(A Very Belated) Monday Monthly Mentions – May 2022: Algarve in April, African Photography Showcase, Where are the Good Scanners? and Best Cameras for Travel

Advanced apologies for missing Monday Monthly Mentions from a couple weeks ago. I came back from my holiday a few days prior, I was still in ‘holiday mode’ and I didn’t have time to draft up an entry. Also there were a few technical difficulties, which now have been resolved.

Before I start today’s post, I wanted to share some sad news of Sharon Harris’ passing. Although she died in October, I only found out about this last month through my Facebook feed. I managed to get in contact with her family member, which did confirm the news. I hadn’t been on social media much, pretty much dipping in and out every once in a while.

I originally met Sharon in Zurich 2020. Weirdly enough we were on the same flight, only seats apart and stayed at the same hostel – even in the same room, opposite bunk beds.

Sharon was a journalist for the Glamorgan Star and lived in Cardiff. Like me, she was an avid traveller, except she travelled around the world many times, visiting many countries and continents. We spoke about places we had visited and experiences, even Eastenders at one point. We did keep in touch afterwards, although we would never see each other again in person.

As mentioned, I hadn’t been on social media much and finding out about Sharon’s death was an absolute shock.

May Sharon Harris Rest In Peace. My thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues

  • April Algarve: A few weeks after my trip to Malta, I went away to the Algarve in the south of Portugal. I began my journey from Faro and ending in Lagos (in Portugal), then flying out from Faro. I went away for over a week, exploring different towns and places each day. The weather was mostly nice, hot and warm despite it raining heavily probably twice.
Written in the sand: I wrote my name in the sand at the beach in Sagres

As usual, I took my film cameras with me. However a huge faux pas, I didn’t even realise until I went back to my hostel that there was no film loaded in the Olympus XA2. I spent the whole day in Sagres shooting without any film, but not all was lost. I took some photos on both my Olympus Mju 1 and phone. A sigh of relief, although I was initially devastated.

  • Analogue in Algarve: On the subject of film, I went to a small photography museum in Tavira, Casa Fotografia Andrade. A photographic studio run by the Andrade family for generations to the present day. Worth a visit, learning the early stages and history of photography in Portugal. Only a five Euro fee to enter and stay as long as you like. I did buy a photobook from the museum shop as a souvenir, with photographs that were seen on display.
A Photographic Souvenir from the museum
  • Wonderful Winehouse: I went to the ‘Amy: Beyond the Stage’ exhibition at the Design Museum at last!! It was closing the same week, and thankfully I did manage to buy a ticket right in time.  A lovely and moving tribute to Amy Winehouse, who was gone too soon. The exhibition was an eye opener; from a young talented girl from North London to a global superstar, who battled her demons in the public eye. It was great to see Amy’s legacy still living on through the exhibition, as well as a foundation set up in her name, supporting and helping young people from addictions and providing programmes.
  • Showcasing, Emerging and Growing: Doyle Wham is an art gallery in Shoreditch that displays and celebrates works by African photographers. Founded by a Royal College of Art graduate and a museums/heritage scholar, their aim was to showcase the African artistic scene and narrative. There’s an upcoming exhibition at the gallery from South African photographer Trevor Shuurman, ‘Life Through The Lens’, opens from 13th May to 2nd July
  • Food Photography for Thought: Karen Thomas is a London based food photographer, who has worked with a variety of well known brands such as McDonald’s, Costa and Marks & Spencers. She began learning photography from her father, also a photographer. Then experimented in the darkroom while at secondary school. After graduating from university, Thomas would be freelancing and photographing cars. Let’s say food was her passion and the rest is history…
  • Dude, where’s my film scanner? Or at least the good ones? An interesting question that is asked in Amateur Photographer. I want to know the answer too. I have an Epson V550, originally bought from Argos in 2017. I am yet to set it up on my new laptop, which will be a mission to do as I am uncertain it’ll be compatible with Windows 11 (originally installed on my Macbook Pro). The scanner is very good and reliable, still working and looks near enough in mint condition
  • Camera Can Travel: Lastly, going digital? Check. Travelling? Check. Digital Camera World has listed cameras perfect to pack for holidays, brands ranging from Olympus to Nikon

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

Film Friday: Invisible Film in 35mm

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

This roll of ‘film’ is clearly invisible, which you cannot see but you can still shoot with it. It has no film speed, also exposures are limitless – basically continuous shooting. So you don’t have to worry about running out of film.

The Invisible Film comes in a canister like most film

This Invisible Film is both colour and Black and White. Sounds strange doesn’t it? I guarantee that it could possibly be done.

When it comes to developing: don’t even bother, there’s no need. The negatives will come out invisible anyway. Disappointing I know…

Sadly, the Invisible Film is not widely available at any photographic retailers, and I doubt it in the near future.

I haven’t even shot this film either, maybe because it’s April’s Fools and chances are very thin.

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

Film Friday: Fuji Pro 400h in 35mm

For today’s Film Friday, I selected Fuji Pro 400h in 35mm.

In early 2021, Fuji had announced that they were discontinuing Fuji Pro 400h in both 35mm and 120. I did a Film Friday in June on the 120 film. Despite its unexpected axing, the medium format is still selling at some online photographic retailers, at its standard retail price.

Sole Survivor: The only single in date roll of Pro 400h remaining

Sadly the same can’t be said for the 35mm, which is now gone forever… unless you go on eBay or similar sites, where they are selling a single roll from £20 (or even twice the price).

I did manage to buy a few rolls last year. My intention wasn’t buying them for keepsakes, I did want to put them into great use one day.

Fuji Pro 400h has a decent speed of 400, quite the standard ISO for general shooting – a good all rounder. The  film has been recommended for wedding or portrait photography, due to the colour quality and fine grain.

I tested out two Pro 400h rolls while on holiday To Switzerland around six months ago. I went to Burgenstock and Pilatus, two famous mountains. I had shot the film on the Olympus XA2 camera.

My aim was to do landscape photography from the highest peak, on and from the mountains. The outcome came out good after processing and scanning, although they would have been better as darkroom prints.

Most Fuji colour films produce vivid greens, due to the layers and often have the finest colour quality with its tones and contrasts. Like the Pro 400h, scans of the mountains were highlights and examples from the results.

Pilatus Rocking and Rolling!!

I have two 400h rolls left in the fridge: one expired from last August, something I did deliberately, and another still in date. Hopefully, I will shoot them both for the final time very soon…

Take care and stay safe

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

Film Friday: Kodak Trix in 35mm (Expired)

For today’s Film Friday, I selected Kodak Trix in 35mm, which expired in January 2020.

I originally bought the ten remaining rolls from AllPhotos Ltd. via its eBay shop in January 2020, the same month of expiry. The film has been unused, and quietly residing in the infamous ex-kitchen drawer since.

Outta drawer for a quick photoshoot: the ten expired rolls of Trix I currently have

I have been shooting Kodak Trix for years, as it has always been the film I would use for street or architecture photography. Its punchy yet subtle grain is the ultimate icing on the cake, thanks to the film’s speed of 400. The tones and contrasts are great: the black tones being deep, especially the shadows. The Trix is a perfect choice for making prints in the darkroom, which I have done a few times before.

Trix is great to use on colour filters, in particular the red filter. I love using that colour filter, which often produces sharp and deep contrasts, mainly on blue skies and clouds. Having used both the Trix and red filter, it can achieve crisp and high quality results, very rarely disappoints.

On my bike: Kodak Trix with Red Filter – Canon EOS 500n (I think the film was in date when taken)

Kodak Trix is also Point and Shoot friendly, having shot with it on my Olympus Mju 1 camera was a breeze. No fussing around with the settings or playing around with various apertures, both the film and camera was a suitable combination for simple shooting. The outcome from the Mju 1 was proven to be successful, still achieving the punchy subtle look.

As there aren’t really many significant changes when shooting expired Black and White film, I can only assume it will come out as similar as it was in date, as I have shot many before in both 35mm and 120. There weren’t any signs of shifting in tones or contrasts from them, unlike some expired colour film where it is noticeable.

Who knows? Trix might be up to its ‘tricks’, and surprise me…

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