I once shared a link on my Google+ profile about an article on expired film by Ray Larose. He wrote about using expired film and shared some fantastic photos. This tempted me to do the same experiment. But expired film isn’t something you can buy from a store!! So I started looking on ebay. Buying something on ebay requires a completely different skillset and it’s a topic that needs its own blog post! But anyway, after several weeks of looking I finally found 2 medium-format(120) rolls of Kodak Portra 400 NC that expired in 2001. The price was right–about $12.00 for the two. I read that for each decade after expiry, you have to halve the film speed. Portra 400 is Portra 200. I didn’t have a light meter at this time and used the “Sunny 16” rule. However, I also typically overestimate light in a shade or on a cloudy day. So to make sure the film gets proper exposure I decided to overexpose by 2-3 stops figuring that should take care of my estimation error.
I loaded the film in my Mamiya 645 and set out to find something to photograph. Here are some of the results:
I tried to photograph vintage places and objects with the vintage film. The last two images have a story about them: I was driving back home through this old looking neighborhood with some interesting homes. I don’t know when they were built, but I have to guess 50 years ago or so. Fairly young by my standards, to be honest, yet in a state of disrepair that made them look quaint. But none were so good that I wanted to stop and photograph them, of course. But then I saw this little house in the corner of two narrow roads. Very unassuming structure, except the fences that looked handmade and the flowering bushes that looked well tended to. Needless to say, I stopped to photograph the fence and the bushes. As I looked into the viewfinder, I heard an old voice call out, “Hi, how can I help you?” It was an old lady who lived there alone and she was wanted to know why I was photographing her fences. So I told her that they looked very nice, unlike the usual sort you see everywhere. She told me she made them herself, by hand. She bought the different parts and then put them together. I stood there chatting with her for a long time. And although she didn’t want to be photographed, she gave me full permission to photograph her yard and house. Long story short, this was her parents’ home that she left in her twenties. After spending the next forty years in San Francisco working in a factory she retired and decided to come back. The house was in shambles about to be taken over and demolished by the city but she restored it and now lives there by herself, tending to plants and flowers and the occasional cat or dog. She is seventy-six and she invited me to visit again.
So there you have it: expired film, nice faded vintage look and an interesting encounter. I would say my experiment was a success.