A Sunday Walk on The Beach

During the nearly three decades I lived in Arizona, it was common each Summer for the multitudes of desert dwellers to make a seasonal trek over to the beaches of Southern California to escape the heat. In San Diego, they even had a name for us--Zonies. Just like the "Snowbirds", those Winter visitors from Minnesota, Illinois and other snowbound states who stream into Arizona around Thanksgiving each year to flee the cold, the Zonies would flock to San Diego, Orange County beaches and Santa Barbara to frolic in California's near perfect Summer weather.

SoCal beaches are packed during the Summer, so it always amazes me when I can take a Sunday stroll on one of the beaches close to my home on the Sonoma Coast and hardly see a soul. Such was the case on a recent Sunday. The sun was out and the temperatures were warm (by Northern California standards). A perfect day for a Sunday walk on the beach.

 Pentax Spotmatic SPII with 50mm f/1.4 Super Multi-Coated Takumar

Pentax Spotmatic SPII with 50mm f/1.4 Super Multi-Coated Takumar

I'm still getting to know my Pentax Spotmatic and decided to load it with some Ultrafine 100 black and white film. I bought a stash of this film a few years ago and each time I have used it, the results have not been satisfying. The Ultrafine I bought came in 24 exposure rolls, which I thought would be perfect for a Sunday stroll. And with so many rolls of this stuff staring at me from the refrigerator shelf, it was time to start using it up.

As you can see, I had the beach pretty much to myself...

I've found that a bright day on the beach with sand, water and rocks can mess up some in-camera meters, but the old Spotmatic's TTL meter did a decent job I think.

Some spot metering on the rocks in this next shot would have helped me bring out the detail on the rock faces, but it's not bad as is...

I came across a couple sitting on the beach, letting their little dog play in the waves. I had a good time watching this pup dart in and out of the water, running for his life as the big-to-him waves came slapping back against the shore.

My results this time with Ultrafine were pleasing. There's nice tonality, sharpness and relatively little grain. Perhaps this film just finds it's sweet spot through these Super Takumar lenses. Maybe the light was just right. 

I grabbed one more shot of this guy, contemplating the sea before the sun set.

I've really been thinking a lot that I should find one black and white film and use it exclusively. Really learn how to expose it correctly. Start processing it at home and find a developer that really makes it sing. Just about the time I think that film is Tmax 100 or Acros or Tri-X, I shoot a roll of something else and it makes me pause. I've pretty much settled on Kodak's Portra 400, exposed at half the box speed, as my color film. The clear choice in black and white emulsions in still elusive.