Tried and Tested Thursday: Superia Under Wraps – Olympus Mju 1 with Fuji Superia Xtra 800 (Expired)

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting a roll of expired Fuji Superia Xtra 800 on the Olympus Mju 1.

The Superia 800 was originally a Film Friday in late 2020, an eBay buy plus expired nearly fifteen years ago. Not to mention, this particular Superia (also the 400 ISO) has now been discontinued by Fujifilm, it is nowhere to be seen through online retailers, with the chance of possibly floating on eBay or similar sites.

My initial plan was to shoot the Superia on my Canonet 28, however the camera’s highest ISO was up to 400. Not all hope was lost, as I would use the same camera for another film, on the same day. So instead I used the Superia on the Olympus Mju 1, a slightly modern camera with automatic settings.

I tested the film at the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington, London. At the time, it had recently been reopened to the public after lockdowns slowly eased in the United Kingdom.

To take advantage of the film’s high speed and grain, I captured a few low light shots in the main part of the museum, mostly the sculptures and statues, some wrapped in plastic. I did use flash in one shot, although I believe it isn’t necessary, and hardly use it. I was confident the outcome from the film would be similar to Kodak Portra 800 or the Lomo CN 800.

Oh, I was very wrong!!

Not worth the hype after all: the high speed and grain failed miserably in some parts (above is an example), slightly underwhelmed

As predicted, expired film can often produce surprising results, depending on how long it has been expired or what condition it has been kept in, especially where stored.

It was difficult to tell if there was a significant amount of colour shift; most frames didn’t come out that well after both processing and scanning. The ones shot in low light didn’t result fairly either, however the stained glass shots were decent enough, all thanks to the LED backlighting.

My time with both film and camera was far from over. After the museum trip, I decided to walk through the local market as it was closing for the day. I began photographing a few shop fronts and market stalls, quite visible and clearer from the negative scanning – a completely whole different comparison to the museum scans, and this is on the same roll!! Yet again, flash wasn’t really necessary, as the built in flash is very bright for night shooting.

The expired Superia wasn’t to my liking, to be honest. I’m glad I got the results and scanned them, since I didn’t want to put them aside or to waste for no reason. I was curious to see its potential outcome, which was certainly not the best of the bunch.

Better luck next time…

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: Easy in Eastbourne – Olympus Mju 1 with Kodak Gold 200 (Expired)

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting a roll of expired Kodak Gold 200 on a Olympus Mju 1 camera.

It was the first time in a long time since I have shot with Kodak Gold. It’s a blast from the past! This particular brand of film was very commercial and widely available in the 90’s, and I grew up with  this film as a child decades before I got into photography. Most of the photographic prints from my childhood, of myself and my family, as a few random snaps, were shot on Kodak Gold 200.

I shot this from sitting down on a wall. What caught my attention initially was the girl’s Vans shoes (on the left) as well as the skateboards

I went on a lovely day trip with my friend to Eastbourne back in August. It was the first time we both left London after months of lockdown. It was also my friend’s first time going to Eastbourne, while it wasn’t from what I was told by my mum; I went there as a child, but was too young to remember.

I brought along two Kodak Gold rolls, both expired in March of this year. The original plan was to go from Eastbourne to Seaford, to explore the Seven Sisters cliffs. We ended up staying in Eastbourne for the whole day instead, so I didn’t use the second roll which was a blessing in disguise. I wanted to cut down on shooting for shooting sake by not using too many films in one day!!

It was a nice summer’s day on a Sunday, the sky was blue and the weather was amazing. We spent the first hour walking along the beach. I had my camera in my hand, ready to take shots; they weren’t as spontaneous, it took some thought and consideration on what I wanted to shoot. My focus was to capture a typical day in Eastbourne, in the same vein as my previous trips to Southend or similar to Promenade des Anglais in Southern France; with the people’s backs turned, the landscape, skies, clouds and of course, the beach.

I managed to finish the film within a couple of hours. I wasn’t even tempted to open the second roll to resume shooting on the beach, instead took a few snaps on my phone. The shots on the film were mainly on the beach, but took a few of nearby hotels and a ferris wheel.

Got the film developed, then I would scan the negatives at home on the Epson V550. As usual with the post-production side of film photography, I very rarely edit my scans on Photoshop, only add a faint watermark in the corner on the scans. I decided to keep the image sizing consistent as well. Although I’m not exactly the master of negative scanning, I am still slowly progressing after three years since having the Epson scanner.

The results? The colour quality from the scans all seem to differ from each other, such as the sky not always consistent nor were the pebbles on the beach, despite some shots being taken moments apart. It could have been down to the emulsion of the film as it had been stored in a drawer for at least two years, and possibly impacted the film quality. That’s the magic of shooting with expired film, sometimes you can expect the unexpected. I’m just pleased with the overall outcome. It has a vintage feel to it, almost a washed out effect; it is almost like an old fashioned postcard from the seaside in the 1950s or 1960s.

I would like to produce darkroom prints in both colour and in black and white in the near future. I believe they would have potential of being slightly better than the original Eastbourne scans; I will have more control with changing the contrasts and tones on the colour enlarger. The same with black and white, it could be a little tricky at first, since it is a colour negative, but with the right  exposure, settings and photo printing paper, something good might come out of it!!

Take care and stay safe

The Petrol Station Series 3: It’s a Wrap and A Very Huge Sigh of Relief!!

Note: Mention of harassment, just an advance warning

Friday 28th February, the last day of the month and also the last night of shooting The Petrol Station Series. I was back in Croydon again, but finished in South Norwood. Thankfully four stops for the finale.

First stop was BP on Shirley Road in Croydon. A little far out from the town centre by bus, passing through Addiscombe. Once I got to the petrol station and got my camera out, I was met by a guy (who happened to be sitting next to me on the same bus). He asked if I was a photographer, to which I replied yes and briefly explained I was shooting petrol stations, however things turned a bit weird after he said he was interested in me and said ‘lived around the corner’. I told him firmly I wasn’t interested in him and to leave me alone. Then in panic mode hoping he would go away, I ran to the petrol station but he was soon following me. I went straight up to a staff member on the shop floor and told him I was being followed. So the kind staff member took me to the back, that was the warehouse, and he checked if the creep was on the shop floor or lurking around outside. I waited a few minutes until I was confident to see if the coast was clear, so I could take the photo of BP. It was quite scary, to be honest and I was glad that it didn’t escalate. I did thank BP, also an M&S Simply Food publicly over on my Twitter afterwards.

BP – Shirley Road, Croydon

Second stop also on Shirley Road was Tesco Esso, a ten minute walk from BP. I was constantly looking over my shoulder and walking at a fast pace, checking if the creepy guy was following me again but he was nowhere to be seen. It was a quick snap from an angle, capturing all three cars at the pumps in perfect harmony.

Tesco Esso – Shirley Road, Croydon

The next stop was Shell on Portland Road in South Norwood, which was a short bus ride to get there. It is located on the high street, surrounded by various shops, restaurants, a dental practice and Citizens Advice bureau. Norwood Junction Overground Station is even nearby, where I would go from to return back home after the next stop.

Shell – Portland Road, South Norwood

The last and final petrol station of the night was BP on South Norwood Hill. A walk up from the previous stop, not even a mile away. I shot the station from the side on Holmesdale Road, in a similar style with an Esso on Brighton Road earlier that week.

BP – South Norwood Hill

Click. The last exposure. Then the film began unwinding from 38 to E on the camera. It had been an absolutely adventurous couple of weeks – trekking around South London during the cold and sometimes wet nights.

As usual, thank you everyone for the support and kindness throughout this series!! I apologise for posts coming in a little later than usual for the last few weeks. I have been juggling work and my personal life quite a lot, especially during recent times.

That’s it. Third Series is a wrap and I am glad it is finally over!!

Take care and stay safe

The Petrol Station Series 3: Beyond Balham

Thursday 27th February, the penultimate night started from Balham with it ending in Pimlico. I shot four petrol stations that evening in three different areas, a perfect way to almost close the series.

The first stop was Sainsbury’s Local on Nightingale Lane in Balham, a five minute walk from Clapham South Tube Station, where I came straight from home via Angel Station; not from Brixton this time round! This Sainsbury’s also has a small supermarket similar to Tesco Express and M&S Simply Food. The petrol station is close to Clapham Common, quite a big park in the middle of South London, also on the other side of the park is BP on North Side, where I went to a week before. Worth noting that I was originally meant to shoot both BP and Sainsbury’s on the same night, however my plans changed a couple weeks prior to make my journey easier.

Sainsbury’s Local – Nightingale Lane, Balham

Next stop was Shell on Balham Hill. I walked there from Sainbury’s, passed the Tube station and crossed the road. The petrol station is on the main high road and it was easy to find. This Shell has it all: a car wash on site, Costa Coffee, plus a Burger King with the drive thru starting from the side of the station next to the kiosk!

Shell – Balham Hill

Third stop was Applegreen in Eccles Court down Kennington, heading towards Vauxhall. I had taken a bus straight from Balham, then walked for a good ten minutes from Oval through a few backstreets. This was the third Applegreen I had shot, with the previous one of this series being in Camberwell, and the very first one in Streatham when I began the first series last summer. I don’t know if Applegreen is a ‘South London thing’ like Morley’s – both a department store and chicken shop (not all in one place!). I haven’t seen any anywhere else so far, including East or North London. This particular stop has a Gregg’s bakery which is inside, something I never seen before.

Applegreen – Eccles Court, Kennington Lane

Last petrol station of the night was BP on Vauxhall Bridge Road in Pimlico. I walked it there from Applegreen rather than take a bus, a straight twenty minute walk on Vauxhall Bridge heading towards Victoria. This stop is quite unique in terms of design: there are residential apartments above, even some surrounding. This BP has a typical petrol station layout despite it missing a roof which would have been impossible to do due to the apartments and planning.

BP – Vauxhall Bridge Road, Pimlico

My night ended there, so it was time to get back home by Tube. Took less than an hour, thank goodness as it was getting late and a little bit cold.

The series would finally wrap up the next day, on the last day of the month. A perfect way to bow out after all this hard work for the last few weeks.

Take care and stay safe

The Petrol Station Series 3: Croydon Chronicles

NOTE: Apologies for the late delay in posting. I didn’t write the entry up until the very last minute. I was hoping to get it done and published as soon as possible on either Saturday or Sunday. I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday 25th February, I was back in Croydon again. I think I had been through Croydon more times than the Apollo 8 going around the moon! Thankfully, I was only shooting four petrol stations in the area, which was a reasonable distance from each other.

There are two petrol stations on Brighton Road in South Croydon. First one was Esso, also known as MFG Whitgift – quite fitting as the Whitgift Centre is a mile away down the town centre. Although Esso is on Brighton Road, I shot it from the side on Haling Road. Close to the station, there is a Volvo car dealership on the opposite side, and a car repairs literally yards away.

Esso – Brighton Road, Croydon

The second stop was Shell, on the same road but a ten minute walk away not even a mile apart. This stop is surrounded by a high road full of fast food places, restaurants and even a pub!

Shell – Brighton Road, Croydon

Third station of the night was another Shell (surprise, surprise) on Whitehorse Road. It was a bus ride to get there, which is down the other side of Croydon and even passed the town centre again!

Shell – Whitehorse Road, Croydon

The fourth and final stop was Esso (yes, another one!) on Lower Addiscombe Road. Not far from the previous stop, despite taking the bus there as it was late and cold. The station is actually in Addiscombe, still in the Croydon area; famous for its trams and supermodel Kate Moss, who hails from there. This Esso is also a Tesco Express, unlike the first one on Brighton Road. This stop has a few interesting surrounding ‘neighbours’ – from a Methodist church, a Scouts group, Chinese language school, business management consultancy to singing lessons.

Esso – Lower Addiscombe Road, Croydon

The night ended in Croydon, again. Now it was time to go return back to the East. I would return back there a couple days later to finish off the series once and for all.

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

The Petrol Station Series 3: Lucky Lewisham

It was Monday 24th February, the last Monday of the month and the beginning of a new week. My evening was spent around Lewisham where I shot four petrol stations in the area.

My first stop was Tesco on Conington Road, next to the superstore and behind Lewisham DLR station. I had shot the stop from the empty car park, with the sky still a little bright despite it being early evening.

Tesco – Conington Road, Lewisham

The second stop was Esso on Loampit Vale, also a Tesco Express. It’s not too far from the first stop, which is walking distance, and close to the same DLR station.

Tesco Esso – Loampit Vale, Lewisham

The next station was BP on Lee High Road, in which I took the bus there. It had been a long while since going to Lewisham, but I can never forget Lee High Road. I remember buying my first Morley’s meal down there many years ago as a teenager; I think I had chicken and chips… Back to BP, this one also has a M&S Simply Food store (a smaller version of Marks and Spencers), something that is quite common to see at most BP branches.

BP – Lee High Road, Lewisham

My night in Lewisham was almost over when I went to the last petrol station, Shell on Lewisham High Street. Another bus ride and then a walk, from what I can remember. I think I walked through a park and a pathway near to the hospital, which happened to be opposite Shell!!

Shell – Lewisham High Street

My brief evening in Lewisham ended and I returned to the DLR station to go home, before going back made a quick stop at Canary Wharf for a hot chocolate run at Caffe Nero.

The week would go fast with the Series almost evening; I would go back to Croydon twice, go through Balham, and then face unwanted attention on my last night of shooting.

Blimey!

Take care and stay safe

The Petrol Station Series 3: Crawling Around Croydon

It was Saturday 22nd February, the fourth day of shooting the Petrol Station Series. That night I was in Croydon, however I would return back there twice the following week. Yes, there were so many petrol stations in Croydon that it was impossible to shoot them all in one night.

My first stop was Jet on Croydon Road, where there is a used car dealership next door. I was in Brixton for a darkroom session earlier that day and didn’t leave until 6pm. Originally I had considered taking the bus from there to Croydon, but the journey would have taken over an hour. Instead I took the Overground from Brixton to Penge East, then a ten minute walk to Jet. The train journey was half the duration than the bus.

Jet – Croydon Road

Afterwards, I went to Tesco on Croydon Road in Beckenham. Despite it being on the same road as Jet, I took the bus there. Tesco was situated nearby the superstore on an industrial estate off the roundabout. Just to note, Beckenham borders Croydon and is quite close by, despite it not being in the same borough.

Tesco – Croydon Road, Beckenham

Moving on swiftly was BP on Mitcham Road. I went back to Croydon proper, which was a bus ride away from the previous stop. Opposite this BP there is a Kwik Fit, a car repairs shop, and across the road there is a used car dealership called McCarthy Cars Croydon.

BP – Mitcham Road

The next stop was Esso on Purley Way. There are two on the same road, although I only shot one and had only discovered while researching for the series. According to Google this Esso is also known as ‘MFG Waddon Court’. MFG or Motor Fuel Group describes themselves as being ‘the largest independent forecourt operator in the UK’ on their website, where they operate many stations across the country such as BP, Shell, Esso and Jet, only to name a few.

Esso – Purley Way

The next stop was Sainsbury’s in Drury Crescent. This time this petrol station was right next to the superstore, where I went to buy a couple of Nakd bars and a drink. I needed some energy while on the road, especially when I last ate a few hours ago. Sainsbury’s is located in a huge retail park with surrounding shops like TK Maxx, Homesense and Hobbycraft.

Sainsbury’s – Drury Crescent, Croydon

I went to Asda in Wallington afterwards, which I walked there through a pathway. Mind you it was pitch black and I was careful not to trip over or get lost enroute. The station is next to the superstore, plus like many of them, this Asda is self-service where card payments are only accepted. This stop is also very close to the famous Ikea in Croydon which is a fifteen minute walk through the retail park.

Asda – Wallington

The final stop of the night was BP on Beddington Lane, literally across the road from Asda which I had no problem finding. This BP not only has their shop with a Costa Coffee, it also has a MOT repairs and a small car wash on the premises.

BP – Beddington Lane, Croydon

My time had almost concluded at another Esso (also a MFG chain) on Brighton Road in Croydon, sadly my phone battery went flat and I couldn’t get my Google Maps route there. So I had no choice to derail my plans and make my way to the nearest train station that would take me home. I would soon revisit Croydon in the next week, including the petrol station mentioned and others. I was already half way through shooting the series and was positive to get it completed sooner rather than later.

Take care and stay safe

The Petrol Station Series 3: When Everything Changes

It was the following week, Tuesday 18th February and I was in Brixton again but my stay at Photofusion was brief. I did manage to shoot around the area and beyond, despite there being a very last minute change along the way – all for good reason, which I will touch on a little later in the post.

First station of the night was Tesco Esso on Brixton Road in Brixton, of course. Just around the corner from Photofusion, also leading up to Oval and Elephant and Castle. I had almost forgotten about Tesco Esso’s existence until researching petrol stations around the South London area.

Tesco Esso – Brixton Road

The next stop was Jet on Hinton Road, not too far from Loughborough Junction Station and Coldharbour Lane. Unfortunately, once I got off the bus, it started raining so I had to juggle both my camera and umbrella. Jet was a five minute walk from the bus stop.

Jet – Hinton Road

Next stop was Applegreen in Camberwell. I took the bus there and it was still raining, even my trainers got soaked once I came off. This was the second Applegreen in South London I saw, the first in Streatham for the first series. I would eventually shoot another one in the third series in Eccles Court the following week.

Applegreen – Camberwell

The evening was going well after going to Tesco on Dunton Road in Bermondsey. Another supermarket petrol station, this time not an Esso but one with the namesake superstore nearby.

Tesco – Dunton Road, Bermondsey

Then I realised something: Old Kent Road was quite close. I looked at my list on my phone, then my Google Maps and thought to myself I could kill two birds with one stone if I went to the next stop on Old Kent Road, rather than the following week. At least get everything out of the way if altering my route.

Soon this would turn into a very long night out after the minor changes but was certainly worth it.

After Tesco, I went to Asda on Old Kent Road. Only a ten minute walk straight, I had to cross the road to go through the side road where the petrol station is located. Most Asda stations are self-service where they only accept card payments. The payment system is modern as many places like shops are taking more cashless transactions, not only from cards but from mobile smart phones and smart watches.

Asda – Old Kent Road

The sixth stop was Morrisons in Hanover Park, Peckham. This station was originally meant to be the last stop of the night before the last minute detour, which I am glad I went there after Asda. It made the bus journey less stressful and was completely straight forward without any changes. Like Tesco in Bermondsey and Old Kent Road’s Asda petrol stations, Morrisons also has a superstore located literally yards away.

Morrisons – Hanover Park, Peckham

The last three petrol stations were around the Clapham area. I took the Overground train from Peckham Rye to Clapham Junction, thankfully not a long ride but it was getting late and not for long it would rain again.

BP is located in Clapham Common North Side opposite Clapham Common park. A bit of a walk from the station to get there, although not too complicated to find. This was possibly the smallest BP I had seen so far. It has the little corner shop feel rather than a place to pump petrol in your car.

BP – Clapham Common North Side

The next stop was Texaco on Wandsworth Road, Nine Elms. I decided to walk there rather than take the bus. I did stop raining for a short while, I think. I went through backstreets and the main road to get to Texaco. I shot the stop from the outside entrance with the sign saying ‘Welcome’, with the person in front adding ‘character’ to the photo. Something a little different for this series.

Texaco – Wandsworth Road, Nine Elms

The last station of the night was Shell on Queenstown Road, Nine Elms, which is opposite Battersea Park and near to the famous Battersea Power Station. I took the photo from across the road next to the traffic lights and roundabout.

Shell – Queenstown Road, Nine Elms

The third night ended there as it was raining buckets. I got caught up again until I managed to get on the bus!!

Take care and stay safe