London on Film

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I spent a week in London recently with my family and brought the usual travel kit (Leica M, M262 and the Summicrons 28mm Asp, 35 Asph v2 and 50mmv5), I brought a nice set of films but in the end I did not shoot much, only a roll of TriX and half a roll of Portra  400. And on digital as we are here I took a mere 300 shots.

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Looking at the TriX shots I am quite pleased; as usually they have been dropped for processing at Ruby photo in Singapore and scanned at home ; but when I was there I was a bit puzzled about what or who to shoot.

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On one hand I am so used to travel in Asia that I am a bit lost in European cities, I am not sure about people reactions to the camera (I like candid shots), but also I think the whole way the big city works need so getting used to. So a bit of frustration. Maybe also my expectations were a bit too high, who knows.

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London as changed a lot since I was last there 14 years ago. The south bank area is so lively now, also packed with tourists and street performers.

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Asian tourists selfy-ing themselves are everywhere, but that’s the same all over the planet. Here at the Borough Market, a place that I never saw before, this is definitely a good area to shoot.

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There are many food stalls there.

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Some attractions on South Bank are using old lorries that are worth a shot imo. I only realized today that the London eye was reflecting on the bonnet of the lorry, I would have framed it better if I have known.

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A morning stroll in SOHO, is also a nice opportunity for people shooting.2019-22-M6-15-22

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Or just window shopping.2019-22-M6-15-27

In the places I never visited before was Ealing Broadway, home of the Ealing Studios who produce(s/d) cinema and television shows.

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Finally another happy discovery was Old Spitalfields Market that I visited the day of the vintage records market.

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A couple more Portra shots below:

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London on Film

MCPHERSON “LEGO”BUILDINGS on slide

This is the second roll shot with the Hasselblad during the outing to Mc Pherson area. The Lego buildings at this point were behind us, so not too many shots of the “Mondrian” colorful pattern here.

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Shots are done with the faithful Hasselblad 500cm, with 80mmF2.8 and I used a more than 2 years expired roll of Rollei CR200 .

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When I collected the slides from the shop I watched them on light box there and they really looked brilliant. Once scanned I must say I am a bit disappointed, maybe not trying hard enough.

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I  think the high contrast of the slides make it difficult to scan.

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Also the weather started to turn a bit more cloudy and the colors less saturated.

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This type of shots may benefit from using a tripos as well.

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2019-18-Hassie-6-9  Being a slow shooter I did not finished the film that day so I carried the Hassie in Lavender area the following week and walked from there to my fav lab t bring the roll

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Tibetan Buddhist  temple in Beaty lane

I love this area, I used to hang around there weekly until two years ago, it goes under a slow gentrification, but still very interesting with its workshops, warehouses, small shops, bars, coffee shops…

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One of the commercial buildings along Lavender road
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On Jalan Besar a shrine in front of a Feng Shui consultant

I don’t like the rendering of the next two shots, but sure they look vintage enough.

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Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple on Waterloo street
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Waterloo street life

All in all a nice set, but not as nice as the Portra roll of McPherson “Lego”buildings . It does not seem the film has suffered from being expired, but it was kept in the fridge most of the time.

MCPHERSON “LEGO”BUILDINGS on slide

McPherson “Lego”buildings

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This is a set of pictures of the colorful public housing blocs situated on Circuit Road in Singapore.

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Circuit road is accessible via Mc Pherson MRT, and is located in the east part of town, 20 minutes ride from Orchard Road.2019-16-Hassie-5-04

This estate dates back from the early 1970’s and has recently received a face-lift, becoming the Lego or Mondrian estate. Apparently the “upgrade” as we say here was not only cosmetical as the area used to be a bit shabby from what I gathered.

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The outing was organized by Low Che Eng from the “Lets Shoot Film SG” Facebook group. We were nearly  a dozen freaks walking around the estate, with cameras ranging from various Leicas and medium formats to a view camera (Chamonix ?).

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I carried around the Hasselblad 500CM  and 80mmF2.8 loaded with a slightly expired roll of Portra 160vc (nearly two years I think) shot at 200iso and the Leica IIIc with the Voigtländer 21mmF4 loaded with a roll of Rollei retro 80s.

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The film was processed at the usual lab and scanned at home with the Epson v800.

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I did a bit of post processing in light room but even without it the film turned out quite well. 2019-16-Hassie-5-10

 

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Finally meet a resident, this gentleman used to a be a guitarist at the raffles hotel back in the days where hotels had musicians and is  now keeping fit in his old age. This is the last shot of the roll hence the slight issue on the top of the frame.

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The hassie keep on having problems shooting 12 complete frames, but this time I got lucky.

 

McPherson “Lego”buildings

A not so good roll of FP4+

I am trying to stay true to my promise to de-clutter the film box in the fridge and shoot some 120 film that sometime is expired for more than two years.

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The colorful Alkaff bridge on Singapore river

So I recently shot a not expired roll of Ilford FP4+ expiring in 2020 over a couple of Sundays walking around Singapore.

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On this second shot, a happy groom on his stag day, it is obvious there are some white dots all over the picture.  After discussion in the Facebook group “Lets Shoot film SG”. It appears this may be a problem caused by the backing paper of the film after being taken in and out of the fridge. Frankly I am a slow shooter so I am guilty of taking from the fridge more than I can chew and putting it back afterwards, but I cannot remember having seen this problem before.

 

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Pearl Bank Apartments

I kind of understand this is more common with Ilford which I rarely shoot, that is not encouraging me to do more (I still have a roll in the fridge, damn )

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Pearl Bank Apartments entrance

Pearl Bank Apartments is an iconic housing block in Singapore cityscape, built in 1976, it what is referred as brutalist style (Although Landmark tower nearby is more pure brutalist), it has now been sold and is empty since the end of April 2019.

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Pearl Bank Apartments the open side

It will be demolished and the plot redeveloped ; this is the traditional buildings life-cycle in Singapore.

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The white dot issue is also quite prominent on this shot

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No 5C
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Singapore Bi centennial statue
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Beware of falling branches – enter at your own risk
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Friendly waiter

The friendly waiter was shot wide open at 1/60th handheld, explaining the slightly off focus.

All done with Hasselblad 500CM and Planar 80mmF2.8

ILFORD FP4+ as I said, developed by the usual lab

Scanned at home with Epson v800

 

 

A not so good roll of FP4+

A walk around Singapore with the Hassie and a roll of Cinestill 50D

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One of the vintage public housing estates in Singapore

I realized when doing the math at the end of the year that in 2018 I did not shoot much medium format film. I must say that my only working condition camera is the Hasselblad 500 CM which is not so easy to grad around for my casual shots.

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A traditional flowers arrangement for a shop opening in Singapore, to wish success. Now binned

One of the consequences is that my film box contains now mostly 120 film, some starting to be expired for more than two years. Not that I think that the are going to be wasted, but it is never a good sign.

 

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Hong Lim park

So I have now decided to bring the Hassie along for casual shooting. There will probably be less people in the coming rolls as it is not greatly suited for “street” shots, but probably more city views from a local tourist.

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Hong Lim park
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Hong Lim park

Hong Lim park

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Bollywood Dhoom on Circular Road
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Mustapha shopping center
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Mustapha shopping center – with people

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Allenby House : a colorful building at Jalan besar

I think this is my last roll of the Cinestill 50D, part of the Kickstarter package. I quite like this film in the end as per my last post, it s quite punchy, is easy to scan. And slow speed is fine in good weather and daylight. I am not sure I ever shot many films with the Hassie at night or dusk.

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The thyme at Merci Marcel in Tiong Bahru. I love the light bulbs.

One thing the lead of the film is gooey so when you remove the lead you will often end up with some parts of the back that take up the film being sticky, and some goo ending up on the roll as in the first Hong Lim shot.

 

A walk around Singapore with the Hassie and a roll of Cinestill 50D

By the sea in Thailand with the Leica M6

I always found the mix of photography and beach repulsive, the salty breeze, the sand that gets everywhere, hands oily with sunscreen, splashes and the odds of falling into the water,… so much things happening that you don;t want a camera, let alone your precious Leica mixed into.

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Well I must say I am a bit fantasizing here, as an adult the experience of the beach is not necessarily the one I had when I grew up along the shore of the french riviera. A stroll along the water not involving leaving the camera on a beach towel or in a bag in the sun is now more common that is use to be, and if it is a day I intend to go for  dip, I generally take a lesser camera (read MEDIUM FORMAT ON THE BEACH : “LE CABANON DE LA PLAGE” AND MORE)

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The sea side always offer a special quality of light, that works particularly well in black and white.  2018-51-M6-21-05

Also it is an endless opportunity of activities, landscapes and man made constructions.2018-51-M6-21-082018-51-M6-21-092018-51-M6-21-102018-51-M6-21-132018-51-M6-21-14

All shots with Leica M6 on Kodak TMAX400 (The shop ran out of TriX), the first three were taken with the Summicron 50 v5, the rest with the Summicron 28mm Asph v1. Shooting at 400 on this very bright morning means the lenses are completely stopped down and the shutter speed at 1/500s or 1/1000s, which may not be idea technically. My favorite film the TMAX100 would surely have been better, but…

As I am here, on the same roll of film were also some street shots taken in Bangkok on the say back from Hua Hin.

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A young film photog with his Olympus pen, he also shoots medium format.

Below are four shots of the food hawkers around our hotel near Lumpini park.

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A friendly and muscular worker along the Chao Phraya river near the Grand Palace2018-51-M6-21-32

Finally below are two shots of worshipers inside the Grand Palace i think.

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By the sea in Thailand with the Leica M6

2018 – The year I still shot one roll of film a week.

La mort subite
Camera n.1: Leica M6 with Rollei Vario

Happy  new year everybody, happy film shooting to all the film photogs. If I looks around me in Singapore it looks like more and more people are shooting film. I see young kids buying film at the shop and carrying around some analog point and shoots, SLRs or rangefinders. I met fellow film shooters in Japan, Laos and Thailand this year and at the big dismay of my family I (nearly) always go and talk to them, and take their picture sometime.

In my own opinion 2018 has been less exciting that 2017 in term of the film industry : Cinestill is now part of the landscape, Kodak Ektachrome is said to be available but I have not tried it yet, Film Ferania is still nowhere near the shelves. The only new film I tried is the Rollei variochrome positive film, which is quite gimmicky.

Camera N.2 : Leica IIIC with Kodak TMAX 100

 

Below is a breakdown of my film rolls:

Film Rolls
Ultrafine 400 17
Cinestill 50D 3
Rollei Retro 80s 3
Bergger Pancro400 3
Kodak Tmax 400 2
Rollei CR 200 2
Polypan PF50 2
Cinestill 800 2
Fuji Reala 800 2
Kodak Gold 200 2
Rollei Superpan 200 2
Kodak Colorplus 2
Kodak Portra 400 2
Kodak Ektar 100 1
Rollei Vario 1
Kodak Tmax 100 1
Kentmere 400 1
Ilford hp5 1
Kodak Portra 160 1
Kodak TMZ 3200 1
Agfa APX 400 1
Grand Total 52

And by Brand

Brand Rolls
Ultrafine 17
Kodak 12
Rollei 8
Cinestill 5
Bergger 3
Fuji 2
Polypan 2
Agfa 1
Ilford 1
Kentmere 1
Grand Total 52
A tough one
Camera n.3: Leica M4 with Kentmere 400

The first thing to notice is that I shot a bit less that last year (I did 63 rolls then), I think I also shot less digital, I spend some time in a couple other projects. But still I am holding the one roll per week rate.

I shot 17 rolls of Ultrafine that I hand-rolled myself : this is a first for me. This is a quite good film : I told the lab it is Kentmere 400 and had no problem. I liked the experience of hand rolling shorter rolls, but as I don’t process myself there is a balance to reach between the cost of processing and not having to throw away the last shots of a roll (or shoot meaningless pics with them).

Kodak is a mix bag of black and white and the cheap color films like Colorplus and Gold 200. I tried the new TMZ 3200 once again this year and I think a good performer.  I am a Kodak fanboy.

An angel on the wall
Camera N.4 : Hasselblad 500CM with Cinestill 50D

 

On the disappointment side are the Bergger Panchro and the Rollei Superpan, they lack contrast and have too much grain to my taste (or maybe I lack the skills to make them shine). I cannot make them out of my fridge fast enough, so I will still have some to shoot this year. I finally finished my two years expired Fuji reala 800, both shot with the Leica IIIc, I don’t really like this film (but it was so cheap) and also I have problem measuring for 800 Iso in daylight, so results were not great.

Finally the Rollei Vario ( you can read the full review here ) : it is very gimmicky so one roll is enough. I think if you are a pro and shoot a wedding, you can have a nice couple of pictures with a very different look, but apart from this the tint makes its usage very limited.

#15

Camera N.5 : Agfa Isolette with Bergger Panchro 400

Now let’s look at the gear.

Camera Rolls
Leica M6 21
Leica IIIc 11
Leica M4 10
Hasselblad 500CM 4
Agfa Isolette III 2
EOS 1N 2
Kodak Autographic Jr 1
Minolta Himatic 7s 1
Grand Total 52

Once again Leica’s are on top of the ladder, I am still investing in my Leica Kit, so the M system is set to shine for a while. My travel kit now is the M262, the M6 and 3 or 4 lenses in the shoulder bag.

The Leica IIIc paired with the 35mm F3.5 Summaron is my walk around camera, as a consequence the M4 lags a bit behind.

Chinese new year 2018
Camera N.6 : Canon EOS 1N Kodak Portra 160

I only shot 7 rolls of medium format, the Hasselblad has a problem now and only takes 11 shots per roll, and stays at home during holidays; the Agfa still cannot focus but I like taking it out a couple of times a year (exactly two times)

I kept on my decluttering habit this year, so I got rid of my broken Olympus Mju1, the EOS 1N, the Kiev and some Nikon Zoom lenses.

 

Artist at work
Camera N.7 : Minolta Hi matic with Ultrafine Xtreme 400

 

Finally my v500 scanner died in the first week on 2018, so I upgraded to an Epson v800. Frankly the difference is not that visible but it is a lot faster and the Silverfast software is quite better than the Epson one, although I must say I still have some work to master it.

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Camera N. 8 : Kodak Autographic Jr 6×9 with Rollei retro 80s.

 

If you are curious you can check the past reviews : 2015, 2016, 2017.

Happy shooting in 2019 !

2018 – The year I still shot one roll of film a week.