The problem with walking toward something interesting that can be seen from a long distance is that I keep rephotographing it. Here's the closest that I got to the power plant as I walked to the Pickering train station. It's frame six on my third roll of the day, lasting thirteen seconds at f/11. That's easy and everything is simple.

But wait, there's more! Delta 100 has a reciprocity factor of 1.26, which is the same as FP4 but quicker than the 1.33 of Pan F – which means it was probably metered as an eight second exposure. And that's with an ND filter factored in, so depending on which one I was using the bare-lens exposure should have been either 1/125s with a ten-stop or 1/8s with the six-stop installed.

The sunny-16 rule would suggest a shutter speed of 1/100 at f/16 on a day with light bright enough to throw hard shadows. Slight overcast (soft shadows) would make 1/125 at f/11 be about right. But the weather was moderately overcast at the end of the day with the sun low behind me, and the negative was fairly dense making for a bright scan, so this was probably recorded with the 6-stop and ND grad filter in place.

Isn't film photography fun? But on the other hand a three-stop overexposure is no big deal, so it does have that going for it.

Last water photos, I promise.

These are the second and third frame from the Delta roll, and it's the same cloud that I repeatedly photographed on Portra, as well. It's neat how different films record the same scene, right?

The first photo of the set is a two minute exposure at f/11, so that's definitely using the ten-stop filter. I actually remember this, even a week later – the calculated time worked out to 90 seconds, so I bracketed at one and two minutes. (The F6 can do timed exposures down to thirty minutes in manual mode.) They results are pretty close, even with Delta's lower latitude, but I wanted them both because math is hard.

The second photo of this set is without any filter at all – 1/20 second and f/11, as you can see from the included data imprint. It's a wide crop straight out of the scanner.


I think the map said that it was about six kilometres from Rouge Hill to Pickering GO stations, but my activity tracker tells me I walked over twelve. For a photographer that's probably about right. Either way, I was tired, and the last hour of the walk was distinctly less fun than the first four. It was away from the lake, my spiritual homeland, and ended up along one of those collector-arterials that fed the highway on ramp. It was past my dinner time and home was beckoning.

So I did what anyone would do: I stopped at an offramp doughnut store and had a snack, sat for ten minutes, washed some of the grit off, and went back out to take more photos. After all, how often do I get to stand on a bridge over a twelve-lane highway in the dark with a tripod?

Remembering that the trains run every half hour gave me a chance to photograph one heading out of the station from the overpass, muck about on the bridge and in the parking lot, and still be waiting on the platform in time for the next ride home.

In truth I have little to no experience with night film photography. I've shot some Ortho 80 and HP5 at 1600, and liked the results from each, but I've never worked with Delta 100 like this. I had no idea if they'd come out, and a few of them didn't look the way I had hoped. But film is robust, and most of it worked. I just had to keep an eye on sub-second shutter speeds and remember to calculate the added time – shutter speed to the power of 1.26 for D100 – when needed.

So what did I learn from my three-roll six-hour outing at the edge of Toronto?

Naturally I learned a lot about the different films. I like the look of Pan F 50 a bit better than Delta 100, but Delta is less temperamental and easier to shoot. These two are in solid contention to become my third-favourite low-speed film, but which one wins will be situational. FP4 will probably be my second-place choice; my favourite would still need to wait a couple of days.

It also reminded me that occasionally I like colour, but also that the ease of scanning monochrome C41 film is a welcome relief. I'll give XP2 another go eventually, but I can also shoot colour film with the plan to convert it. I've tried this on some of my sub-acceptable Portra photos and they're not bad like that.

I also learned a lot about working with the F6 and ND filters. Mostly it's not great – the hassle of an SLR viewing system and limited focus points are a shock after being used to mirrorless cameras that can see through twenty stops of darkening and put an AF point anywhere in the frame.

I was reminded, again, that weight is a function of distance. This was a recent lesson from my walk along the Spit on the weekend before, which is why I skipped the hassle of an extra lens or second camera this time.

After my time on the Spit I decided to get a stronger and more conventional ballhead for my Jobu Algonquin, so I picked the Sirui K40ii as a suitably-oversized solution. Like the tripod, it's massive and more than I need, but that's perfect. Even though the camera and lens are way under their capacity I tend to do things like taking two-minute long exposures from sandy beaches. (One of the tripod legs was in the wave zone, so I heaped sand around it to stop it from being undermined.) This does make it heavier than the old head, though.

That old head – the Arca Swiss P0 – has found a home on an aluminum ground-level tripod that's easy to clean and absurdly strong. Despite being only 18" high it only saves a half-kilogram from the Algonquin's weight, but their respective heads now increases the difference between them. So the little tripod gives a slightly lighter and much more packable support system.

My kit now includes a couple of ø58 screw-in ND filters for the 50/1.8 lens. They're not as good as the Nisi set that I've used here, but they keep the camera smaller and easier to pack away as well. The city-sized tripod and smaller lens reduces my camera weight by two kilograms.

All of this is important since I'm staying local these days. These photos were taken a week ago, and a lot has changed since then. While the entire trip included ample interpersonal distance and minimal contact I won't be taking transit again for a while. So touching nothing on walks around the empty city centre, and then heading back to shelter, is the new normal.

I've changed how I use the camera as well. This walk is what finally broke me and made me switch to back-button focusing, which is what the F6 is designed for. It's easier than remembering to switch between SAF and MF when focusing and recomposing on a tripod, or when taking multiple photos from the same position. And even when I'm not on a tripod, which is about half the time, using CAF and back-button control seems just as accurate as SAF on the shutter button.

So far I haven't forgotten to focus before taking a photo, but give it time. It's only been a week with the new system.