Film Friday: Ilford Ortho Plus in 120

For today’s Film Friday, I selected Ilford Ortho Plus in 120.

Ilford released Ortho Plus (or Ortho 80, as I call it) in late 2019 in 35mm, 120 and sheet film. The same year around the same time, Ilford had unveiled a new range of photographic papers for darkroom printing, Multigrade RC Deluxe.

It’s Ortho comes in 120: A recent purchase for round two

Ortho Plus has been described as a film suitable for landscape photography, all thanks to its ‘blue and green sensitivity’. On the Ilford website it stated, the Ortho’s emulsion sensitivity can enable the film ‘to be handled in deep red safelight conditions making processing and inspection easier.’

Ortho Plus produces fine grain and sharpness – a plus side for film photographers, who are hoping to achieve the smoothest results, especially when making prints in the darkroom.

The film’s box speed is rated at 80, which is ideal for daylight shooting or for sources of natural light. There are options of shooting below the ISO, such as 40 for tungsten shooting. Mostly suitable for cameras with manual settings or controls, although pushing or pulling could be possible when processing.

Having bought the films in 35mm and 120, I thought I could give them a  test run. The latter I shot on my Holga, earlier last year down Epping Forest.

The results were good, however there were unwanted spots on the frames after processing. This was most likely a bad batch from production, and this isn’t the first time either. Ilford did make a statement on this issue as well, acknowledging this issue when it initially happened.

The unwanted spots were a let down, however had it not been there, the outcome would have been better quality wise.

At the time of shooting, which was in February 2021, the weather was overcast during the day. The tones and shadows were darker, despite not taping the Holga – from what I can remember.

I did buy another roll of Ortho in 120 some months ago, and I’m hoping to give another spin. Maybe this roll could be the better batch? Possibly I could try it on another medium format camera soon…

Off Hunting: Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge in Chingford

Happy Good Friday and Easter!!

Take care and stay safe

Monday Monthly Mentions – April 2022: Malta in March, Blog Absence, New Cinestill Film, Another Film Price Hike, Over 3000 Undeveloped Rolls and Home Printing

Malta Memories: Taking a photo of the Maltese flag and also flag of the Maltese Cross was a hard task, especially when it’s windy
  • Hello there, it has been a while since my last blog update. My absence/hiatus was longer than expected due to a few technical difficulties (with old Macbook) and time commitments – just to cut a long story short. It has been over two months since I bought my new laptop, so far I’m enjoying it although I have to install new editing software and the Epson scanner. I’m hoping to post regularly again here soon.
  • Malta in March: I finally did it! After two years of delays and cancellations, I made it to Malta last month. I spent just a week on the small island, where the weather started off nice, then it got windy and rainy days later. Sadly my trip to the neighbouring island of Gozo was disappointing due to the non-stop rain and wind. So my plans of exploring the island before flying home were doomed from the get-go. Thankfully prior to the bad weather, I did manage to go to Mdina, Rabat, Valletta and Sliema (where I was staying). I would definitely revisit in the near future, possibly next summer when it gets warmer.
  • Speaking of Malta: The country’s landscapes captured by Inigo Taylor are beautifully captured in monochrome, with the fine detail of the plants, fauna, clouds and surroundings. It gives it a timeless classic feel to each shot. He is based in Malta, as well as doing editorial work he is also a wedding photographer. I recommend checking out his website.
  • New Cinestill around the Corner: Cinestill is launching a new colour film in both 35mm and 120, called 400Dynamic. It is a daylight balanced film with a speed of 400, providing saturated colours added with ‘rich, warm skin tones’. The speed can be pushed from its box speed from 200 up to 3200, which is good news for all manual setting camera lovers. I will certainly be buying and trying.
  • Kodak Comeback: On the subject of new film, Kodak Gold in 120 made its comeback, with it now being widely available to buy at most photographic retailers. This five pack will not break the bank as it has been described as being ‘cheaper’ than Ektar and Portra at a quarter of the price. The medium format Gold still achieves the same results as the 35mm, which is all good news.
  • Not really news, as predicted – in my head: Fujifilm is increasing the film prices from this month up to 60%. Yes, another huge price hike, are we really surprised? Not really…
  • Printing at Home: ‘Is it worth it?’ That’s the question. Dave Kai Piper explains the benefits of digital home printing, giving a detailed lowdown on how this method can improve creativity and workflow. Plus providing useful information on printers and inks used to produce great quality prints.
  • Over 3000 undeveloped rolls of Rock and Roll Historic Moments: Photographer Charles Daniels had been shooting rock stars since the 1960s, famous names such as Jimi Hendrix, Rod Stewart and the Rolling Stones – and that is only to name a few, trust me there is more!! Over the years, Daniels has amassed 3200 rolls of undeveloped film. Luckily, there are plans on having them processed all thanks to donations through GoFundme. The article is very interesting, explaining Daniels’ background and career, certainly worth a read!!

Take care and stay safe

Monday Monthly Mentions – February 2022: Mum’s Birthday, Booster Jab, New Laptop and Expired Film

Time for Tulips: Full bloom for my Mum’s birthday
  • It was my mum’s birthday last week Monday, on the 31st January. I bought her a bouquet of tulips, also a nice birthday card. She did eventually get more flowers, cards plus some cake and a bottle of Prosecco. Sadly we didn’t go out to celebrate as I was working. Maybe soon, as I could make it up for my mum.
  • I got my third (and hopefully last) vaccine last month. I had the Booster, like the first one it was Pfizer. I would soon learn that my second dose was AstraZeneca, hence why I had a reaction to it shortly afterwards.
  • Melissa, my friend on WordPress – also Twitter and Instagram, mailed me some expired film from a few weeks back: Fuji C200 and Lomography Purple Monochrome in 120. It has been a loooong time since shooting with those films and it would be nice to experiment with them. Possibly they could be on the next Tried and Tested Thursday post?
Thanks Melissa for these!! Stocked and ready to go
  • I finally bought a new laptop for the first time in a decade. It is a HP Pavilion, pre-installed with Windows 11, Microsoft Office, Cloud and security. It’s lightweight to carry, in comparison to the other previous laptops I’ve had. My Macbook Pro had been playing up recently, as it was slowing down and an upgrade was necessary. At the moment, I am using both laptops. To cut a long story short: my Macbook has the scanner installed, printer and Photoshop CS5, so I am not letting it go just yet.
  • Select 21 was a wrap!! It ended last month on a high. A couple weeks ago, there was an artists’ talk through Zoom with the participating artists, minus one who had Covid. This gave us the chance to showcase our exhibiting work and talk in depth about it. I said my piece on the Petrol Station Series, which I am proud of til this day. Of course, I was all over the place with nerves. After going through delays and setbacks for over a year, Select 21 was a success met with many positive feedback and praise.
  • I went on a hiking trip on Saturday with a Meetup group called Outdooraholics. It was my second outing with them. We went to Lullingstone Castle and Country Park, although initially started from the town of Otford in Kent, soon making our way there – it was a ten mile walk (or 16 kilometres). We went across fields, hills and woods, even horses. I will be hiking with the group again this Saturday in Guildford, going through the North Downs and River Wey.

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!!

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: Vintage Views – Agfa Isolette I with Ilford Delta 100 (Expired)

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting an expired roll of Ilford Delta 100 on the Agfa Isolette I.

The Agfa Isolette I was an eBay buy for under ten pounds, which I bought over a year ago. It’s the second medium format camera that I have in my collection, also the oldest camera – it was originally made in Germany in the early 1950s.

The Ilford Delta 100 film expired in May 2000, twenty one years ago!! Last year, I was given a small stash of expired and discontinued films. Most of them expired almost two decades ago, including the Delta film which I shot with quite recently.

I took the Isolette with me to Valentines Park in Ilford on a lovely day in June. I had set the aperture at f8 and the shutter at 1/100, although I do believe it should have been higher at 1/125.

The results after processing and scanning were quite good, considering this film is over twenty years old. There were no clear signs of deterioration, since there was no colour shift because it was a black and white film!!

I scanned almost every single frame from the Delta negatives, as I was pleased with the outcome. As I pointed out earlier in the post, the shutter speed should have been higher at 1/125 with the aperture at f11 or f16. I know I have said a few times on a few posts to buy a light meter, preferably a manual one, however someone left a comment suggesting I download a digital one on my phone via the app store.

The contrast and tones are on point, especially the shadows. Black and white photography is versatile, also forgiving too hence why I often shoot with it and create darkroom prints.

I have to say I’m quite impressed overall. I would definitely consider shooting older expired black and white films again, maybe up to thirty years past expiry. It would be great to experiment around with them on various cameras.

Take care and stay safe

Tried and Tested Thursday: Living Lubitel Life – Lubitel 166b with Lomography CN 400

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting a roll of Lomography Color Negative 400 on a Lubitel 166b.

Earlier this year I bought a Soviet-era TLR camera from eBay, the Lubitel 166b for under £50. Described in the film photography community as the ‘cheapest TLR’ in the market. Thankfully there are many of them floating on eBay, or similar selling sites, normally sold anywhere between £30 to £80 depending on the camera’s condition.

There’s also a modernised version of the Lubitel 166b, which Lomography had recreated and is sold via their official website. It’s made out of plastic and possibly lighter in weight compared to the original one, also the price tag is higher at £289.

The Lubitel camera was challenging to start with, since it differs slightly from other TLR’s. Loading the film was straight forward, a similar setup to loading in any medium format camera; turning the knob until you see ‘1’ through the small red window.

Manually focusing wasn’t easy, the viewfinder and I didn’t see eye to eye (pun intended). Not to mention, the little magnifying glass, which took a lot of patience to use. I am sure it will take some time and practice along the way eventually.

The shutter speed and aperture is manual, of course. Sans lightmeter as per usual, I had to figure out what shutter speed to set it at for shooting on an overcast day in late March. The ISO/ASA dial on the side of the TLR is technically redundant and has no significant use, so I doubt it would have affected the outcome from the film.

The chosen film was the Lomography Color Negative 400 (or simply Lomo CN 400 for short). It was the only high speed 120 film in colour I had in my stash at the time, so I thought it be would great to test the camera with that particular roll.

I stayed locally to test drive the Lubitel 166b, shooting mostly mundane stuff such as anything that caught my eye. While out, I realised the camera couldn’t fit properly in its leather case properly, so I had to put it in my tote bag, being extra careful while wandering out and making sure it didn’t drop.

After finishing the roll, I had it processed and as usual I scanned the negatives at home. I only picked nine frames out of the 12 from the negative, with many of them coming out OK despite shooting the Lubitel for the first time. The exposure wasn’t the best, the speed could have been set at 1/100 or below. The focusing wasn’t the greatest either, which I may need to improve on this.

The best shot from Lomo film was possibly of the gravestone. Not exactly sharp in focus, but I felt it was the strongest with the exposure on point, as well as the depth of field.

Graveyard Shift Snap: My personal favourites without even trying

My time with the Lubitel is far from over, despite the initial results, I’m hopeful that I will be able to master my way around the camera.

Luckily enough, I did give the Lubitel a second chance but this time shooting with a black and white roll quite recently. Hopefully this will be all unveiled in a future Tried and Tested Thursday…

Take care and stay safe

Film Friday: Fuji Pro 400h in 120

For today’s Film Friday, I selected Fuji Pro 400h in 120.

Earlier this year, Fuji had announced that they would be discontinuing the Pro 400h in both 35mm and 120 formats. A huge loss in the photography community, as expected since Fuji has axed many favourites over the few years such as Natura, Superia 200 and Acros (with it resurrecting back to life a year later).

By my side: I had this film on my list prior to the shock announcement

As predicted, there would be some photographers rushing out to order as much remaining stock as possible. Then of course, there would be some sellers listing the Pro 400h on eBay at very high and ridiculous prices – which I find very greedy, I am not surprised but that’s my opinion. I did capture a few screenshots from my phone days after the announcement, some sellers are selling a single roll at the same price as a five pack 120 film!!

I did compare this to the international panic buy that we had last year during the start of the pandemic, when customers were buying toilet paper left, right and centre at various supermarkets.

I was lucky to have bought two packs from a photographic retailer via eBay at a decent price. I will be putting them into use very soon, rather than keeping them for keepsake. I would certainly not be reselling them either.

The Pro 400h itself is a high speed film with decent grain coverage. It has been recommended to use for wedding and portrait photography, especially the latter for skin tones. Kodak Portra 400 is often compared with the Pro 400h, due to its similarities with colour balance and quality.

Last summer I bought two single 120 rolls from Parallax. I had tested them both on the Yashica 635 TLR camera, mainly for nature photography around the local wetlands.

Most Fuji colour films have great greens all thanks to their four film layers. The Walthamstow Wetlands shots weren’t too bad for a first try; exposure may seem a little off in some frames, but I am proud of them. I do miss using a proper TLR sometimes.

I would take advantage of the two packs I currently have until its expiry date of March 2022, or maybe let a few rolls expire… I would try to try some on my Holga and Agfa Isolette, or test out a couple on the Kodak Box Brownie.

Take care and stay safe