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

Tried and Tested Thursday: Kent Coast in Colour – Olympus XA2 with Kodak Portra 160

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting Kodak Portra 160 on an Olympus XA2.

From last week’s post and as slightly promised, I wanted to discuss trying out the Kodak Portra 160 on my camera. Not usually a film I would rave on about, however the outcome was a huge improvement from the Holga shots.

Far away in Folkestone: The famous harbour. Can you spot a floating pink house?

As per usual, shooting with a low speed during a bright day gels well hand in hand, in particular on a lovely summer’s day in June. It was quite nice in Whitstable on my trip there, although the weather was a little gloomy when I went to Folkestone two weeks later.

The camera used was an Olympus XA2; another lightweight and simple to use camera, which is so easy to carry around. No fussing with various settings, just set the ISO/speed and select a mode, either landscape, portrait or close up. The majority of the seaside shots were in landscape mode, since both framing and composition was an important factor in my photography.

The outcome after processing and home scanning was better than the Holga shots. Yes the Holga snaps from last week were in black and white, but they were a bit of a disappointment on how they came out due to the mysterious white grain on every single frame.

The Portra 160 hardly showed any grain, just brilliant colour coverage – not too saturated or vivid, perfect for what I had in mind. My idea and vision was to create British seaside style postcard shots, almost a similar homage to John Hinde’s work. Some shots did have the postcard-esque feel from both Whitstable and Folkestone.

To add more about the colour from the film, the Portra was also washed out in some shots plus the quality wasn’t always consistent. There are ways of making further alterations with the negatives on editing software such as Photoshop, which I chose not to. All scans come as they are from the scanner, no editing apart from adding the faint watermark of my name via Photoshop. I like to keep things the way they are in my film photographic work.

I’m much happier with the outcome from the Portra shots, I do believe they have further potential as darkroom prints rather than them being just scans. It will be challenging to get the colour and contrast right through the colour enlarger, but it would be great to practice in the darkroom again after a long time.

I don’t think any improvements are needed, I think I am satisfied overall with almost every single shot. Making changes would be impossible at this point.

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