Tried and Tested Thursday: My Birthday on Top of The Mountain – Olympus XA2 with Kodak Ektar (Expired)

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting an expired Kodak Ektar on an Olympus XA2.

Today is my birthday and to celebrate, this post is a Throwback of my trip to Mount Rigi in Switzerland. Last year, I posted about my experience going to the mountain, providing photos from my phone. Today’s entry will be photos from my film camera.

The Hills (and a lot more) of Mount Rigi as I head down

Last September I went on a 12 day solo trip to Switzerland, starting from Zurich through to Lucerne and ending in Geneva. I did spend the day in Lugano, sadly it wasn’t enough time to explore the city.

I did bring my Olympus XA2, which I had only for a few weeks at this point. Also I brought along ten rolls of Kodak Ektar – all expired in August 2019, originally purchased a year before from AllPhotosLtd. This gave me the chance to test drive the camera properly while away, since I was confident using it and knowing my way around the settings and functions.

For my day trip I only took one roll with me, I did manage to shoot most of the exposures during my time high up in the mountain. Although, I did take a quick stop at Weggis to take a few photos of Lake Lucerne before going back to take the next boat enroute to Vitznau.

From Vitznau, I took the funicular all the way up to Rigi Kulm. I was even using my camera for my journey up, capturing the views despite feeling so anxious of panicking. Thankfully the ride wasn’t too long and I arrived at the highest peak before I knew it!

Of course, being at the top had its advantages from a photographer’s perspective; endless mountains that go for miles, plus surrounding scenery. The Olympus XA2 had the landscape mode that enabled it to shoot wide angle shots, which was a huge plus as well as on how lightweight the camera was to carry.

You’re never short of a lake in Switzerland; on the left hand side there is Lake Zug

The film itself was Kodak Ektar that had expired a year prior. The quality from expired colour film can differ depending on what condition it has been kept in, in some cases there could be little or no colour shift.

The Lookouters: Ektar works its colourful magic here

After processing the expired Ektar, I was happy with the results. In fact, I was satisfied with them overall. Despite the film’s expiry, the colour quality was still the same as if it was in date – the saturation was there, as well as the bold and smooth tones. Both the greens and blues stood out the most in every shot.

A Picture Perfect Postcard from Rigi
Not only Funiculars have Fun: There are trains that go up and down the Rigi as well

The scans from Mount Rigi are certainly worth printing out in the near future. They have so much potential, as much as I have repeated my desire to go back to the darkroom and start printing in colour again.

XXXXX’s as Fences (or barriers): Over on the other side is Lake Zug

I believe these shots can go above and beyond, perhaps produce a zine or a photobook.

I am so pleased with the overall outcome. Probably my best work I had scanned of 2020. There is no need for any improvements or further tweaks or changes, they are simply the chef’s kiss over and over!!

The Little House on Mount Rigi: One of the most liked uploads on my Instagram. At the time of writing, there are currently over 130 likes

Take care and stay safe

Tried and Tested Thursday: Kino In The City – Canon EOS 500n (Orange Filter) with Lomography Berlin Kino

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting a roll of Lomography Berlin Kino on the Canon EOS 500n with the 50mm 1.8 lens and orange filter.

In late March of this year, I went walking through London’s Square Mile, making my way round to Brick Lane and then ending in Hackney. Cameras on tow, for the occasion on the rare off days where I can relax and take my time at my own pace.

Suits You Fine… I had to start off the entry with this photo. It’s among my personal favourite’s

My day out was photographing the tall buildings, the new and the ones that are slowly developing. It had been a while since I made my last appearance in the City, and it wasn’t a surprise to see some shops had closed down during the pandemic. It was very unusual to see a completely deserted Leadenhall Market, whereas pre-Covid it would have been a struggle to barge through the suit-clad workers, who were outside the pubs and bars during lunch breaks.

Capturing London’s quiet mood was a must, especially in black and white. Picking up my Canon EOS 500n, then attaching my favourite 50mm lens with the sweet large aperture of 1.8 was a match made in street photography heaven.

The choice of film was the Lomography Berlin Kino. It was my second attempt shooting after the first round came out disastrous, mostly due to it being shot on a Point and Shoot. Those types of films don’t have a DX code, hence why it works better on manual setting cameras where the speed can be changed.

Berlin Kino was inspired by the New German Cinema scene during the 1960s, with the film being extracted and produced from the original cine stock. The results bring a softness and timeless quality, ranging from the grain to tones. Perhaps the same could be said to the other Lomo films that are part of the Kino collection, such as the Potsdam and the newly released Fantome and Babylon, which were all featured as Film Friday’s.

The overall outcome came out punchy, yet very sharp in tones and shadows, mostly from the buildings and shop window displays. The Berlin Kino works well for both street and architectural photography, similar to Kodak Trix or Ilford HP5. The film was shot at the box speed of 400.

The prime lens and orange filter also did wonders, contributing to the result’s quality. Normally I wouldn’t consider using a prime lens for architectural shots, however I achieved what I had wanted; the close up and fine detail from each shot, even with the window fragmented reflections, which are the strongest.

My inspiration and influence is from Eugene Atget, a French photographer of the 20th Century. He had often documented the streets of Paris with his large format camera, capturing Parisian architecture and design, shop fronts, people or anything interesting that caught his eye. I highly recommend checking out his work if you haven’t. I would suggest reading this post ‘The empty streets (and parks)’, where it summarises Atget’s work and career, on the V&A website.

I slowly ended the last few exposures at the Conservatory Archives, a plant shop located in Lower Clapton, Hackney. I briefly went around the shop, carefully taking shots of the surrounding plants making sure I captured every detail and pattern. The prime lens’ auto mode no longer works properly, so I have to try my best with manual focusing.

The Sink-ful of Plants and the table too: Shot at the Conservatory Archives in Lower Clapton, Hackney

Regardless of that minor problem, I am very pleased with the outcome. I would definitely use Berlin Kino again for street photography, or perhaps venture out in another genre or style.

Take care and stay safe

Monday Monthly Mentions – September 2021: Second Dose, Turning Thirty, Famous Photographers, Historical Images of Seasides and Loving Languages

Wanted to add a picture to accompany today’s post. It’s a piece titled ‘Still Life of Flowers’ (1614) painted by Ambrosius Bosschaert during the Dutch Golden Age (Image source: Wikipedia)
  • I had my second dose a couple weeks ago. I am all set and finally protected!! The good news is that I have overcome my long term fear of needles. At least that’s over and done with for now…
  • I faced another challenge: having my tooth extracted. This particular tooth had cavities and was cracked, so I made the decision to have it taken out after going back and forth to the dentist. The alternative was to have it filled in, but it would be very pricey.
  • Also I will be 30 next week. Yes, I will be hitting an important milestone in my life. To think that I was 19 over a decade ago, about to start university. For my birthday, I will be going away to celebrate in style. Posts are going to be in a queue this week and the next while away.
  • The Canal Zones: Britain’s Canals and Waterways, including the famous one going through Stratford’s Olympic Park behind Westfield Shopping Centre, which is semi-local to me by a bus ride.
  • Looks like the famous Hackney graffiti pub (aka the former Lord Napier Star) is ‘back’, but for how long?
  • Oh to be at the seaside… Feeling nostalgic? There’s a slideshow with historical snaps of various beaches across the world, from the US, to the UK, France and Italy. Most very well known, including Coney Island in New York and Blackpool in England.
  • A Romantic Language Comparison: French vs. Italian and their similarities. While they are part of the Romance language family, I often consider Italian being closer to Spanish than it is to French. The pronunciation is somewhat similar to each other, I do agree with the article published. I wanted to learn Italian initially, however as suggested by a native speaker it was better to do Spanish first and then eventually learn Italian afterwards as it would become easier for me to understand. I can confirm that has been the case after all these years!!

Take care and stay safe

Film Friday: Kodak Colorplus in 35mm

For today’s Film Friday, I selected Kodak Colorplus in 35mm.

Colorplus is the cheapest colour film in the market ever, as well as Kodak’s cheapest best sellers. Despite the price hikes in both 2020 and 2021, the Colorplus is still the consumer brand film that is very popular internationally.

Fantastic Four: Still not used at the time of writing, but will be very soon…

Sadly film production has slowed down in recent times, even during the pandemic. I was very lucky to have bought four rolls of Colorplus from Parallax over a year ago, most likely before Covid 19. I think I did buy them at £3.95 per roll, before the price bumped up again.

I have been buying Colorplus for a few years, usually buying ten or more rolls at a time since it was widely available and great value for money. Reasonably priced for both the beginner and professional film photographers.

The colour quality is superb with the contrasts and tones not being too saturated, yet it still provides bright and bold colours. The Colorplus film has fine grain, which is very subtle and natural all thanks to its ISO of 200 – suitable for daylight shooting. Surprisingly enough, it’s good also for night photography, as long as there are sources of light around (i.e street lights or artificial lighting). I did try this before and the results came out warmer and soft with late evening shots I had taken in Seville. I recommend trying this out at its original box speed rather than pushing.

The availability of Colorplus is quite limited with them being out of stock on Parallax and Analogue Wonderland, to name a few also others. Selling sites such as eBay currently sell them listed almost twice the price for a single roll of 36 exposures. 24 exposure rolls tend to be cheaper, although they are a little hard to come by.

Early Evening Sunset in Nice: Shot on Canon EOS 500n

Hopefully, we aren’t going to wait any longer for Colorplus to be restocked in the near future…

Take care and stay safe

Tried and Tested Thursday: Kent Coast in Colour – Olympus XA2 with Kodak Portra 160

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting Kodak Portra 160 on an Olympus XA2.

From last week’s post and as slightly promised, I wanted to discuss trying out the Kodak Portra 160 on my camera. Not usually a film I would rave on about, however the outcome was a huge improvement from the Holga shots.

Far away in Folkestone: The famous harbour. Can you spot a floating pink house?

As per usual, shooting with a low speed during a bright day gels well hand in hand, in particular on a lovely summer’s day in June. It was quite nice in Whitstable on my trip there, although the weather was a little gloomy when I went to Folkestone two weeks later.

The camera used was an Olympus XA2; another lightweight and simple to use camera, which is so easy to carry around. No fussing with various settings, just set the ISO/speed and select a mode, either landscape, portrait or close up. The majority of the seaside shots were in landscape mode, since both framing and composition was an important factor in my photography.

The outcome after processing and home scanning was better than the Holga shots. Yes the Holga snaps from last week were in black and white, but they were a bit of a disappointment on how they came out due to the mysterious white grain on every single frame.

The Portra 160 hardly showed any grain, just brilliant colour coverage – not too saturated or vivid, perfect for what I had in mind. My idea and vision was to create British seaside style postcard shots, almost a similar homage to John Hinde’s work. Some shots did have the postcard-esque feel from both Whitstable and Folkestone.

To add more about the colour from the film, the Portra was also washed out in some shots plus the quality wasn’t always consistent. There are ways of making further alterations with the negatives on editing software such as Photoshop, which I chose not to. All scans come as they are from the scanner, no editing apart from adding the faint watermark of my name via Photoshop. I like to keep things the way they are in my film photographic work.

I’m much happier with the outcome from the Portra shots, I do believe they have further potential as darkroom prints rather than them being just scans. It will be challenging to get the colour and contrast right through the colour enlarger, but it would be great to practice in the darkroom again after a long time.

I don’t think any improvements are needed, I think I am satisfied overall with almost every single shot. Making changes would be impossible at this point.

Take care and stay safe

Film Friday: Lomography Color Negative 100 in 120

For today’s (delayed) Film Friday, I selected Lomography Color Negative 100 in 120.

I purchased a pack of Lomo CN 100 a couple months ago from Analogue Wonderland. It certainly hasn’t been the first time nor the last shooting with this film. I have been buying this film for the a few years, also it was one of the first colour medium format films I had ever bought.

Originally purchased around May of this year. Currently have two rolls left as of now

I describe the Lomo CN 100 as ‘the film for the Holga’, which is the absolute truth, having shot with it time and time again – results varying from shaky to vivid and bold colours.

I have used the Lomo on other medium formats too, from an Agfa Isolette folding camera to a Yashica TLR. The colour and quality varies from camera to camera, as some have manual settings and some don’t have the simplest of functions.

The Lomography often comes in a pack of three in both 35mm and 120, however you can buy a single roll from some retailers. I bought the Lomo CN 100 in a pack of three as I have always done. It’s probably one of cheapest colour medium format films in the market, also worth the money and great value – certainly not going to break the bank.

I would certainly highly recommend buying this Lomography film for beginners of 120 format. Perfect for daylight and sunny shooting, especially if using a Holga either taped or untapped, or even for pinhole photography.

Take care and stay safe

Tried and Tested Thursday: Down The Kent Coast – Holga 120 with Ilford FP4

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting Ilford FP4 on my Holga 120.

I took two separate trips to Kent in a space of two weeks in June, heading Whitstable first and then Folkestone. It was the first time going to both places, also my first time in over a decade since I had visited Kent.

For the two lovely days out, I brought along two of my film cameras with me – the Holga 120 and Olympus XA2. Today’s post I will be focusing on the Holga, then Olympus XA2 possibly the following week.

The choice of film for the Holga was Ilford FP4, an absolute classic all thanks to its low speed and fine grain.

The Holga was taped with black electrical tape, only to prevent unwanted light leaks or overexposures since the lighting conditions were very bright, in Whitstable especially. I wanted to take something a little simple for my trip, so the Holga was useful. Plus I did want to take a few black and white shots of mainly the beach.

The outcome from the Ilford FP4 was interesting… for some unknown reason there were white grains on both Kent negatives. The film was in date when purchased and eventually used for shooting, however it was strange to see this type of grain since the film has a low speed. It could possibly be a bad batch during the film production, certainly not from processing. Either way, the image quality wasn’t the best, had there not been any mysterious grain, the quality would have improved. Regardless, the contrasts and tones were the only saving grace.

I’m quite unsure if printing from the negatives in the darkroom would impact the printing quality. Most likely the same results as the scans with the grains.

The obvious room for improvement would be if I had the chance to reshoot the two trips again on a couple FP4 rolls or maybe a similar low speed film like Kodak Tmax 100 or the new Fuji Acros.

Back to Back? Returning to Whitstable wouldn’t be ruled out, maybe this time next year?

Those two FP4 rolls had so much potential after processing, sadly the unexpected outcome let it down overall…

Take care and stay safe

Tried and Tested Thursday: Image Pro Perfect – Canon Z135 with Kodak Pro Image (Expired and Pushed to 200)

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting Kodak Pro Image (expired and pushed) on Canon Z135.

Pushing film has become a favourite of mine recently, since it has a few advantages. From a post not too long ago, I had pushed a roll of Ilford FP4 a stop higher on my Olympus XA2, on my trip to Butlins/Bognor Regis, plus Arundel. Today’s post is from the same trip, but this time in colour on another film and camera. I had brought along four rolls of Kodak Pro Image, which all expired in May 2020, which were all shot exactly a year later (and originally bought around a year prior in 2019). The film was pushed from its 100 speed to 200 when developing.

Shingles Scene: Bognor Regis is full of rocks, and I don’t mean the candy rock

Kodak Pro Image was a Film Friday earlier this year, expired from January 2020. Unlike the Pro Image used while in Butlins, I had purchased the Film Friday five pack film when it already expired.

The camera used was a Canon Z135, a simple Point and Shoot. I didn’t use it for a while, and I wanted to bring a lightweight camera to carry around, especially for long walks. Great for simple functions and settings, as well as ideal for quick snaps. Sadly, the Canon Z135 doesn’t have a setting to change the ISO, hence why the film had to be pushed when processed.

Once all four rolls were developed, I scanned them on my Epson V550 at home. I was anticipating the results. So my thoughts?

Interesting, very interesting. The quality from the scans weren’t always consistent with the outcome varying, in particular the colour shift.

I think that I played it safe to have all four Pro Image rolls pushed to 200. 400 would have been better, probably for low light shots or night photography.

The beach shots stood out for me the most, although after a time, it did get repetitive shooting them everyday. It was fascinating to see the colour quality differ in each shot from the beach – the blues and beiges weren’t consistent; colours shifting in various contrasts and tones. These are negative scans of course, however the quality might be different when printed in the darkroom, all thanks to manual settings and controls.

All Seagulls in a Row in Bognor Regis

The local funfair shots did surprise me the most. As someone who wouldn’t dare to shoot with a film below 400 ISO for night photography (100 speed for the odd occasion), I was impressed with the outcome, mainly the LED lights from the rides. No flash was used as it was late evening, there were surrounding light sources at the funfair, mostly artificial lighting. Fortunately, there was hardly any camera shake when taking the photos.

I have been shooting with expired film for a few years, at times you don’t know what to expect after processing. It can either come out good or bad; in the rare instance, almost blank negatives which have happened to me before… In this case, the expired Pro Image came out better than expected and I am satisfied overall.

I have two Pro Image rolls left, both expired from last year in January. I do hope to shoot them at some point in the near future, maybe on another Point and Shoot like the Canon Z135.

Take care and stay safe

Film Friday: Kodak Ektar in 35mm (Expired)

For today’s Film Friday, I selected Kodak Ektar in 35mm, which expired in August last year.

I had bought these before expiry from Parallax, possibly back in 2019. I noticed recently colour film has a shorter expiry date in comparison to black and white film.

Fantastic Four Films: Ektar is Excellent

I let the four remaining Ektar rolls sit comfortably in the fridge for over a year, slowly approaching its expiry date. I did have a few plans on using them this month for a summer series, but sadly the idea fell through for now due to heavy work commitments.

Shooting with out of date can be exciting, great for experimenting around, especially colour film with the unexpected colour shift and unpredictable results.

I have shot with many expired films throughout the years, some outcomes came out better than I had anticipated, and some with the colour being completely washed out.

All in Dates: Expired in August last year

Last September, I had ten rolls of Ektar that I took with me to Switzerland, all shot on my Olympus XA2. Originally bought them from AllPhotos Ltd, via eBay, at discounted from the old price.

The results from those rolls were amazing; the colour was saturated, bold and smooth. Mind you the films had been in a drawer for a year after purchase. I had initially thought keeping film in certain conditions would have an effect after developing.

I was so satisfied with the scans (I’m yet to print them from the negatives) that I often admire them, looking at the colour quality – Ektar’s strongest selling point, expired or in date. Possibly the best film outcomes of 2020.

I’m sure the four Ektar rolls in the fridge would produce the same results as the Switzerland ones. I’m confident they will, maybe I could keep them in a little longer until next year?

Take care and stay safe

Monday Monthly Mentions – August 2021: Essex Coast, Fuji Discontinues Film, Photography Ideas and Being Black in Suffolk

  • It has been a while since my last post, my apologies. I was meant to post a Film Friday a couple weeks back, however after writing longhand in my journal, I decided not to go ahead with it. I took a step back from my blog, as I wanted to take a break from writing for a bit.
  • I was on holiday from work last week, after working non-stop for the last few weeks. I had some me-time by relaxing and going to the gym, as well as joining a badminton group. I wanted to keep fit during my time off by focusing on my health and wellbeing.
Inspecting the Negatives, in a Postive Way: James Barnor looking through his developed 120 film in the 1960s
  • I went to see James Barnor: Accra/London – a Retrospective exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery over a week ago. It was worth the visit, since it’s free with a pre-booking time slot – and yes, I will definitely visit again and again until the show ends. So many beautifully printed and framed photographs throughout Barnor’s career during his time in both Ghana and England during the 1960s; many of them stand out, especially the portrait sessions at his studio in Ghana. I have to repeat myself here by saying it’s certainly worth the visit. Also, someone who works at the Serpentine recognised me instantly, as we once collaborated on an art group project years ago. What a small world!!
  • The Only Way is the Essex Coast: I visited Harwich, Frinton-on-Sea and Walton-on-the-Naze all in one week. I went to Harwich last Thursday, which was a lovely day. It’s a small port town in the Tendring district, around twenty miles away from Colchester. There was a very quiet beach nearby in Dovercourt, nice for long strolls and away from the hustle and bustle. A little over forty-eight hours later, I went to Frinton-on-Sea, then eventually walked my way to Walton-on-the-Naze, a mile and a bit away. So many beach huts, most of them very colourful and vibrant. It did rain a bit later in the afternoon, thankfully it wasn’t too heavy.
The Bold, Beautiful and Bright Beach Huts of Walton-on-the-Naze
  • Fuji Velvia 100 has been forced to discontinue in the US by the EPA, better known as the Environmental Protection Agency, due to the film containing a banned chemical – phenol, isopropylated phosphate. That particular chemical substance is used mainly for flame-retardant, as well as producing rubber, foam and cotton, the EPA added. So it’s most likely the film photographic businesses in the US will have to withdraw Velvia from its sales, if they haven’t already.

Take care and stay safe