Tried and Tested Thursday: What to Do With My Film? (Part 2)

Note: I initially wrote this entry in September (by hand), so some things were changed

For today’s final Tried and Tested Thursday of 2022, I will be talking about film again, the ones I am yet to get processed.

Back in January, I posted an entry about shooting film, as well as my aim to get them developed at some point.

Washi tape and food bags holding it together: my film lives rent free in the plastic drawers of my bedroom. The following photos were originally shot in September

The bad news is that some are still in that mail bag, some in ice cream tubs and others in the Japan Camera Hunter cases. It looks like that processing everything asap will take longer than expected.

The good news is that I’m gradually picking up my camera(s) again. I’m mainly focusing on 120 film, especially the Holga since I don’t really have to fuss around with it that much: simply load the film and take twelve exposures, then develop the roll(s) and probably scan at least 70% of the frames from the negatives.

The other good news is that I’m actually saving a bit more money by not buying as much film than I used to. There was a time when I did buy quite a lot, Kodak in particular. Then over the last few years there have been so many price hikes, notably and not surprisingly Kodak and Fuji. I often mention the prices going up on here, which certainly has affected my relationship with film photography; is it really worth buying film anymore? Are there any alternatives such as going back to digital?

Fragile Film: the mailbag used for storing my growing collection of undeveloped film

2022 has been ‘lukewarm’, similarly like last year in terms of creativity and motivation. As I haven’t been shooting film a lot, I was able to pursue other interests like writing, hiking, badminton and language learning. On occasion, I tried fitting photography in between my other hobbies whenever possible.

Sometimes I have photography ideas in my head when I am out and about, however I soon regret not taking my camera with me. So the best option is to use my Samsung phone as a camera, although it does take decent enough photos it doesn’t have the same ‘feel’ as film.

At this moment, I still have to organise and decide which rolls I would like to get developed. It might be a chore to do. I’m positive that at least 90% of them will be processed in the new year, however it might take slightly longer to go through them. I know that I have a lot from 2021-2022, notably from my holidays to Malta and Portugal.

Gathering dust on the Hunter Cases: Black case with rolls shot in Malta, and white case rolls shot in Portugal

The 35mm rolls in the ice cream tub will be developed at home, as they are all black and white and it will be easier to do with a little help from Ilfosol 3 added with extra patience, which is severely needed.

So what’s the solution? It will definitely take a while to go through the films. I might have to dedicate a few weeks of me-time to see what rolls of film I would like to have developed, scanned or possibly printed in the darkroom. Closely inspect them one by one perhaps, that could certainly be beneficial.

Thankfully I am not particularly fussed. It would be nice to see the end results after developing, something that I really like about film is the anticipation and potential outcome – good or bad.

Either way, it is entirely up to me. Time will tell whatever happens along the way…

Take care and stay safe

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

Tried and Tested Thursday: What to Do With My Film?

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday is a bit different today, I will be talking about the film that hasn’t been processed yet.

The start of 2022 has been a bit lukewarm, still in a pandemic with some uncertainties and some determination.

A Mixed Bag: Film from last year, waiting for its eventual processing date

2021 wasn’t a huge year for film, especially those I had shot with. In fact, I probably processed less film than the previous years, from the pre-Covid era of 2019 and 2018. Although last year, I did buy a few more cameras, including the Olympus Trip and a vintage Kodak Brownie. The novelty soon wore off, then from there I haven’t done much film photography as much as I wanted to.

I have bags and containers of film in my room, hoping to get processed at some point. In a separate container, I have around four Black and White 35mm rolls, which I would like to develop myself at home. Though I still need to buy the processing kit, including the developer and the essential equipment.

Unopened film, ready for an upcoming shoot? Plus an empty FP4 box and a few sneaky other 35mm’s

My motivation throughout last year has been up and down. There were times when I had very little inspiration to do almost everything; I was severely burned out from the long shifts at work, one of the main factors. All I wanted to do after work was to sleep and then eat, even on the rare days off. I had ideas in my head, but they were hardly materialised onto paper. I had chances to do so many things and activities, but they never happened.

For me film is like that. Finding the motivation to pick up the camera, or even scan a few negatives, or search for ideas and inspiration online. Sometimes I would look at my growing film collection in the drawer – admire it, then shut it back up again and again.

From Drawer to Plastic Container: B&W rolls I’m shooting with, then (attempt to) develop myself at home

2021 was also the year I bought less film. It wasn’t until towards the end of December, I began to make big film orders during and after the Christmas period. This gave me the chance to get hold of some Kodak film before the prices went up. The price hike has made me reconsider my interest in film, whether it’s worth buying more whenever possible, or completely going digital? Maybe that should be a topic for another post.

Usually with these Tried and Tested posts, there would be an end result or a solution. Technically there are a few suggestions, I can think of: probably get my film and negatives organised, figure out a plan or system on what I want to do with them – for example, get them developed, printed or scanned. I’m sure there are some rolls that don’t need to be developed ASAP, or negatives that I don’t want to be scanned, although I’m often curious to see the potential outcome.

Whatever I eventually decide, I’ll make sure that I stick to the plan, keeping everything consistent and structured. I really want to continue film photography this year, also trying out other things. Losing inspiration and motivation isn’t the best feeling ever, and often at times it can drag you down.

As repetitive as it may sound, let’s hope 2022 will be a fairer and kinder year for us all…

Take care and stay safe

Tried and Tested Thursday: Bold and Bright Brixton – Agfa Isolette I with Kodak Ektachrome 100

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting Kodak Ektachrome on an Agfa Isolette I.

This is my most recent developed shots, only from a couple months ago. It was the first time shooting Ektachrome on my Agfa Isolette, as I had two remaining rolls left in the fridge (near to expiry) and I wanted to try them out on this camera.

I was shooting in Brixton Market, mainly around the fruit stalls on Electric Avenue, as well as going through the indoor market nearby.

I have recently been inspired by still life paintings from the Dutch Golden Age and the Renaissance, focusing on both detail and structure of everyday objects and items, such as fruit, flowers and vases. Brixton Market might not be near to capturing anything in Renaissance style, however shooting fruit stalls was an opportunity to ‘modernise’ the look, especially with slide film like Ektachrome to produce vibrant and bright colours.

I’m certainly no stranger to Kodak Ektachrome since I’ve used it before on two medium format cameras, with one manual. Plus I did feature the film as two Film Friday’s, prior to shooting both 120 and 35mm. I had confidence that Ektachrome would be great to use on another manual camera again, this time round with the Agfa Isolette.

Like previously with the same film on another camera, Yashica 635, I had no light meter. So for the Isolette I trusted myself to get the exposures right, although I didn’t make a note of what shutter speed and aperture used; I am sure that the speed was at least not above 1/200, with the aperture being anywhere between f5.6 to f8 – with the former being for shooting fruit stalls, since it was daylight outside. There were a few overexposed shots, also some underexposed ones but it wasn’t that major. I did manage to scan most frames from the negatives.

I was very proud with the outcome after processing and eventual home scanning. The colours came out good, better than expected, even when I had initially placed the negatives onto the lightbox before scanning – I knew the results would not disappoint.

Most of my slide films are normally processed at AG Photolab, based in Birmingham. I have mentioned them on my blog before. They have a good turnaround time, not to mention reasonably priced from £5.49 per roll 35mm or 120. There are options of having negative scans or photo prints.

I was probably excited to see the Ektachrome negs more than the other slides I had processed

I haven’t done a lot of  film photography this year, whether I pick up my camera(s) once or twice a month, it’s such a great feeling to get back into the groove of what I love doing again.

I hope in 2022 I can explore and do more film photography.

Take care, stay safe and have a Happy Christmas!!

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: Living Lubitel Life – Lubitel 166b with Lomography CN 400

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting a roll of Lomography Color Negative 400 on a Lubitel 166b.

Earlier this year I bought a Soviet-era TLR camera from eBay, the Lubitel 166b for under £50. Described in the film photography community as the ‘cheapest TLR’ in the market. Thankfully there are many of them floating on eBay, or similar selling sites, normally sold anywhere between £30 to £80 depending on the camera’s condition.

There’s also a modernised version of the Lubitel 166b, which Lomography had recreated and is sold via their official website. It’s made out of plastic and possibly lighter in weight compared to the original one, also the price tag is higher at £289.

The Lubitel camera was challenging to start with, since it differs slightly from other TLR’s. Loading the film was straight forward, a similar setup to loading in any medium format camera; turning the knob until you see ‘1’ through the small red window.

Manually focusing wasn’t easy, the viewfinder and I didn’t see eye to eye (pun intended). Not to mention, the little magnifying glass, which took a lot of patience to use. I am sure it will take some time and practice along the way eventually.

The shutter speed and aperture is manual, of course. Sans lightmeter as per usual, I had to figure out what shutter speed to set it at for shooting on an overcast day in late March. The ISO/ASA dial on the side of the TLR is technically redundant and has no significant use, so I doubt it would have affected the outcome from the film.

The chosen film was the Lomography Color Negative 400 (or simply Lomo CN 400 for short). It was the only high speed 120 film in colour I had in my stash at the time, so I thought it be would great to test the camera with that particular roll.

I stayed locally to test drive the Lubitel 166b, shooting mostly mundane stuff such as anything that caught my eye. While out, I realised the camera couldn’t fit properly in its leather case properly, so I had to put it in my tote bag, being extra careful while wandering out and making sure it didn’t drop.

After finishing the roll, I had it processed and as usual I scanned the negatives at home. I only picked nine frames out of the 12 from the negative, with many of them coming out OK despite shooting the Lubitel for the first time. The exposure wasn’t the best, the speed could have been set at 1/100 or below. The focusing wasn’t the greatest either, which I may need to improve on this.

The best shot from Lomo film was possibly of the gravestone. Not exactly sharp in focus, but I felt it was the strongest with the exposure on point, as well as the depth of field.

Graveyard Shift Snap: My personal favourites without even trying

My time with the Lubitel is far from over, despite the initial results, I’m hopeful that I will be able to master my way around the camera.

Luckily enough, I did give the Lubitel a second chance but this time shooting with a black and white roll quite recently. Hopefully this will be all unveiled in a future Tried and Tested Thursday…

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

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

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