Tried and Tested Thursday: My Birthday on Top of The Mountain – Olympus XA2 with Kodak Ektar (Expired)

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting an expired Kodak Ektar on an Olympus XA2.

Today is my birthday and to celebrate, this post is a Throwback of my trip to Mount Rigi in Switzerland. Last year, I posted about my experience going to the mountain, providing photos from my phone. Today’s entry will be photos from my film camera.

The Hills (and a lot more) of Mount Rigi as I head down

Last September I went on a 12 day solo trip to Switzerland, starting from Zurich through to Lucerne and ending in Geneva. I did spend the day in Lugano, sadly it wasn’t enough time to explore the city.

I did bring my Olympus XA2, which I had only for a few weeks at this point. Also I brought along ten rolls of Kodak Ektar – all expired in August 2019, originally purchased a year before from AllPhotosLtd. This gave me the chance to test drive the camera properly while away, since I was confident using it and knowing my way around the settings and functions.

For my day trip I only took one roll with me, I did manage to shoot most of the exposures during my time high up in the mountain. Although, I did take a quick stop at Weggis to take a few photos of Lake Lucerne before going back to take the next boat enroute to Vitznau.

From Vitznau, I took the funicular all the way up to Rigi Kulm. I was even using my camera for my journey up, capturing the views despite feeling so anxious of panicking. Thankfully the ride wasn’t too long and I arrived at the highest peak before I knew it!

Of course, being at the top had its advantages from a photographer’s perspective; endless mountains that go for miles, plus surrounding scenery. The Olympus XA2 had the landscape mode that enabled it to shoot wide angle shots, which was a huge plus as well as on how lightweight the camera was to carry.

You’re never short of a lake in Switzerland; on the left hand side there is Lake Zug

The film itself was Kodak Ektar that had expired a year prior. The quality from expired colour film can differ depending on what condition it has been kept in, in some cases there could be little or no colour shift.

The Lookouters: Ektar works its colourful magic here

After processing the expired Ektar, I was happy with the results. In fact, I was satisfied with them overall. Despite the film’s expiry, the colour quality was still the same as if it was in date – the saturation was there, as well as the bold and smooth tones. Both the greens and blues stood out the most in every shot.

A Picture Perfect Postcard from Rigi
Not only Funiculars have Fun: There are trains that go up and down the Rigi as well

The scans from Mount Rigi are certainly worth printing out in the near future. They have so much potential, as much as I have repeated my desire to go back to the darkroom and start printing in colour again.

XXXXX’s as Fences (or barriers): Over on the other side is Lake Zug

I believe these shots can go above and beyond, perhaps produce a zine or a photobook.

I am so pleased with the overall outcome. Probably my best work I had scanned of 2020. There is no need for any improvements or further tweaks or changes, they are simply the chef’s kiss over and over!!

The Little House on Mount Rigi: One of the most liked uploads on my Instagram. At the time of writing, there are currently over 130 likes

Take care and stay safe

Film Friday: Kodak Ektar in 35mm (Expired)

For today’s Film Friday, I selected Kodak Ektar in 35mm, which expired in August last year.

I had bought these before expiry from Parallax, possibly back in 2019. I noticed recently colour film has a shorter expiry date in comparison to black and white film.

Fantastic Four Films: Ektar is Excellent

I let the four remaining Ektar rolls sit comfortably in the fridge for over a year, slowly approaching its expiry date. I did have a few plans on using them this month for a summer series, but sadly the idea fell through for now due to heavy work commitments.

Shooting with out of date can be exciting, great for experimenting around, especially colour film with the unexpected colour shift and unpredictable results.

I have shot with many expired films throughout the years, some outcomes came out better than I had anticipated, and some with the colour being completely washed out.

All in Dates: Expired in August last year

Last September, I had ten rolls of Ektar that I took with me to Switzerland, all shot on my Olympus XA2. Originally bought them from AllPhotos Ltd, via eBay, at discounted from the old price.

The results from those rolls were amazing; the colour was saturated, bold and smooth. Mind you the films had been in a drawer for a year after purchase. I had initially thought keeping film in certain conditions would have an effect after developing.

I was so satisfied with the scans (I’m yet to print them from the negatives) that I often admire them, looking at the colour quality – Ektar’s strongest selling point, expired or in date. Possibly the best film outcomes of 2020.

I’m sure the four Ektar rolls in the fridge would produce the same results as the Switzerland ones. I’m confident they will, maybe I could keep them in a little longer until next year?

Take care and stay safe

Tried and Tested Thursday: A Day Trip to The Park – Olympus Trip 35 with Kodak Ektar

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting a roll of Kodak Ektar on an Olympus Trip 35.

Earlier this year, I bought an Olympus Trip 35 from eBay. The camera was in good condition, which I bought for around £65 as I made an offer with the seller. I had been wanting the Trip for a while, although some of the prices on eBay were too high, some at almost £200. I was fortunate to have bagged myself a bargain at the right time!!

Cherry Blossom Season: The entrance to the Kyoto Garden, unfortunately it was closed on that day

I must mention how surprised I was to see how small the Olympus Trip was when I first received it. I originally thought it would be a big and bulky camera, possibly heavy to carry around everywhere but it was the complete opposite. The Trip already had a leather camera strap, as well as a soft black leather case which is very convenient to avoid damage to the camera.

I decided to give the Trip a test spin back in April, since the lockdowns were slightly easing plus the weather was very nice. I went to Holland Park in West London with the camera, also a roll of Kodak Ektar already loaded. Thankfully the camera doesn’t take any batteries!!

One of the first shots on the Trip; notice everything is blurry and not in focused

I had a wander around the beautiful spacious park, initially hoping to photograph the famous Kyoto Garden but sadly it was closed for a few days, due to refurbishment and repairs. Better luck next time. Although I was lucky to take a few snaps of the peacock before my departure, a great way to finish the roll.

The results came out fair, considering it was my first time shooting on the Olympus Trip. I can see where I need to improve which is mainly both the focusing and aperture, as it is a manual camera I may need to work my way around the settings and functions. This might be a good idea to consider buying a manual light meter, or alternatively download a digital one from the mobile app store.

The colours were slightly saturated – that’s what you kind of expect from Ektar. The colours were a little harsh and vivid in some areas, however the speed of 100 did wonders in bright conditions, especially as it was very sunny.

I would certainly continue experimenting around with the Olympus Trip until I get used to it. I would try out a variety of different films, also try out a few colour filters for black and white photography.

At the time of writing, I only used the Trip twice, both in April. The second time was a little bit of an improvement than the first, faring better in terms of quality such as the focusing, however the aperture may need some work. Hopefully, I will go into depth about it on next week’s Tried and Tested Thursday.

Turn your back: ‘Walking Man’ sculpture by Sean Henry

Take care and stay safe

Tried and Tested Thursday: The Bus I Cannot Take – Kodak Ektar (Expired) Pushed to 400 with Canon EOS 500n

For today’s final Tried and Tested Thursday of 2020, I will be talking about shooting a roll of expired Kodak Ektar (pushed to 400 ISO) on a Canon EOS 500n camera with a 50mm 1.8 lens.

The bus I would normally take to work

This year has been incredibly tough for almost everyone around the world: people have lost their lives, people have been ill, some have lost their jobs with many struggling financially. We have been living through these unprecedented times and it was the tip of the iceberg, especially when the months went by with lockdowns, the rules constantly changing, many restrictions on what we can and can’t do, and not to mention many workers going through furlough.

I was very fortunate to still be working during this crisis, since my job was very essential as I work at a supermarket. Trust me, it hasn’t always been plain sailing or even easy from the first lockdown; from food shortages, the need of toilet paper (some customers try to buy a stupid amount), arguments and even physical altercations – almost every retail worker, including myself had seen and experienced all at some point.

This corner shop was closing by the time I went past

Restrictions were put in place which made it difficult for some people’s daily living, including workers, families and vulnerable people. Even more recently, the government placed London and South East of England on Tier 4, similar to a lockdown which we had a month ago. This was a solution that hopefully would lower down the infection rates, but sadly it did the opposite and still continues to rise at the time of typing this post.

So where does today’s Tried and Tested Thursday post fit into all this?

Well, it all began with a Zoom call a few months ago with Kim Shaw, a photographer and executive director at Photofusion (the same place where I have my film processed and do my darkroom printing). We were talking about photographic ideas related to Covid and the lockdown. She suggested I should do a series on the life of being an essential worker, from my perspective. I believe Kim suggested the title being, ‘The Bus I Cannot Take’, as I mentioned to her that I was initially avoiding public transport to go to work, instead I would walk the four mile journey back and forth after my shifts. The light bulb moment came in my head immediately and then the idea was born…

I had originally wanted the series to chronicle a typical working week, however I ended up finishing the whole roll in one day!!

I chose a roll of Kodak Ektar, which had expired March of this year. I decided to do something a little different with this particular film, so I pushed the original box speed from 100 to 400. I some inspiration from a Twitter friend called Rachel Brehm (or incasino_out), who did something similar with Ektar, by pushing it from 100 to 800 ISO. She took a couple of shots on an empty street during the night of lights; the results are amazing with the colour being vivid.

I used my Canon EOS 500n camera, and the lens used was the 50mm 1.8. I would use this lens for mainly street photography or close up shots, despite the autofocus not working properly, I have to rely on manual focusing as an alternative. I have had this lens, nicknamed ‘Nifty Fifty’, since 2011 when I had my old Canon DSLR.

My first shot was disposable gloves on the dining room table, followed by other shots of my commute to work, and then I stopped through a coffee shop enroute to buy a hot chocolate. Sadly, I couldn’t use my camera while on shift but I took a quick snap of my facemask while on break.

My shift finished at 9pm, an hour earlier than usual following government guidelines at the time with many supermarkets closing early by an hour or two, even corner shops.

My two mile journey back home was quite relaxing, quieter on the roads, also not a lot of people on the street. Although a few buses went past me, I wasn’t even tempted to get on one. I was shooting a few random bits, such as bus stops and shops along the way.

The series was short lived as it was a one off anyway, however a month later I would do something in a similar vein for this year’s Shitty Camera Challenge.

The film was processed at Photofusion, and eventually I would scan the negatives at home on my Epson V550. I scanned almost every single frame, which was a bit time consuming but I eventually got there at the end.

The results were interesting, since I shot beyond box speed but only a few stops. The scans looked saturated, mostly blues in some frames. This could possibly be the film being expired as some results can vary. I was satisfied overall with what was produced from the roll. I would definitely like to push Ektar again, possibly to a higher speed above 400 or even go lower below 100.

This shot would have been different had it been on its original box speed

For now I will see what the future holds for my photography and ideas, especially developing them further or possibly revisit soon in the new year. Maybe do something similar to this short lived series by expanding it into something long term, or start afresh from scratch.

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

Take care and stay safe

Tried and Tested Thursday: Kew Gardens – Olympus Mju 1 with Kodak Ektar 100

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting Kodak Ektar 100 on my Olympus Mju 1.

Another day, another throwback, but this time it is a continuation from my trip to Kew Gardens in 2018. Last month’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I discussed shooting Colorplus there and how satisfied I was with the outcome. This post is focusing on Ektar by how different it is to Colorplus, not only the price but the film’s results and quality.

Ektar was the first film I shot upon arriving at Kew Gardens, and was also the first time shooting it on the Olympus Mju 1. That day was a chance to test out various films on my newly gifted compact camera. My journey with the film started from the gardens leading through to Palm House, then back to the gardens again.

I had shot Ektar a few times previously on my Canon SLR and Canon compact camera. There was a time I used to buy at least two 35mm rolls of them a year, but recently I have purchased more than that amount, including ten expired rolls from eBay.

Once the film was processed and scanned, I got the results I wanted; smooth and subtly saturated, especially the colour quality. I didn’t edit the scans on Photoshop nor very rarely do, apart from adding the faint watermark in the corner of each scan.

To be honest, I did like the overall results and personally I think it would be better as colour darkroom prints, it would work strongly on matte or lacklustre photo paper.

Ektar and Colorplus are two different films with different results in terms of quality. Ektar is subtly saturated, whereas Colorplus has a bright colour vibrance  – a little saturated than the former, mainly with contrast and tones. I am at a tie with both films, they are both great to use in their own way.

The greenhouse shots are a perfect example of smoothness, tone and the low ISO of 100 which has its benefits and uses especially on bright sunny days. I must note, the day at Kew Gardens started a little overcast however it got better as the day went by.

I had shot a lot of greens, something I tend to do whenever doing nature photography as I most likely to be surrounded by trees or plants. The greens were quite subtle when using this film, though not too overly saturated. Shooting nature can be a hit and miss, even when using film. When I started photography as a teenager, I was mainly shooting flowers with a small Canon digital camera, not knowing what I was doing; not completely understanding what ISO, aperture or shutter speed was back in 2009. Nevertheless, my attention was often focused on colours of flowers, most importantly how to make them stand out, which can be the same for film photography.

I would recommend Ektar for nature photography. It may be pricey for one single roll of 35mm, but is certainly worth trying out. The low ISO is great, unless you have a camera where you can change the film speed, possibly take advantage of shooting one or two stops. The results might come out interesting, you’ll never know until trying!!

Take care and stay safe

Film Friday: Kodak Ektar 100 in 120 (near to expiry)

Welcome to Film Friday, another blog feature of the week on Photographic Jannine! Every two weeks I will talk about my favourite films ranging from a selection of formats – 35mm, 120, instant and large format.

In today’s post, the film I have chosen to discuss is Kodak Ektar in 120. Both the same brand, two packs bought from eBay but the differences are that they were purchased from two seperate sellers with different expiry dates. One pack expires this month and the other expires in July. Thankfully I bought them on the cheap at a reasonable price.

I’m no stranger using expired film or expired Ektar. I recently I shot a couple rolls of them on my Agfa Isolette and Yashica 635. With expired film, results vary depending how long the film has been expired. Sometimes you can get the very unexpected such as colour shifts or on the rare occasion a next to nothing developed negative!

I am hoping to shoot with the two packs of soon-to-be expired Ektar during the summer months. The main advantages of that film is the low ISO of 100 and the saturated colours, especially this will be useful for shooting bright blue skies and capturing the reds and greens. Almost perfect for shooting on the beach or a nice day out in the country.

Take care and have nice weekend!