Film Friday: Ilford Multigrade Resin Coated Papers

For today’s final Film Friday of 2022, I selected Ilford printing photographic paper, but there is a slight difference: I chose three packs of paper in two different sizes.

It has been a few years since I last bought any Ilford paper. As I am returning back to the darkroom, I thought it would be a great idea to stock up on some.

The Prime Suspects, all for a purpose: My recent buys from Parallax Coop in Brixton

The Ilford papers are all Multigrade Resin Coated (or MGRC for short): Portfolio in glossy – 3⅞ x 5⅞ inches; Warmtone in glossy – 5 x 7 inches, and finally Deluxe in pearl – 5 x 7 inches. Ilford had recently updated and improved their printing papers for the first time in years.

I decided to break the bank by buying the Portfolio papers, however the unique 3⅞ x 5⅞ inch size was my original choice; I initially wanted 4 x 6 inches, however Parallax didn’t have it in stock at the time. The size purchased is known as the ‘postcard size’, ironically on the back of the papers had the postcard layout with lines to write the address and a box to place the stamp on.

I doubt the dent would affect the papers. The box does feel heavier than expected even though its small size

I went through the sample print swatches at Parallax when I came across the Portfolio paper. I was curious to see what it was like, plus I wanted to try other Ilford papers even if it included going over my budget. The Portfolio did draw me in because it produces deep black tones since it was glossy, also it would be useful to produce high quality prints for exhibitions or public displays. I will have to do a few tests with the pack at some point in the near future. Fortunately it comes in a pack of one hundred, which will probably last me for quite a while.

The Warmtone paper has been my ‘go-to’ for printing for the last couple of years. I bought it in both pearl and gloss, mostly in the 8 x 10 inch size. The paper has a ‘warm’ tint when used for printing, almost reminds me of using an orange filter. Printing with this paper in gloss, the finish is smooth especially the deep tones and shadows. Weirdly enough the Warmtone paper doesn’t come in Satin, but something similarish semi-matte in fibre based.

Warmtone Ways: 5 x 7 inch paper is the way forward, I find it easier to print with and ideal for travel photography, capturing the finer details

Last but not least, the Deluxe in pearl. One of the first darkroom papers that I ever used when I began darkroom printing at university back in 2012. It was my usual printing paper, in sizes 8 x 10 and 5 x 7 inches; sometimes 25, 50 or 100 papers in a pack.

Slightly cheaper than getting the 100 pack, just a spare in case of emergencies

For ole times sake, I decided to purchase a 25 pack in pearl – the new edition, 5 x 7 inches. I don’t think I will open them just yet, not until I finish the old original pack first – yes, there are still a few papers left when I did feel the black carbon bag. There might be a difference in quality with both the original and updated papers. Worth doing my own Tried and Tested with them.

Fun fact: the original paper marked ‘£7.42’ was bought from Silverprint, when they were in London around circa 2012-2013. So now the price has hiked, selling a pack of 25 for £11.51 from Parallax

That’s it!! I haven’t done a Film Friday for months, I thought I would post my final entry this year with something different to film and technically darkroom printing is similar. It’s good to share and explore other elements of photography.

I would like to wish all my readers and everyone a Happy New Year!!

Take care and stay safe in 2023

Film Friday: Ilford Ortho Plus in 120

For today’s Film Friday, I selected Ilford Ortho Plus in 120.

Ilford released Ortho Plus (or Ortho 80, as I call it) in late 2019 in 35mm, 120 and sheet film. The same year around the same time, Ilford had unveiled a new range of photographic papers for darkroom printing, Multigrade RC Deluxe.

It’s Ortho comes in 120: A recent purchase for round two

Ortho Plus has been described as a film suitable for landscape photography, all thanks to its ‘blue and green sensitivity’. On the Ilford website it stated, the Ortho’s emulsion sensitivity can enable the film ‘to be handled in deep red safelight conditions making processing and inspection easier.’

Ortho Plus produces fine grain and sharpness – a plus side for film photographers, who are hoping to achieve the smoothest results, especially when making prints in the darkroom.

The film’s box speed is rated at 80, which is ideal for daylight shooting or for sources of natural light. There are options of shooting below the ISO, such as 40 for tungsten shooting. Mostly suitable for cameras with manual settings or controls, although pushing or pulling could be possible when processing.

Having bought the films in 35mm and 120, I thought I could give them a  test run. The latter I shot on my Holga, earlier last year down Epping Forest.

The results were good, however there were unwanted spots on the frames after processing. This was most likely a bad batch from production, and this isn’t the first time either. Ilford did make a statement on this issue as well, acknowledging this issue when it initially happened.

The unwanted spots were a let down, however had it not been there, the outcome would have been better quality wise.

At the time of shooting, which was in February 2021, the weather was overcast during the day. The tones and shadows were darker, despite not taping the Holga – from what I can remember.

I did buy another roll of Ortho in 120 some months ago, and I’m hoping to give another spin. Maybe this roll could be the better batch? Possibly I could try it on another medium format camera soon…

Off Hunting: Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge in Chingford

Happy Good Friday and Easter!!

Take care and stay safe

Story Time Sunday: Boxing Day Bash

It has been a long while since my last Story Time Sunday post. I initially set out to publish them every month, although had them planned out in my notebook, they didn’t materialise or go beyond any further.

Today’s Story Time Sunday is festive themed, as this happened on Boxing Day 2019 – the day after Christmas. This particular day was the last time we had a family get together, as around the corner the whole world would change drastically.

Pre-Dinner Snacks and Drinks: Half eaten Celebrations Box, wine, ginger beer and a random bottle of water

Boxing Day gatherings were a bit of a family tradition, on my maternal side would go around my Aunty’s house on that day (or New Year’s Eve). Usually we would have a feast of food and drink, also desserts. Not to mention, some people do dancing and play Caribbean music.

Usually my mum and I would go around. My dad drives us there, then goes back home. He rarely joins us, he probably stayed for less than ten minutes. Normally these get together’s were a smallish affair, consisting of a few cousins and my uncle. The maternal side of the family is very big, so it would be unlikely for all of them to cram inside the barely big living room.

I very rarely see my extended family members as many of them live in different parts of the country, with very few living in London. I’m lucky if see them once or twice a year.

This was the last time I was with them in one place. I would see my cousin Abigail again months later in the summer, after the lockdown restrictions slowly eased. Other than that, Boxing Day 2019 was the last major event of that year.

I did manage to capture the fun on camera. I brought along my Olympus Mju 1, plus a Yashica 635, that I was borrowing. Both loaded with Ilford Delta 3200 in their formats, suitable for the low lighting – all thanks to high speed. Sadly the 120 roll didn’t come out as good, which resulted in me not scanning the negatives.

Like this year and the previous, we didn’t have our usual get together, mainly due to the pandemic. So instead, myself and most family members had a low key Christmas, by having a peaceful and quiet time at home.

Hopefully in 2022, we can finally celebrate big with the whole family there – just to make up for lost time. Then again, who knows what will happen? What does the future hold? Maybe keep our fingers crossed in the meantime…

I hope everyone had a good Christmas.

Take care and stay safe

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: Vintage Views – Agfa Isolette I with Ilford Delta 100 (Expired)

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting an expired roll of Ilford Delta 100 on the Agfa Isolette I.

The Agfa Isolette I was an eBay buy for under ten pounds, which I bought over a year ago. It’s the second medium format camera that I have in my collection, also the oldest camera – it was originally made in Germany in the early 1950s.

The Ilford Delta 100 film expired in May 2000, twenty one years ago!! Last year, I was given a small stash of expired and discontinued films. Most of them expired almost two decades ago, including the Delta film which I shot with quite recently.

I took the Isolette with me to Valentines Park in Ilford on a lovely day in June. I had set the aperture at f8 and the shutter at 1/100, although I do believe it should have been higher at 1/125.

The results after processing and scanning were quite good, considering this film is over twenty years old. There were no clear signs of deterioration, since there was no colour shift because it was a black and white film!!

I scanned almost every single frame from the Delta negatives, as I was pleased with the outcome. As I pointed out earlier in the post, the shutter speed should have been higher at 1/125 with the aperture at f11 or f16. I know I have said a few times on a few posts to buy a light meter, preferably a manual one, however someone left a comment suggesting I download a digital one on my phone via the app store.

The contrast and tones are on point, especially the shadows. Black and white photography is versatile, also forgiving too hence why I often shoot with it and create darkroom prints.

I have to say I’m quite impressed overall. I would definitely consider shooting older expired black and white films again, maybe up to thirty years past expiry. It would be great to experiment around with them on various cameras.

Take care and stay safe

Tried and Tested Thursday: A Stop in Arundel and Felpham – Olympus XA2 with Ilford FP4 (Pushed to 200)

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting a roll of Ilford FP4 (pushed at 200) on an Olympus XA2.

This isn’t the first time pushing Ilford FP4 beyond its box speed; I had pushed one roll two stops at 400 on a Canon Canonet camera late last year. I decided to get out of my comfort zone again and push the FP4 roll at 200 on another camera, an Olympus XA2, which has the settings to change the film speed.

Admiring Arundel Castle: Bigger both inside and outside

It had been a while since I last picked up my Olympus XA2, but this is the first Tried and Tested Thursday post on it.

In the last week of May, my friend, her youngest son and I went on a four day break to Butlins, a popular British holiday resort in Bognor Regis, West Sussex. We did explore beyond the resort during our stay, we went walking mostly along the beach and going into town.

On our second day, we headed to Arundel, a short train ride away from Bognor Regis. It was a nice day trip, relaxing and interesting to go around the town, as well as Arundel Castle. I couldn’t resist bringing my two cameras with me; a Canon Z135 for colour film (Kodak Pro Image – expired), and the Olympus XA2, already loaded for black and white shots.

I recently had to cut down on the number of films I took whenever travelling or when I am on my outings. Bringing five rolls on my trip was the right amount; four colour and one black and white, only to avoid ‘shooting for shooting sake’ – as I would put it. On the upside, it was easy for my workflow when scanning not to be overwhelmed with the heavyload of negatives to scan. If I had twice the amount of negatives, it would have taken a longer process to finish, not mention frustrating for me.

The overall outcome came out very good, I was very happy with most of the shots from the film. Certainly worth pushing a stop higher, it did make a difference with the contrasts and tones. The castle shots from outside were amazing, however inside shots were blurry and shaky due to its speed, since I didn’t attach a flash to the camera as I rarely use it.

The beach shots taken in Felpham, the quieter side of Bognor Regis, were also my favourites too. I captured the peaceful spots while on a morning stroll around the area, a day after Arundel. I finished the last few exposures there and then. I would consider producing darkroom prints of the beach, maybe on both gloss and matte finish photo paper, possibly a size bigger than 10 x 8 inches – great for framing and displaying on walls. Alternatively, I could create postcard style prints.

I wished I did shoot more beaches with Ilford FP4, or at least bringing along another roll – though I put myself on a limit on shooting. Surprisingly enough, the film did last me a day and a half, so I made sure that 36 exposures were put into great use.

The shadows were spot on, the quality was smooth like most films with a reasonable speed and subtle grain, even when pushed a stop or two. I have been shooting Ilford FP4 for a decade and I am very rarely disappointed with its results after processing, scanning or printing. Ilford FP4 is a film I would highly recommend shooting for beginners, enthusiasts, intermediates and professionals.

Is there any room for improvement? Not really, maybe consider pushing Ilford FP4 higher or lower on other cameras, preferably manual setting ones? Maybe give the Olympus Trip 35 a try or two?

Close but no Monet’s garden in Giverny: a small pond on the grounds of Arundel Castle

Whatever I decide, I know that I have to order some more FP4 rolls at some point as I have none left!!

Take care and stay safe

Film Friday: Ilford SFX 200 in 120

For today’s Film Friday, I selected Ilford SFX 200 in 120.

Confession time: this was not my original choice for Film Friday. It was actually another Ilford in 120, which was the famous HP5.

Played it safe with this single roll

I wanted to try out something different, so I chose the Ilford SFX in 120. I had shot a roll of the film before on an expired 35mm roll. Although processed, the negatives have never been scanned.

I know that the Ilford SFX is an infrared film, alongside others like Rollei Superpan and Rollei Infrared. Many of those types of films work fairly well with red filters and are sensitive to infrared light, as per Analogue Wonderland.

I was curious to test out a single roll I had bought from Parallax over a month ago. My camera of choice for shooting with SFX was my Agfa Isolette I, a vintage folding camera. My place to take photos was down Woodberry Wetlands in North London, mainly around the nature reserve.

The weather was nice on that particular day with a slight overcast, not bad for a Saturday in late March. I had put the Isolette’s shutter speed at 1/100 with the aperture at 5.6, which was based on my quick guesstimations as I didn’t own a manual light meter.

The results after processing and scanning were good, a little better than expected. Not bad for shooting infrared film without a red filter, but it might have added more black tones and contrasts.

I would buy Ilford SFX again, possibly both in 120 and 35mm. The former might be good for pinhole photography or even test out on my other medium format cameras, such as the Kodak Brownie No. 2 or Lubitel 166b.

Worth dabbling or experimenting with the film by exploring various styles, genres and techniques. I do believe the SFX is strongest at nature photography, or even gritty street shots.

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: A Day In The Museum – Canon Canonet 28 with Ilford FP4 (Pushed to 400)

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting a roll of Ilford FP4 at 400 on a Canon Canonet 28.

There are a couple firsts: 1) It was my first time shooting with the Canonet 28, despite buying the camera around six years from eBay; 2) First time pushing FP4 at 400, and not its original box speed of 125 ISO.

A Stone Crypt (?): probably one of the best selected shots

A little background on the camera itself: according to Camerapedia, the Canonet 28 is the ‘cheaper consumer version’ of the Canonet QL17, both look identical and most likely have the same functions. The Canonet 28 was launched in 1968, and marketed between 1971 to 1976.

The lens of the camera is fixed at 40mm with an aperture of f2.8. The ISO settings (or ASA) is from 25 to 400, with the shutter speeds on auto exposure at 1/30 to 1/600. There is a hot shoe to attach in a flash gun.

I had originally wanted to shoot the Fuji Superia 800 on the Canonet, but it was impossible due to the ISO limit. Although I would eventually use the film on the Olympus Mju 1 on the same day. Let’s say the results didn’t come out as I had expected – that’s for another Tried and Tested Thursday around the corner…

I went to the Victoria and Albert Museum (or V&A) in Kensington, West London with my friend back in mid-December. It had almost been a year since my last visit there, however it was my friend’s first time going. Because of Covid and restrictions, we had to book a slot online in advance, rather than turn up which was common before the pandemic hit. It did feel weird that it was quieter in the museum than usual with very few people.

When shooting at museums or galleries with film, it can be a challenge on what film to use, as lighting conditions can differ. Some exhibit rooms or spaces don’t have the best lighting, with some being too harsh, dim or low. I thought I could chance it with the FP4 at 400 ISO on a camera I had never used before.

I must note, I had no flash gun or light meter on me (I don’t even own them). So I couldn’t determine what aperture to use, but like I said before I chanced it and hoped for the best after processing and scanning.

The overall outcome wasn’t too bad, however I need to improve in some areas mainly with the camera. The Canonet 28 was a great way to learn how to shoot manual, that was my initial intention when I originally purchased it. There are so many opportunities to improve and learn with this camera – once I get the broken rewind crank fixed.

Some of the focusing is off with the main subject(s) being slight blurry, but I can work on that by practising or learning more along the way. As someone whose eyesight isn’t particularly the best, focusing with the lens can be difficult, especially when capturing detail or anything up close.

The results were decent for its first time use, but had it been on another already high speed film it would have been slightly better. Ilford HP5, Kodak Trix or Kodak Portra 400 would have been suitable for low light shooting. The outcome might have differed with those mentioned films, most likely HP5 which I often regard as the most versatile roll ever.

I do have plans pushing and pulling FP4, probably on other manual cameras.

Hopefully I will soon be able to master the Canonet, after being in a box stuck in the cupboard for years…

Take care and stay safe

Film Friday: Ilford Delta 3200 in 35mm (Expired)

For today’s and final Film Friday of this year, I selected Ilford Delta 3200 in 35mm – both rolls expired in May 2019.

It has been a while since last posting on here. I apologise for my absence from blogging, which has been mainly due to recent commitments at work.

I first used Ilford Delta 3200 around this time last year, with a roll that was fresh and in date. I never shot any film higher than 3200 ISO before; the highest speed I shot was 1600 on a Japanese imported Fuji disposable camera a few years back.

I have used Ilford Delta films before: speeds of 100 and 400, both in 35mm, but the results didn’t seem to ‘wow’ me after scanning, although it did when I made some darkroom prints. The two mentioned Delta ISO films were definitely poles apart from the Ilford HP5 and FP4, the ultimate black and white film classics.

I decided to give the Delta 3200 a test drive with the two rolls I had on two different cameras: the Canon EOS 500n (with a 50mm lens and a Jessops brand orange filter) and an Olympus Mju 1.

I wasn’t too concerned about the grain coverage with it being too high or too much. I was quite curious to see if it would be a film I could see myself using in the future.

Had a Margherita thin crust pizza at Pizza Union in Kings Cross with my friend (shot on Canon EOS 500n)

I gave one roll a test drive on the Canon SLR around London’s West End, including Chinatown and Soho. Normally when trying out new film, I would do some street photography locally or around London, if it has any potential use later on.

The results from the street shots were very high in grain, although it wasn’t as bad. The saving grace was the surrounding source of artificial light such as neon signs and indoor lighting.

The second roll I shot on the Mju 1 was slightly different, especially the quality as the grain was quite subtle. The camera itself is a compact (or Point and Shoot) with the settings being quite limited in comparison to standard SLR or manual cameras.

The Mju 1 shots were taken in an indoor setting during a family post Christmas get together. Strange how one year ago social distancing was not part of the vocabulary, now it is part of our daily lives.

I would like to shoot the two expired Delta’s in the new year. It might be interesting to see the results, since it has recently expired if there would be any difference to a film that is in date. Maybe I might consider pushing the film to a higher ISO beyond 3200…

Merry Christmas everyone!!

Take care and stay safe