact that it was situated in the Eastern part of Germany after the second world war. The company Zeiss originated in Jena but after the war the Americans moved most of the staff and manufacturing to Oberkochen in the West of Germany. Optics were continued to be manufactured in the original factory in Jena and in some cases using the original technicians who chose to stay. Some would say that the quality of the Jena lenses doesn’t match that of the ones produced in Oberkochen but I think there is an element of snobbery in that statement. It may be that the quality control was a bit more relaxed at the Jena works but if you get a good example they are certainly good lenses.

Carl Zeiss Jena 29mm f2.8.

You are, of course, stuck with manual focus when using these lenses on a digital camera but that doesn’t bother me at all. I often use manual focus with my digital lenses. On a Micro Four Thirds camera the focal length for this lens is 58mm which is a good focal length for Street Photography. The lens also has a close focus distance of 0.25m which is better than my Leica 25mm digital lens. I also like the way these old lenses have all the distance scales etc etched on the lens. It’s very handy for when you’re doing zone focusing, again, not something easy to do on a lens with no distance markings.

The lens fitting is the 42mm screw fit so I had to purchase a new adaptor for my micro four thirds cameras (Olympus OM-D E-M1 and Lumix GX8).

K & F Concept M42 – M4/3 adaptor

I chose the K & F Concept adaptor as I had purchased others in the past and some had been problematic and fitted the Lumix camera but not the Olympus. The one I chose was the Pro version which is a couple of pounds more expensive but was of excellent build quality and finish. It fitted both cameras very accurately without any play.

K & F Concept M42 – M4/3 adaptor

The lens and the adaptor look very good mounted on my Olympus OM-D.

Olympus OM-D M1 fitted with K & F Concept adaptor and Carl Zeiss Jena 29mm f2.8 lens.
Olympus OM-D M1 fitted with K & F Concept adaptor and Carl Zeiss Jena 29mm f2.8 lens.

I mounted the lens to my Lumix GX8 and went out for an afternoon photographing in a small town called Saffron Walden in Essex. These are some of the results. All jpgs straight out of the camera with no post processing:

Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire.

Built in 1650, Wimpole Hall is a neo-classical building and is Grade I listed. The estate itself is Grade I listed on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.
Owned by the Chicheley family for 250 years the house passed through a number of familys before passing into ownership by The National Trust.
As the National Trust are now opening up access to their properties we were able to book a visit there a few days ago.
I took it as an opportunity to do some photography using one of my 35mm SLR film cameras.

Camera: Olympus OM2n 35mm SLR

Lenses: 35mm f2.8 Zuiko. 50mm f1.4 Zuiko. 135mm f2.8 Zuiko.

Filter: Hoya Orange (G) filter.

Film: Ilford FP4 rated at 125asa. Developed in Ilford ID11 diluted1+1 for 11 minutes @20degC.

Scanned to digital using a Plustek 8100 scanner.

Wimpole Hall.
Wimpole Hall.
Wimpole Hall.
Wimpole Hall.
Wimpole Hall. The rear of the house.
Wimpole Hall. The rear of the house.
Wimpole Hall. Walking across the parkland at the rear of the house toward the Folly.

The park was “naturalised” by Capability Brown. The North Park is particularly attractive with its belts of woodland, gentle rolling hills with individual trees and clumps of trees. The central feature of the North Park is the Gothic Tower known as The Folly and the restored lakes in the valley below.

The folly is designed to resemble the ruins of a medieval castle. It was built on the grounds of Wimpole Hall in the mid-1770s

The bridge known as the Chinese Bridge.

Single-arch timber bridges were often called ‘Chinese’ in the eighteenth century, probably because they were reminiscent of the bridges shown on Chinese porcelain, lacquer, silk and wallpaper. It was designed by Lancelot Brown and was rebuilt in the mid 20th century.

The lake.
Norfolk Horn sheep.

Wimpole Farm is one of the UK’s largest rare breed centres and they play a key role in conserving rare and traditional breeds of livestock.

The Folly.
Detail of The Folly.
The lake.