I have been using a 50mm lens almost exclusively for around two years, and I recently wanted to switch it up. The 35mm focal length has been on my radar for a few months, so when a good price for the Voigtlander Color-Skopar 35mm f/2.5 PII appeared online it caught my attention. Within the week it was in my hands, just in time for a family trip to the UAE desert.

With a few rolls of HP5 PLUS, the Leica M4, and the new lens, we headed out to Sharjah’s Fossil Rock.

Although I had visited Fossil Rock as a baby, I don’t remember much, so this was a blank slate for me. The Sharjah sands are redder than those of Dubai, and the desert near Mleiha is littered with rock formations eroded for years by the desert winds. These allowed for interesting compositions and tonal ranges.

The skies were clear but the wind was full of sand, creating a beautiful atmospheric perspective at sunset. In backlit scenarios, this really drew the attention to the foreground while helping to show how vast the desert is. As for the lens, I am very much enjoying it. The wider cover allowed me to get more of the desert in the frame, adding to the feeling of vastness. Aside from the occasional flare, it works like a charm with its short focus throw, small size, and excellent handling.

Developing this roll was interesting since it was my first time trying Rodinal. Using a dilution of 1+25 for 6:30 seconds, I was looking to get a relatively low-contrast negative. I like to have a lot to work with in the darkroom and my scans. In retrospect, the photos came out quite well; however, the ones that were front lit (opposite of backlit?) came out with significantly less contrast. I tried to bump these in post, to little effect, but it’s all a work in progress.

Overall, I am loving the lens and I cannot wait to try it on the street. Furthermore, I am fairly happy with Rodinal. While I do miss my ID-11, not having to prepare and mix the developer is a life changer. Also, the fact that you can use higher dilutions and stand-develop means that one can save both money and time.

That’s it for now; you can find more of my photos on my Instagram!

~ Simon

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About the author

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Simón Ducos

Simón is a photographer based in the U.A.E., although he is currently travelling and working on personal projects. He began using film in 2017.

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  1. Thanks DeWayne! I find that the desert is so vast that it gives so many opportunities for interesting compositions. In terms of dodging/burning, I haven’t been able to take these into the darkroom yet, but digitally it varied. The first photo had some burning on the silhouettes, the third had some dodging on the face, and the fourth initially had some burning in the sky to make the mountains pop out, but I reverted it because it didn’t really work out. I used luminosity masks on almost all of them (kind of like in this article: https://www.alexburkephoto.com/blog/2015/03/10/luminosity-masks-and-film-scans), and the second image was virtually untouched from the scans.

  2. Wow! These are beautiful. You really pulled a lot of shape and form out of the landscape. Thanks for sharing these. Did you have to much dodging and burning to get the effects you wanted?