I was loading film in my Hasselblad on a street bench in Prague when an old man approached me. He used to be a professional photographer back in the day, and he was curious about my camera. Coincidentally, his freezer had died a few days before, and there were some 120 rolls that he was happy to give away, hoping that they might catch some light someday instead of being tossed in the trash. Long story short, later that day I ended up with 6 rolls of Fujifilm Superia 100, expired in 2006, among others.
From the start, I was reluctant to try expired film, so my newly acquired Superia was put in the freezer waiting for better (or worse) days. A few months later I got a Yashica-mat 124 in good condition for a fair price. To see what my new purchase is capable of, I reached for the old film lying in my freezer. I bought an external light meter for a better chance of getting a good picture out of the film and I exposed it at EI 100, measured for the shadows.
The shots below where taken over the course of a few weeks. They were made around the city I live in, which is the least visited capital in Europe, as I was looking for characters that stood out.
It was sunny and showering heavily when I made the photo of the lady covering herself with the red umbrella. I like how her strange, but elegant posture resonates with the weather. The fluffy but well-groomed dog in the other shot contrasts its owners’ somehow odd clothing and appearance. The other subjects happened to catch my attention at the right time or I simply liked the composition.
When I developed the roll, I was astonished by the results. I love how the film renders colors in a neutral manner in the sunlight, as well as in shade. For an expired stock, it still preserved good detail across a wide range of tones and unobtrusive grain. If I could still buy it fresh, it’d be my favorite film, period.
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This series is being 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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