Photography · Film photography · Medium Format

Expiriment #2: Kodacolor VR 400 (expired 1989)

This is the second in my series of expired film shoots. You can find a link to the others at the bottom of this post.

This second roll is a little younger than the last one I shot, but not by a huge margin, and it’s still over thirty years beyond it’s expiry date. It’s also a colour film, a fact that I’ve found can more adversely affect the resulting photographs. I find that expired black and white film is generally far more forgiving than colour. There are a number of things that can go awry with either format but, in general, it’s much easier to overlook a change in tonality in black and white than it is in colour. The reason is in the name: colour. While most people probably can’t tell if a greyscale tone is not totally accurate, they are far more atuned to when colours don’t look right, and expired colour film can bring a whole range of potential colour defects to bear on an image, with deterioration of the different dye layers resulting in a range of colour changes that the human eye easily picks up on.

An increase in grain is another thing that can occur with expired film and, again, is something that is less of a problem in black and white than colour. Sometimes grainy colour images can look great – look at Anton Corbijn’s colour pictures as an example – but in my own work, additional grain and colour noise in colour photographs tends to look muddy and unattractive.

Taking these things into consideration, I generally have a lot more trepidation when shooting expired colour film, and the faster the film, the worse these things can become as the addtional sensitivity can increase the possible deterioration.

For this installment I chose a roll of Kodacolor VR 400 which expired in May 1989, so 33 years past it’s recommended best when I shot it. As I don’t know how the film has been stored throughout it’s life I used the generally accepeted rule of thumb to overexpose it for one full stop for each decade of expiry and metered it at 80asa.

As with the last roll of expired film I shot, I decided to use my Yashicamat 124G again. This time though I decided to stay relatively close to home for the shoot and headed out to the local country park, which is about ten minutes away by foot. The weather was nice and bright but as I was shooting at 80asa I took my tripod with me in the event I needed to use slower shutter speeds. I managed to forget a cable release but, thankfully, none of the exposures was slow enough to be impacted by any camera shake from my pressing the shutter button with my finger.

All the shots were made either on my way to the park, at the park, or on the way home, all in the space of an hour or so.

As I don’t develop my own colour film as yet, I took the exposed roll to my local lab. I had a momentary pang of disappointment when I was told that it might have to be developed in B&W chemicals if there was a risk of the old film contaminating their C41 chems, but I was happy to discover colour negatives when I collected the developed film the next day.

The negatives were scanned at home on my Epson V550 flatbed scanner and converted to positive images with Negative Lab Pro. The scans had some noticable colour shifts but this was easily recovered in the conversion process. The resulting images are vibrant with good, albeit perhaps not completely accurate, colours. There is increased grain, most notably in the shadow areas but given the age of the film, nothing too bad.

I was very pleased with the results and managed to get twelve very useable images, with a few that I especially like – the shot of the steps being my particular favourite.

Expiriment #2 - Kodacolor VR 400 (expired 1989)
The first shot on the roll and perhaps the one that most noticeably shows the worst of the colour shifts.
Expiriment #2 - Kodacolor VR 400 (expired 1989)-2
I tried to shoot with wide apertures where possible, mostly because I don’t tend to shoot that way with te Yashicamat much, but usually like the look when I do.
Expiriment #2 - Kodacolor VR 400 (expired 1989)-3
More use of a shallow depth of field.
Expiriment #2 - Kodacolor VR 400 (expired 1989)-4
I’ve photographed this short stretch of fence in the water on several occasions. It always tends to produce a picture I like.
Expiriment #2 - Kodacolor VR 400 (expired 1989)-5
The water here was a lovely aquamarine to my eyes but it hasn’t been captures well in the photograph unfortunately.
Expiriment #2 - Kodacolor VR 400 (expired 1989)-6
Another favourite from the roll. The greens of the grass look lush and the shallow depth of fiels makes the image pop.
Expiriment #2 - Kodacolor VR 400 (expired 1989)-9
Expiriment #2 - Kodacolor VR 400 (expired 1989)-7
Expiriment #2 - Kodacolor VR 400 (expired 1989)-8
I like this one, but it would have worked better with a shallower depth of field I think. Even at 80asa however, the light was too bright to open the aperture too much without busting the camera’s maximum 1/500sec shutter speed.
Expiriment #2 - Kodacolor VR 400 (expired 1989)-10
I wasn’t sure about this when I took it, but I think the contrast between the bright orange of the plastic netting and the organic greens of the reeds works well.
Expiriment #2 - Kodacolor VR 400 (expired 1989)-11
My favourite from the roll.
Expiriment #2 - Kodacolor VR 400 (expired 1989)-12
I love the richness of the brown soil in the foreground of this picture.

Overall outcome: Success!

Expiriment #3 coming soon…

Yashicamat 124G, Kodacolor VR 400 (expired 1989). Shot at 80asa and lab developed for box speed.

Taken on 28 May 2022

Other posts in the Expiriment series:

Expiriment #1: Ilford HP5 (expired 1982)

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

A house in the country across time

I have a tendency to photograph the same things on multiple occasions, it seems. I suspect I’m not alone in this.

As photographers we can appreciate how a subject can change though time, whether that be over decades of weathering, decay, or environmental change, through the seasons of the year, the time of day, and even minute-by-minute, second-by-second as the light changes.

A house in the country
In May 2022

I’ve never purposely set out (so far, at least) to document such changes to a scene as part of a project, but I do find that things that catch my eye the first time I encounter them will often catch it again on further visits. Today’s post shares two shots of the same house, the photographs made about five and a half years apart on different cameras, different formats, different films, and in different conditions. The viewpoints are different in both, but the central subject remains the same. Maybe I’ll photograph it again on some future visit to this location.

FILM - A house in the country
Back in early 2017, shot with my Olympus 35RC on Ilford HP5+

(first picture) Fujica GW690 & Fujichrome Provia 400 (expired 2013). Lab developed.

Taken on 30 April 2022

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

House (and lack of photography) reflected

We have a long weekend here in the UK thanks to the annual spring bank holiday being moved to Thursday (it’s usually on a Monday), plus the extra bank holiday we got yesterday to commemorate the Queen’s platinum jubilee. I’m not particularly fussed about the jubilee stuff but expected that I might use the extra time off work to get some photograpy done. As it stands though, I’ve been feeling pretty uninspired to go out (not helped by the dull weather that we currently have where I live), so have spent the last couple of days just loafing around the house watching TV (mostly Australian Survivor on Amazon Prime – I’m not a fan of reality shows at all, but really enjoy Survivor and The Amazing Race for some reason. It’s just a a shame we can’t see the US version by normal means here in the UK) and playing videogames.

I feel a little guilty for this, but sometimes it’s nice to just veg out and not put any pressure on yourself. I’ve still got enough new photos sat waiting to be published to keep the blog going for at least a couple of weeks of daily posts, plus plenty in the archive in the event I run out (which I don’t expect to), so that impetus is lessened for a while. I had planned on going out today if the sun had shown itself – I had an idea of an area I might photograph – but it will have to wait.

House reflected

Fujica GW690 & Kodak Ektachrome 100 EPP (expired 2003). Lab developed.

Taken on 30 April 2022

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Holly Chapel

A very quick post today as I’m feeling a little under-the-weather. I’m feeling fatigued and just not myself. I’ve got it into my head that I must have had Covid at some point and am now suffering from Long Covid, but that’s probably just hyperchondrial foolishness on my part.

Holly Chapel

Fujica GW690 & Kodak Ektachrome 100 EPP (expired 2003). Lab developed.

Taken on 30 April 2022

Photography · Film photography · Medium Format

No-one bowling

No-one is bowling here. Not really a surprise as it was only about 8:30am when the photo was taken. There is, if you look closely, a bird on the green though. Maybe it had a tiny set of bowls that I couldn’t make out.

Today’s thrilling post is brought to you by Squarespace I-have-a-headache-and-don’t-feel-like-typing-much (dot com). 🙂

LB Bowling green

Fujica GW690 & Kodak Ektachrome 100 EPP (expired 2003). Lab developed.

Taken on 30 April 2022

Photography · Film photography · Medium Format

Ford Popular on expired Ektachrome

A couple of photos of a nicely painted Ford Popular which I came across while out and about a few weeks ago. The first shot was taken through the railings which, given the GW690 is both large and a rangefinder, meant it was a little difficult to frame the image. I poked the lens barrel between the bars so I knew they wouldn’t be in the shot, but I was still a little concerned about parallax error. I think it came out ok though.

Ford Popular
Caged Popular

Fujica GW690 & Kodak Ektachrome 100 EPP (expired 2003). Lab developed.

Taken on 30 April 2022

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Expiriment #1: Ilford HP5 (expired 1982)

This is the first in what I hope to be a series of posts in which I document the results from shooting some of the expired film I have in my stash – and I have quite a bit! However, in order to keep some sort of a leash on this exercise, I will only include film that is at least ten years past its use-by date.

For this first instalment, I’ve decided to send the Delorean back to 1982, back before Ilford added the “Plus” to it’s stocks, back before I’d even entered my teens, and show the results from a roll of HP5 that expired in December 1982.

I chose the HP5 for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I shoot the modern version of the film quite a lot, so was interested to see how they compare (even if it may be an unfair test given the age of this roll) and, secondly, because I have four rolls of this film all from the same year so this first one will serve as a useful test on how it performs before I shoot any more of it. While the person who I got the film from had kept the film frozen, I have no idea of it’s provenance before that.

The sensible thing would have been to shoot the film in, around, or at least fairly close to home. That way, should the experiment be a disaster, at least I wouldn’t have wasted too much time on it. But the weather was nice so I decided to head out into the countryside, to High Bradfield over on the other side of the city. It was a risk but, hey, you only live once, right? I also took a second camera loaded with a fresh roll of Ilford FP4+ as well but only took a single shot with it, so the weight of the expedition would rest on the forty year old HP5.

I loaded the film before leaving the house and almost immediately felt some mild panic when the Yashicamat’s film advance crank partially jammed after a few turns. But, after some gentle pressure, it continued to wind the film on to frame #1. Arriving at my destination, I shot five shots at High Bradfield before driving around the surrounding area and photographing anything that caught my eye. Most of the other pictures were taken around Broomhead reservoir further to the north, although none of the reservoir itself. I rated the film at 100asa using my usual half-a-stop of over-exposure per decade of expiry that I use for expired black and white films. All metering was via incident readings from my Sekonic L-308.

This is what old Ilford backing paper looks like. I’m not sure if the mottling is just a factor of its age.

As I went out early, I was home in time to get the film developed and decided to use some Adox Adonal for the job. Ordinarily I use Ilfotec DD-X when developing modern HP5+ as it controls the tones and grain really nicely but, as this was a roll of film decades past its best, I thought the Adonal might be a good choice as I’d read that it can help to reduce fogging where it exists on old films. I used a 1+25 dilution and developed the roll for six minutes, inverting for the first minute, and then for 10 seconds at the top of each remaining minute. After that I used a one-minute stop bath and then fixed for five minutes. I washed the film using the Ilford method and then a final soak in rinse-aid before hanging it to dry for three hours. I was very happy to see easily visible images on the negatives, albeit perhaps slightly thin ones. One thing that I noticed was that the strip of negatives had an unusual, waxy sheen (see the picture below). I’m not sure if this is a factor of the film (perhaps on a different base back then?), it’s age, or even my development (although the chems should all have been in good condition).

It’s perhaps difficult to tell from this picture, but the whole roll of developed negatives had an odd, waxy sheen to them.

So, on to the photographs.

Given the age of the film I’m very happy with the results. While the negatives were a little bit thin, this wasn’t a huge problem and I was able to rectify this for the most part during the scanning phase and in Lightroom (where I also applied my other usual processing and sharpening). The grain is much more apparent than I am used to with modern HP5+ but it’s possible that this is a result of my developing them in Adonal rather than the expired nature of the film – I’ve heard other’s speak about how Rodinal developers can emphasise the grain in HP5+.

I think that I’ll rate the next roll of this HP5 I shoot at 80asa, or maybe even 50asa, and I think I’ll develop the next one in DD-X to see what difference that makes, if any, to the grain.

Here are my favourite eight shots from the roll. The other four were all ok technically but I didn’t think they worked as well artistically.

Expiryment #1 - Ilford HP5 (expired 1982)
Expiryment #1 - Ilford HP5 (expired 1982)-2
Expiryment #1 - Ilford HP5 (expired 1982)-3
Expiryment #1 - Ilford HP5 (expired 1982)-4
Expiryment #1 - Ilford HP5 (expired 1982)-5
Expiryment #1 - Ilford HP5 (expired 1982)-6
Expiryment #1 - Ilford HP5 (expired 1982)-7
Expiryment #1 - Ilford HP5 (expired 1982)-8

Overall outcome: Success!

Expiriment #2 coming soon…

Yashicamat 124G & Ilford HP5 (expired 1982). Adox Adonal 1+25 6mins @ 20°.

Taken on 14 May 2022

35mm · Film photography · Photography

The Expiry Files – preparing to shoot a load of expired film

I’ve aquired some more expired film, some of past it’s best date by quite some margin – the oldest roll being the Ilford FP3 which is dated 1970! Now, normally I would stay away from old film such as this, but this didn’t cost me too much and I thought it might make for an interesting series of blog posts as I shoot the stuff and present the results here.

For the curious, the batch includes the following (in chronological order – oldest to newest):

  • 1 x Ilford FP3 – 1970
  • 1 x Ilford FP4 – 1981
  • 4 x Ilford HP5 – 1982
  • 1 x Kodacolor VR 400 – 1989
  • 5 x Kodak Vericolor HC – 1991
  • 1 x Ilford FP4 – 1993
  • 1 x Kodak Vericolor VPL – No date on packaging, but I expect 1980s / 90s
  • 1 x Kodak Tmax 200 – No date on packaging, but again probably 1980s / 90s (it was manufactured from 1986 I believe)
  • 1 x Polaroid Polachrome – No date on packaging, but sometime after 1983 which is when it was introduced.
  • 1 x Polaroid Polapan – No date on packaging, but sometime after 1983 which is when it was introduced.
  • 1 x Polaroid Polablue – No date on packaging, but sometime after 1983 which is when it was introduced.

My plan is to try and shoot at least a roll of this each month. The HP5 and Vericolor both have the advantage of there being multiple rolls so I can shoot one and then re-assess exposure times for the remaining film. All the others are something of a crapshoot though, so I’ll be using the 1-stop of overexposure per decade of expiry rule for the colour stuff, and probably the same but with just half as much overexposure for the B&W. I’ve not decided on what chemicals I’ll use to develop the B&W (the colour will go to the lab), but probably not my expensive DD-X. Maybe Adox Adonal, but we’ll see.

The Polaroid film is possibly the most interesting of the lot – each roll comes with it’s own developing cartridge (and the film needs to be processed in a dedicated Autoprocessor device), so I’m looking forward to seeing how that stuff turns out.

It may be that the whole lot is an absolute waste of my time and effort, but I’m going to aim for optimism and, at the very least, there will be some blog posts falling off the back of the experience.

The oldest roll of expired film I’ve shot previously was some Kodacolor Gold 200 which had expired in 1989. While that showed definite signs of deterioration (odd colours and a mottled appearance) I was quite taken by the results, and I managed to win a prize in Expired Film Day from one of the shots. You can see some of those results here. I still have another roll of that same film in the feezer too.

As this post has been about expired film that I plan to shoot, here’s a photo made on some expired film that I did shoot five years ago. That roll was over twenty years expired and still produced lovely images, including this one.

FILM - White rose

Nikon F70, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 AF-D & Kodak Tmax 100 (expired 1994 – shot at 50asa and developed for box speed).

Taken on 19 August 2017

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Conisbrough Castle

This photo was taken the same day as the canal pictues that I posted here yesterday. Conisbrough is a mile or two down river from Mexborough and there is a nice railway viaduct there which spans the River Don. It was my intention to try and get a photo of the viaduct while I was in the area but, as it was the first time I’d visited and I’d not really planed a route, I ended up in the wrong place with quite a long detour if I intended to reach a spot where I could access the viaduct.

So, instead, I drove back the way I’d come and decided to take a few pictures of the castle. I shot a few frames on the expired TruPrint FG+ with my F80, and a few more with the Olympus XA3 which was, as usual, in my coat pocket. I had a polariser fitted to the 50mm lens on the F80 and, combined with the expired film, it resulted in some wildly vivid colours. I’ve actually toned down the blue in the sky for the shot posted here. The colours were reminiscent of an old postcard of the sort that used to be sold when I was little, with vivid, almost painterly tones.

Conisbrough Castle

Nikon F80, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 AF-D & TruPrint FG+ (expired 2005). Lab developed. Home scanned and converted with Negative Lab Pro.

Taken on 2 April 2022