Summer 2023 with a new film stock

This past summer I had the chance to visit family in the US. I was able to spend some quality time, though never enough, with my parents and grandparents in the Midwest and then with my brothers on the west coast. Along with me I brought my trusty Canon EF and the four lenses that I have for it. I had a few shots left on a roll of my trusty black and white film stock Ilford FP4, which I had tried to finish after my recent trip to Marseille with some Istanbul shots, but hadn’t managed to.


Pavlonya sokak, Kadikoy, Istanbul

Maltepe, Istanbul

While I’ve amassed a number of cameras and lenses as I’ve progressed on my photography journey and shot various film stocks, my Canon setup with HP5 and FP4 have proven my most reliable. But sometimes I get bored and don’t really know what I’m doing. I look at my scans and don’t know why I pressed the shutter. I wander around with my camera in hand but don’t really know what to shoot. Every once in a while an idea will grab me, like my recent gloves project in Helsinki, but what next?

Last winter Jay visited me and brought me a couple of rolls of film from a shop in Portland. One was the Lomochrome Purple and the other was Cinestill 800 Tungsten. It was interesting to shoot those and think in color for a bit, and the with the Lomochrome it was fun to try to think about composing shots on an infrared color film that could produce psychedelic results. I wandered around looking at things a bit differently.

with Jay in Karga bar on Cinestill 800

Sveti Stefan church, Istanbul

Goztepe Park, Istanbul, on Lomochrome Purple

At my first stop in the US I had a few shots left on my roll of FP4.

The Burning Treehouse, on ilford FP4

Exploring memories and old photographs

On my next stop out west I could put in a new roll of film, and I figured I’d be able to finish it before heading back to Istanbul. I had my other old trusty film stock Ilford HP5, but also there was a local camera shop in town, so I thought I would check it out to see if they had Lomochrome Purple, as I had enjoyed being in that head space before, or maybe the similar turquoise model, which I hadn’t shot before. I cycled to the local camera shop on five-lane Commercial Drive in the sun and heat and was disappointed to find that alas, while they had a few rolls of more normal color film stocks, there were no rolls of Lomochrome psychedelic film to be found. I debated just cycling back, but decided to ask about different black and white options. In Turkey my access to different film stocks is pretty limited. I’m also stubborn and like to stick with my trusty standards, but hey, why not mix it up a bit?

I walked out of the shop with about a dozen rolls of film, none of which I’d shot previously and most of which I hadn’t even heard of before. One that I was most excited about was the most affordable, from Svema, a Ukrainian film company. Apparently it was really contrasty, which I like in a film. Graham and I were going camping in a few days and I knew I’d be taking shots in a mix of sun and shade, day and night situations so I opted to load the more versatile 400 speed roll.

Back in the pre-Covid times Graham used to have a more flexible work schedule and Turkey’s economy was in better shape and I didn’t need to work all the time so we were able to go on 3-week adventures during my winter semester break. Graham would fly out to Turkey and we’d go to different places and visit another city for 4-5 days, rest in Istanbul and feed my cat, and head out again. We would pick a central location and Graham would use his hiking GPS app to map out a long hiking loop. We would leave in the morning and walk all day and hope that the goat paths connected, because as Graham has learned, until you finish, you’re always maybe only halfway done. You can read about one of our past adventures here.

Unpacking at the campsite, on Svema Foto 400

For this camping trip we went to a spot near the Oregon coast that Graham had found in his days of delivering mail. He would drive out after delivering his normal route, camp overnight, deliver the coastal route the next day and drive back the next night. In his time out there he had found a good campsite and gotten to know the roads. He looked them up on his app and found some paths that looked like they might connect some of the larger roads.

Graham was really excited about the tent we would use. Over the years he’s upgraded from a 2-person to a 6-person to, now, a 12-person tent that weighs 60 pounds and which has room inside to do a cartwheel. I was skeptical. Setting it up required the both of us working together. We put the poles through the slots and then Graham stood up inside the tent and I slotted the poles into their hooks.

We brought fishing gear, as Graham had told me this was a popular fishing spot with the locals. Anglers we are not, but Graham tried to get into fishing a few years ago and knows how to tie a knot.

Mosquitoes driving you crazy? No problem, come on in. There’s room inside.

The tent revolutionized our camping experience

Preparing ourselves in the morning before the ride

But first, coffee. We did not catch a fish

We parked at the power lines and set off

Taking action shots while riding on a gravel road is not advised for the inexperienced

Over the course of the day I finished the roll and loaded another new film, Cinestill XX 400, another black and white film stock that I’d never heard of before. Apparently it used to be used in old black and white films. The finished roll sits undeveloped and unscanned in my refrigerator, so the rest of the bike ride and shots taken along the way are a story for another day.

In the meantime, I have developed the Svema Foto 400 film. It was the most difficult film I’ve ever dealt with in terms of getting it onto the development spool. It is so thin that it kept falling out and jamming the spool. I wrestled it for 45 minutes in my development bag before I could proceed with the chemical bath. The handy website Massive Development Chart, which gives development times for all sorts of films and development chemical mixes, did not have much info on this film so I took a wild guess and developed it for 10 minutes in my trusty Ilford DDX, and here are the results. Indeed it is quite contrasty, and it looks like someone’s scratched the film stock in many of the shots. Whether it was the person loaded it originally, or me while trying to develop it I don’t know, but the unpredictability of shooting film is one aspect of this hobby that I enjoy, so I was surprised to be pleased with the results. Here are some:

This part of Oregon is wine country

The brothers united to help Jay move into his new flat

My tent is too big, I’ve got too much space…

Said no person camping, ever

You might be finding yourself asking: what about the rest of the bike ride, did the dirt roads connect? Did you find your way back to the power lines? And what about that Cinestill XX 400, what kind of shots does that take? If so, stay tuned for part two, coming hopefully soon-ish, in which these, and other questions, will be addressed.

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