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: 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: 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