5 Frames… With Film Washi S (EI 50 / 120 Format / Ondu 6X6 Pinhole) – by Louis Sousa

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A few months ago, from intrigue, I ordered a bevvy of different types of Washi film. There are two types at the moment. One type is made from delicate Japanese paper. The other type is a hand-rolled sound recording film.

I have intentions on writing an article for EMULSIVE from my experience with the paper-based films, but first I must learn how to get on with them. It has been trying so far. The paper-based films are used with manual wind cameras only. One must use great care to load and advance the film. I have had a few rolls of 35mm paper get hung up in my Nikon F3. The other issue is home tank development. A dedicated film reel must be used, with an intervening plastic film wound on to separate the film winds. The reel is sold directly from Washi and is extremely delicate as well and has already broken. I will keep trying and perhaps develop the next roll of 35mm in my friend’s darkroom tray, and then attempt a roll of 120 in my uber-smooth Rolleiflex. Until then….here are my five frames shot with Washi “S”, a sound recording film.

Washi “S” is a very stout film, removing the frustrating task of loading more delicate stocks like ACROS (and Washi paper) into the developing reel. With surrounding duct tape, it would make a credible patch on a cracked headlight!

The Ondu 6X6 is a beautiful pinhole camera. I love that the back and winding knobs attach with strong magnets, but rue that the shutter is a bit choppy. Winding the film is the smoothest I have experience with a pinhole camera. Perhaps the shutter problem will resolve from use. I was especially attracted to the Ondu’s new filter holder, soon to arrive from the manufacturer.

I used the pinhole assist IPhone app to time exposures and chose ILFORD PAN F as the film to measure times – a random film choice that worked out well. I have had very good luck with this app for pinhole exposures. I did not write the exposure times down, but from what I recall (the images were taken last summer) the exposure was around 7-8 minutes for the image of the strung together plant stalks. It was the exposure needing the most exposure time. It was an overcast day and there was a misty rain also…I mounted the camera on a small Manfrotto table top tripod, a great unit for pinhole since it has a built in head for leveling.

From instructions on the Film Washi website, I developed the film according to the time suggested for Kodak Tri-X 400 at EI 400. I used HC-110 in Dilution B for 7.5 minutes at 20C. From the depth of the shadows, perhaps a bit more developing time was in order.

Judging a film shot with pinhole is difficult. True to the manufacturer’s forecast, Washi S produces zero discernible grain and very high contrast. I look forward to shooting this film in a more conventional camera.

Thanks for reading,

~ Louis

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3 thoughts on “5 Frames… With Film Washi S (EI 50 / 120 Format / Ondu 6X6 Pinhole) – by Louis Sousa”

    • Thank you kindly Monika. I have shot this film now in 35mm and 120 formats. The manner of exposure was updated in the article after your good question. I used the Pinhole Assist app, taking a few different readings in the app with my phone, and then depending on what I wanted from the shot I chose an exposure time. It is a matter of making a choice and going with it. I did get quite a few good exposures from this roll as shown.

      As a digression, I have tried a few rolls of paper based Washi – a completely different experience than “S”, and had a very difficult time shooting and developing it. I think the paper based film is better suited to tray development but I don’t have access to a darkroom. The specialized reel for tank developing the paper film is very flimsy. Mine broke straight away. A plastic film is spooled onto the reel alongside the paper-based fiilm to keep it separated. The plastic is a difficult fit in a Paterson reel. The closed reel is a tad too narrow. Using a rubber band to keep the reel together works. Hanging the paper to dry is an act of courage, but it is stronger than one would believe. The dried film must be put into a book or similar object for a few days to flatten it out for scanning.

      The paper based film demands a camera with a smooth wind, and a light tough on the take-up. I instinctively blast the film advance quickly after taking a shot, and lost a roll from it getting hung up and then tearing during the rewind. I had good luck advancing the paper-based film in a Rollei TLR, not a good experience with a Nikon F3.


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