5 Frames… of the Emerald City on Kodak Portra 400 (EI 400 / 120 format / Bronica ETRS) – by Morten Watkins

Written by and published on .

In late August 2019 my wife and I and our then 6-month-old daughter boarded a British Airways flight from London Heathrow en route to Seattle, Washington, USA.

Amongst our entourage of luggage was my Bronica ETRS medium format camera. With it, I packed my two Zenzanon MC lenses — a 50mm and a 75mm — and my light meter. I took several rolls of 120 film, some black and white and some colour. The colour stock was Kodak Portra 400 and the lens I used pretty much throughout was the 50mm. It is this combination that I’ll write about today.

The world as seen looking down through the Bronica’s viewfinder has a particular sense of wonder. The colours and shapes reflected through the ground glass are magnificent, and the fact that what you see is a mirror image of what is in front of you adds to this sense of fascination. Seattle has always held a special place in my heart, so to experience the Emerald City through this camera’s viewfinder seemed like the perfect way to go about exploring.

Everything I shot I had developed at box speed and the results are just perfect. My camera has a slight quirk whereby it often triggers the shutter when I wind on, typically after the third frame. Advancing the film crank with the multiple exposure lever set usually resolves this issue, so I try and remember this and use the opportunity to create a double exposure. Maybe I’ll get it fixed one day, but for now, it affords a unique opportunity for experimentation.

The photographs I have selected to accompany this essay were all processed and scanned by a well-known lab in Brighton, UK, and I have not edited them in post. These digital scans are presented here straight from the negatives. For me, this is a key part of my workflow – the lack of post-production! It show’s how little work in post is needed when working with this film stock. I might do some spotting for a print, but aside from that, I love them as they are.

~ Morten

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This series is produced in conjunction with Hamish Gill's excellent 35mmc.com. Head on over to read the other half of these stories there.

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