Just by chance, I saw a Facebook post about Sherry Christensen’s Frugal Film Project in late January. A couple of messages later, I was in. Each month during 2019, sixteen photographers from around the world will shoot a roll of cheap film with the same camera and the results will be published on Sherry’s website.
As per the project rules, I looked through the cameras I’d picked up for less than $50 and decided to use a Canon AE-1 Program I’d just picked up for $20. Looking at the negs, it was pretty clear this camera had some serious shutter and curtain issues so I needed a replacement.
I’d never heard of the Olympus LT-1 until I picked it up cheap in a job lot of cameras a few months ago. Four rolls in and it’s one of my favourite pocket cameras. Time was ticking away and I needed to shoot a roll before the end of January. The LT-1 was loaded up with Kodak Gold 200, and we hit the road.
I chose Kodak Gold 200 as my film of choice for the project, both because of its price point and its familiarity. I’ve been shooting with it since I first bought my own camera in 1994. I love the way it renders colours – bright and rich – without being over the top. It really seems to suit the Queensland light. When the light is at its harshest, the colours seem to tone down and mellow out and it reminds me of Portra. I plan to put this film in a camera where I can overexpose it intentionally soon, something I can’t do with the fully automatic LT-1, unless I hack the DX code.
I love being out in the country. Australia is a land of wide-open spaces, but most of us cling to the coast, living in densely-packed cities with traffic, commuter trains and endless monuments to consumerism. There is something both fascinating and terrifying about the outback, and it gives us city dwellers the opportunity to see things we normally wouldn’t see.
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First port of call on the road trip was to visit the sunflowers in southern Queensland. From previous trips, I knew dawn was the best time to photograph them. The sun rises in January around 5am, so getting up early means you’ll pretty much have the place to yourself, with maybe the odd flock of galahs and cockatoos watching you as they nibble on the sunflowers. The fields look gorgeous bathed in the early morning light, a riot of blue, yellow and green. Dusk is the time to avoid, as the road will be clogged with dozens of tourists, all desperate for their sunflower selfie.
Sunflowers might be the main attraction, but there are plenty of opportunities to find other subjects in this part of Queensland: silos, farm machinery, cows, wide-open country roads, wooden railway bridges. In the regional hub of Warwick, there are beautiful historic buildings. In Brisbane, they would’ve been demolished or gentrified by now. Probably demolished. Music floats out of the second storey windows of an old department store. A beautiful old cinema houses the local RSL branch.
On our way out of town, I saw an abandoned tennis court on the main highway. We were once the most successful tennis nation on Earth, but these courts are now a visual metaphor for the state of the game here in recent times.
My daughter asks me why everything is so old. “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” I say. “It’s ugly.” she replies. No, it’s beautiful. You can still touch Australia’s past out here.
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Looks great Matt! How did you scan your frames? The look super! 🙂
Hi Cristian! Thanks so much, very kind of you to say so 🙂 I scanned them at home using my Epson V550 scanner. I don’t think I’m a very good scanner to be honest… while I was in Europe in August I had scans done for me by the lab and they look so much better! Thanks again and sorry about the delay in replying. Cheers Matt
Awesome job Matt! Great read and great photos.
Thanks Harrison! Much appreciated 🙂
I enjoyed this. Thank you.
Thanks Henry! Glad to hear you enjoyed it 🙂
In germany – macodirect 4.80 eur 1x 36exp or fotoimpex 11.45 eur for 3 x 36 exp latter a great deal. Gold 200 is a good allround film.
Woah that is a good deal! And yes it’s a top film 🙂
Kodak Gold 200/36 is 11.45 EUR right now in Germany. So it is not my preferred film … it’s on the expensive side.
I remember the old days when I shot Kodak Royal Gold film … which was not that expensive then.
Reading the info on Kodak website, the Royal Gold used the T-Grain Technology and it had less grain than the Gold.
But that’s long ago and the Royal Gold is no longer available (here) 😉
Thanks Reinhold! I buy Kodak Gold 200 triple packs (24 exposures) which are really good value for money. Kodak Gold 400 Ultramax is pretty much the only film you can buy in Australian discount variety stores now. I remember Royal Gold too but always felt it was too posh for me ha ha.
DM in Germany has it in triple packs for 7,95
Nice photos, but I liked your essay more. Nicely written.
Thanks so much for the kind words Jim! I was pushing the word limit for this article but EM was lenient this time 😉