Photographing Summer Solstice at Stonehenge on Expired Fujifilm Neopan 400 – by Simon King

Over the past few years I’ve been working on a couple of projects which will explore the use of Stonehenge as an active religious site. As this is a long-term effort I have room for experimentation, which includes playing around with different film stocks. This year I opted to bring a couple of rolls of Fujifilm Neopan 400, one intended for use at dusk, and the other for dawn.

These rolls were not from the ones gifted to me by Walter Rothwell as a spontaneous birthday present a few years ago, but from a different stock I was able to find earlier this year. They were unboxed, but the seller estimated a 2010 purchase date which gave me just over a decade of expiry to overcome in my exposure and development.

I exposed my rolls at EI320, and stand developed them in Rodinal using my regular method. The Rodinal accentuated the grain, and conditions were difficult to expose in general, with thick fog in the morning especially throwing off my meter and leaving me half guessing my exposures.

The best results from these rolls had even exposures and good detail; the worst had blown highlights and overwhelming grain. I think overall the majority of images are usable for my projects – I’ve definitely had worse results than these from in-dated fresh rolls that I messed up either in exposing or developing.

I scanned these with my Plustek 8100, but it’s possible I may be able to recover some detail if I used something with a brighter backlight like an Epson V550, which I’ve used in the past to achieve very good results from negatives that the Plustek delivers only pure white frames from. Scanning film depends a lot on your equipment, and I find that even with seemingly ruined negatives a darkroom print is usually doable.

I’ve written a few times about expired black and white film, and really it’s quite durable but it takes trial and error and figuring out what works for you in order to maintain consistently acceptable results.

If you’ve enjoyed my thoughts here please consider supporting me by buying one of my prints or publications. You can find me on Instagram here.

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