So a while ago now my girlfriend was looking through Gumtree for some sort of furniture we needed for a new place we were moving into. I can’t remember exactly what, possibly a dining table as I do remember a horrendous journey with the roof of her convertible mini down and me holding on for dear life to a table and chairs as we navigated the streets of Cardiff, but that might be another time.
Anyway, she stumbled across one of those “free to a good home” ads, the kind where someone has done an attic clear-out and wants to be shot of junk. Usually, these are just that, junk, but this particular one caught my eye. Six boxes of Fuji Superia 24 exposure film. Six boxes of film, for free?!
So I did what you can imagine any self-respecting film photographer would do, I bit the proverbial hand off and grabbed myself the lot, for free! (Did I mention that?). I then also did what any self-respecting film photographer would do…I put it all in the freezer and forgot about it.
Fast forward to this January, we took a trip for a few days to Belgium spending time in Brussels and Brugge, two cities I had been to over a decade ago in very different circumstances (on the road to a punk festival) and remembered very little about. I packed up my standard travel cameras, my Olympus OM-1 and Yashica D TLR, one for 35mm film and one for 120 and then packed up a few rolls of film. The main reason I chose to take along this film was because I was storing up the good stuff for a planned solo trip to Italy in April (yes unsurprisingly due to COVID-19 that never happened).
The following are some of the images I took in those few days, I think the film performed pretty well for one that expired in 2004 and was kept God know’s where before I got my grubby mitts on it. I like how punchy it seems to render colour in bright sunlight, especially red, and for a 200 ISO film that is hugely past it’s sell by date it performs pretty admirably indoors and in low light (as you can see from the image of the interior of a bar and the one of the breakfast items).
I really wasn’t expecting this film to perform as well as it did, I mean I was just finishing school when it was supposed to have expired but I feel pretty good about the results. Perhaps if it hadn’t hammered down so much on one of the few days we had in Belgium maybe I would’ve had a chance to shoot more of it or have a wider selection of images than just the interior of a bar? I know life is so hard sometimes isn’t it?
My girlfriend doesn’t check Gumtree anymore, she tried to sell some shoes and all the weirdos came out of the woodwork asking inappropriate questions, so if anything like this gold dust of free film comes up again I’m not going to know about it.
A shame as I think this stuff proves that the best things in life really can be free.
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This series is produced in conjunction with Hamish Gill's excellent 35mmc.com. Head on over to read the other half of these stories there.
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