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

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

Take care and stay safe

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

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

Take care and stay safe

Film Friday: Fuji Pro 400h in 35mm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pilatus Rocking and Rolling!!

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

Take care and stay safe

Tried and Tested Thursday: Superia Under Wraps – Olympus Mju 1 with Fuji Superia Xtra 800 (Expired)

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting a roll of expired Fuji Superia Xtra 800 on the Olympus Mju 1.

The Superia 800 was originally a Film Friday in late 2020, an eBay buy plus expired nearly fifteen years ago. Not to mention, this particular Superia (also the 400 ISO) has now been discontinued by Fujifilm, it is nowhere to be seen through online retailers, with the chance of possibly floating on eBay or similar sites.

My initial plan was to shoot the Superia on my Canonet 28, however the camera’s highest ISO was up to 400. Not all hope was lost, as I would use the same camera for another film, on the same day. So instead I used the Superia on the Olympus Mju 1, a slightly modern camera with automatic settings.

I tested the film at the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington, London. At the time, it had recently been reopened to the public after lockdowns slowly eased in the United Kingdom.

To take advantage of the film’s high speed and grain, I captured a few low light shots in the main part of the museum, mostly the sculptures and statues, some wrapped in plastic. I did use flash in one shot, although I believe it isn’t necessary, and hardly use it. I was confident the outcome from the film would be similar to Kodak Portra 800 or the Lomo CN 800.

Oh, I was very wrong!!

Not worth the hype after all: the high speed and grain failed miserably in some parts (above is an example), slightly underwhelmed

As predicted, expired film can often produce surprising results, depending on how long it has been expired or what condition it has been kept in, especially where stored.

It was difficult to tell if there was a significant amount of colour shift; most frames didn’t come out that well after both processing and scanning. The ones shot in low light didn’t result fairly either, however the stained glass shots were decent enough, all thanks to the LED backlighting.

My time with both film and camera was far from over. After the museum trip, I decided to walk through the local market as it was closing for the day. I began photographing a few shop fronts and market stalls, quite visible and clearer from the negative scanning – a completely whole different comparison to the museum scans, and this is on the same roll!! Yet again, flash wasn’t really necessary, as the built in flash is very bright for night shooting.

The expired Superia wasn’t to my liking, to be honest. I’m glad I got the results and scanned them, since I didn’t want to put them aside or to waste for no reason. I was curious to see its potential outcome, which was certainly not the best of the bunch.

Better luck next time…

Take care and stay safe

Film Friday: Fuji Pro 400h in 120

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take care and stay safe

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

Film Friday: Fuji Acros II in 35mm and 120

For today’s Film Friday, I selected Fuji Acros II in both 35mm and 120.

This film has been on the list for a while, although buying the two rolls around a week ago from Parallax.

Second Time Round: Acros made a comeback a year later after being discontinued…

Last year’s Film Friday was the original Acros in both formats, which had expired in October 2019. At the time of writing, I have two rolls each 35mm and 120.

The original film had been discontinued back in 2018, however over a year later Fuji would soon relaunch a second version of Acros.

Unlike the original 120 film, Acros II in medium format doesn’t come in a pack of five, instead it comes in a single roll. Many Fuji 120 films out there often come in a single roll or a pack, just like other brands such as Kodak or Lomography. Probably works out cheaper to buy them in a pack rather than single.

I’m yet to try the two films out, but I do have a couple cameras in mind that I would like to test it on – the Olympus Trip 35 and Lubitel 166b. It would be interesting to see the outcome after processing. Would it be better than the original? Would it be a film worth buying again?

Shootitwithfilm and The Darkroom have posted some examples from shooting with Acros II, by comparing it side-to-side with the original Acros.

Take care and stay safe

Film Friday: Fuji Provia 100f in 120

Note: Was originally meant to be posted last week Friday, but there was a slight delay. The next Film Friday will be the following week as scheduled.

For today’s Film Friday, I selected Fuji Provia 100f in 120.

This is the second time selecting a Fuji slide film as a Film Friday, first time being the expired Velvia in both 35mm and 120.

Bought a single roll rather than the five pack second time round. I want to try out one (or two) first and see if it worth buying more in the future

Fuji has a variety of slide films, probably more than any other brand. Many in 35mm and 120, even a few coming in film sheet form – mainly for large format cameras.

Provia was the second Fuji slide film I shot with recently. Last month I tested out two rolls in 120 on my Holga (not taped) down London’s East End. I was hoping the weather would be fairly nicer for some natural light, although that wasn’t the case as it was cloudy with a bit of an overcast.

I had the rolls processed at AG Photolab, based in Birmingham in the United Kingdom. Like I had previously for my other slide films, most recently Kodak Ektachrome.

The results were OK, although Provia would have worked fairly better in brighter conditions, for example sunny weather. It was my first time shooting with the film, so I didn’t know what to expect initially…

I did buy another 120 roll of Provia a few weeks back from Parallax. Hopefully I can try it out again on the Holga or my Lubitel 166b, a recent eBay purchase. The Soviet era TLR is more functional than the Holga, which is an advantage. Also on the plus side, the outcome from the film on the Lubitel might come out good, if not better. Who knows until after developing…

Take care and stay safe

Film Friday: Fuji Superia Xtra 800 in 35mm (Expired)

For today’s Film Friday, I selected Fuji Superia Xtra 800 in 35mm. This particular film expired in June 2007.

Another recent purchase from eBay, which I bought over a month ago for £6.50 – nearly a quarter of the price for a fresh roll at some photographic retailers, which is very rare to find them in stock.

I have never shot Superia 800 before, but I have with the other members from the Superia family such as the 400 and 200 films a few times.

I have shot other high speed films in 800 before, such as Cinestill Tungsten and most recently Kodak Portra 800 in 35mm. Both films mentioned differ from each other in terms of quality and results after processing and when scanning or printing in the darkroom.

The Film for Football. Ah, I remember the World Cup in Germany back in 2006. England didn’t win this round!!

The grain coverage can vary on some high speed films; ranging from subtle, fine to extreme grain. I don’t know what to expect with the Superia 800, whether it would be similar or completely different to the Cinestill or Kodak high colour ISO films.

I’m planning on using the recently bought Superia roll on a manual camera, most likely the Canon Canonet 28 – a vintage camera from eBay, originally purchased a few years back but never used. It would be interesting to test out an unfamiliar film on an unfamiliar camera in the near future, most likely very soon.

Take care and stay safe

Tried and Tested Thursday: The Gift of The Gib – Canon EOS 500n with Fuji Superia 200 (Expired)

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting rolls of expired Fuji Superia 200 on the Canon EOS 500n.

Another day, another travel throwback. Four years ago this week I went to Gibraltar for four days. It didn’t go to plan as it was raining during my time there, but thankfully the weather slowly got better a couple days before my departure.

Top of The Rocks (‘scuse the traffic cone making its appearance)

A quick lowdown, Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory located at the tip to the Iberian Peninsula; bordering Spain to the north, close to the city of La Línea de la Concepción in the Cadiz province. I had a fun time explaining this to a few people where Gibraltar was. I even wrote a blog post about my upcoming trip over my travel blog.

For my trip I took four rolls of Fuji Superia 200, they expired in 2005 (managed to use three). Plus a few Ilford rolls of FP4 and HP5 in 35mm, also expired. All films were from eBay, which I bought before I went away. The Fuji films came with a small green pouch bag, which I still use to this day bag to carry my rolls in.

Sadly the Fuji Superia 200 discontinued in 2018, alongside Superia 1600 and Natura 1600. C200 would soon be an alternative, replacing the Superia – a consumer film that is reasonably priced, although Fuji prices have gone up in recent times.

With the miserable weather in Gibraltar going full swing, I had to make do with what my plans were for the next few days. On my first night, I went out around the empty streets to do some shooting and exploring, while my Airbnb hosts attended a concert.

The streets weren’t completely pitch black during while out and about to the high street. The street lights were brightly lit as well as other sources of artificial light from shops and signs. Using a 200 ISO  film in low light or dark conditions can sometimes be tricky, and using a high ISO film would be the better choice. I chose not to use the camera flash or self timer this time around and rarely do for low light photography. The overall results from the night shots on my first night weren’t too bad, with some coming out blurry.

During the day, I often went around the streets mainly wandering around the town centre and making sure I didn’t get lost on my way back to my Airbnb house. I wanted to cross the border over to Spain at one point, and even considered going to Tangier, located in Northern Morocco by boat. When both those plans fell through, I stayed put in Gibraltar going to the same places again a couple times. I photographed the Spanish influenced architecture mixed with a hint of the English touch, something I found very fascinating, especially the red iconic telephone boxes!!

It wasn’t all doom and gloom, I did manage to go on top of the Rock by tour bus!! It was worth the experience and I would definitely do it again – only if the weather’s nice and sunny, preferably not overcast or cloudy!!

Before heading to the highest point, we went to St. Michael’s Cave, where it was wet inside from the heavy rain a couple days prior. The Cave is also an auditorium with seats and a performance stage, with illuminating lights that change colour. I believe my Airbnb hosts, a married couple, attended a concert there on my first night and returned back home very late.

Of course I took some photos while inside the cave. Not exactly the best, almost similar to the night shots I had taken days before; blurry but good to go nevertheless.

The ‘money shots’ came from The Rock and the monkeys, also known as Barbary macaques. I had the chance to shoot the beach from the top, which is along the Spain-Gibraltar border as well as La Línea from a distance.

The two skyline shots aren’t too bad, despite that particular day being cloudy and grey. I think a higher speed film like 400 ISO would be better to use for this type of photography, probably the Fuji Superia Xtra 400 or even Kodak Ultramax 400. Alternatively a black and white film would have been forgiving due its versatility at any ISO, especially when producing prints in the darkroom as there are opportunities to change the exposure and aperture settings.

In conclusion, I think the Fuji Superia 200 was a hit and miss in Gibraltar overall. I was satisfied with some of the outcome after scanning on the Epson V550, with the colours and tones being strong in some scans. As usual, I didn’t do any editing on Photoshop apart from add the faint watermark in the corner. I don’t think they needed any further altering or tweeking despite a few scans being dull.

Take care and stay safe