The other day I rushed out of my place, grabbed the Konica Hexar AF for the AF and the ‘ease of use’, took a roll of HP5+ and thought that this would serve my intend. I set the ISO to 800 with the believe that HP5+ pushes with some ‘grace’. I developed the film in Kodak HC110, dilution B, 21C for 7min.
When I looked at the finished film, I realized that it might have been a roll that expired long ago. I checked the canister and it gave an experation date of 1993. Damn, that thing has been expired for 24 years and I treated it as just coming out of the factory.
What do the years of unknown storage conditions do to a roll of HP5+? First thing I noticed is the totally foggy film base which really doesn’t help the details in the shadows: they are pretty much gone. In the lights you can still find quite some separation and the scan gets this perculiar semi high contrast look of having separation up to the middle of the tonal scale and falling off right after. Some time ago I observed the same with expired UP400 by Maco. The emulsion is apparaently the same as HP5+. So no surprises here.
What I should have done knowing about the film being expired is to rate the film at ISO 100 or 200 and do a semistand development with 1g of potassium bromide added to avoid extensive fogging. However, it’s obviously too late now. I can try the 2nd roll I still keep in the fridge. Or, I might just get rid of it. Sometimes, if the results look like this, using expired film isn’t fun at all.
My cat Maya served as the model of the example images posted here. The rest of the film is far from usable. Images I imagined to be quite well composed were extremely underexposed.
In late summer 2014 I shot a long expired ORWO NC19 color film in my Lomo Belair. The film was sitting on my kitchen counter for a couple of month waiting for development. When I had a couple of color films for the lab, I finally had it developed and cut just to forget about the film again. There was something on the film however not “hot” enough to care right away.
Just recently I scanned the roll, didn’t edit at all and just stamped the dust and the usual cat hair in PS. I started wondering why the guy in the lab had asked me if I wanted the film developed in C41. At the time there wasn’t an alternative and I didn’t know any better anyways. After uploading the images to my flickr, I started googling “orwo nc19 developed in C41 process”. The first hit I got was a wordpress blog entry with the title “Don’t develop ORWOcolor in C-41”. Oops, I just did it. The blog talks a lot about expired films as well as processes to develop them. However, the last entry seemed to be in February of 2014. In the archives I found an article how to develop the NC19 the right way.
Some posts online give more details about the ORWO 5166/5166K process which was apparently similar to the old Agfa Color process. Anyhow, I’m not going to do it myself. I also found a site that specializes in processing old films (Film Rescue International) and might try them for the 2nd roll of NC19.
Of course people on lomography.com also got something to report about the ORWO NC19. “Frauspatzi” seemed to have burnt most of the emulsion away but really got the “crazy color” she mentioned in her post. The picture search on lomography.com returned 319 images taken on NC19.
I’m a bit of a perfectionist and the experience with expired films as well as the Lomo Belair camera feels very different compared to my Hasselblad workhorse. It is also difficult for me to comprehend the imperfection and unpredictability of the results. Be it the plastic feeling of a lomo belair or hopelessly expired film, I still try it again in the search for new challenges and the unique image.
Here is another ebay purchase: Seventeen old films made by ORWO. I looked through the films and found a NP27 (ISO400) that was exposed and expired in July 1981. I developed it in Kodak HC110 1+100 for 2h. The film showed strong fogging but some images could be saved.
On the pictures I found a woman in the kitchen and a dog. I contacted the ebay seller and got the information that the guy who owned the films just passed away in his nineties in Grimma, Saxonia. Since the film expired in 1981, I guess it was shot in the seventies in East Germany. Apparently, the guy was an engineer. However, there is no more information.
I found these 3 svema 250 films on ebay, made an offer on the go and won the bid. The films expired in July 1991. The seller didn’t have much confidence to get anything out of the films. Of course I tried. I took an 6×9 Agfa Synchro Box, put one of the films in and tried.
Svema (Свема, Светочувствительные Материалы) was founded in 1931 in the Ukraine and was the major photographic film manufacturer of the USSR. The company made b&w films and paper as well as cine films and magnetic tapes until 2000. Interestingly, color film was made with equipment that was dismantled from the Agfa factory in Wolfen, Germany after World War II.
According to info on Wikipedia, I have the late 1980s version of the Foto 250 film which is equivalent to ISO 250. The film speed is given in GOST a soviet film sensitivity scale similar to ASA. Infos about the different film speed scales can be found here.
Here is a link to a Svema group on Flickr showing images a little bit more successful than mine.
I threw my images in highly diluted Kodak HC110 (1+100) and let it soak for 2h. that worked just fine for other expired films as well. I agitated the film in the jobo drum for one minute and let it stand for the rest of the 2 hours.
The results were devastating. First I only saw dots, many of them. The light sensitive emulsion was gone in many places. Only two images were recognizable at all. I washed and tried the film anyway. I scanned the two images, imported them into Lightroom and exported them to jpg.
It’s really not much to look at. They are portraits of two of my neighbors in front of the house. I don’t think they’ll come and complain about privacy. Maybe I’ll use the other two films for some pattern project on an extremely sunny day.