24 hours in Kernow – Kodak Portra 800 35mm
March 29, 2019
Last month I had a three-day photo commission in the South West across Devon and Cornwall. I got to spend some time outside of my shoot days seeing beaches, rocks, harbours and Cornish folk going about their day. The weather just happened to be fabulous for February and I was able to walk around in a T-shirt. As well as my digital kit for work, I had my Nikon F3 with me as I usually do. These first few pictures were shot In Looe, Cornwall during a quick stop on the way to work. I made my way along the beach and up to a viewpoint overlooking the rocks that can be viewed from the Southwest Coast Path. Scenes like this just remind me of The Goonies given Cornwall’s history of secluded coves, pirates and smugglers. I really love coastal towns and finding spots to watch the ocean, the way that the water interacts with the sea defences and harbour steps is so hypnotic.
On the second day, I got up early before heading to my shoot and spent part of the morning wandering around St Ives, shooting pictures and meeting people. I’ve always had a love of and fascination with surfing. To see some great waves on a glorious day at Porthmeor Beach was fantastic. Surfers were turning up to the beach so excited to see the break and I could really sense the joy to be treated to some sun with good waves in February. I had Kodak Portra 800 in my camera and to be honest, I was not expecting the generous helping of sunshine the day brought. I rated the film at 400asa to overexpose by one stop and allow me to shoot at around f4 or f5.6 if I wanted a little separation between foreground and background. Of course, this also gave me the lovely pastel colours Portra is known for with a little overexposure while also still having the presence of 35mm grain unlike Portra 400 which is pretty clean.
I could have watched the waves all day but didn’t have long in the town so walked round to the harbour where fishermen were unloading onto Smeaton’s Pier the long stone pier that acts as a wall to the harbour. The pier was designed by engineer John Smeaton between 1767-1770 and was later extended by the Victorians in 1888 giving it the appearance it has today. The pier has been photographed a ton so I fancied walking along and watching the fishermen and getting a great view of the town.
On the pier, I met a friendly lady visiting St Ives with her son who was enjoying jumping from the pier into the harbour. Another photographer and I took the opportunity to capture him mid-flight. The winter sun had given him plenty of energy to perform the stunt over and over, scaling the harbour ladder before sprinting to the edge, leaping into the Cornish blue. We all chatted for a while and before I left, I shot a couple of portraits to finish the set. Spending time talking with strangers is something I really enjoy on a photo walk. It makes for interesting opportunities to shoot pictures and coming away with a bit of their story and a shared experience adds to the moments captured on film.
I had to leave St Ives for my shoot so drove out of the town heading through St Erth. On my way down a country lane, I spotted a beautiful 60’s Ford Cortina parked in a layby. I’m a sucker for vintage cars and love photographing them. At first, I thought it was a Consul given the badging but having stopped to talk with the owner, Mr Hocking, he informed me that it was indeed a Cortina. When the model was released they badged the front as a Consul to appeal to the familiar market. Mr Hocking has had the car since 1967 and over the years has made many repairs to both the bodywork and engine after retrieving it from his barn after a period off the road. The car is not a show piece but rather a daily driver, used with love and has a patina to match. Mr Hocking kindly let me photograph the car and shoot a portrait of him before I got back on the road.
After shooting for the afternoon I had planned to drive on to Torquay where I was to work the following day. At the last minute given the early evening light, I drove down to Porthleven. I hadn’t visited before and I knew it to have a great surf reef as well as a strong chance of good fish and chips. I parked on Mount Pleasant overlooking the harbour mouth and walked along the coastal path with a view of the reef. Sure enough, waves were peeling in and surfers slowly turned up for the last of the day’s waves as the sun went down. I met a surfer called Michael, we talked and watched the waves for an hour before he decided he was going in for a session too good to miss. I sat on the rocks until the sun was down, the golden light glinting off of the boards in the lineup. It was the perfect way to end the day.