Since the beginning of the pandemic, I started shooting film next to digital photographs. I wanted to become a better photographer and as there were no more music events (I am a photographer in the music scene), I felt it was the right time to take on this analogue challenge. After about 10 rolls of film, I learned how to shoot and I was able to produce some decent work.
One of the rolls I shot — the subject of this article — expired in 1977. Obviously, you never know how it turns out on film while shooting, but shooting expired film adds another dimension to that excitement. For me, as a music photographer, nature and architecture photography is not something I aspire to do. But doing so with expired film, analogue, triggered something in me and I couldn’t wait to go outside to start shooting.
I found a box of expired film for sale online that contained 3 rolls of black & white Agfapan film that expired in 1977. As per this ‘vintage’, the owner had no information on how the film had been stored. I know that Agfa did create amazing filmstock back in the days so I decided to give it a shot.
There are a lot of opinionated experts around telling how to shoot expired film, some say you need to shoot it at box speed and some say you have to shoot it one-stop slower for every decade since it expired. Since my film expired in 1977 (44 years ago!) and the box speed of the film was ISO 100, I took a bit of the advice from all sides and shot it at EI 50. On top of that, luck would have it my local photography shop (that has been there for ages) still processes black and white film by hand. The old and wise store owner I entrusted my dear film to, told me that he exactly knows what he is doing with film, so the game was on.
On a sunny Monday afternoon in April, I took one of my cameras and started shooting. I recently bought a Leica M6 but was afraid that the film might be too old and that it might damage the camera, so I loaded the film into my Nikon FM2n paired with a Nikkor 50mm f/2.0 lens.
As you can see, I mostly shot historic buildings in my hometown as I felt it would do justice to photos, film and camera. I love how the photos turned out, they look like being shot in the 1970s. The grain, the tones and the way the 44 year old film handled the shadows and highlights, blew my mind.
I wish this film was still on the market. Lucky for me, I have 2 more rolls in the fridge. Hopefully they turn out just as good.
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.