On the road to the Lac D’Allos

One of the exciting bits of our small outing in France southern alps was going to the Lac d’Allos, a place I did not visit in more than 20 years. Allos is a ski resort 2 hours drive from the sea, situated at 1500 meters of altitude with highest slopes around 2500.

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The side of the valley of Verdon opposite the resort is part of the Mercantour natural reserve and its highest pic, Mont Pelat is 3050m.

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One of the popular walks is to go up to Lac d’Allos. This lake situated at 2300m is the largest natural high altitude lake in Europe. It covers 60 hectares and has a depth of 50 m.

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Flickr-1007537From the last parking place, the walk is an easy 45 minutes uphill until the majesty of the lac and surrounding mountains appears.

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When reaching the lake there is a high altitude refuge, providing food and drinks during the day and shelter for the night.

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From the refuge, a lot of path are available, with various distances and difficulties, I walked a few of the in my teens. If you pass by the area and like hiking, this is worth your time.

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The lake and the “Towers” in the background

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You can have another hour of pleasant walk around the lake, admiring the scenery, flowers, drift wood, or marmottes (marmot in english).

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A marmot, the furry local

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Up the refuge is a small chapel.Flickr-1007636

The weather even in early July can be treacherous and we had some rain that day, forcing us to retreat in the refuge. Remember that as easy as this walk is, this start to be the realm of high altitude.

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Inside the refuge you can always hope to make some nice encounters and engage in interesting exchanges. Here Gilles from Lille, was walking the mountains for a week. He likes to play music and use it to exchange with people he meets.

 

All shots Leica M262 + Summicron 28 asph or Summicron 50 or Elmarit 90mm F2.8

 

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On the road to the Lac D’Allos

Train des Pignes à Vapeur (France)

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So this was the first day of the holidays; after the long-haul flight from Singapore to Nice and a night or rest, here I am driving up 2 hours from Cannes to Allos in the Parc of Mercantour in the southern french alps, a couple of boys day’s out with my son and my dad.

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I had a couple of ideas of things to shoot on the way, including a stop at the railway station in Thorame Haute a stop on the “Train des pignes” that link Nice to Dignes-Les-Bains.

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To our amusement, when we stepped out of the car a vintage steam train was parked along the station.  It appeared it had to make a stop to let the regular train  pass by as there is only one track in this area.

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The people attending the train were very nice, happy to have a chat and camera friendly, hell they had 2 hours to kill

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This train is kept by a non profit association it travels from May to October on Sundays.

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You can see their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/TrainDesPignesAVapeur/

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Shots with Leica M262 and M6+Cinestill 50, with Summicron 28 and 50.

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Train des Pignes à Vapeur (France)

First roll of Bergger Pancro400

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The French company Bergger released earlier this year the Pancro400 film in 120 roll film & 35mm. Without getting too much in the technical details that you can find here, this is a film  with high speed, fine grain and wide exposure latitude (from ISO 100 to 1600). As per Wikipedia, a panchromatic emulsion produces a realistic reproduction of a scene as it appears to the human eye, which is what most modern films are tending to (except the ones labelled as orthochromatic films) so nothing special to expect. Some of my friends think the film will have a tendency to highlight skins and darken greens / blues.

 

Le refuge du Lac D’Allos – Parc de Mercantour

Recently during my last fridge replenishing order, I bought 3 rolls of this film in both 120 and 35mm.

I shot the first roll with the Dacora Digna, a 1950’s German 6×6 camera with a collapsible 80mm lens, a fixed speed of roughly 1/50 seconds and a choice of aperture of f8 or f11. This is not a perfect camera for testing a new film but the Hassie was 10000 KM away.

 

On the way to the Col D’Allos.

The film was processed at my usual lab; when I collected I was told it was pushed; the only explanation I had was that the guy from the lab knows the film need to be pushed. The result is ok-ish anyway, but the negative did not look too contrasty; I expected it to be overexposed a bit by sunny sixteen rule.

View from the Col d’Allos

On a practical note the markings on the back of the film are very faint so it is difficult to read the frame number though the red window when you advance the film.

Alpine shed

The pictures were taken during a walk to the Lac d’Allos one of biggest high altitude (2230m ) lakes in Europe.

Roll number two is at the lab at the moment, street shots from yesterday walk with the more reliable Agfa Isolette III, the last roll I’ll definitely keep for the Hassie.

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First roll of Bergger Pancro400

Back from inside the cardbox : the Canonet 28

During last summer holidays my wife looked into an old card-box in the garage and found the Canonet 28 her dad offered her for her 10’s birthday. The camera was still boxed, with the never ready case, strap, manual, guarantee card and a film still engaged.
All looked in perfect condition at the time, but I did not have time to take it for a try and the wife did not want to bring it back to Singapore.

Cannes Le Vieux Port - Fishermen's warf
Cannes Le Vieux Port – Fishermen’s warf

So last month we were back to France for Christmas holidays and I planned carefully to arrived with a roll of Tri-X and an Alkaline battery to make my test. Opening the box a second time was a different experience: the never ready case is very deteriorated, and some joint on the camera door are desaggregating as well. The battery contact shows some corrosion but my father in law was clever enough to remove the old battery before packing the camera. All in all the camera is in good shape, but bought in 1975 and packed probably since the middle of the 80’s (30 years ago), it is not in pristine condition.

Orchestra - Xmas market - Cannes
Orchestra – Xmas market – Cannes

After cleaning the contacts, I loaded the battery and the roll of film and the meter start moving when the aperture ring is set to auto mode. I went though the documentation but could not get the meter to give me a speed indication when I select the aperture manually; so all the shots are done in full auto mode.

Framed - Saint Laurent du Var - France
Framed – Saint Laurent du Var – France

Results are quite good I think. Quite good contrast if not sharp. There is a few limitations ISO is limited to 25 to 400 range and speed from 1/30th to 1/600th. When it is getting dark, the camera will take pictures at 1/30th F2.8 which cause some motion blur or under exposure. Focusing is easy and seems quite accurate.

The fence - Saint Laurent du Var - France
The fence – Saint Laurent du Var – France

I saw the fence and just thought about Geoff Dyer’s book “The ongoing moment” that I am finishing at the moment. He makes a relationship between a 1916 shot of a fence by Paul Strand and a far later picture by Michael Ormerod echoing to it. And here I am in the next century, 100 years later indeed, in front of the fence… really I have no shame

Court Saleya - Nice
Court Saleya – Nice
Marché Saint François - Nice
Marché Saint François – Nice
Ferris Wheel - Nice
Ferris Wheel – Nice
Ferris Wheel - Nice
Ferris Wheel – Nice
Roundabout  at night  - Antibes - France
Roundabout at night – Antibes – France
Xmas Market scene - Cannes - France
Xmas Market scene – Cannes – France

And now for those who read carefully the start of the post. What of the film that was engaged in the camera?  This was Konika SR-V 100 color print film; manufacture in the late 80’s; so this is probably expired for 20 odd years. I rolled it back carefully, loaded it in the Nikon F3 and shot it at 50ISO and brought it to the lab… absolutely nothing was shown on the negs when I collected them. Too bad….

Back from inside the cardbox : the Canonet 28