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.
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.
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.
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