Traveling and Film Photography by Ibraar Hussain
When people talk about travel and photography, exotic National Geographic or Lonely Planet type pictures come to mind, blue lagoons, snow-crested mountains, arid deserts and dusty hot Asian streets with notes of markets, food and spices emanating from the image.
One hardly thinks of England and Wales as exotic, and Travel photography and the two are hardly mentioned in the same breath. But England and Wales hold many delights for the adventurous, inquisitive, curious, wonder seeking and creative photographer.
We have The North of England and the Midlands; Cumbria and The Lake District which a well-known American photographer; Tom Mackie, says is his favourite place to photograph in the whole world, The Peak District, Yorkshire Dales and “Wuthering Heights, Bronte country”, The North York Moors, Worcester and the Malvern Hills where Tolkien was brought up and upon which The Shire of Lord of The Rings fame is based among many other places, Nottingham of Robin Hood fame, Oxford and Cambridge and of course the old cities of York, Worcester, Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham complete with their architecture, nightlife, history, people and football clubs!
We have the Cotswolds with their rustic thatch roofed houses, villages and bubbling brooks and water wheels, and we have The Victorian Mill towns which Don McCullin has covered so well, farther East we have Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and East Anglia with their windmills, marshlands and dreamy coastline, we have Kent and the so called garden of England.
On the western most side of the British mainland are Devon and Cornwall with their Jamaica Inn, Bodmin, Dartmoor, Lands End and St Michaels Mount. I’ve never had the chance to visit Cornwall and Devon yet, but hopefully this summer I will!
In this article I will concentrate on the Counties lying west of my home in London and Wales.
London itself is a fantastic city, with everything a photographer could wish for, but if you’re like me and born and brought up in a place you’ll probably know less than the average tourist about it! Any how, I love London but I tend to avoid it (though I do love walking through Epping Forest) , I’m not one for busy streets and zillions of people taking my space – call me an unsociable b’stard and misanthrope who will, but I prefer the Countryside – and besides, London to me is like being married, course you love your wife but she doesn’t half get on your nerves – but it’s better as I can ‘cheat’ on her all I like, dump her for a more attractive lover, then come back when I feel home sick! 😉
Anyway, we have the “Home Counties”, quaint olde world but rather more affluent counties and green belt surrounding London such as Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, Surrey and Sussex, I think they’re called the ‘Home Counties’ as they belong to
Travel West out of London, past Heathrow Airport and you’re into Berkshire with Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire slightly North of it. Through Berkshire and its villages, English Country gardens and Stately Homes, , the Chiltern Hills into Wiltshire with Stone henge, Avebury, its White Horses, ancient chalk figures and burial mounds. South of Wiltshire and we’re in to Dorset with its beautiful and rugged Jurassic coastline. Westwards and we’re into Somerset, Arthurian Glastonbury and then eventually over the Severn Estuary and into Wales.
If you’ve never been to England before, you’ll hardly be surprised that the official language is, English! And road signs are in, you guessed it, English. But cross the ‘border’ into Wales and everything isn’t in English, but in Welsh! Welsh is a Gaelic/Celtic language, but differs greatly from Irish or Scots Gaelic – words in Welsh tend to be real tongue twisters and seemingly unpronounceable! I mean how does one go about pronouncing “Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch” ? haha! Look it up! It’s possibly the longest place-name in Europe and one of the longest in the world and probably the most unpronounceable place-name ever!
Wales is a fantastic place, absolutely gorgeous, sparsely populated with perhaps more Sheep than people! Lovely Villages, towns and pubs, great food, stunning landscape, hills and beacons and best of all, magnificent Castles and ruins and the Magical Roman town of Caerleon with its Roman Amphitheatre, Baths and Barracks.
The best thing to do, if you ever visit England and Wales and want to really see and enjoy the sights, is to join The National Trust. http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/
Best thing I ever did, as I now have access to historic houses, gardens, mills, coastline, forests, woods, fens, beaches, farmland, moorland, islands, archaeological remains, nature reserves, villages and pubs! The national trust was founded in 1895 to save the Nations Heritage and to protect it, and 116 years later, boy, they’re doing a sterling job of it!
If visiting Wales, I recommend the National Trust and visiting http://cadw.wales.gov.uk/?lang=en CADW is the Welsh historic environment service which plays a similar role to The National Trust. You’ll have access to so many castles ruins and places of interest that it’d take years to visit them all!
Wales is dotted with castles, priories, monasteries and fortresses, as Wales has always been a bit unruly, and rebellious. Wales also has The Brecon Beacons, Pembrokeshire and Snowdonia, and these places are dotted with Castles and Forts and Standing Stones.
If you’re adventurous and want to stay in some stunning remote locations throughout England and Wales for peanuts, I recommend http://www.yha.org.uk the Youth Hostel Association. I’ve stayed in many YHA places, in some stunning locations with my family and love every second of the experience.
Anyway, on to some photography, I have spent many years photographing some of these places and am in love with quiet dreamy places tucked away amongst the hills and valleys – I just wish I had more time, and more talent to really capture the feel and mood of some of these places.
Walking or driving around the countryside, Spring will see the woods awash with Bluebells, which bloom in late April and May, summer will see deep red poppy fields showing off their colour and glory, Autumn will show New Englandesque displays of gold, russet and crimson and Winter has its own beauty.
Below I’ve included a small selection of photographs, I’ve taken far too many to post here and I have no gallery or anything online anymore, but I hope you enjoy the photographs, they’re no masterpieces but I hope they can inspire people to perhaps visit!
They’re mostly Black & White, but I had to include a shot of a bluebell Wood and a Poppy Field.
Stowe Landscape Garden
A huge classical themed Landscape Park in Buckinghamshire
Fuji GA645, Ilford Pan F 50, Ilford ID11. Epson 4990, Adox MCP 312.
Tretower Court and Castle
Ruins of a 12th Century Fort, Castle and Manor House. Powys, Wales
Fuji GA645, Ilford Pan F 50, Ilford ID11. Epson 4990.
Very beautiful and inspiring images, Ibraar. I document the rural images near my home in Southern Illinois much the same way. Exotic? To someone, yes. I’m planning a trip to London and the Cotswolds this fall. I hope I can photograph what I encounter half as well as you have.
Ron, thanks man, I’d love to see some of your work man, any links online?
And be sure to visit England, Cotswolds in Autumn are very beautiful! Make sure you visit the YHA and National Trust sites on the Net for some nice places and info
My gosh man! Please reconsider a web site so we can see more of your pictures! I once owned a GA645 and stupidly sold it. But I never created images with it that I enjoyed nearly as much as yours today. Not only do they want me to visit your beloved country, but inspire me to try my best to do photography even close to what I’ve seen in your images. Your photos bring me into them, make me want to be there in them, and convey in a way rarely seen how you felt when you snapped them! Thank you for sharing your experiences!
Shen, thanks for the comments man! Appreciate them! Thanks ever so much!
If you ever visit the UK, make sure you get in touch!
Very nicely done. Really enjoyed the images, esp. those from the Fuji GA645. B&W film just can’t be beat, esp. in medium format.
Anyone who has their interest piqued by the great photos from the GA645, please check out my YouTube video review of a related camera: the GA645Zi. It’s a really great, do it all, medium format film camera:
Fuji GA645Zi Overview on YouTube
appreciate the encouraging comments man!
ps. would love to see an article/inspiration on this site from you.
guys, do check out mikes youtube reviews! superb stuff
Ibraar, go to Virginia Waters Lake in Windsor, I sure you’d love it!
Been there, many times 🙂
Nice, but too ‘commercial’ and far too many people. Nice sunsets facing west across the lake though!
thanks for the suggestion.
Thanks for sharing!
I am portuguese, I live in Portugal, but I usually spend a few weeks in Britain every year. There are wonderful places to see and photograph in England, in Scotland and in Wales. Some Britons, having always lived in Britain, fail to realize how beautiful their towns and country are.
Its amazing how clean medium format looks compared to the smaller Leica-size negative. Nice shots!
And those negative scans are not that good either. At first glance I thought they were all 135 format.
Mike, you’re kidding? they’re so obviously Medium Format.
Let’s see some of yours?
Here are a few
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/yo_tuco/5028468153/sizes/o/in/set-72157607334638754/"Hasselblad 500C/M
Pentax 67 ISO 3200, 300mm
Mamiya 7II ISO 3200
Ok, apart from the fact that you’ve gone a bit OTT with the sharpening, I see no difference. I do think your Hassy shots look kind of Leicaesque though – that’s a compliment! Great photo’s man, enjoyed viewing em!
Why thanks. My scans are from a commodity scanner. So both the OP and mine have more potential with a high-end scanner was my main point.
Ibraar, fantastic essay full of excellent information and images about Britain, with not such an English name you certainly have some excellent British humour. Thanks for sharing and keep up the good work.
Not an English name, but English born and bred. More of a Londoner though! hehe! Cheers
These photographs stir calm inside of me. Thank you for sharing such wonderful pictures.
I have recently ditched all my digi gear to focus on film. There was a huge sense of relief when the last bits left the house. GAS is gone, now i make every click count and chasing that ‘perfect’ photograph is THE most important thing.
Again bravo for the wonder pictures.
My Dear Ibraar,
Once again with a few film pics you crush the whole digital world. It is simply not possible to get pics like this with digital without a lot of skill as a post production artist. But who wants to spend years learning to post produce pics when they can be actually shooting pictures? A whole world is moving out there and it will not wait for you to get off the computer.
It reminds me of a movie I just saw the other night, the 2011 version of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” It is a wonderfully directed and acted film which suffers from horrible image quality. It was shot with a Red 4k digital camera and is so washed out with milky blacks and desaturated color and lack of depth that it really hurt the movie. I could tell a lot of post production effort went into making the movie look like it was shot on film but it was just so distracting on a technical level.
So thank you again for reminding us of what we have lost and need to regain.
‘Traveling & film’ but you failed to mention how it’s a pain in the ass to ‘travel’ with film these days. Everywhere I have ever been now they refuse to hand check the rolls & insist on running them through the X-ray machine. Even on the homeland security web page, it clearly states that the machines can & will ruin high speed film. Can’t use those lead lined x-ray bags anymore, they think you are trying hide something & you get pulled aside. I’m currently travelling in South Africa & have opted for getting my film processed here for fear of it being ruined on the flights home.
Nice shots by the way, thanks.
Thank you so much for sharing these refreshingly beautiful photos. On my next trip to England I must get to some of these places and view them myself. Yes indeed, beauty and exoticness is in the eye of the beholder!
Fantastic set! Thank you for sharing! England is one of my favourite photo places too, there is something magical about it. Maybe the weather?
I love your black and white work. A lot.
Thanks Celia, yep, people tend to remember the weather. But England’s weather is much better than in Wales, Wales is almost always wet – but when it;s fine, it’s really fine!
Ibraar, lovely images!! My favorite was the portrait of the lovely lady. Always nice to have people mixed into nice landscape photos. Thanks for sharing.
Yes she’s lovely, but I’m left wondering if she’s his “more attractive lover” or his wife that he cheated on and then came back to? Great images but such a terrible domestic analogy to use, even if in jest.
come on Jeff! I tend to joke about serious things. chill
I don’t know about exotic, but the places are pretty mundane and ordinary IMHO. I might be biased since I’m from SouthEast Asia and I can fairly say I’ve experienced exotic quite a bit — snake skin soup anyone? Although I do agree with the above comments that your B&W pictures are excellent.
Definitely not exotic, quite right, but mundane? I beg to disagree, I suppose it’s all in the eye of the beholder. Seeing an early may Bluebell wood in bloom is a wonderful experience for example, comparable to Karakoram and Hindu Kush Mountains in their wonder.
Nice comment. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. ‘Everything is beautiful in its own way’ as the song goes.
There is always something nice to see.
BTW: For someone from Hawaii, England and Wales are very exotic. I remember walking and hitching from Snowden to Glastonbury during a break between marriages. Beautiful country. Weather sucks though.
haha! true say, weather is a bummer, but that makes it all the more special when the weather’s fine!
Ibraar, good timing for St George’s day! I have similar feelings about London, you’ve inspired me to order some rolls of 120.
🙂 It was St Georges day which prompted me, nicely spotted man!
These are all gorgeous, but I’m particularly impressed by your B&W work.
Scot, Doug, cheers guys!
Stowe sure is magical, thanks for sharing the pictures Scott
Stowe is a great place, one of the few sites in the south east that have a really dreamlike atmosphere. see
I should have highlighted or perhaps summarised equipment I used in these shots.
The Fuji GA645 has been covered before, but the Olympus Pen F is a beauty.
I’ve had mine for a couple of months, with a 38mm f1.8 lens. The Pen F has no light meter and has only the film winding crank (double strike) and a shutter speed dial as controls.
It’s beautifully built, feels so nice in the hand, I’ll go on to say that it’s THE most perfect camera I’ve ever handled, in size, feel, look and in use.
It has a metal rotary shutter (as found on 35mm cine cams) and I prefer it to the Pen FT as this one has a much brighter finder.
The finder is portrait format, and focussing is a breeze.
To meter I either use the EV and LV table as a guide, and my Minolta Autometer III incident meter when things are a bit more complicated.
You get 2×36 shots on a roll, and two exposures on 1x 35mm frame, so you can photograph and present some interesting story telling juxtapositions – mine aren’t great but I’m simply portraying a trip to Llansteffan castle and Brecon with the kids.
The Pen F and FT can be bought for little cash, and will last you a lifetime. Contrary to old wives tales, the ‘half frame’ doesn’t lack quality, in fact the sharp and contrasty lenses combined with the Film stock create exposures which can be enlarged to big sizes – I for one have enlarged (on Ilford MGIV paper using Ilford Multigrade and a durst M605 with multigrade head) to 9.5×12″ and the tones and look were as sharp, detailed and smooth as anything else.
Mine has the gothic F metal lens cap, an Olympus Leather half case and (thanks to Steve Huff) a barton 1972 leather strap 🙂
Regarding the Scans.
I was going to include scans of Prints I have made on Adox MCP312 RC paper (re released Agfa VC) but I had already the scans done from before so only the very top one is a scan from print.
Prints come out much much better than scans of Negatives, as for some reason scans accentuate grain which is invisible in the print.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy the series.
ps. I bought my Pen F from http://vintageclassiccamera.com
And the guy gives great aftersales too.
I like the DOF with the fuji 645, not razor but shallower allowing OOF to be seen and give a natural blur, not the harsh background so popular today with razor DOF. The boys on the rock shows that DOF is fine on a small image, the half frame is similar in size to the M43 sensor, the 38mm 1.8 is a nice lens I have 2 one on the Pen FT and the other I use on the e-p2.
Very nice all round, I put them up full screen and moved the chair back to see the full depth of the shots.
In all a nice selection with great commentary. Thank you.
Thanks ever so much Jim, really appreciate the message here man! Make’s it all worthwhile!
I thoroughly enjoyed your photo essay. Yes, we are all guilty of not exploring our homes. I come from India and love to travel westwards to capture images I like. Photographers from the world travel to India on a photographic vacation. The other side always appears green. Lovely photos. Thanks.
The long barrow shots I liked a lot , plus the firs Brecon Beacons one, well done
Really enjoyed that Ibraar, your enthusiasm for both film and locations shine as always. I especially liked the scanned BW prints at the top which look great & contrasty on my screen. Always makes me laugh to myself when so many talk about getting “film like” processed BW shots from digital files. Erm …. maybe shoot on BW film to begin with like this? 🙂
Great article and extremely helpful to people visiting the UK. Being a member of the National Trust (NT) certainly gives you access to some amazing places and some wonderfully preserved sites and buildings, however you should be aware of the NT’s position on photography which might influence your decision on whether to join them. The National Trust’s photography policy is as follows:
‘The National Trust does not permit photography or filming at its properties for commercial use or for reproduction in any form without prior written permission. These restrictions apply only to photography taken within the grounds of National Trust properties and does not apply to public highways and paths.Photographs taken for private and personal use may not be used in any other context, submitted to any photo libraries or on-line agencies or sold directly to any image buyers. All requests for commercial photography taken for profit at any pay-for-entry property must be channelled through the Broadcast and Media Liaison Office.’
The NT can be pretty pedantic at times, but I think they’re trying to protect their assets and rights. Flickr will reveal thousands of NT photographs and Groups.
get yourself to corfe castle on the isle of purbeck on your national trust card!
stunning…nice shots btw!
Aye indeed, shot my last ever roll of Kodachrome in my old Contax G2 there a year or so back (I was saving it purely for that trip). Stunning location for photography and the steam railway stops just across the road from the castle itself.
🙂 Robert, i know it well! I’ve photographed Corfe a few years back from within and from the hills around it, stunning place. Lulworth Cover and Durdle door too – in fact the whole Jurassic coast is wonderful.
Great Golf Course on Purbeck too btw!
I have lived right in the middle of the Jurassic Coast all my life and have still not discovered all of it yet, definitely get yourself down here!