Growing up in the digital age, I took the leap into film photography a year ago shooting a roll of Rollei RPX 400 on a £5 Praktica. I hated how with the introduction of EVF’s and ‘live view’ there was almost no need to think about how to get the look you wanted so I have never really looked back.
Shooting the Rollei film, I instantly fell for the smooth graduation of the mid-tones and inky blacks that are indicative of this film. I then went on to spend ages mixing and matching film and developer combinations and I can safely stay I still haven’t found the perfect match.
Living through the global pandemic and national lockdowns I haven’t been able to get out and shoot quite as much as I would like to but in the short autumnal reprieve I was able to venture out and what better film to use than the one that first sold me on the medium.
This time I chose Rollei RPX 400 in 120 format and shot it using my Yashica MAT 124G TLR camera, pushing it a stop to EI 800 and developed it in Ilford HC.
I ventured out to a little known suburb — Chadsmore — in a little known town — Cannock — in Staffordshire, UK. I find the place is representative of how government funding for middle Britain has slowly been rung dry leaving behind a residual line of social deprivation. Chadsmore has a population of about 12,000 people who, since the closure of the nearby coal mines, have never really moved on. People don’t move into this area which is probably down to the higher than average reports of crime and antisocial behaviour (100+ incidents in the 1st month of the pandemic).
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The only thing that lets you know you have arrived in the area is the smell of takeaway food and a small square with a war memorial in it. Local businesses have closed and the working men’s club has been replaced by a food bank and clothes recycling centre. The wooden constructed youth centre has started to be reclaimed by nature and the sound of children playing hasn’t been heard here for many years.
In fact the only thing to do for the young people of Chadsmore, who are watched on every street corner by CCTV, is to hang about at the local children’s play area. Two such kids I met on my visit are Louise and Domonic who both seemed melancholy and resigned to the fact that there was nothing for them to do or way of improving their circumstance in the near future.
I think the inky blacks provided by this film and the contrast provided by the +1 and HC developer helps demonstrate the overcast, down beat of this area in my 5 frames and I hope to return to try and weed out some positivity and hope within this community. ”
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