Monday Monthly Mentions – May 2021: Me Time, Upcoming Post-Lockdown Exhibitions, New Instant Cameras, Box Cameras and Malta Street Photography

Peacock strutting his stuff down Holland Park. Amazed onlookers like myself
  • Last month I had some much needed ‘me-time’ on my days off, going to Holland Park and Greenwich Park for the first time in years. I went to the parks on different days, bringing along both my Olympus Trip 35 and Kodak Brownie cameras. Testing them out, now I am waiting for the film to be processed.
  • On the subject of box cameras, Amateur Photographer has an article discussing its uses and also demonstrates on how to load one with the same exact camera I got!!
  • In an Instant: Polaroid launches the ‘world’s smallest analogue instant camera’, the Polaroid Go. Costing £109.99 from the official website, you can buy it from other retailers such as Urban Outfitters or Currys. Fujifilm has recently released another instant camera, the Instax Mini 40 and seems it takes the same Instax film.
  • Since lockdown has eased a bit in the UK, there are a handful of exhibitions and shows worth seeing from this month towards summer (although some are ending quite soon). There are a few that I’m interested in seeing at some point.
  • Malta Streets on Camera: Daria Troitskaia spoke to Times of Malta on her photographic series ‘Maltese Exposures’, which she was fascinated by the mix of ‘modern and retro motifs’ while based on the small Mediterranean island. She uses both digital and analogue cameras whenever shooting, which mostly consists of documentary and portrait photography.
  • Italian Photography Job: American photographer Scott Kelby stated his favourite place to photograph is in Italy; listing his preferred cities and regions, reasons why plus a food recommendation at the end.
  • ‘Taste’ by Chinese photographer Li Huaifeng won the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year, which is a photograph of a family preparing a meal in China. There are some other submissions towards the competition from photographers across the world.

Take care and stay safe

Film Friday: Lomography Color Negative 400 in 35mm (Expired)

For today’s Film Friday, I selected Lomography Color Negative 400 in 35mm, which only expired quite recently in February of this year!!

I had planned on taking two packs of Lomo CN 400 with me to NYC, but changed my mind at the very last minute

I originally bought three packs from The Photography Show back in March 2019. The Lomo Store had a stall set up there, selling films, accessories and cameras at discounted prices.

This hasn’t been my first Lomo experience at the yearly convention, I went there back in 2017 and bought a variety of Lomo film in ISOs of 100, 400 and 800 – some in 35mm and 120.

I haven’t bought much Lomo film recently, I only have the expired packs of 35mm in 400 and 100 ISO in a drawer, just waiting for its eventual use. As well as a fridge of limited edition watermarked rolls.

I did however have two expired rolls in 400, recently shot with. Both expired in February 2020, both used in February of this year!! Loaded on two different manual cameras, an Olympus XA2 and Canonet 28 – I might do a possible Tried and Tested Thursday of the outcome soon.

Maybe use them a year later in February 2022?

Lomography CN 400 is my choice of colour film for almost everything – even at its speed, it’s standard and versatile for both day and night shots of any photographic style.

The great thing about Lomography film is that most of them come in packs of three rolls, which is reasonably price. Although Analogue Wonderland does stock single rolls in both 35mm and 120, for those who prefer buying them individually.

Lomography CN 400 is definitely the film to add as part of the collection, plus it’s worth the shooting experience whether you’re a beginner, enthusiast or professional. Also great for experimenting around on various cameras, from SLR’s, pinholes, toy cameras to basic Point and Shoot’s.

It’s endless!!

Take care and stay safe

Tried and Tested Thursday: Retro Feeling in La Spezia – Canon EOS 500n with Rollei Retro 400s (Yellow Filter)

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting a Rollei Retro 400s on my Canon EOS 500n with a Yellow Filter.

To end the month, it’s another travel throwback post from April 2018. Last week, it was Cinque Terre, this week it’s La Spezia in Northern Italy.

I had been travelling through Nice in Southern France, heading towards Northern Italy before flying back home to London. I had been away for almost a week by the time I went to La Spezia.

The only main station in La Spezia, with most trains coming from and going to Genoa

I packed so much film with me for my travels, many various brands in both colour and black and white – ranging from Ilford, Kodak, Rollei to Lomography, even the famous Poundland Film, aka Agfaphoto Vista 200.

My time in La Spezia was short as I spent most of my time in Cinque Terre, so I didn’t really explore around the city that much. A missed opportunity not to have gone to the port or to go to any places of interest, such as museums or landmarks.

I did have the opportunity to photograph around the local streets in both colour and black and white; Kodak Colorplus and Rollei Retro 400s, respectively.

On my first afternoon in La Spezia, after spending hours of travelling and crossing the border, I decided to load my Canon SLR with a roll of Rollei Retro 400s film and explore the town centre for a while. I was interested in my temporary surroundings, which was close to where I was staying.

It was my second time shooting with Retro 400s, the first was in Monaco a few days earlier with the Jessops brand Orange Filter. For my Italian stay, I would use the Yellow Filter, from the Jessops brand. It was also my first time using colour filters for my photography. I was recommended to try them out, so I decided to put them to the test.

The results? What did I think of the film?

Sadly, a little bit of a hit and miss. I have to admit, Retro 400s was slightly underwhelming and flat, although the dark tones are brilliant as well as the grain’s smoothness. The film didn’t bring much to the table.

In my head, I would often consider Retro 400s as a cheaper alternative to Kodak Tri-x. As much as I love Tri-x, it is certainly not a film I would use for shooting the streets of La Spezia. Punchy – yes, plus great for darkroom printing. Possibly a similar film with a bounce in the same 400 ISO.

I feel like Ilford HP5 would have been more suited, or even the Rollei Superpan 200. Ilford HP5 worked fairly well in Cinque Terre, which I was overall impressed with after both scanning and producing some darkroom glossy prints. Would it do the same justice for La Spezia street shots? I could see some potential there.

Testing out unfamiliar film is a great way to identify what one is suited for you and your photographic preferences. For me, having tried and tested many rolls over the years, I often choose ones that I’m comfortable shooting with. On the odd occasion, I would take along a roll or two of unfamiliar film to try out. The only way I will find out whether I prefer the said film is after the development process.

Unfortunately, Rollei Retro 400s didn’t roll with me this time round. I haven’t shot or purchased another one since, despite having a single undeveloped Retro roll in the drawer. Highly unlikely it will be processed or ever see the light of day…

Take care and stay safe

Story Time Sunday: Sagrada Familia Finally

For today’s Story Time Sunday, I will be sharing my trip to the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain.

For a long time I had wanted to visit the Sagrada Familia, since I was a teenager doing textiles for GCSE and learning about the famous basilica in Catalonia. I was absolutely fascinated by its design and architecture.

It took nearly ten years for that to come into reality, which happened in April 2016 (while travelling around Spain) when I finally achieved my dream to finally go inside!!

So what is the Sagrada Familia? What’s the history behind it, and most importantly who was the man with the plan?

Antoni Gaudí was a Catalan architect, known for his modern architectural style of work – most are located in Barcelona. He was well known for his individuality and creativity twists, also for his use of ceramics, stained glass and carpentry.

Seven of Gaudí’s famous buildings were selected as UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, some including Park Güell, Casa Mila and Sagrada Familia.

Construction of Sagrada Familia began in 1882, which is still unfinished as of 2021, plus during my two visits to Barcelona in 2011 and 2016 with cranes still visible. It is expected to be completed by 2026, delayed yet again due to the ongoing pandemic. It will also mark one hundred years since Gaudí’s death in 1926, aged 73 after being hit by a streetcar in Barcelona. He is buried in the crypt inside Sagrada Familia.

I don’t exactly remember what day I went, but I had gone past it a few times during my four day stay and prior to going inside. I even photographed the outside a couple days before my visit.

To access the Sagrada Familia, I had to purchase the tickets from the tourist information centre (or tourist office). I had to choose a time slot when I wanted to go in. This was probably done to regulate on how many people could go inside at a time. I did come a little earlier than scheduled on the actual day, so to pass some time I had a hot chocolate at the Costa Coffee directly opposite. I was actually shocked to see a Costa in Spain!!

Anyway, once I got inside I was so amazed; it was absolutely beautiful and breathtaking, it felt so surreal due to the modern touches and detail. Gaudí allegedly said: “My client is not in a hurry,” possibly referring to God, also remarking on the long construction process. No wonder and not surprisingly, Gaudí probably had his focus on this project for so long. He had wanted the outcome to come out the way he had envisioned, but sadly only a small percentage was from completion when he died.

I spent some time walking through the basilica, carrying my heavy Canon DSLR and admiring my surroundings slowly – from the colourful stained glass windows to the perfectly carved ceiling. I couldn’t simply leave Barcelona without stopping by Sagrada Familia – that would be impossible, but I finally did it after all these years.

The Shot that has a thousand stories, probably one that I am most proud of

I would like to return again soon, since it was worth the four days, but this time I will be taking my film camera and some colour film!!

I would highly recommend anyone, who is planning on visiting Barcelona, to make sure you go to Sagrada Familia. It’s something to add onto the travel itinerary and worth the experience.

Take care and stay safe

Tried and Tested Thursday: Colourful Cinque Terre – Canon EOS 500n with Lomography CN 100

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting a roll of Lomography Color Negative 100 on my Canon EOS 500n.

Another travel Throwback Thursday from April 2018 in Italy. I had been travelling through Nice in Southern France for a few days, then headed to La Spezia in Northern Italy (via Genoa), where I would spend some time there before heading home.

Cinque Terre (translated as ‘five towns’ in Italian) is the coastal area of towns in Liguria, also not too far from La Spezia. I went to all five towns within a couple of days by train, exploring them at my own pace; starting from Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and ending in Monterosso (also known as Monterosso Al Mare). 

As usual, I was geared up with my camera and rolls of film for my Italian adventure.

I had already done a Tried and Tested Thursday of Cinque Terre last year, on Ilford HP5 with the Jessops brand Yellow Filter – on the same Canon EOS 500n camera. For the colour film, I shot all the towns on the Lomography CN 100.

Like my trip to Nice, I had the Lomo CN 100 as one of my colour films of choice. I was shooting with other colour film brands, such as Kodak and Agfaphoto (aka the famous ‘Poundland Film’). The Lomography film was very predominant in my film travel collection.

Unlike the trip to Nice, the results from Cinque Terre varied after processing and scanning. There were a few hits and misses with the Lomography film, although colour darkroom printing was slightly better, since I had full control on settings and colour balance.

Plus the Cinque Terre scans weren’t the same as the Nice ones, in particular when I had shot in Promenade des Anglais. The Nice beach shots had a pastel feel to them, almost washed out in light blues and light pinks. The Cinque Terre shots weren’t on par with the pastel colours, some did have a vintage postcard feel to them especially the colourful houses.

The Lomography brand is a mixed bag in the film community with some either loving or hating them. I do like the Lomography films, there are some I would like to shoot with many times again. I played it safe with the colour films, mainly the 100 or 400. The latter has been my go-to since purchasing from the brand back in 2017, but I didn’t take any with me to France and Italy. Despite the 400 ISO film being popular for being all purpose and versatile, I was a little concerned if some shots would have come out very overexposed due to the bright daytime shooting.

The Canon EOS 500n was my camera of choice for the holiday. I used the wide angle lens that came with the camera, 28mm – 80mm, which is great for landscapes and travel photography. I had placed an UV filter on top of the lens whenever shooting colour film, only to prevent dust and haze.

The Manarola Money Shot

Whenever using the Canon film SLR, I always set it on Programme Mode. Similar to Auto or Automatic, often on many DSLR and SLR cameras, even a few digital compacts. Programme differs from Automatic; Programme enables settings change such as ISO, aperture, but exposure is automatically set. Whereas Automatic, is well automatic. I rarely use the other options on the dial, like Manual or Shutter – maybe I should by now…

I do think there’s some room for improvement, which does include a possible revisit to Cinque Terre in the near future. Film choice for next time, potentially warmer with good consistent colour quality, like Kodak Gold or Kodak Portra 400. I used both films before on bright days, the outcome came out brilliant once after scanning, plus darkroom printing on glossy paper. Possibly changing up the camera gear a bit, consider trying out a manual setting camera – Olympus Trip 35 or Minolta X700, both decent and a good way to test out its manual functions. Or maybe I should stick to my loyalty with Canon? Another manual camera to bring along with me, the Canon Canonet 28 – once I get that fixed.

Making Map decisions in Monteresso

Take care and stay safe

Film Friday: Ilford SFX 200 in 120

For today’s Film Friday, I selected Ilford SFX 200 in 120.

Confession time: this was not my original choice for Film Friday. It was actually another Ilford in 120, which was the famous HP5.

Played it safe with this single roll

I wanted to try out something different, so I chose the Ilford SFX in 120. I had shot a roll of the film before on an expired 35mm roll. Although processed, the negatives have never been scanned.

I know that the Ilford SFX is an infrared film, alongside others like Rollei Superpan and Rollei Infrared. Many of those types of films work fairly well with red filters and are sensitive to infrared light, as per Analogue Wonderland.

I was curious to test out a single roll I had bought from Parallax over a month ago. My camera of choice for shooting with SFX was my Agfa Isolette I, a vintage folding camera. My place to take photos was down Woodberry Wetlands in North London, mainly around the nature reserve.

The weather was nice on that particular day with a slight overcast, not bad for a Saturday in late March. I had put the Isolette’s shutter speed at 1/100 with the aperture at 5.6, which was based on my quick guesstimations as I didn’t own a manual light meter.

The results after processing and scanning were good, a little better than expected. Not bad for shooting infrared film without a red filter, but it might have added more black tones and contrasts.

I would buy Ilford SFX again, possibly both in 120 and 35mm. The former might be good for pinhole photography or even test out on my other medium format cameras, such as the Kodak Brownie No. 2 or Lubitel 166b.

Worth dabbling or experimenting with the film by exploring various styles, genres and techniques. I do believe the SFX is strongest at nature photography, or even gritty street shots.

Take care and stay safe

Tried and Tested Thursday: The Streets of Spain – Canon EOS 500n with Ilford HP5

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting Ilford HP5 on my Canon EOS 500n.

Another Throwback Thursday from my travels, also this month marks the fifth anniversary of my solo two week trip to Spain. This was my first time travelling alone for more than a week; first time visiting Madrid, Granada and Seville (been to Barcelona before in 2011), and first time bringing my film camera with me too. I did bring along my Canon EOS 500D, my first DSLR I had for five years at that point.

I bought four Ilford HP5 35mm rolls months prior from Silverprint, a photographic retailer that was once based on London Road in Elephant & Castle, next to London’s South Bank University, before they relocated to Dorset years ago.

Ilford HP5 was the film I had sworn by during my university days, from shooting with it to even processing it myself many times with confidence. I had faith that this film was versatile for almost everything, genre and style wise. It was the film perfect for beginner, intermediate and professional level photographers alike.

When it came to shooting with two cameras (or three, counting my phone), I would use the 500n for street photography, especially around the surrounding areas. The 500D, I would normally shoot landmarks, sites plus street photography, mostly in colour. I probably used the Canon film SLR a few times during my stays at each place, which was one roll per city. This was something I would do in a similar effect for future travels through the years, except it would be more than four rolls – sometimes four times the amount!!

When I had the HP5 rolls processed at Photofusion, I didn’t have a negative scanner so I made small darkroom prints and then scanned them at home on the Canon all-in-one printer/scanner. The image quality wasn’t the best, but it was do-able at the time. I did no further editing or tweaks on Photoshop either.

Thankfully I still had the Spain negatives, which I recently organised in a negative acid free box folder. They were still in pristine condition with no signs of wear or tear. I had begun scanning them from last week until the early hours of Wednesday morning. Despite it being four negative sleeves, the process didn’t take too long and did two per day, after work and late at night.

Scanning them gave me a chance to finally look at the images through preview and choose the ones I wanted to keep. This was also an opportunity to compare my work from 2016 to now, see how I have improved over the years. Even while going through the scans and images, I did notice I shot more street photography, mainly of alleyways and street corners near to where I was staying in each place. I didn’t take my film camera everywhere with me, since I was carrying my DSLR which was already heavy. The furthest I had been with the Canon film SLR was on the beach in Malaga, which was over a mile away from my hostel.

The Ilford HP5 did work well for travel photography, even for a few random night time ones in Barcelona and Madrid. I had no filter on my lens, hence why some images probably appeared hazy or flat. Regardless of that, the tones and contrast were spot on with black tones being predominant. The lens used was a wide angle of 28mm-80mm, which was already part of the camera. Wide angle lenses are the saviours of travel photography, especially shooting landscapes – everything can fit into a frame. Also useful and work for architectural shots, when capturing detail of the buildings and landmarks.

There’s room for improvement, but not a lot. I think I would have tried out colour filters, most likely orange or red for Ilford HP5. I can see the red filter working better, especially for the shadows and tones in particular. With the speed of 400 on HP5, the red filter is a match made in film photography heaven. Another potential idea would be darkroom printing, experimenting with other photographic printing papers. I would recommend Ilford printing papers, such as the Multigrade RC Warmtone. The paper quality would produce a ‘warm’ feeling or ‘bounce’, which would make such a difference once after drying.

This is certainly not the end of Ilford HP5 for me. I will be shooting with that film for many years to come on the cameras that I own.

Hmmmm? Performance artist in Malaga city centre

I would regard Ilford HP5 as being one of the best films I have ever tried and tested with of all time.

Take care and stay safe

Film Friday: Fuji Provia 100f in 120

Note: Was originally meant to be posted last week Friday, but there was a slight delay. The next Film Friday will be the following week as scheduled.

For today’s Film Friday, I selected Fuji Provia 100f in 120.

This is the second time selecting a Fuji slide film as a Film Friday, first time being the expired Velvia in both 35mm and 120.

Bought a single roll rather than the five pack second time round. I want to try out one (or two) first and see if it worth buying more in the future

Fuji has a variety of slide films, probably more than any other brand. Many in 35mm and 120, even a few coming in film sheet form – mainly for large format cameras.

Provia was the second Fuji slide film I shot with recently. Last month I tested out two rolls in 120 on my Holga (not taped) down London’s East End. I was hoping the weather would be fairly nicer for some natural light, although that wasn’t the case as it was cloudy with a bit of an overcast.

I had the rolls processed at AG Photolab, based in Birmingham in the United Kingdom. Like I had previously for my other slide films, most recently Kodak Ektachrome.

The results were OK, although Provia would have worked fairly better in brighter conditions, for example sunny weather. It was my first time shooting with the film, so I didn’t know what to expect initially…

I did buy another 120 roll of Provia a few weeks back from Parallax. Hopefully I can try it out again on the Holga or my Lubitel 166b, a recent eBay purchase. The Soviet era TLR is more functional than the Holga, which is an advantage. Also on the plus side, the outcome from the film on the Lubitel might come out good, if not better. Who knows until after developing…

Take care and stay safe

Tried and Tested Thursday: Frozen Foma Ponds – Holga 120 with Fomapan Action

Note: Originally meant to be posted last week

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting Fomapan Action (aka Fomapan 400) on my Holga 120.

Earlier on in the year, I selected Fomapan Action as a Film Friday. The same month I shot two rolls out of the three on my Holga, mainly around my local area.

I chose not to tape the Holga, something which would usually do but I decided to try without it. I wanted to see if not using the tape would impact the negatives after processing, such as any light leaks. More on that later in the post.

For my local wander, I started off at Lloyd Park in Walthamstow. The weather was nice, sunny but a little chilly. The temperature was below 2 that week – so low that some ponds, lakes or bodies of water were completely frozen. Of course, I wanted to capture that on film, since the pond at Lloyd Park was pure ice and stagnant.

On the same day, I went to Hollow Ponds in Leytonstone. Inspired by my previous stop at Lloyd Park, I was curious to see if the pond was frozen – lo and behold, it was!!

Still shooting with Fomapan 400, the second roll on the Holga and left it untaped just like the first time. I walked around the pond for a bit, then headed near to the forest.

Got the two Foma rolls processed over a month ago, but only managed to scan the negs a few weeks ago. I was surprised with the results even before scanning them. The first negatives, the Lloyd Park one, was OK until I saw that there was some light leakage on a few particular negs; not even a single frame but all three. I did a screengrab of the said negatives from the preview on Epson V550, as an example.

Usually I would have discarded or rejected these selected scans, I wouldn’t even share them online, however I thought it would be great to showcase the ‘rejects’ – since it didn’t come out perfect or the way I wanted it to. I do believe the film was exposed when winding it; light leaks could be plausible, although it wouldn’t impact two negatives from the same roll, especially three frames on each one. Weirdly enough, light leaks didn’t affect the second roll of negatives as much, despite its high speed and lighting conditions weren’t too bad. I think the Hollow Pond negs are probably better than the first lot taken at Lloyd Park.

The black vignetting on the negatives were slightly faint, which serves as a border and a frame. The Pond/Forest shots are my favourites, also it would be nice to print them in the darkroom as they have potential and beyond for displaying them in a handmade frame.

The Fomapan Action does what it says on the tin. The high speed of 400 serves its purpose: wonderful results, hardly no high grain, smoothness, plus the contrasts and tones are on point. It’s a film I would most likely buy many times, due the quality and price.

The Fomapan roll is Holga friendly too, like many films I have shot on that camera over the years. The Fomapan 400 is possibly the best I have shot so far.

This shot was an accidental double exposure, still decided to scan it

Luckily enough, I have one 120 roll left that I am considering testing on my Lubitel 166b, a Soviet era TLR and a recent purchase from eBay.

Take care and stay safe

Monday Monthly Mentions – April 2021: New Cameras, Discontinued Film, New Disposable Camera Coming Out, Charlie Phillips and Things to do Post-Lockdown

Note: Advanced apologies for no Film Friday, Story Time Sunday or Tried and Tested Thursday from last week. I have been extremely busy with work recently. I will be pumping out a few of the missed posts by this week the latest...

A Film Camera Family Portrait

Now let’s get to this month’s mentions…

  • March was a month of camera collecting. Three cameras in one month, all from eBay and all in one month (yes, I said it again!)
  • The Camera Collection Lowdown: a Kodak Brownie No. 2 (Model D), a hundred year old box camera, which was initially aimed for children and possibly novices alike. The camera is in 6×9 format and takes 120 film. So far at the time of writing, I have shot three rolls so far with two already processed.
  • Olympus Trip 35 was a camera I wanted for a long while, but the price was often too high for my liking. Thankfully I was able to make an offer with the seller and got the camera for less than £70. For that price, it came with a leather case and a flash. I’m yet to shoot with it.

  • Last camera is the Lubitel 166b, a Soviet era TLR. Probably the cheapest TLR out there in the film camera market. I only bought it a couple weeks ago from eBay for under £50, then used it a couple days after. The setup is similar to the Yashica 635, or any standard TLR, in terms of the settings and functions.
  • While one film has been discontinued, Ilford has launched its first colour disposable camera, Ilfocolor Rapid Retro Edition. There’s a twist: the camera is produced by Ilford Imaging and not Ilford Photo (famous for HP5 and FP4), despite saying otherwise on another website. Anyway, it is expected to be released next in Australia. No information on worldwide dates.
  • Camera Watch: Youtuber Drew Gooden ‘filming’ with what it appears to be a Canon Z135 – at the 1:53 mark. The overall video topic is quite interesting, worth watching it in full.

I hope everyone had a great Easter break and are keeping well!!

Take care and stay safe