Expired Films: Ektacolor Pro 1000 & T-Max 100

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Recently I’ve stumbled into buying or receiving a handful of expired rolls of film, mostly expired in the 90s, and I’ve enjoyed shooting them a lot more than I thought! I have come to a place with my photography that I know what film types I like to shoot - I know how they will respond to changes in exposure, I know how to get the colours I want, I know how to work around changing or less-than-ideal lighting scenarios. It’s a good work flow. I know what to expect.

But maybe that’s not the point, for personal photography, to “know what to expect”. Shooting these old rolls (especially the Ektacolor which I couldn’t find much about on the internet) has brought back some of that excitement of when I first started shooting film. It’s kind of exciting not knowing what the colours will look like or if I gave it enough exposure.

I metered for these shots by adding one stop of exposure per decade since the film’s expiry. For example, the TMax was ISO 100 and expired by 20 years, so I set the meter to ISO 25. Ektacolor was ISO 1000 and expired by 20 years, so I set the meter to ISO 250. You’ll see some of these Ektacolor shots are still underexposed (hello grainy/faded shadows/VSCo look), but they still look cool and I had a blast shooting it and waiting for my scans!

Click/tap a photo to open the full size version.

-Sam


Kodak Ektacolor Pro 1000

Shot on Hasselblad 500cm // 80mm f2.8 // dev+scan by The Black and White Box


Kodak TMax 100

Shot on Hasselblad 500cm // 80mm f2.8 // dev+scan by The Black and White Box

Expired Film: Agfa Vista 100

Recently I found a bunch of Agfa Vista 100 for sale locally, and at a bargain price, so I snapped it up! After selling a few rolls and throwing some to Mr. Waru (check out our “Cam & Sam” film adventures on youtube), I loaded up my Olympus XA with a roll to give it a jam myself!

I’d previously shot AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 400, so I was expecting that same over-saturated, consumer film look. I didn’t like that film when I shot it so I wasn’t expecting much of this roll. For you film photographers - it’s worth noting though that the more modern 400 speed Vista is not even produced by the same company that these expired Vista 100 rolls were. Without significant research I gather that Agfa at some point became AgfaPhoto, and people claim that the modern Vista 400 is just rebranded Fujifilm stock (it is suspicious that both Fujicolor C200 and AgfaPhoto Vista 200 were discontinued around the same time).

Ramblings aside, these expired rolls were made a long time ago and expired in 2008. I applied the usual rule of 1 stop of extra exposure per decade of expiry, plus the Olympus XA shoots in aperture-priority so I added another stop when I was shooting in the day, to make sure I didn’t underexpose the film. That means I was shooting at ISO 25! Unlike digital, overexposing is better than underexposing, which should be avoided unless you like faded grainy shadows.

I was pleasantly surprised to find the film didn’t have over-saturated colours and the skin tones came out great! I’m glad I saved a few more rolls to shoot myself. I have a few other various types of expired film thanks to Cam, so I’ll be sharing those results soon too!

-Sam


Dev+scan by The Black and White Box // click images to open lightbox

Pushing Portra 400 to 1600

Portra 400 - everybody’s favourite colour film (me included). I’m sure we’ve all read and seen online the rave reviews, the under/over exposure camparisons, and seen the gorgeous tones it renders. What I found out recently though that I hadn’t heard about, was it’s ability to be pushed to 1600 or even 3200 (see Jonathan Canlas)!

I stumbled upon a blog post that claimed Portra 400 pushed one stop (to 800) gives more satisfying results than Portra 800 shot at box speed (800)! What?! Check out that blog post here. Obviously “better” all depends on what look you are after, so I set out to see for myself. Full disclosure: this isn’t a comparison as I haven’t tried pushing Portra 800 - just a test to see what Portra 400 looks like pushed.

My Setup/What is “pushing”?

I loaded up a roll in my Olympus XA. Normally if I’m pushing Tri-X or HP5+ to 1600 I set my meter to 800, so I did the same here. The XA shoots in aperture-priority (meaning you can basically forget about metering) with manual rangefinder focus for the sharp little 35mm f/2.8 lens. It’s nice being able to just focus, frame and shoot. Another benefit of the rangefinder camera is you can shoot slower shutter speeds than you would on an SLR (no mirror = no mirror slap/camera shake)!

So what is “pushing” film? The Darkroom Lab have a very clear guide to this on their blog, if you’re interested in pushing film you should go give it a read here, then come back! It would be a waste of time to repeat it all here but basically, you underexpose the film when you shoot it and you develop longer to compensate for that. When you push film, make sure that you tell your lab how many stops to push it in processing, and that it is marked super clearly on the roll/s! In this case it’s a 400 ISO film pushing to 1600 ISO which is 2 stops, marked as “+2”.

Results

When pushing film you will see added grain and contrast. I really like the way the colours came out! You still have gorgeous Portra tones but with more contrast (a side affect of the push processing) - really nice blacks with little/no weird colours in the shadows. Being able to shoot with smaller aperture or higher shutter speed indoors or in low light is really handy, so I may just have to do this again!

Click an image below to scroll through the gallery and see the results for yourself. Leave me a comment if you have any questions.

-Sam


Ahiaruhe House

I’ve driven/ridden past this house so many times over the years, but never taken the time to get up close. I did take one photo recently while on a motorbike ride with my Dad. This is without a doubt the most photographed house in the Wairarapa - wanting to avoid a cliche shot I got down in the grass:

Shot on Ilford HP5+ pushed two stops / Minolta XE-7 / 50mm 1.4

Shot on Ilford HP5+ pushed two stops / Minolta XE-7 / 50mm 1.4

Some friends (and fellow film shooters) came to the Wairarapa and were keen to check the place out, so we headed out one overcast morning. I was shooting two rolls of film I’d never shot before:

  • 35mm Delta 400 in my Minolta XE-1

  • 120 Ilford FP4 (expired) in my Hasselblad

Shout out to Zach and Xin for the good company! You can check them out on Instagram: @zachetc / @___xin.__ . They just completed a big roadtrip of the North Island and are currently sharing some of their images.


Shooting Thoughts

I don’t often shoot one subject with two cameras (I’m usually carrying one camera with me for the day) but this was a chance to finish off both of these rolls I had loaded so I took both cameras along. My lenses were 50mm on the Minolta and 80mm on the Hasselblad, both ‘normal’ focal lengths for their negative size, so it was relatively easy to switch between the two.

One thing I’ve been struggling with lately is the 50mm lens, especially after using my inherited Olympus XA with it’s nifty 35mm lens. The 50mm lens was a great lens to learn on, lending itself to simpler compositions and subject isolation. I still love it for portraits (and I’ve taken heaps of my favourite photos with it) but I find that over the last year or so I’ve been increasingly looking for a wider field of view - for portraits that capture more of the environment, more dynamic lines/angles that a wider lens can capture. That would have been especially handy in this situation i.e. inside the house. The missing staircase had some interesting light coming in from upstairs and broken stairs in the foreground, however due to the positioning of the walls I just couldn’t get it all in.

Interestingly I don’t have the same feeling with the 80mm lens on the Hasselblad - perhaps this is because the square format lends itself to different compositions, so I’m not looking for the same dynamics in a shot as I would be when shooting on 35mm film with a 2:3 aspect ratio. Any photographers relate?

It was also nice to shoot a still subject - usually I’m trying to capture kids playing or people interacting so this was a nice change of pace. I really “got in the zone” of shooting as I was able to take as much time as I liked to think about/frame a shot. Maybe I’ll find some time to do more landscape-type photography.

Take a look through the photos and let me know what you think!

-Sam



Waharoa Unveiling

Recently I was invited along to an unveiling of the new waharoa (gateway) to Masterton Intermediate School, and I decided to take my camera along, just in case. I pre-loaded it with Tri-X400 black and white film and decided I would only start shooting if it felt appropriate at the time. I made my way in and found a seat, but as soon as the covers started to come off I had to get up start shooting. Karakia (prayers) were chanted/spoken over the waharoa while the covers were removed, verbal expression of the community’s intention for this waharoa. This was a moving moment that made my hair stand on end - not only because the carving and karakia were beautiful but also because it was awesome to see a symbol of Maori culture positioned proudly in front of the school. We heard from one of the master carvers, Carl Rongonui, about what the various parts of the carving represented, followed by a haka from the school and a symbolic ‘first walk’ through the waharoa (and of course, a mean breakfast).

I’m not able to do the meaning of this justice, but I can say that the two figures on the vertical pillars represent our two local iwi (tribes), also featured are kaitiaki (guardians), and students reading and painting. The waharoa acts not just as a beautiful entry point to the school but also as a representation of the stewardship of the children and learning that takes place on the school grounds.

Our Maori culture is something all Kiwis should be proud of. To see the school putting it literally front and centre was really special to witness, especially after having recently had my eyes opened to some of the extent of our country’s tainted history (see Huia Come Home).

See my photos from that beautiful morning below, and if you get down a bit further you’ll find some photos I shot at the workshop where this was carved, as well as some colour photos of the waharoa itself.

B&W photos shot on Minolta XE // 50mm f/1.4 MC lens // Kodak Tri-X 400 pushed to 800

dev+scan by The Black and White Box

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te Patukituki o Wairarapa

Centre for Maori culture in the Wairarapa, and workshop of master carvers Wayne Pitau & Carl Rongonui.

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Ma Tatou Ka Ora Ai Tatou

Our Togetherness Keeps Us Well


Shot on Hasselblad 500C/M // Kodak Portra 400