Tried and Tested Thursday: Never a Grey Day – Canon EOS 500n (UV Filter) with Lomography Earl Grey

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

Lomography once had a small selection of Black and White film, Earl Grey and Lady Grey; with an ISO of 100 and 400, respectively. Fast forward to now, Lomo has a wide variety to choose from, such as the Kino film range, including Potsdam, Berlin, Fantome and Babylon.

The famous self-portrait

Earl Grey was probably the last original Lomo Black and White film I shot with, which was a few years back – during the pre-colour filter period. Also this was around the time I had purchased the Epson V550, and I was in the learning process of working my way around negative scanning.

I took to the streets with the Lomo film already loaded in my Canon SLR. I began shooting down the local market, then afterwards going to another destination by bus but unfortunately my camera’s battery died. Perfect timing… NOT!!

Not all bad news, the outcome was the icing on a sweet and delicious cake. The deep black tones are the main highlight from this film, due to its low speed which is an advantage. Both the lens and filter were a contributing factor; the aperture was set at f1.8, something I often do whenever using this lens. It’s great for capturing sharpness and detail from the main subject, especially when up close.

Earl Grey clearly didn’t disappoint. I think it is ideal for street or portrait photography, mainly for the contrasts and tones, as it can produce soft and smooth results.

I would love to use this film again in the future, maybe on another camera (preferably manual setting as most Lomo films are non DX coded). Luckily enough, I do have a single roll, possibly expired from a while ago.

Inspecting the vegetables

Earl Grey is definitely my cup of tea!!

Take care and stay safe

Tried and Tested Thursday: Street Image Random – Canon Z135 with Kodak Pro Image (Expired)

Note: Tonight’s post came later than expected due to technical difficulties. My sincere apologies

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting an expired roll of Kodak Pro Image on a Canon Z135.

A match made in heaven with a simple Point and Shoot and an expired Kodak roll. What could possibly go wrong? Well nothing much, apart from the fact it took me a long while to scan the negatives, which I did happen to do yesterday before writing this blog post longhand. Thankfully the process didn’t take too long.

This was the first time shooting the Pro Image on the Canon Z135. My second time would be later on in 2021, when away in Bognor Regis, although the film was pushed to a stop from 100 to 200.

Keeping a distance in public

For shooting, I went around my local area to a couple of parks and walked through a few quiet residential streets. Normally if I have no or little inspiration whenever out with the camera, I would take photos of random things and see where it goes from there. Sometimes it would take me a  while to get the film(s) developed or scanned, depending whether I want to see the outcome.

I had used Pro Image before on my Canon EOS 500n SLR, mainly for street shots and candids. The film came from the same original five pack, expired in January 2020 and bought from Analogue Wonderland. I wanted to test out the Pro Image on a smaller, simple and sufficient camera like the Canon Z135 to see if there were any comparisons between the SLR.

As expected, some expired film can vary in results, especially colour. Fortunately there were no significant changes or shift in the frames after both processing and scanning; the consistency was the same and smooth, particularly both colour and tones. This film is suited for daylight photography due to its low speed, although I’m guessing it’s possible to chance it with night or low light shooting – I have done this before, with good enough results.

Kodak Pro Image goes hand-in-hand for both street and nature photography, despite this film is mainly for shooting portraits. Pro Image can certainly deliver the goods, plus it caters to wider photographic genres and styles. Not to mention, it’s very useful on Point and Shoot cameras, and film SLR’s, or a Holga (only if a 35mm adapter is used).

For now, I have two remaining rolls left in the drawer, waiting to be inside another camera again. Maybe another manual setting camera…

Take care and stay safe

Tried and Tested Thursday: Superia Under Wraps – Olympus Mju 1 with Fuji Superia Xtra 800 (Expired)

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting a roll of expired Fuji Superia Xtra 800 on the Olympus Mju 1.

The Superia 800 was originally a Film Friday in late 2020, an eBay buy plus expired nearly fifteen years ago. Not to mention, this particular Superia (also the 400 ISO) has now been discontinued by Fujifilm, it is nowhere to be seen through online retailers, with the chance of possibly floating on eBay or similar sites.

My initial plan was to shoot the Superia on my Canonet 28, however the camera’s highest ISO was up to 400. Not all hope was lost, as I would use the same camera for another film, on the same day. So instead I used the Superia on the Olympus Mju 1, a slightly modern camera with automatic settings.

I tested the film at the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington, London. At the time, it had recently been reopened to the public after lockdowns slowly eased in the United Kingdom.

To take advantage of the film’s high speed and grain, I captured a few low light shots in the main part of the museum, mostly the sculptures and statues, some wrapped in plastic. I did use flash in one shot, although I believe it isn’t necessary, and hardly use it. I was confident the outcome from the film would be similar to Kodak Portra 800 or the Lomo CN 800.

Oh, I was very wrong!!

Not worth the hype after all: the high speed and grain failed miserably in some parts (above is an example), slightly underwhelmed

As predicted, expired film can often produce surprising results, depending on how long it has been expired or what condition it has been kept in, especially where stored.

It was difficult to tell if there was a significant amount of colour shift; most frames didn’t come out that well after both processing and scanning. The ones shot in low light didn’t result fairly either, however the stained glass shots were decent enough, all thanks to the LED backlighting.

My time with both film and camera was far from over. After the museum trip, I decided to walk through the local market as it was closing for the day. I began photographing a few shop fronts and market stalls, quite visible and clearer from the negative scanning – a completely whole different comparison to the museum scans, and this is on the same roll!! Yet again, flash wasn’t really necessary, as the built in flash is very bright for night shooting.

The expired Superia wasn’t to my liking, to be honest. I’m glad I got the results and scanned them, since I didn’t want to put them aside or to waste for no reason. I was curious to see its potential outcome, which was certainly not the best of the bunch.

Better luck next time…

Take care and stay safe

Tried and Tested Thursday: What to Do With My Film?

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday is a bit different today, I will be talking about the film that hasn’t been processed yet.

The start of 2022 has been a bit lukewarm, still in a pandemic with some uncertainties and some determination.

A Mixed Bag: Film from last year, waiting for its eventual processing date

2021 wasn’t a huge year for film, especially those I had shot with. In fact, I probably processed less film than the previous years, from the pre-Covid era of 2019 and 2018. Although last year, I did buy a few more cameras, including the Olympus Trip and a vintage Kodak Brownie. The novelty soon wore off, then from there I haven’t done much film photography as much as I wanted to.

I have bags and containers of film in my room, hoping to get processed at some point. In a separate container, I have around four Black and White 35mm rolls, which I would like to develop myself at home. Though I still need to buy the processing kit, including the developer and the essential equipment.

Unopened film, ready for an upcoming shoot? Plus an empty FP4 box and a few sneaky other 35mm’s

My motivation throughout last year has been up and down. There were times when I had very little inspiration to do almost everything; I was severely burned out from the long shifts at work, one of the main factors. All I wanted to do after work was to sleep and then eat, even on the rare days off. I had ideas in my head, but they were hardly materialised onto paper. I had chances to do so many things and activities, but they never happened.

For me film is like that. Finding the motivation to pick up the camera, or even scan a few negatives, or search for ideas and inspiration online. Sometimes I would look at my growing film collection in the drawer – admire it, then shut it back up again and again.

From Drawer to Plastic Container: B&W rolls I’m shooting with, then (attempt to) develop myself at home

2021 was also the year I bought less film. It wasn’t until towards the end of December, I began to make big film orders during and after the Christmas period. This gave me the chance to get hold of some Kodak film before the prices went up. The price hike has made me reconsider my interest in film, whether it’s worth buying more whenever possible, or completely going digital? Maybe that should be a topic for another post.

Usually with these Tried and Tested posts, there would be an end result or a solution. Technically there are a few suggestions, I can think of: probably get my film and negatives organised, figure out a plan or system on what I want to do with them – for example, get them developed, printed or scanned. I’m sure there are some rolls that don’t need to be developed ASAP, or negatives that I don’t want to be scanned, although I’m often curious to see the potential outcome.

Whatever I eventually decide, I’ll make sure that I stick to the plan, keeping everything consistent and structured. I really want to continue film photography this year, also trying out other things. Losing inspiration and motivation isn’t the best feeling ever, and often at times it can drag you down.

As repetitive as it may sound, let’s hope 2022 will be a fairer and kinder year for us all…

Take care and stay safe

Tried and Tested Thursday: Bold and Bright Brixton – Agfa Isolette I with Kodak Ektachrome 100

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting Kodak Ektachrome on an Agfa Isolette I.

This is my most recent developed shots, only from a couple months ago. It was the first time shooting Ektachrome on my Agfa Isolette, as I had two remaining rolls left in the fridge (near to expiry) and I wanted to try them out on this camera.

I was shooting in Brixton Market, mainly around the fruit stalls on Electric Avenue, as well as going through the indoor market nearby.

I have recently been inspired by still life paintings from the Dutch Golden Age and the Renaissance, focusing on both detail and structure of everyday objects and items, such as fruit, flowers and vases. Brixton Market might not be near to capturing anything in Renaissance style, however shooting fruit stalls was an opportunity to ‘modernise’ the look, especially with slide film like Ektachrome to produce vibrant and bright colours.

I’m certainly no stranger to Kodak Ektachrome since I’ve used it before on two medium format cameras, with one manual. Plus I did feature the film as two Film Friday’s, prior to shooting both 120 and 35mm. I had confidence that Ektachrome would be great to use on another manual camera again, this time round with the Agfa Isolette.

Like previously with the same film on another camera, Yashica 635, I had no light meter. So for the Isolette I trusted myself to get the exposures right, although I didn’t make a note of what shutter speed and aperture used; I am sure that the speed was at least not above 1/200, with the aperture being anywhere between f5.6 to f8 – with the former being for shooting fruit stalls, since it was daylight outside. There were a few overexposed shots, also some underexposed ones but it wasn’t that major. I did manage to scan most frames from the negatives.

I was very proud with the outcome after processing and eventual home scanning. The colours came out good, better than expected, even when I had initially placed the negatives onto the lightbox before scanning – I knew the results would not disappoint.

Most of my slide films are normally processed at AG Photolab, based in Birmingham. I have mentioned them on my blog before. They have a good turnaround time, not to mention reasonably priced from £5.49 per roll 35mm or 120. There are options of having negative scans or photo prints.

I was probably excited to see the Ektachrome negs more than the other slides I had processed

I haven’t done a lot of  film photography this year, whether I pick up my camera(s) once or twice a month, it’s such a great feeling to get back into the groove of what I love doing again.

I hope in 2022 I can explore and do more film photography.

Take care, stay safe and have a Happy Christmas!!

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

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

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