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: 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: Going Acros Southend – Canon EOS 500n and Holga 120 with Fuji Acros (Expired)

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting two rolls of expired Fuji Acros on the Canon EOS 500n and Holga.

Two different format films, 35mm and 120 on the same day; at the same time, at the same location. The camera juggling struggle was real, but certainly worth it. Both rolls expired in October 2019, so I decided to use them exactly a year later.

I went to Southend last October for the day, it was half term – for readers who aren’t from the UK, it is a school break/holiday, typically short for a week or two. Based on a suggestion and inspired from my previous trip there before, I decided to shoot in Southend in the later months in black and white, during the autumn/winter months. I wanted to compare and contrast what it was like during high and low seasons, and whether there would be more people visiting later on in the year. Due to the pandemic and lockdowns, it was slightly different with many places closing for months, such as amusement parks, attractions, entertainment, shops and restaurants. I was quite lucky to have visited Southend before the third (and final) lockdown that would happen a few weeks later.

Despite shooting two same brand films in two different formats, the results had varied after processing and scanning. I will discuss each cameras’ outcome separately in this post and compare them.

Canon EOS 500n

I used the 50mm 1.8 lens with an orange filter on my day trip shooting. It had been the second time I had used the expired Acros roll with both the same lens and colour filter; the first time was for an upcoming photographic series, which I hope to unveil from next month.

High Times in a Low Tide

The majority of photos I had taken on the film were on the beach, from walking along east and towards Shoeburyness (only five miles away) to heading back to the Westcliff area before heading home.

That particular day was cloudy with a low tide, which made the beach almost look like quicksand. This was the first time I had seen a low tide in my life!! I did attempt to walk across and it was a bad idea, as my trainers were getting muddy.

Like the previous visit to Southend the summer before, the seaside was near empty and deserted. It wasn’t as busy as I had thought it would be, since it was an advantage for me to do my photography in peace.

Boats aren’t going nowhere (for now)

I worked my way along the beach, mainly capturing my surroundings of the high tide and small boats that were stuck in the tide. I also focused on the clouds too, capturing the formation and detail in the sky.

I kept the photography simple, focusing on landscapes as well as the finer detail whenever shooting with the prime lens.

The results after processing and scanning came out good. They do have further potential to produce darkroom prints, especially of those shot on the empty areas of the beach.

I do consider Acros being ‘grayscale’ since the black tones aren’t that deep. Nevertheless the grain is great, smooth and fine – all thanks to the 100 ISO. Just like the Lomo Color Negative film I used there a year before, it was also at 100 speed.

Holga 120

Like what I did with the Canon camera, I used my Holga mostly on the beach capturing the day’s low tide.

In true fashion, the Holga was taped to prevent possible light leaks however that wasn’t slightly the case after processing, more on that later.

Anyway, having had many trials and errors with the Holga over the years since its purchase, I was confident to pick it up again for the occasion. I was snapping away until I saw the bottom switch of the camera set at ‘B’, meaning ‘bulb’ which is to attach flash guns. I had done this the last time with the results coming out shaky and blurry, but in this case I flicked over to ‘N’, the ‘neutral’ mode.

The Holga is a basic medium format camera with very limited functions and settings. It happens to be a cult favourite and has a following in the photography community.

Whenever my film gets processed I often feel anticipated for the results, even more excited to see the negatives before scanning them…

Well, the Acros 120 negatives came out quite interesting: the first couple of frames were OK, but down the line it appeared to be some sort of problem or malfunction. I initially thought there could have been a few factors, from loading the film or possible exposure to light.

Most likely it could be from the paperbacking from the 120 roll, where the numbers seemed to be imprinted on some frames of the negatives. It didn’t really impact the post-production side of things, such as scanning but I didn’t want to discard the film. Sometimes I would keep ‘errors’ for keepsake purposes, like in this instance.

This was the second time shooting Acros on the Holga. The first time, the results came out blurry, so I was determined the second time round would be an improvement and probably would have been a bit better.

Now that I got my point ‘Acros’ slightly, I am satisfied with the results from both cameras. I do lean towards the Canon SLR being the strongest contender, although the Holga isn’t the loser in this round. The 120 film did have potential sans malfunction plus no tape, the outcome would have told an alternative story with a happier ending.

Nevermind. It was a learning curve.

Take care and stay safe

Tried and Tested Thursday: Prime Lens Time in Tungsten Tones – Canon EOS 500n with Cinestill Tungsten 800

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting a roll of Cinestill Tungsten 800 on my Canon EOS 500n with a 50mm 1.8 lens.

This hasn’t been the first time shooting with this film, or discussing it on my blog. The Cinestill Tungsten has clearly made an impact on my film photography, hence why I use it occasionally. (On the plus side, the film has gone down in price recently)

Outside God’s Own Junkyard in Walthamstow

This film was originally meant to be in another camera, the Minolta X700, but for whatever reason it had stopped working when trying to load it. Then I went to God’s Own Junkyard, a place dedicated to neon signs, where I had wanted to take a few shots while there. Sadly, ‘professional photography was not permitted’. Alternatively, I shot the outside when leaving, on my Canon SLR on a late afternoon in December, which was still bright yet a little chilly.

So what to do with thirty or so more exposures remaining left on my camera?

Continue shooting, of course. Make use with the Cinestill film by doing some early evening shots, capturing the night lights – almost in the similar vein as the Petrol Station Series or night photography I had done before in the West End.

I stayed local initially, took a few snaps of the corner shop front and peeping through a window of a closed laundrette. The cold and blue tones gave the outcome a retro feel, nearly frozen in time.

The lights were a mixture of blues and greens, almost eliminating the warm tints of orange and yellow, which had converted into a tungsten tone. This was mostly seen while wandering around London’s West End.

Chinatown is an area I have been going through for years, especially for photography and I never get bored taking a few photos around there either. I love capturing the lanterns in the sky, the restaurants, shops, the big gates or anything that catches my eye.

Chinese Snacking Window Display: Sweet treats galore

Cinestill Tungsten is great for lights alike, mainly artificial lighting such as bright lights or neon signs. The high ISO of 800, may be very fast in speed but there’s little grain coverage, especially after scanning and printing. I have always shot the film at its box speed, although I would like to go both higher and lower with a couple of rolls. My highest speed would probably be 1600, and the lowest would be anywhere between 100 or 200 ISO. It’ll be interesting to see the potential results with those film speeds.

Using the Canon prime lens was a major bonus, since the 50mm 1.8 is quite fast and lightweight. I used it on my previous camera, a Canon DSLR, the EOS 500D. I bought the lens almost ten years ago and never looked back, which I have swore by for most of my photography. I had the aperture always placed at f1.8 to achieve sharp and crisp for close ups, plus for depth of field shots. Luckily, the lens has an EF mount that works on some Canon film SLR cameras, including mine.

I’m hoping to go above and beyond with Cinestill Tungsten one day. As much as I love taking endless shots of signs and petrol stations with the film, I believe it would be nice to explore different genres and styles. This would definitely be an advantage to take daytime photography, whether results come out with blue tones or not. On the plus side, it’ll be good to slowly get out of my creative comfort zone and try out different techniques.

Take care and stay safe

Tried and Tested Thursday: The Comeback to the West End – Lomography CN 100 (Expired) with Canon EOS 500n

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting a roll of expired Lomography CN 100 on a Canon EOS 500n with a 50mm 1.8 lens.

Happy New Year everyone! First post of 2021!! A slight delay and late start with the updates to the blog, my apologies. I have been working quite a lot recently since the end of last month, plus I wanted to take a bit of break from the blogosphere for a while.

A heartwarming message to those who were there for us during hard times

Last summer I went to the West End after the UK’s first national lockdown had ended. Then less than a year later, the nation is currently on its third lockdown as Covid cases have risen very recently.

I think the last time I went to the West End was possibly around March last year. Soon after the government had announced the first lockdown, I stayed in my local area and continued going to work, which I documented for a series from an essential worker’s perspective as I was commuting to work by walking.

Once restrictions were lifted and relaxed, I decided to go West End on a rare weekend off. I hadn’t done much photography for a while, which has been a creative outlet for me for many years and I enjoy it quite a lot, it puts me in a good mood most of the time.

Choosing the camera and film was the easy part, since I had an idea in my head on what I was going to shoot. The Lomo roll had been in the fridge keeping cool for a long while, most likely to have expired. When it came to scanning the actual negative after processing, I didn’t notice any changes in terms of colour shift. My guess is that the film probably expired fairly recently, but who knows?

Racism doesn’t deserve the attention, we should not give it a platform

It had been over a month since shooting with the Canon SLR at that time, I was mainly focusing on getting used to shooting with the Yashica 635 TLR. When it came to the Canon EOS 500n, I had to attach my favourite prime lens of all time – the 50mm 1.8 (nicknamed the ‘Nifty Fifty’). I put a UV filter onto the lens to prevent glare, haze and dust, also it is great as a lens protector.

My West End journey began from Oxford Circus along Oxford Street, heading towards Soho and eventually ending near Chinatown. The streets were almost empty, although it was Sunday afternoon with very few places open, apart from the cheap souvenir shops that are situated every few yards from each other. It was very unusual not to see tourists flocking left, right and centre down the West End, with many in large groups and surrounding by Topshop, Selfridges or the two Primark’s a mile apart at both ends. The international travel ban and restrictions had impacted the country’s economy, as tourism brings in money into the country, especially many come to shop or go to famous landmarks and places, such as Buckingham Palace or the Big Ben.

I wanted to capture something different during post-lockdown, as it was near deserted this was an advantage. Exploring through places I would go to whenever I was in the area pre-Covid and pre-lockdown. It was a weird reflection on how things could change and impact the world and society in a matter of months.

Deliveroo, JustEat and UberEats has been increasingly popular through the lockdown period. You can now order fast food to your home with your app

Taking photos on the empty West End streets was a breeze, not worrying about bumping or barging into anyone. The pavements were mostly clear of people, so I could take my time walking from Oxford Street to Tottenham Court Road without dodging or meandering aimlessly.

The film itself, a Lomography Color Negative 100 (or simply Lomo CN 100), was great results wise; terms of colour and tone. The low ISO did wonders for the lighting conditions with little grain coverage. Despite the roll possibly having expired, the colour quality came out better than expected. As mentioned earlier in the post, there was no sign of colour shift, something commonly found on out of date film, mostly colour.

I would eventually go around London with my film cameras in the coming weeks, taking street shots of post-lockdown life – and even go on a day trip to Eastbourne in August!! Not exactly back to ‘normality’ just yet, even as of 2021, we are far from easing and relaxing restrictions. It was all fun while it lasted…

Let’s just hope the new year will treat us better than the last!!

Take care and stay safe

Tried and Tested Thursday: The Bus I Cannot Take – Kodak Ektar (Expired) Pushed to 400 with Canon EOS 500n

For today’s final Tried and Tested Thursday of 2020, I will be talking about shooting a roll of expired Kodak Ektar (pushed to 400 ISO) on a Canon EOS 500n camera with a 50mm 1.8 lens.

The bus I would normally take to work

This year has been incredibly tough for almost everyone around the world: people have lost their lives, people have been ill, some have lost their jobs with many struggling financially. We have been living through these unprecedented times and it was the tip of the iceberg, especially when the months went by with lockdowns, the rules constantly changing, many restrictions on what we can and can’t do, and not to mention many workers going through furlough.

I was very fortunate to still be working during this crisis, since my job was very essential as I work at a supermarket. Trust me, it hasn’t always been plain sailing or even easy from the first lockdown; from food shortages, the need of toilet paper (some customers try to buy a stupid amount), arguments and even physical altercations – almost every retail worker, including myself had seen and experienced all at some point.

This corner shop was closing by the time I went past

Restrictions were put in place which made it difficult for some people’s daily living, including workers, families and vulnerable people. Even more recently, the government placed London and South East of England on Tier 4, similar to a lockdown which we had a month ago. This was a solution that hopefully would lower down the infection rates, but sadly it did the opposite and still continues to rise at the time of typing this post.

So where does today’s Tried and Tested Thursday post fit into all this?

Well, it all began with a Zoom call a few months ago with Kim Shaw, a photographer and executive director at Photofusion (the same place where I have my film processed and do my darkroom printing). We were talking about photographic ideas related to Covid and the lockdown. She suggested I should do a series on the life of being an essential worker, from my perspective. I believe Kim suggested the title being, ‘The Bus I Cannot Take’, as I mentioned to her that I was initially avoiding public transport to go to work, instead I would walk the four mile journey back and forth after my shifts. The light bulb moment came in my head immediately and then the idea was born…

I had originally wanted the series to chronicle a typical working week, however I ended up finishing the whole roll in one day!!

I chose a roll of Kodak Ektar, which had expired March of this year. I decided to do something a little different with this particular film, so I pushed the original box speed from 100 to 400. I some inspiration from a Twitter friend called Rachel Brehm (or incasino_out), who did something similar with Ektar, by pushing it from 100 to 800 ISO. She took a couple of shots on an empty street during the night of lights; the results are amazing with the colour being vivid.

I used my Canon EOS 500n camera, and the lens used was the 50mm 1.8. I would use this lens for mainly street photography or close up shots, despite the autofocus not working properly, I have to rely on manual focusing as an alternative. I have had this lens, nicknamed ‘Nifty Fifty’, since 2011 when I had my old Canon DSLR.

My first shot was disposable gloves on the dining room table, followed by other shots of my commute to work, and then I stopped through a coffee shop enroute to buy a hot chocolate. Sadly, I couldn’t use my camera while on shift but I took a quick snap of my facemask while on break.

My shift finished at 9pm, an hour earlier than usual following government guidelines at the time with many supermarkets closing early by an hour or two, even corner shops.

My two mile journey back home was quite relaxing, quieter on the roads, also not a lot of people on the street. Although a few buses went past me, I wasn’t even tempted to get on one. I was shooting a few random bits, such as bus stops and shops along the way.

The series was short lived as it was a one off anyway, however a month later I would do something in a similar vein for this year’s Shitty Camera Challenge.

The film was processed at Photofusion, and eventually I would scan the negatives at home on my Epson V550. I scanned almost every single frame, which was a bit time consuming but I eventually got there at the end.

The results were interesting, since I shot beyond box speed but only a few stops. The scans looked saturated, mostly blues in some frames. This could possibly be the film being expired as some results can vary. I was satisfied overall with what was produced from the roll. I would definitely like to push Ektar again, possibly to a higher speed above 400 or even go lower below 100.

This shot would have been different had it been on its original box speed

For now I will see what the future holds for my photography and ideas, especially developing them further or possibly revisit soon in the new year. Maybe do something similar to this short lived series by expanding it into something long term, or start afresh from scratch.

I would like to wish my readers a Happy New Year!!

Take care and stay safe

Tried and Tested Thursday: Canon EOS 500n (50mm 1.8 lens/Orange Filter) – Ilford FP4 #FP4Party

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting a roll of Ilford FP4 on a Canon EOS 500n camera on a 50mm 1.8 lens with an orange filter.

This month was the return of the #FP4Party that any film photography is invited to. There are a few rules such as what dates to shoot, when to develop and when to post results on Twitter (where this challenge is hugely based).

From the week of Sunday 1st March, I had shot four rolls of Ilford FP4; two 35mm and two 120 on four different cameras, ranging from a Point and Shoot to a toy camera. 

I was satisfied with most of the results after  scanning them, apart from the Holga – they were completely blank!! Although it was not all bad in 120 as the Yashica 635 results came out better than expected and I shared my results on last week’s Film Friday. Now back to business with the Canon SLR!!

It was the first time in a long while since I shot FP4 on a film SLR. The first time shooting that film on a Canon prime lens with an orange filter (second hand Jessops brand from eBay). The lens itself I had for years when I had a DSLR, but due to its overuse the autofocus is broken so I have to try my best with manual focusing. Nevertheless the results, especially the close ups, aren’t too bad. I had to focus on the main subject closely, stepping towards it slowly at times. Prime lenses are versatile, although I often reserve them for portraiture, close ups or street photography.

125 ISO is a rarity in speed. The slower the better, when the weather is bright or when there is available light take advantage of the slow speed and fine grain.

Take care and stay safe!!

Tried and Tested Thursday: Canon EOS 500n (50mm 1.8 lens) – Fuji Industrial 100

For today’s Tried and Thursday, I will be discussing shooting a roll of Fuji Industrial 100 on my Canon EOS 500n camera. The lens used was a Canon EF 50mm 1.8, a prime lens is famous for its large aperture and bokeh effects.

It was the first time shooting Fuji Industrial 100 which I bought it online from Analogue Wonderland; possibly the only place you can buy it (36 and 24 exposures) for the time being. Recently Fuji announced they would be discontinuing this film this year (only packs of three), and it was no surprise as they have been discontinuing many films over the years such as Superia 200 and Acros. Although Acros did re-emerge last year much to everyone’s shock and surprise. I may elaborate more on another post, but in the meanwhile there is an interesting forum thread talking about the ‘state’ of Fuji.

Back in December I went to the Barbican Conservatory in London, an indoor greenhouse that is open on Sundays and free of charge to go inside! I had a day off from work, so I went along with my Fuji film and SLR. I had just finished shooting the last few exposures on the new Ilford Ortho 80 (the results were meh), and I was eager to try out the colour film.

I didn’t know what to expect initially, however I know from experience with shooting Fuji colour films before that the greens often come out bold, not extremely saturated but vivid and subtle. When it comes to nature photography, I have to select film carefully based on what would be best for capturing flowers, trees or even skies – in both colour or black and white as contrast and tone may vary depending on ISO, and even the camera(s) used. I found using my Canon SLR on this occasion had its advantages as I could use another lens, such as my prime lens. The autofocus no longer works, I had to focus manually the best I could.

The results weren’t bad after scanning. I very rarely edit my scans apart from adding the watermark, and I didn’t think anything needed to be adjusted or tweaked at all on Photoshop. I am overall satisfied with the Fuji Industrial 100, I would use it again for nature shoots as well as try it out for various genres such as travel, architecture and portrait photography. The colour was smooth with the low ISO playing a part.

Focusing was a challenge with this Canon 50mm 1.8 lens. I had it for years prior to having my film cameras. The autofocus was so overused when I had my first Canon DSLR that was probably the reason why the motor had given up. Regardless, the slightly out of focus close up shots did make up for lost time in a creative way; focusing on detail and pattern with the leaves and plants. Not to mention the depth of field is soft and light: with the main subjects being sharp and the background is blurred.

I will be shooting the Fuji Industrial 100 again in the near future before it is gone from the market for good. There aren’t many Fuji films left to buy apart from the expired ones on eBay and some can be quite pricey. Might be a good idea to stock up while I can…

Take care