Old Stock, Lost Stock
I have been sourcing old film, most of it is not made anymore, It's becoming quite precious. Each roll is a random lottery on what comes out, If there is no box, I have no Idea how the old film is or how any of it it has been stored.
I have just found a 1982 roll of Kodak Ektar, can't wait to use it. It's like painting, throwing landscapes over old emulsion. Some of the images from Essex were shot on 'Woolworths'* film!
It has made me think a lot more creatively, you have to re-programme your head, what works on old grainy film, It's like working in the dark.
Faster film tends to degenerate more, but If you get it right it's like a painting, Oat Sky, Ragwort, Dog wood daisy, most of the time I overexpose it, especially the fast film, It's all guesswork, unless I buy a batch, and get nerdy as to what I did. (unlikely)
Everything is shot on an old Nikon FE2, not my original, but after 30 years decided to go back to it, My daughter now has my original and would have to break her arm to get it off her! Using mainly a 50mm 1.5 Nikkor lens and neutral density filters so I can shoot wide open.
The film I used for these shots in France was actually was in good condition, more of the traditional film look than the extreme of old fast film, it fitted well with the dreamy French landscape. We were on a search for ancient forests, (I shoot a lot of digital trees) the pines are incredibly old 250 years and were painted by Monet! The limes were planted by Napolean for his wife around 1815, the Plane tree will be from around 1780, fits nicely with old film.
Essex was extraordinary, a mix of slow and fast film, the concrete barges have a very interesting historical context, where they have ended up, most of them from wartime, It's created a concrete barge cult !
Away from it all on the coast, parts of Essex are surprisingly wild, lots of creeks and estuaries with ramshackle buildings and boats nestled in mud. I was blown away and ran out of time, I will be returning with more film!
Warwickshire is where I live, luckily in the quietest part, South. My daily walk is my testing ground and I'm also documenting flora and fauna, still using digital for this. These are a few random shots 'finishing off the roll' before 'sending it to the lab' and waiting.... It's well worth it, as the results have been really exciting, and I don't sit in front of the computer adjusting horrible digital files back to life. I have been using Ag in Birmingham, must say they are very good, they also do me 18 meg scans, which are much better than the prints, so it's like another dimension tucking into the scans, I used to hand print photographs for a living (yes I'm old) this is heaven balancing the highlights and shadows in a computer, something we could have never done in the lab which such control and accuracy. I crop to a square, always wanted a Hasselblad, I then print them on A2 rag photo paper, where they really come to life!
Article by Tony Golding
*editors note: for readers not from the UK, Woolworths was a high street store chain that collapsed in the 2008 financial crisis
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