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

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: Living Some Daylights – Holga 120 with Cinestill 50 Daylight

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting Cinestill 50D on a Holga 120.

The Cinestill 50D (also known as Cinestill Daylight 50 or Cinestill 50 Daylight) was a film I tried out on two separate occasions in both 35mm and 120. The former I selected for a Film Friday last year.

My first frame from the film

I was slightly impressed by the Daylight’s results on 35mm, so I wanted to test out the 120 roll on my Holga. Let’s say, it was a mixture of ‘meh’ and potential. This was all after processing and scanning; the results weren’t what I had expected.

The ‘meh’ side was mainly the scanning part, when seeing the scans on preview. I was a little disappointed, the negatives were dark and underexposed. Sadly the Holga can do that despite its very limited functions.

The Holga was taped, however the outcome might have been different had it been left untaped. Some film photographers tape their Holga’s and some don’t, but it is down to personal preference, with some liking the light leaks.

The Cinestill Daylight has an ISO of 50, a slow film speed. Shooting as low as 50 most likely requires a lot of light and exposure. The day I had tested the roll was on a gloomy/overcast day in January of this year, with a couple nice spots of some light source.

This leads me to talk about the possible potential with the Cinestill 50D. The 120 roll is probably suited for sunny and bright days, especially when shooting a Holga or a pinhole camera.

Another potential is trying the film on another camera, probably on one with manual settings. This is when a light meter could come in handy and put into great use, which I do hope to get one soon!! I believe Medium format cameras such as TLR’s do work best with any speed film, even the ones that go lower than 50. Also I wished I had tried this film on the Yashica 635 when I had the chance, as the results might have been slightly better as I could change both the aperture and shutter speed.

So what now? Would I use Cinestill 50D in 120 again? Possibly, since I have one roll of it left.

Would I shoot it again on my Holga? Depends, but maybe towards the summer or when it is a sunny day. Maybe not tape the camera – let’s see how the possible light leaks could impact the film and compare that with the previous results, which could be a learning curve on where and how to improve.

Green must GO!! The colours on the negatives, that is

The Daylight 50 does have potential, it would be a shame not trying it out on a variety of cameras available.

Take care and stay safe

Film Friday: Cinestill 800 Tungsten in 35mm

For today’s Film Friday, I selected the Cinestill 800 Tungsten in 35mm – also known as Cinestill Tungsten 800 or simply Cinestill 800T.

I originally bought four rolls of them around late last night from Analogue Wonderland. They had restocked the film after a long while, so I bought the Tungsten in both 35mm and 120.

Three is now the lucky number

I have been shooting Cinestill Tungsten since 2017. I used to buy at least one or two single rolls a year, as it was quite expensive. Whenever I got my hands on a roll, I would normally use it for night photography, mostly neon or bright lights. An example is when I went around London’s West End, shooting on my Canon EOS 500n.

Over a year ago, I was shooting Cinestill Tungsten for the first two Petrol Station Series. This particular film was great, especially for its cool and cold tones, also for the artificial lighting and capturing the dark blue-indigo evening sky. The results gave a clean and retro feel, although it was a challenge when it came to negative scanning and printing in the darkroom. Nevertheless, I was so satisfied with the overall outcome that I would use the film again for the second series.

The film itself is the same motion picture stock used by many cinematographers, as stated on the Cinestill website. It also recommends that the film can be pushed from 200 to 2000 ISO, and even higher at 3000. I often shot the film at its box speed of 800, however I might consider testing it out at a low or high speed in the future.

As Cinestill Tungsten is known for being the film for night shots, I decided to go out of my comfort zone by doing some daytime shots. Originally planned on shooting the neon signs at God’s Own Junkyard in Walthamstow, but was told that ‘professional photography’ was not allowed. Alternatively, I was able to use my phone. It was until after the brief stay there, I began capturing shots through the backstreets of Walthamstow, since it was heading towards late afternoon.

Normally I would share a few examples, but unfortunately I haven’t had the chance to get the film processed yet. When I do, eventually, I might do a Tried and Tested Thursday post in the future.

At the time of writing, I have three Tungsten rolls left. I have a few plans with them, hopefully test them out on various cameras at different speeds, plus do some daytime photography soon.

Take care and stay safe

Film Friday: Cinestill 50 Daylight in 35mm

For today’s Film Friday, I selected Cinestill 50 Daylight in 35mm, also known as Cinestill Daylight or Cinestill Daylight 50.

This was the first time purchasing this particular film. I would buy the Tungsten roll, every once in a while – whenever it is in stock. Thankfully Analogue Wonderland recently restocked the Cinestill range after a long while.

It was also the second time I ever have colour film with a very low ISO of 50, with Fuji Velvia being the first one. It’s quite rare to find colour film with a very slow speed below 100, although there are options of changing the box speed a few stops down. Not to mention, when shooting a speed so low, it requires a lot of exposure and patience as I would soon discover.

I decided to test the Daylight film on a Minolta X-700, a camera I am currently borrowing. I already took shots with it during the weekend, mainly around the local area which consisted of mainly street photography. I often do a bit of street shots or candids whenever I am trying out new film, to see what it’s made out of when processing, scanning or printing. It might be useful for me to purchase another roll or two, to add to my growing collection.

Attempting to hold the camera with one hand and the phone with another

At the time of writing this blog post, the Daylight film is currently being processed and I should have the negatives back by next week. As of a few days ago, I ordered another roll in both 35mm and also in 120 from Analogue Wonderland.

For now, all I can say is that I am looking forward to the results and hopefully I might share them on a future Tried and Tested Thursday!!

Take care and stay safe

The Petrol Station Series 2: Finally Finished!!

Sunday 10th November was the last night of shooting; four exposures left on my camera, it was finally time to end the series. After three weeks of trekking around parts of East and North London, I finished this chapter by going down memory lane to Beckton, where my old university is and where I had spent a great amount of time there. It was an evening mixed with old faces, nostalgia and memories.

The first stop was BP in Canning Town, located on Newham Way which is the A13. It did take me a long while to get there by bus, although I was coming through Stratford, and I had to walk for quite a bit. The petrol station wasn’t near the tube or DLR station. I had taken the shot from the side, capturing the traffic lights plus I managed to get the car wash in the frame which is on the left in the corner. It was early evening when I got to BP, the sky was dark indigo but  would soon gradually go dark afterwards.

BP – Canning Town

The next stop was Asda on Tollgate Road in Beckton. Many Asda petrol stations are self service, where card payments are only accepted. The Asda supermarket is just yards away near the car park. I happen to know this area very well since my old university is quite close by. During my time as a student, I would hang out with friends around the area and often go to Asda to do some shopping, sometimes food or alcohol. It had been years since I was last in Beckton and it looked pretty much the same…

Asda – Tollgate Road, Beckton

The third stop was Sainsburys in Beckton, over a mile away from Asda. The station is on Claps Gate Lane in Beckton Triangle Retail Park, with the supermarket nearby.

Sainsburys – Beckton Triangle

The fourth and final stop was Tesco in Armada Way, Gallions Reach. Less than a mile away from Sainsburys and also Asda. The lights in the sign were broken, so it only showed ‘Co Extra’! Gallions Reach is a retail park, similar to Beckton Triangle. During my uni days I would go there almost all the time – night and day with friends. We would go to the massive Tesco for a wander or shop, or have a McDonalds for either lunch or dinner. It was pitch black at this point and I highly doubted the shops would be open around the time I was there.

Tesco – Armada Way, Gallions Reach

Once I pressed the shutter of my last petrol station, I sighed with relief and joy. After hearing the film unwind, after three weeks of hard work and travelling around, the hard work finally paid off. Thirty six petrol stations later, I finally completed the second series!

I would like to thank everyone for supporting me throughout this project and my photography. As usual, I very much appreciate the love and kindness!!

It has been a mission but certainly worth it!!

To end on a high, I am happy to announce the third part of the Petrol Station Series will begin from next month. I am very excited about it!!

So stay tuned, take care and stay safe!!

The Petrol Station Series 2: The Longest Night

It was Friday 8th November, almost at the end of completing the series. I was back in East London again, where my journey would start from Forest Gate and ending in Plaistow. I was probably out for at least two or three hours as I came back home quite late.

My journey began on Romford Road in the Forest Gate area, where there are three petrol stations on the same road – within a mile and minutes apart from walking distance. First stop was Gulf (also known as Mayesbrook Motors), which appeared to be the biggest one I have seen, not to mention sleek design with a modern touch. I believe they do car repairs on site, but I am not too sure.

Gulf (Mayesbrook Motors) – Romford Road

Second stop was Esso on Romford Road, also a Tesco Express too, not uncommon to see. I have photographed a fair share of Esso/Tesco’s in the first, second and even third series. This Esso was packed full of cars at the pumps, a busy night on a Friday plus the start of the weekend.

Esso – Romford Road

Third and final stop on Romford Road was Shell, a fifteen minute walk from Esso. This station is located in Manor Park heading towards Ilford. Slightly empty unlike the previous stop and a little smaller in size.

Shell – Romford Road

I was back in Ilford after a week, just briefly though. There were two stations on Ilford Lane and both ten minutes apart walking distance. The first stop on that road was Shell, yes another one less than a mile away. This time I went inside the station to shoot the shop, although I didn’t mind if a car or two got in the way. I wanted to shake up the perspective a bit when it came to shooting; still keeping the consistency, the technique and the style.

Shell – Ilford Lane

The second station of Ilford Lane was Esso, this time there wasn’t a Tesco Express but instead a Londis, a convenience store chain. Rare to see them at petrol stations from what I gather. I had shot this from across the road near to the bus stop. I wanted to make sure everything fitted into the frame to avoid further cropping when scanning, so I had to walk a few paces back in order to achieve this.

Esso – Ilford Lane

My next stop was Shell on London Road in Barking. It had been years since I was last in Barking and was a little weird going through places I recognised. Anyway, the petrol station was located off the roundabout heading towards the dual carriageway. I shot the Shell from across the road. The station was empty and was closed for the night, despite the information on Google saying it ‘opens for 24 hours’.

Shell – London Road, Barking

The last station of the night was Esso on Barking Road in Plaistow. The station was closed to the public, however there was a petrol tanker possibly refuelling the tanks in the ground. It was quite interesting to see, especially tanks from time to time need to get ‘filled up’.

Esso – Barking Road, Plaistow

My Friday night out ended very late with a long bus ride home. On my way back, I went through a few old and recognisable places such as East Ham and Upton Park.

With the series coming to a very near end, I just had one more day left to finish, and I was determined to get everything completed; getting the film processed and just wait for the results. I was flying out to New York City the following week; it was my first time going to the United States and would be the last trip of 2019.

Certainly was a fun rollercoaster of a ride! A positive one I must say.

Take care and stay safe

The Petrol Station Series 2: Camden Stops

Monday 4th November, I was in Camden, North West London, where I was shooting a few petrol stations that evening. I did happen to be near the area as I had a Spanish class in Euston, so after the lesson I took a bus from there straight to Camden. The previous evening I had shot four petrol stations in Bow, down the East End of London. The series was slowly coming to an end as I had some exposures left on the film with a couple days left to shoot within the week.

The first stop was Shell in York Way, located in a residential area. I had shot the station at the exit from Camden Park Road, not on York Way which is the entrance. This station has an unique layout and design; possibly bigger than most of them I shot throughout the first and second series. Near empty, as usual for most but this shot has a futuristic feel to it.

Shell – York Way, Camden

Second stop was Esso on Camden Road, a ten minute walk from Shell, also heading towards Camden Town. This petrol station was near empty, nothing unusual especially around this time of night. I decided to ‘step inside’ slightly to take the shot, mainly to capture the man filling up his car. The majority of the petrol stations I had taken there were little to no human presence, I thought it was time to finally do that mainly focusing on taking them from behind.

Esso – Camden Road

The next stop was Morrisons in Camden Town, situated next to the very famous Stables Market and Camden Lock Market. The Morrisons supermarket is on Chalk Farm Road, however the petrol station is on Juniper Crescent – both close by only a few yards apart. A little hard to find at first when using Google Maps, until I realised it was simply off Haverstock Hill…

Morrisons – Camden Town

The final station was BP on Haverstock Hill in Belsize Park, not even a few yards from the tube station or the Royal Free Hospital. As I was walking to BP, I noticed from afar that it was empty – no cars, but empty as in deserted. There were traffic cones outside the station, meaning there was no petrol or it was closed for the night. I think by the time I had reached there it was after nine or slowly approaching ten o’clock. Probably BP shut up shop early, who knows?

BP – Haverstock Hill

My time in North London was done, and I headed back home by train within an hour. It had been a long while since going to Camden and I was truly amazed at how things changed, especially the market and the recent new developments. I keep saying to myself I should do more street photography around the area, although I have a few times before both analogue and digital. This Petrol Station Series has made me appreciate the streets and its surroundings, as they are part of everyday life as well as everyone’s life. I love exploring them for a wander, walk or photographing. They are good for memories of the present for the future.

Take care and stay safe

The Petrol Station Series 2: Take a Bow

Another night, another couple of hours out and about shooting a few petrol stations. It was Sunday 3rd November, I was in Bow down London’s East End. This was the first Sunday shooting since starting the series so far. Also it was the first time I made a very, very last minute change – out of surprise! I will talk a little more about it later on in this post.

My first stop was Shell on Wick Lane in Bow, close to the A12 and not too far from the West Ham Football Stadium in Stratford. It took me a while to get there as I came by bus via Stratford, and I had to walk a fair bit, as you do. I shot the station from across the road; making sure everything fits into the frame, only to avoid further cropping when scanning the negatives.

Shell – Wick Lane, Bow

Next stop was Texaco on Grove Road, near to Mile End Station and less than a mile away from Victoria Park. I walked it from Shell to Texaco, which was roughly a twenty minute walk through a straight road. I am familiar with Grove Road and I would occasionally go pass there by bus when going to Canary Wharf. Texaco was near empty when I took this photo, however there seemed to be a lot of people walking down that road also Mile End Road close by. There was almost no traffic from what I can remember. I think there was probably an event happening or possibly an accident, I am not too sure.

Texaco – Grove Road

This brings me to the ‘very, very last minute change’! After walking half a mile to the next bus stop, initially hoping to get to station number three, I hopped on a bus and then suddenly I saw an empty Texaco in Bow Church – I never noticed it before, despite going by this road for years!!! I immediately pressed the bell to get off, just to take a quick snap. As I had a list of thirty six petrol stations on my phone, I had the option of getting rid of one or not shoot the next one (the third stop). The former was in North London and in a way it was a blessing in disguise, due to the location to get there.

Texaco – Bow Church

Last but certainly not least, initially the third of the night, was Tesco petrol station in Bromley-By-Bow. This station wasn’t a stand alone, there is a Tesco superstore right next door, which is both located off the A12 and heading towards the Blackwall Tunnel. I have walked by this Tesco a few times before, so I am a little bit familiar with the area especially as it is not far from the famous Balfron Tower and Carradale House – my favourite Brutalist buildings.

Tesco – Bromley-By-Bow

My night ended there, time to head back home via Stratford and then another bus. It took me less than an hour to get back to my humble abode.

I was half way through shooting the series at this point; I had shot my twenty first petrol station (twenty third exposure overall) from that night. I had thirteen more stations to shoot with fifteen exposures left on my Cinestill roll, which I gave myself a week to get it completed and thankfully I stuck by my commitment.

Take care and stay safe

The Petrol Station Series 2: Staying In Lane

The fourth day was on Halloween, Thursday 31st October 2019. I was definitely tricking and treating petrol stations around Ilford that night.

Ilford is a town in East London, which is in the borough of Redbridge. Some people may consider Ilford to be in Essex rather than London, possibly due to its location or postcode. Recently, I debated about this with a relative; she protested where she lives, which is near to Ilford, is in Essex but I said it is in London. To cut a long story short with no conclusion: It’s questionable with no definite answer, for now. Just to note, Leytonstone was once part of Essex until the borders moved over fifty years ago.

Now the geography lesson is over, let’s focus on the petrol stations! The first stop was Esso on High Road in Ilford, near to Seven Kings train station. My journey would almost go full circle within that particular area for the following three stations.

Esso – High Road, Ilford

The second and third stops were on Green Lane, a mile apart from each other. Jet was the first one I shot on the long stretch of road. The signage, including the indicator panel looked ‘modern’ compared to the other stations I had shot previously. It was a little awkward though when it came down to shooting, I wanted everything to fit in the frame just to avoid cropping while scanning.

Jet – Green Lane, Ilford

The second stop on Green Lane was Esso, also a Tesco Express. I had shot it from across the road, trying something different again, however was traffic coming from both directions and I wanted to wait until I got a clear shot of the station. Each shot was taken in one take, so if I messed up or had an ‘accident’, there was no going back. Hoping the road was clear, I suddenly took the shot but the car roof got in the frame. It wasn’t anything major as it was in the corner and didn’t completely block the station.

Esso – Green Lane, Ilford

Shell on Ley Street was the second to last stop. Still in the Ilford area, closer to the town centre. This station was very busy with all cars at all pumps. This was a rarity even at this time of night.

Shell – Ley Street

The final stop before heading home was Shell on Southend Road, near to the dual carriageway. This was the station I was initially meant to shoot a week prior, I explained this towards the end of the second post. I didn’t bother getting close to Shell, instead I took the photo from the other side near to the bus stop. The tree is partially blocking half the view of the station, although the indicator panel and station roof can still be seen.

Shell – Southend Road

Another night ended on another high. I would eventually return back to near the Ilford area in a couple weeks time to shoot more stations, plus that night would be the longest night out so far in the series.

Take care and stay safe