What’s In My Bag – Portugal Edition

We were lucky enough to spend six days in October at a resort near Albufeira on the Algarve. I shot eight rolls of Ektar and about 150 digital shots and so the next couple of posts will be a few of those snaps taken in the Portuguese sunshine.
Before that, I thought I’d write a quick post about the gear I took along. My holiday packing looked like this (seen here laid out on a sunbed on the morning we came home – you know that time when you’ve left the room, packed all your stuff and you just hang around, waiting for the time to head to the airport?):


The bag is a Billingham Hadley Large. This was my first Billingham bag, bought using money that I’d had refunded from Barclaycard after they screwed up, and so effectively free! Like most photographers, I’d messed around with other bags, buying a new one each time I bought some new gear. Since I started using a Billingham though, I’ve never looked elsewhere.

Inside was my lovely Yashica-Mat 124g. It’s very tired, the meter doesn’t work, I have to take the lens to bits every so often to get the haze out and sometimes I have to wiggle the cocking lever to allow the shutter to fire, but I love both the TLR process and results.
I’ve used it for three years or so and for a while did try a Mamiya C330 for a while, thinking that it would give a similar user experience but would be an upgrade to better results, it was just too heavy. The Yashica is light and pretty robust (mine has taken quite a few knocks and yet those scars just add character to its metal body) and it seems to have less parts that get snagged in my bag.


Optimistically, I took all the film shown here, but only shot the Ektar. I like a bit of consistency in my sets of pictures from trips like this and so try to use a film that I think will suit the place I’m travelling to and then stick to it.
I took a Sekonic light meter but didn’t use it once as the sunny 16 rule was fully applied and the camera stayed set at 1/125 and f/16 for pretty much every frame. When it didn’t, I guessed if I’d lost a stop or two when it clouded over.

Also in the bag, a Leica M (typ262) with Zeiss Sonnar 50 and Summicron 35mm. This camera is still pretty new to me and I spent a bit of time on holiday learning its ways. It’ll perform very well with auto ISO and shutter speed, but as I had a more time than I usually might, I switched to full manual and practiced exposing to the right, or for the highlights.

Travel essentials also ably protected by the Billingham include a Klean Kanteen and @letsexploremag (I’d read the new issue cover to before we left and so was re-reading the previous issue), headphones, a Spudz cleaning cloth that doubles as a grey card and a cable release that was used for a few night shots. I use a Footprint leather strap on the Yashica and an excellent SailorStrap on the Leica.


It was a fun trip, but I still felt that I was carrying one camera too many and having to choose for each shot. As usual, where I shot something with both formats, I generally prefer the film results.
I’ll include a few of the digital shots in the coming posts and maybe you can make up your own mind…


    • With the sunny 16 rule being so simple and the latitude of most films being so great, I really think that people worry too much about metering. Perhaps for some long-expired slide film I’d have paid more attention, but somewhere like Portugal where the light is so good, there really is no need for a meter to further slow down the process…


  1. Nice post about Portugal. Reading it and having my coffee. I could have that Pastel de Nata now. 🙂

    I must say as a Portuguese person that when you say that in your trips you use film that will suit the place and bring on Velvia, Provia, Portra, Tri-X, Ektachrome and Ektar, that must mean you had Portugal in very high expectations. Hopefully they were all met. 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Angelo and thank you for reading.
      Portugal, with its great light and faded colours definitely felt like Ektar country.
      I took along the others because I was hoping to clear out some of the rolls that have been in my freezer for years. As I tend to use only a limited range of film stock, these ‘left-overs’ tend to sit unused for years. I’ve decided though that they’ll be given away at Christmas to my Emulsive Santa recipient…


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