These 5 Frames tell the story of how a budget black and white film, an accidental ISO reading, and a last-minute trip to the NE Coast of Ireland turned out to be the perfect storm.
In early June 2021, following 18 months of restrictions brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, weddings in Northern Ireland received the green light to go ahead and I quickly confirmed my attendance to celebrate with some old school friends. I currently live in Liverpool and don’t get to spend nearly enough time back home these days, so I decided to give myself some extra time to explore the NE coast close to the wedding venue.
I’d planned to shoot in colour, after all, Ireland is well known for its 40 shades of green. However, due to the last-minute nature of the trip (read: I left it to the last minute), I was unable to secure any colour film online and my efforts to buy some in local camera stores in NI didn’t prove any more fruitful. So, black and white it was to be.
I’ve recently started developing b&w at home and in an attempt to keep costs down in the trial phase, I’d purchased some budget-friendly Fomapan 400 Action. I’d not shot it before, I’d seen only a handful of examples from others and my expectations were low. Since I never intended to share these photos it didn’t really matter though. I think those two things combined (a cheaper film and no pressure to create ‘Insta worthy’ images) resulted in being more present during the trip.
The last roll of film I’d put through my Canon AE-1 Program was Kodak Gold, which I’d shot at ISO 100 and when loading the Fomapan 400 Action I completely forgot to adjust the ISO dial. So, this roll was to be shot with 2 stops of overexposure. If I’d been developing at home for longer I may well have chosen to pull the film but in retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t.
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The soft and glowing highlights that resulted in this overexposure are, in my opinion, a nice contrast to the character-heavy grain. It’s not a look I’d want in all of my images but it did add a romantic element that felt right for that weekend. I have another few rolls in the fridge that I intend to shoot at 200 and 400 so it remains to be seen just how much the look is a result of my overexposure.
For transparency, I did have to add quite a bit of contrast back into the negatives when scanning (and in post-production) to achieve the final look but I’d be more than happy to do the same again.
The photos, though only about a month old, already have a nostalgic quality and I like to think that when I look back on this trip in years to come, that aesthetic quality will help bring back the memories of a weekend spent exploring the coast of my home country and catching up with friends after much too long.
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