Tried and Tested Thursday: Down The Kent Coast – Holga 120 with Ilford FP4

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting Ilford FP4 on my Holga 120.

I took two separate trips to Kent in a space of two weeks in June, heading Whitstable first and then Folkestone. It was the first time going to both places, also my first time in over a decade since I had visited Kent.

For the two lovely days out, I brought along two of my film cameras with me – the Holga 120 and Olympus XA2. Today’s post I will be focusing on the Holga, then Olympus XA2 possibly the following week.

The choice of film for the Holga was Ilford FP4, an absolute classic all thanks to its low speed and fine grain.

The Holga was taped with black electrical tape, only to prevent unwanted light leaks or overexposures since the lighting conditions were very bright, in Whitstable especially. I wanted to take something a little simple for my trip, so the Holga was useful. Plus I did want to take a few black and white shots of mainly the beach.

The outcome from the Ilford FP4 was interesting… for some unknown reason there were white grains on both Kent negatives. The film was in date when purchased and eventually used for shooting, however it was strange to see this type of grain since the film has a low speed. It could possibly be a bad batch during the film production, certainly not from processing. Either way, the image quality wasn’t the best, had there not been any mysterious grain, the quality would have improved. Regardless, the contrasts and tones were the only saving grace.

I’m quite unsure if printing from the negatives in the darkroom would impact the printing quality. Most likely the same results as the scans with the grains.

The obvious room for improvement would be if I had the chance to reshoot the two trips again on a couple FP4 rolls or maybe a similar low speed film like Kodak Tmax 100 or the new Fuji Acros.

Back to Back? Returning to Whitstable wouldn’t be ruled out, maybe this time next year?

Those two FP4 rolls had so much potential after processing, sadly the unexpected outcome let it down overall…

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: Frozen Foma Ponds – Holga 120 with Fomapan Action

Note: Originally meant to be posted last week

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting Fomapan Action (aka Fomapan 400) on my Holga 120.

Earlier on in the year, I selected Fomapan Action as a Film Friday. The same month I shot two rolls out of the three on my Holga, mainly around my local area.

I chose not to tape the Holga, something which would usually do but I decided to try without it. I wanted to see if not using the tape would impact the negatives after processing, such as any light leaks. More on that later in the post.

For my local wander, I started off at Lloyd Park in Walthamstow. The weather was nice, sunny but a little chilly. The temperature was below 2 that week – so low that some ponds, lakes or bodies of water were completely frozen. Of course, I wanted to capture that on film, since the pond at Lloyd Park was pure ice and stagnant.

On the same day, I went to Hollow Ponds in Leytonstone. Inspired by my previous stop at Lloyd Park, I was curious to see if the pond was frozen – lo and behold, it was!!

Still shooting with Fomapan 400, the second roll on the Holga and left it untaped just like the first time. I walked around the pond for a bit, then headed near to the forest.

Got the two Foma rolls processed over a month ago, but only managed to scan the negs a few weeks ago. I was surprised with the results even before scanning them. The first negatives, the Lloyd Park one, was OK until I saw that there was some light leakage on a few particular negs; not even a single frame but all three. I did a screengrab of the said negatives from the preview on Epson V550, as an example.

Usually I would have discarded or rejected these selected scans, I wouldn’t even share them online, however I thought it would be great to showcase the ‘rejects’ – since it didn’t come out perfect or the way I wanted it to. I do believe the film was exposed when winding it; light leaks could be plausible, although it wouldn’t impact two negatives from the same roll, especially three frames on each one. Weirdly enough, light leaks didn’t affect the second roll of negatives as much, despite its high speed and lighting conditions weren’t too bad. I think the Hollow Pond negs are probably better than the first lot taken at Lloyd Park.

The black vignetting on the negatives were slightly faint, which serves as a border and a frame. The Pond/Forest shots are my favourites, also it would be nice to print them in the darkroom as they have potential and beyond for displaying them in a handmade frame.

The Fomapan Action does what it says on the tin. The high speed of 400 serves its purpose: wonderful results, hardly no high grain, smoothness, plus the contrasts and tones are on point. It’s a film I would most likely buy many times, due the quality and price.

The Fomapan roll is Holga friendly too, like many films I have shot on that camera over the years. The Fomapan 400 is possibly the best I have shot so far.

This shot was an accidental double exposure, still decided to scan it

Luckily enough, I have one 120 roll left that I am considering testing on my Lubitel 166b, a Soviet era TLR and a recent purchase from eBay.

Take care and stay safe

Tried and Tested Thursday: Summer Slidin’ – Kodak Ektachrome 100 on Holga 120 and Yashica 635

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting three rolls of Kodak Ektachrome on two different medium format cameras, the Holga and Yashica 635.

Also this is the 100th post on Photographic Jannine!!

Last April, Ektachrome 120 format was a Film Friday. Originally purchased from Analogue Wonderland over a year ago, I didn’t start shooting with it until May.

I only recently got the film processed a month ago over at AG Photo Lab, based in Birmingham, United Kingdom. Their prices start from £5.49 per roll (process only), there are also options of scanning or a contact sheet print. The turnaround time was a little over a week, which was pretty decent and fairly reasonable.

I scanned the 120 negatives on my Epson V550. When scanning, I selected the ‘positive film’ option on Professional Mode, since they are transparent film (or slide). As per usual, no editing or further tweaks apart from the faint watermark of my name on each scan, that I did on Photoshop.

Holga 120

I shot my first Ektachrome on my Holga back in May of last year.

Throughout the years since having the Holga, I had many trials and errors along the way, as well as a few interesting outcomes. I wanted to see what this slide film was capable of on this plastic fantastic camera.

The soft black vignetting from the Holga serves well as a frame

The Holga was taped with black electrical tape, cheap to buy from Poundshops, or depending what region/country you live, might be a variety store or DIY shop.

In a recent post where I had tested out some film on the same camera, I did have a few reservations on whether I should tape the Holga or not for next time; would it make a difference to have a few light leaks? Would it impact the post-production side, especially when scanning or potentially printing in the darkroom?

I didn’t know what to expect with the Ektachrome initially, but I chanced it. Sometimes you can expect the unexpected.

The results from the scanning preview were a bit of a hit and miss. They weren’t too bad, but it was a little dull (terms of image quality), despite on that particular day of shooting, the sky was very bright and sunny. Would it have been better sans tape? Most likely, as Ektachrome has an ISO of 100, probably would have been OK for some leakage on the negatives.

The Holga is limited on what it can do, as it has very control and few settings. On the plus side, it is a great way to start medium format photography – not to mention how cheap it is to buy from eBay. It’s a good camera to experiment and play around with.

Ektachrome is definitely well suited for nature photography, as the colours add a bit of a vivid ‘pop’ and vibrance, however not for some of these Holga shots.

Yashica 635 – Part 1

Since there is a nature theme going on here, this slowly gets better with the possible room for improvement.

A few weeks after the forest trip, I headed down to Lloyd Park in Walthamstow. Geared up with the Yashica 635 and film already loaded inside, I was ready to go. The weather was nice and sunny in the month of June.

Well, what happened next after scanning another story…

The first two shots were overexposed, the museum entrance in particular was very overexposed. I cannot remember the speed or aperture used, but most likely the speed was between 1/125 and 1/250, also the aperture being below f8. It’s a shame, I wish I had made a note of this.

It did eventually get better when I started shooting close shots of plants and flowers in the park. I was very impressed with the focusing on the Yashica, although the viewfinder was sometimes a challenge to follow.

The bright colours were amazing, the greens and yellows in particular stood out the most. Some exposures were a little off, however it was a learning curve to test out a TLR camera with all the manual settings, also get out of my comfort zone.

Nothing Mellow bout Yellow

Yashica 635 – Part 2

For the third and final roll, I decided to do a few multiple exposures on the Yashica TLR. I did a few random shots with the exposures overlapping each other, in the same locations but different spots.

Still staying within the local area, doing some street photography near where I live, plus the local market. I did stop by the nearby cemetery en route.

Unlike using Ektachrome for the first time on the Yashica, the exposures were fairly OK, with some being a little over and underexposed. Other than that, there was a slight improvement in a short space of time.

I wouldn’t consider Ektachrome being the film for street photography, however it has won me over with shooting it again around local areas and beyond. Probably focusing on shop fronts, markets or fruit and vegetable stalls. The colour and contrast might be better with those types of shots.

So what’s the conclusion and verdict?

The overall winner has to be Yashica 635 both times, although there were a few hiccups with settings. This Ektachrome is good on all cameras, however the TLR has more control and functions. I wouldn’t rule out shooting this film or any slide film on Holga again, but the Yashica 635 had a ‘wow’ factor.

Clearly a Fan – shot on Yashica 635

Further improvements and developments can always be made along the way. I’m still new to slide film, so I may have many chances to practice.

Luckily enough, I have two Ektachrome 120 rolls left in my fridge. I’m planning to shoot them on my Agfa Isolette, possibly processing them both in C41 rather than E6 (also known for processing slide film). Many results from that method come out quite funky, bold and saturated.

There’s a community on Twitter dedicated (and debate) on slide film processing, known as SayNoToXpro – against cross processing. Then there is SayYoToXpro, which is all for E6 processing. (Note: Please correct if I am wrong with the definitions)

I’m eager to fly out both processing techniques on Ektachrome, and other slide film at some point.

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

Tried and Tested Thursday: Holding It Together at the Horniman – Holga 120 with Kodak Portra 400

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting a roll Kodak Portra 400 on the Holga 120.

For the last five years, I have been ‘trying and testing’ the Holga so many times, which had been mainly trial and error during the process however recently, the results have slowly been improving. Today’s post is an example of success happening along the way.

Last year in September I went to the Horniman Museum and Gardens in Forest Hill, South East London. I went with my friend and her youngest son. It was a day out and also an early birthday treat for me. It was our first time going there, which we had a great time. I would highly recommend anyone in the London area or beyond to visit!!

For the day out, I brought along two cameras: Canon EOS 500n and Holga 120; four films, one for the Canon (Fuji Superia 400), and three for the Holga – two rolls of Portra 400 and one Ilford HP5. I started off with the Portra. The Holga was taped initially as soon as we entered the museum to the conservatory outside.

That particular day was quite nice in terms of the weather, maybe a lower speed film would have been better, maybe Lomo CN 100 or Kodak Ektar. The colour quality overall would have been slightly different, however the exposure might have not been too bad depending on lighting conditions. I chose the Portra 400 as I thought it would be versatile in any setting, especially in low light…

Not all low light, mind you artificial lighting can be a trial and error when using film – including higher speeds from 400 upwards

That was until I loaded the second roll of Portra. The electrical black tape got tangled up as I tried to place it on the Holga again. I soon gave up and discarded the tangled tape. I didn’t care so much about light leaks coming through, I could handle that afterwards when scanning the negatives. Some photographers prefer taping their Holgas and some don’t. It’s all down to personal creative preferences.

I used the second roll in the Butterfly House. Inside was very humid in temperature and also there wasn’t much low light. My camera lenses got foggy quite quickly, and I had no lens cloth on me so I used a tissue to wipe off the moisture. I was using two cameras at the same time, or three if I count my phone. I was multitasking to the next level.

Always looking forward to the results and they didn’t disappoint. As per usual, I scanned the negatives, plus did some cropping on the Epson V550. The colour quality was amazing. The film worked very well with the natural light, especially in the Butterfly House despite the Holga not being taped at that point. The light leaks weren’t too bad and didn’t cause the negatives to be overexposed or blank in some areas.

I would print this in the darkroom. I like the greens here

I think the film and camera worked perfectly together. The greens were brilliant, also the tones and contrast were quite good exposure wise. I think Kodak Portra 400 gels well with nature photography, even in limited or low light, as it has been proven that natural light is clearly a winner.

Butterflies who lunch

I would use both the Holga and Portra 400 (also 160) again days later while on holiday to Portugal. The electric tape does not manage to tangle up during my week away – I had no spare on me, so I had to make do with the one long strip I had.

I would most likely shoot with the film again on my Holga. I have already tried and tested the film on another medium format, a TLR camera, Yashica 635 down the local marshes. The two films were expired with the overall results caming out better than I had expected. Unlike the Holga, the Yashica has a manual setting, only the aperture, the shutter and focus.

Maybe take a chance next time, not to tape the Holga and possibly rely (or trust) on the power of natural light!!

Take care and stay safe