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Portraits by the Umi ft. Laura Langley

Updated: May 21

Please note that all photographs displayed in this post have been edited and colour-graded in Adobe Lightroom for optimal presentation.


Umi, means sea in Japanese (うみ, 海).


Soon after the beginning of 2024, I embarked on a seaside photoshoot with a summery theme. But this time, I aimed for a unique twist. I yearned to capture the essence of Japanese photography, characterised by its overexposure, a hint of greenish hue, and basking in the sunlight. For those unfamiliar with this style, it's an art form I deeply admire. One of my idols in the realm of Japanese portrait photography is Hideaki Hamada. He has an affection for using the Pentax 67II to immortalise the precious moments of his children's growth, resulting in heartwarming and endearing imagery.


Considering my distinctive creative direction this time, I packed a selection of Japanese film stocks alongside my trusty Kodak favourites. Here's a rundown of my gear for this shoot:


  • Pentax 67 equipped with a 165mm f2.8 lens

  • Nikon F3 HP accompanied by AI 35mm f2.8, AI'd 85mm f1.8, and AI 105mm f2.5 lenses

  • 35mm Kodak Vision 3 50D, having used half a roll during a prior road trip just before this photoshoot

  • 35mm Fujifilm Fujicolor 100

  • 120 Fujifilm Pro 400H with an unknown expiry date, shot at ISO 200

  • 120 Kodak Gold 200


This eclectic mix of gear and film stocks allowed me to experiment and craft the desired Japanese photographic style.


This time, I'm shooting with Laura, a talented and passionate model. Although this is only the second time shooting with her, we already share a special bond when it comes to posing and the overall shoot experience.


I chose Williamstown Beach as the location, as it exudes a Japanese vibe for me. Every time I visit, it feels like I'm in a random coastal city in Japan. The promenade is my favourite spot to shoot, and of course, the sunlight plays a significant role in setting the right mood.


We arrived at the rendezvous point around midday, only to find the beach bustling with kids and their parents. Fortunately, shooting on the beach was not my top priority. The sunlight was incredibly intense, and I started regretting not applying sunscreen beforehand. (Laura and her family were very kind and offered me some, but I declined, feeling it was my responsibility to come prepared. Lesson learned!)


Let's begin with some photos I captured using my Pentax 67 loaded with Fujifilm Pro 400H.


Pentax 67, 165mm f2.8, Fujifilm Pro 400H [Expiry Date Unknown, shot at ISO 200]


I must say, it was a significant disappointment when Fujifilm discontinued this film stock in 2021. The film itself is a true embodiment of the Japanese photography style.


Japanese film stocks often exhibit a distinctive green and purple colour rendition, which surprisingly complements human skin tones. The cool, rather than warm, sky tones add a unique touch. My Pro 400H, bought in mid-2021 with an expiration date in early 2022 (I think), led me to overexpose by one stop. This compensates for the reduced sensitivity of film that's less than ten years past its expiry. A subtle hint of light leaks in one of the photos adds a touch of imperfection, enhancing the overall character. I continue to use the 165mm f2.8 lens, known for its high-quality, sharp image delivery.


Nikon F3 HP, 85mm f1.8, 105mm f2.5, Fujifilm Fujicolor 100


Meanwhile, I loaded a roll of Fujifilm Fujicolor 100 into my Nikon F3 HP. This film stock used to be readily available a few years ago but has become increasingly scarce. I believe this is one of my last rolls of this particular stock. I observed that this stock exhibits a slightly stronger yellow hue compared to Pro 400H. I'm particularly fond of the extreme close-up shot, which captures Laura's crystal-clear lagoon eyes.


Nikon F3 HP, 35mm f2.8, Fujifilm Fujicolor 100


Now, this photo serves as a testament to my admiration for Williamstown. The sky, the promenade, the lush green fields, the light poles... it exudes a distinctly Japanese style.


Before we move on to the next part, I'd like to share some photos I captured on the Kodak Vision 3 50D film roll. This roll had been loaded during my road trip before the photoshoot, so it's a bit of a leftover treat.


Nikon F3 HP, 85mm f1.8, 105mm f2.5, Kodak Vision 3 50D


This particular film stock was originally designed for shooting movies, and it retains the authentic movie colour palette since it hasn't had the remjet layer removed. Since it was developed using the ECN-2 process, I specifically requested a border scan, which includes the film edge in the scanning process. I must give credit to Hillvale Photo for accommodating this request!


Now you can compare two sets of photos, comparing their colour rendition with USA-made Kodak and Japan-made Fujifilm. The tonal difference is quite noticeable. Fujifilm typically exhibits a cooler colour rendition, while Kodak leans towards warmth. I wouldn't say one is superior to the other, but rather, they excel in different circumstances. That being said, the daylight-balanced Vision 3 50D does seem to carry a subtle summer hint, perhaps with a touch of yellowish tones.


As we transitioned to the breakwater beside Williamstown Beach, the scene shifted. Sunbathers lounged on the rocks, absorbed in books or simply soaking in the rays. It was a tranquil sight against the backdrop of the ocean's gentle waves. Eager to capture the coastal ambience, I swiftly loaded a roll of Kodak Gold 200 into my Pentax 67, seamlessly transitioning from one film stock to another.


Pentax 67, 165mm f2.8, Kodak Gold 200


Laura deserves commendation for her exceptional professionalism during the shoot. Despite the scorching heat of the rocks, she gracefully positioned herself for the perfect shot, demonstrating remarkable dedication and poise. Her ability to adapt to challenging conditions contributed significantly to the success of our session. Kudos to Laura for her unwavering professionalism and commitment to the art of photography.


Nikon F3 HP, 85mm f1.8, 105mm f2.5, Fujifilm Fujicolor 100


Pentax 67, 165mm f2.8, Kodak Gold 200


We also captured shots of Laura emerging into the sea, seamlessly blending with the lagoon, creating a captivating illusion. Personally, I'm particularly fond of these shots as they allow me to experiment with different angles and perspectives. Once more, the distinct characteristics of each film stock are evident, adding depth and uniqueness to the images.


Nikon F3 HP, 35mm f2.8, 85mm f1.8, Fujifilm Fujicolor 100


Pentax 67, 165mm f2.8, Kodak Gold 200


I also took some shots of Laura in her swimsuit, as per her request. I couldn't help but admire Laura's ability to sit on the heated rock in a swimsuit. If it were me, I'd be cooked to medium rare in no time.


The shoot lasted for roughly 1.5 hours, and we called it a day. Kudos to Laura for her professionalism, and a big thanks to her family for their support. As expected, I ended up with severe sunburn after the shoot.


Let's conclude this article with a headshot capturing Laura's purest and most genuine smile.


Pentax 67, 165mm f2.8, Kodak Gold 200


Be sure to check out Laura's portfolio: https://www.instagram.com/laura_langley_/

 

Book your model portraiture shooting session at https://www.thomasc137photo.com/portraitureshooting

 

What is Roll Trip?


Join me as I document the intricate tales behind multiple rolls of film, capturing the essence of varied photographic escapades. This series is a collection of detailed narratives, revealing the behind-the-scenes nuances of diverse shooting journeys. From the hum of city streets to the quiet of natural landscapes, discover the stories, techniques, and spontaneous moments that each film roll encapsulates.

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