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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The results? What did I think of the film?

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

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

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

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

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

Take care and stay safe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Manarola Money Shot

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

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

Making Map decisions in Monteresso

Take care and stay safe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hmmmm? Performance artist in Malaga city centre

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

Take care and stay safe

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: A Stockwell Stroll – Canon EOS 500n with Rollei Retro 80s (Yellow Filter)

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting a roll of Rollei Retro 80s on a Canon EOS 500n with a yellow filter.

Back in October, I did some street photography around Stockwell in South London. Prior to the second lockdown, when there were different level tiers in certain areas and regions around the UK.

I only stayed within the area and worked my way up to Brixton via Stockwell Road by foot. Sometimes I would go home from Stockwell Station rather than Brixton, as the train station is less busy and quieter. Plus, it’s good exercise for me; less than a mile straight both ends, only a twenty or so minute walk. It’s nice to pass by the various spots, such as the Portuguese cafes or small South American shops.

I wanted to photograph around Stockwell for a while. I had an idea on what film I wanted to use as well as the camera, but it was finding the time. I had been working non-stop for months, throughout the pandemic and throughout the lockdown. Not to mention, rarely leaving my local area. When I did have days off, I would sometimes catch up with some rest or go through some photographic work such as negative scanning.

Thankfully, I eventually got the chance to do some Stockwell street snaps, as I had to go to Photofusion to drop off some film – including the Rollei roll used on that day. It was a bit cloudy with a slight overcast, but I didn’t mind as long as it didn’t rain.

I have been shooting Rollei Retro 80s for a few years. It is probably one of my favourite films for shooting street photography, also it is well suited for nature shots, especially for plants and trees – all thanks to the low speed and very fine grain coverage. The blacks are very deep in tone, great for darkroom printing or negative scanning with or without further editing.

Last May, I selected the Retro 80s in both 35mm and 120 for Film Friday. In that post, I highlighted some examples with shooting both formats on various cameras over the years with various results in quality.

For the Stockwell shots I upped my camera gear a bit – shooting on my Canon EOS 500n, with a 28mm – 80mm lens (or as I like to call it ‘the default lens’) with a second hand Jessops brand yellow filter, bought from eBay.

It had been a while since using a yellow filter for my black and white photography. Recently, it has been red or orange filters on my wide angle and prime lens, mostly it was the former since I was satisfied with the results and contrasts.

The yellow filter is seen as the ‘classic first choice’, stated on the Ilford Photo website. Although I often regard the orange filter as being the ‘one-size-fits-all’ choice for black and white photography; for being versatile for any photographic genre or style.

This particular filter did have its benefits, as described from the Ilford Photo website – for making the blue sky darker, despite the October overcast. I did see a difference after scanning the negatives; the contrast, tones and shadows were darker in some places with some deep blacks.

I would normally use a low speed film, nothing lower than 80 or 100 ISO for sunny or bright days. This Rollei knew how to roll on slightly different conditions.

The fine detail, the sharpness and tones overall in one roll, made worth shooting again and again for years to come!! I might probably test it out for portrait photography or explore other photographic genres or styles.

I would highly recommend Rollei Retro 80s for both beginners, intermediate or the advanced film photographers.

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