Grain and long gone expiration dates

Some of you may remember from a previous post that I took a trip to the UK Photography Show in the NEC in Birmingham not too long ago. If you don’t, well you can find it here. While I was there I stumbled a cross a very small stand, manned by two people selling expired film, boxes upon boxes of the stuff, what an utter joy to behold that was amongst all the techno-finery and new fangled digital doo da’s. I took a card for their online shop, which if you’d like to look at well I might as well give them some free advertising here, the link to their ebay store has lots of tantalising looking expired film.

My point being in all this that I’d been looking to get something with a nice high iso in order to shoot some lovely grainy images, after all the best part about film is that film grain can look very pretty whereas digital grain, in my opinion, can’t. And my eye was caught by some Fujicolor Super HG 1600 ISO colour film with an expiry date of 1995, the longest length of time for an expired roll of film I’ve shot before was a little over 10 years so my mouth watered at the prospect of what a roll that was over two thirds my age could provide.

So below is a selection of what came out of that little time capsule, all these were shot using my Nikon FM and a 28mm lens, I know I really have been neglecting my other camera’s recently but that will be rectified soon.

Firstly a selection of outdoor images, very grainy as can be expected from such a high iso being used in bright daylight, but interestingly a variety of results from how the film has obviously degraded over time. Firstly below this photograph of Roath Park lake in Cardiff was taken at f22 and 1/500th of a sec, grainy and the water is dark but the bright blue sky has come out sort of as expected.

Roath Lake 28mm Fujicolor Super HG 1600 f22 500th sec

In Comparison to the shot below taken on the same day at another point of the same lake, this again at f22 but 1/250th sec this time. Much, much darker foreground, the sky is still nice and bright but it would seem that in bright daylight conditions the film has degraded it’s ability to capture darker areas of the image as well.

Lake 28mm Fujicolor Super HG 1600 f22 250th sec

Although in the image below of a goose taken in the same spot that has worked rather well, the bright white feathers and orange beak standing out brilliantly against the darker background. This was taken at f16 and 1/250th sec.

Goose 28mm Fujicolor Super HG 1600 f16 250th sec

Next we have some indoor photographs, probably ideally the main place to be using a film with such a high sensitivity to light. First up this nicely grained, wonderfully shallow depth of field image of a cup of hot chocolate in a cafe. Taken at f5.6 and 1/15th sec, I have tried similar shots with lower iso films that just haven’t come out at all.

Lounge 28mm Fujicolor Super HG 1600 f5Then this one of my house-mate playing pacman on a GoogleMaps board of Cardiff streets, yes that was something you could do through Google one day in April/March this year. I’m impressed with how the colour has come out here, the vibrant red and the detail on the screen as well. Taken at f4 1/8th secc

Pacman 28mm Fujicolor Super HG 1600 f4 8th sec

And then we have this incredibly grainy shot of my girlfriend in a store holding a fridge magnet, at least i think it was. Taken at f4 1/125th sec. This level of grain is precisely what I was looking for, the kind that if it was digital it would just look noisy and cluttered.

Moustache 28mm Fujicolor Super HG 1600 f4 125th sec

Finally we get on to the weird stuff, the photographs we really, secretly wanted to see. We all know film degrades over time, how the layers of colours leak into each other and can give interesting, artistic, beautiful, unique and often downright bloody odd results. So below are the strangest one’s that came out, the best is saved until last.

Firstly this image of a street in Cardiff, no surprisingly it’s not weird since it’s shot portrait and most of the time I shoot landscape, it’s that blue hue. This was taken on a relatively warm spring day, don’t let the coats and jackets fool you, I was wearing a t shirt and hoody, but the whole blue look to the image changes the scene entirely, to me this feels like the depth of Winter. Although a big hint for you, if it was actually Winter there’d be puddles all over that street (come to think of it unless it’s mid August in Wales there’s usually puddles everywhere). Taken at f16 1/125th sec.

Cardiff Street 28mm Fujicolor Super HG 1600 f16 125th sec

Then we have this one of my girlfriend taken at f8 and 1/15th sec. Again I know I keep harping on about it, but just look at that grain, isn’t it a sight to behold? What’s also a sight to behold is the very slight pinkish hue to the shot, I can categorically tell you that room is white, pale boring white. The whole pinkish colour probably has something to do with the magenta layer of the film bleeding out into the other layers…..which also explains the final shot.

Jo 28mm Fujicolor Super HG 1600 f8 15th sec

THIS! Now this is what I wanted all along, it’s odd, it’s unique, it’s unexpected, it’s damn bright purple! Taken at f5.6 and 1/4 sec, no trickery, no Photoshop and no playing about with gels or flash, this is purely the strange outcome of using a film well passed it’s sell by date, and I can not recommend highly enough you trying it out yourself.

Eye 28mm Fujicolor Super HG 1600 f5

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