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.
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: