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

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

A morning in Myanmar

During our trip to Chiang Rai one of the most exciting activities available is to walk into Burma, for a few hours only. Driving one hour from our resort in Chiang Saen (already one hour north of Chiang Rai), we arrive in the Mae Sai checkpoint where it is possible to cross the border and enter Myanmar at Tachileik.

This in the Shan State; Tachileik boasts 50000 inhabitants.

Crossing the border is allowed provided that you leave your passport at the border and pay a nominal fee. Overnight stay is not permitted and I read that guesthouses in the border areas of Myanmar are not allowed to host foreign tourists.

The area close to the checkpoint has a busy market where Thai and Chinese tourists like to shop, for cheap counterweight of handbags, watches and so on. We rode a tuck tuck outside of this area in a more rural side of the city with its food market.

Aside from the usual colorful street life, a nearby covered market, shows more food stalls.

But also some fashion shops; tailors, housewares,…

A few streets from there, a Buddhist monastery, hosts young and old monks who were having their lunch when we arrived. There we could witness the ceremonial of meals, who its first, who last who eats what is not eaten by the others.

The main attraction in Tachileik may well be the replica of the Shwedagon Pagoda. Situated on a small hill. There are a few tourist / devotee stalls outside and food stalls on the parking.

One of the food stalls around the pagoda.

I tried one of these sweet pancakes, delicious. Grilled for you on the spot on the ground of the parking.

Our guide was very knowledgeable or the area and spoke fluent Burmese which made the experience very enjoyable.

3 hours in Myanmar, a new Stamp on our passports, time to head back in Thailand.

All shots with Leica M262 and Summicron 28mmF2.

A morning in Myanmar

Chiang Saen – Thailand

So I finally shot the roll of Velvia 50 that has been sitting in the fridge for nearly two years. As around 20 SGD from the shop plus 13 for processing, this does not come cheap so I was waiting for an occasion to put it at good use. It made the trip to Chamonix last year but flew back to the fridge due to terrible weather in french alps.

I finally used it during the recent trip in Sunny Thailand. I used a Leica M6 classic and most of the pictures here are done with the Summicron 28mm. The film was shot at box speed.

Scanning the slides does probably not give them justice, I think that slides are better projected or printed in Cibachrome (who remembers this?) Here they look like nice digital shots, what they are at the end of the day. Scanned on the Epson v500, they look very close to what I can get out of the M262.

For people my age (50+), shooting travel on slides, reminds or the time where our dad or uncle keen on photography was bringing tons or slides from exotics places he visited and embark us for then boring evenings or projections (including oddly synched soundtracks)

Nowadays I the slides are shoot are mostly Rollei; they are more affordable. Both Rollei and Fuji have color casts one scanned, Fuji in the pink , Rollei on the yellow. On this set of late afternoon pictures in Chiang Saen, the cast is quite pleasant and I did not try to correct it too much.

The meter of the M6 (with new batteries) is doing a good job as only one slide of the roll was badly exposed. Counter-intuitively, slides who are notorious for being picky with exposure are better shot under exposed, the opposite to print film which likes to be a little over.

Chiang Sen, is situated in the most northern part f Thailand inside the Golden Triangle notorious for opium trafficking and more. Situated 1 hour from Chiang Rai and 5 hours drive from Chiang Mai, it is  nice city along the mekong where the 3 countries (Laos, Myanmar and Thailand) meet.

I read once that in the 21st Century, slides are the only serious reason to still shoot film. This may not be totally true, but it is probably the type of film which competes the best with commonplace high end digital image.

Chiang Saen – Thailand

Warorot Market in Color

Toy stall

Same day different camera in Warorot Market in Chiang Mai, the Leica M262 and the Summilux 50mmv2.

Outside the market the watch repair stall

I do not have a lot to say since the last post of film pictures on the same subject, I think I still prefer the film shots. But the flexibility of the M262 in term of ISO is much appreciated. Can go high and low on demand, it looks so obvious, but not really for a film shooter.

It is also here that I realized the Summilux is seriously back focusing and that maybe I

should get a proper 50mm.

 

This family was rolling some kind of cigarettes.

Serious negotiation (above) about dry goods, looks like everybody was happy in the end.

The coffee shop around the corner, is quite busy and like all the upper section of the market has decent light.

This man is manually making some religious artifacts used as offerings in temples. Below one of the flower stalls doing offerings as well. There are many flower shops  there, some are doing offerings some looks to be casual flower shops.

Warorot Market in Color

Warorot Market – Chiang Mai – Thailand

Last holidays trip was in Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. This is my second trip there and I love place. This is the second time I travel with a Leica kit both Film and Digital. I have two bodies a M6 and a M262, a 28 Summicron, a 35 Summaron F2.8, an old Summilux 50 v2 and an Elmarit 90F2.8.

2 Bodies, 4 lens that sounds a lot and actually I packed the big Crumpler 8 Mio dollar bag. It is a bit over-sized, but then I have room for papers, wallet, reading and sun glasses and on the flight I can pack in a book, you can probably pack a tablet as well. I am proud I resisted the urge to buy a new bag.

I shot 4 rolls of film and a few hundred (but less than 1K) digital frames; this first set was done inside the Warorot market with the M6 and mainly the Summilux; film is the Kodak TMY 400.

I like the TMY400 for its low grain and slightly lower contrast that the Tri-x. I think all in all these shots turn out to be quite pleasant.

The Summilux is suffering from back focusing on the M262 but that does not show at all on the film shots.

People in the market are quite friendly, actually it is quite a touristic spot so the view of a tourist with a camera is not news.

I try to follow the advice of pro photographer Bobby Lee : let people know you are here, that you want to take a picture of them or their activity, but once they agree (or ignore you) don’t just snap and run away; as they don’t bother the least you can do is hang around until you have a good shot.

All scanned with the now antique Epson v500

 

Warorot Market – Chiang Mai – Thailand

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House is surely one of the most iconic buildings in par with the Eiffel Tower. For our first trip in Australia I select Sydney as our first landing point not to miss it.

If you stay close to Circular Quay the building is always in view.

I am not going to copy wikipedia but quickly the building was the work of danish architect  Jørn Utzon and was opened in 1973.

If you walk around the Rocks market during the week end you can see some vintage shots of the construction which are quite interesting.

We took the tour to visit the building which I highly recommend, but be warned, I find it pricey at 34$ per adult.

On top of having a guide that tells you the story of the building and describe its architecture, you can see some of the show rooms and inner pieces or architecture.

Definitely one of the nicest views is from Harbor Bridge.

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All shots with the Leica M262 and M6 for the Black and White picture.

Sydney Opera House