I go to visit my family in Argentina once a year, and ever since I got into film photography I have been returning from these trips with my carry-on filled with their old and unwanted cameras, flashes, and meters. This year, my aunt (who was an avid film photographer) found a bag of expired film and gave it to me to put to good use. Never having tried expired film, I gladly accepted them.
One rainy day soon after this, my cousin offered to give me a tour of the capital and I thought it would be a great opportunity to test the film and shoot some street photos. I live in a country where taking someone’s photo without their permission can land you a hefty fine, so I decided to make the most of the liberties of Buenos Aires. I loaded the only B&W roll from the bunch, a 20-year-old Kodak T-MAX 100, since I had the chemicals to develop it at home. I picked up my trusty 1954 Leica IIIf with the Leica Elmar 5cm f/3.5 and we took to the streets.
I had to consider the sensitivity of the film: it was stored in a cool, dry basement in a plastic bag for around 20 years. The rule goes that for every decade you should overexpose by one stop; considering it was stored well, I decided to split the difference and rate it at EI 50 (one stop slower) and hope it works.
I think it did. Seeing the negatives, which were developed with ILFORD ID-11, I was fairly pleased. The grain looks grittier than expected, likely due to age, but I personally find it fitting for rainy Buenos Aires. There’s a lot of detail in the shadows, and the mid-tones are nice and gray. And while not the sharpest, my Elmar gives the photos the 50’s look that I would not trade for anything. I do find that the EI was too dark for the conditions, so my aperture was glued to f/3.5 for the whole day while I would have preferred a longer depth of field in some cases.
The weather allowed me to cultivate the themes of anonymity and the mundane throughout the roll: covered faces, hidden movements, and the bleak bustle of a rainy commute all add to the idea that these moments are just tears in rain.
Submit your 5 Frames... today
Get your own 5 Frames featured by submitting your article using this form or by sending an email via the contact link at the top of the page.
Share your knowledge, story or project
The transfer of knowledge across the film photography community is the heart of EMULSIVE. You can add your support by contributing your thoughts, work, experiences and ideas to inspire the hundreds of thousands of people who read these pages each month. Check out the submission guide here.
If you like what you're reading you can also help this passion project by heading over to the EMULSIVE Patreon page and contributing as little as a dollar a month. There's also print and apparel over at Society 6, currently showcasing over two dozen t-shirt designs and over a dozen unique photographs available for purchase.