5 frames with...

5 Frames on Skiddaw with an Olympus XA and T-MAX P3200 – By Chris Pattison

April 12, 2019

I’m lucky. Once in a while a good friend of mine invites me over to the English Lake District. I get to stay at his place with other friends, drink beer, summit mountains and take photographs with cameras given to me for free.

Twice in my life I have opened a parcel to see the shy, clam shell face of an Olympus XA looking at me. The first time was unboxing a brand new one on the occasion of my 18th birthday, bought for me by my brother; such a thoughtful and generous man, he had seen how much interest I had taken in his OM cameras and just knew I would love a camera of my own.

I used that XA for about 2 years before trading it in (but not ‘up’ arguably) for a Minolta SLR. I probably didn’t get as much for it as I could have. I was a bit naive I would say, and I came to regret the sale.

Fast forward around 30 years. I had done some paid work for another friend on a website. The work was done and I had the cash. One Saturday morning, postie arrived with a parcel of brown paper for me. I was puzzled. I wasn’t expecting anything. I unwrapped it, and there, once again, was an Olympus XA, which had belonged to my friend. He had decided to give it to me. It was quite a moment. I splashed a few tears on the thing as I inspected it.

It was with this camera that I took these 5 photos, on Skiddaw, the third highest peak in the Lake District. These mountains are small in comparison to many ranges overseas, but they are to be respected, particularly in winter. The XA goes to ISO 800, so that’s what I exposed the T-MAX P3200 at. It was developed in Adox FX-39II for 9 minutes. I am delighted with the results. I dropped some of the negatives when retrieving them from the shower, but got away with it. Luck again.

Leaving the summit of Skiddaw

Summit of Little Man

Summit of Lesser Man

The weather starts to turn

Time to get warmer gear on.

You can find more of my photographs on my Instagram
More content I have written for 35mmc here

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  • Reply
    Barry Reid
    April 12, 2019 at 10:26 am

    Nice, love the way the snow in the 1st image forms a visual pathway, for the lone figure, into the mystery of the clouds.

  • Reply
    April 12, 2019 at 10:41 am

    Great Photos. Love the atmosphere!
    Tmax 3200 at 800 iso pretty nice.
    Congratulations. One of best cameras for montain (Contax T, Rollei 35, …)

    • Reply
      Chris Pattison
      April 12, 2019 at 12:02 pm

      Hi Eric. Thanks. Yes, the XA is so wonderfully small and portable for the mountain environment.

  • Reply
    Michael Kay
    April 12, 2019 at 11:20 am

    Isn’t P3200 really an 800-1000 ISO film?
    Nice shots & story btw!

    • Reply
      Chris Pattison
      April 12, 2019 at 12:06 pm

      Thanks Michael. Yes, you are correct. P3200 is nominally an 800 ISO film, but specifically designed to be pushed, which is why there’s a ‘P’ before the 3200 apparently. I intend to push my next roll and see what happens.

      • Reply
        April 12, 2019 at 10:04 pm

        If you shoot it on the XA, you’ll end up with a very overdeveloped roll!

  • Reply
    April 12, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    Just goes to show that you don’t need good weather to get great images. Nice work!

  • Reply
    April 12, 2019 at 1:53 pm

    Beautiful shots and a lovely story

  • Reply
    David Hill
    April 12, 2019 at 2:23 pm

    Lake District? Looks like Rock District to my eye. Gorgeous terrain, lovely work—you’ve caught the barren character so well.

    • Reply
      Chris Pattison
      April 12, 2019 at 3:51 pm

      Thanks for that James. The bleak weather and terrain were made for monochrome.

  • Reply
    Paul Latheron
    April 12, 2019 at 2:49 pm

    Yes I to own a xa and occasionally use it. It’s so different from my Olympus digital camera.

  • Reply
    April 12, 2019 at 6:53 pm

    The mist and the film grain give real feeling and atmosphere to the images.

    • Reply
      Chris Pattison
      April 20, 2019 at 10:09 am

      Thanks Mark.

      • Reply
        Steve Brooke
        June 10, 2020 at 11:15 pm

        Lovely images. I have many fond XA memories too though none include little brown packages arriving by Post, unfortunately. 👍

        • Reply
          Chris Pattison
          June 11, 2020 at 9:09 am

          Hi Steve, and thanks. I have been fortunate, there’s no doubt.

  • Reply
    Bryan D. Costin
    April 13, 2019 at 11:02 pm

    Wow, these are all fantastic. Very atmospheric.

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