5 frames with... The Whole Roll

5 Frames / A Whole Roll of Agfachrome R100S in an Agfa Isolette III – #FullRollFriday – by David Hume.

September 4, 2020

5 Frames/The Whole Roll. Sneaky, huh? By doing a 5 Frames and and a #fullrollfriday in the same post I get paid double the fee for half the work… Right? Actually I’m not sure if it’s 5 frames or 17 frames – there are 5 images but I’ve counted 17 actuations of the shutter.

To explain – for the past couple of years I’ve been shooting landscape panoramas using multiple exposures on roll film. First in a Nettar, then in an Agfa Isolette III.

Recently a kind person gave me box of various expired films that she had lying around her house and it’s been great fun shooting them and seeing what I could pull out of them. It was also nice to put some Agfa film in an Agfa camera – thus obeying the little pictogram instruction on the inside of the camera back.

This film expired in 1983 and had not been refrigerated or anything like that, so I think it held up pretty well considering. The saturation was way down and there was a fair cast to it, but you can probably guess that I’m going more for mood here than accuracy. Interestingly I had two rolls of this Agfachrome R100S and the other one had held up much better.

I shot it at roughly EI100 – but that doesn’t mean much with my technique of overlapping the frames. This is slide film of course, and the technique works better with colour neg because of the latitude, so the fact that I got anything at all was pretty fortunate.

I’ve been thinking a fair bit about digitisation lately.  I digitised these myself using my Fuji X-Pro 3 on a light table. To me when I see a scan I just view it as a starting point. What interests me is the raw information it contains. I’m in no way purist about preserving a look or character – I’m  most interested in pulling every bit of information off the film that I can and using that to make something I like. So why bother with film at all? Blending layers like this in Photoshop doesn’t give me anything I like nearly as much, even if I start with film scans. So it’s really a way of getting something I can get no other way.

“There are no rules in photography, it’s not a sport,”  said Bill Brandt, and I agree, but there is some sport for me here, or more correctly perhaps it’s a hunt. There’s the element of chance – what will this particular film give me? I use my experience here to guess how a film will behave and match that to a subject I think will suit it. There’s an element of Zen and luck, too, and as the saying goes, the more I work at it the luckier I get.  The first three frames I shot near sunset, and these last two I shot at dawn the next day. The film did not give me much in the way of reds to play with, but there was a bit. I was hoping to get some nice oranges on the wet sand.

So here’s the last one. I already knew that these last two would not be much good but I shot them anyway because it would be a while before I could get back to the coast.  As I mentioned, this is a technique that I need to practise. These are just hand held by the way, so often I stuff my horizons up a bit. Overall this was a satisfying roll. My current thoughts are that it’s not great, but I’m not writing it off just yet. There might  be one or two here that can I use for something – you never know what can happen.

David.

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12 Comments

  • Reply
    Richard Moore
    September 4, 2020 at 5:01 pm

    You’re braver than me. I have five rolls of 120 Ektachrome and I’m not ready to use them on my 6×9 folder just yet. To precious a commodity but I hear it’s siren call. Interesting shots – they’re almost but not quite triptych style. Am enjoying the colour rendition although some of that might be down to the PP too. And expired film that’s *not* been temperature controlled it’s whole existence. Who’d have thought such a thing might happen ! Judging by eBay all expired film has by definition been both stored in the same conditions yet never actually used. A combo I find inexplicable 🙂

    • Reply
      David Hume
      September 4, 2020 at 8:35 pm

      Hi Richard – yes, the film was very flat and weak and I was heavy fisted in my adjustments, but to me that’s also a philosophical call. I’m very much with Ansell on that one! My remaining rolls are totally not precious – they’ve pretty much had it I think but you never know. I feel a bit of an obligation to shoot mine because they were given to me with the hope that I’d use them. Having said that I do only use them in my low-contrast landscapy situations where I think they’ll work. The last roll I shot was some Fujichrome 400 that did not even have its foil wrapper on it (!!) but I got some of my most favourite shots ever out of it. I put some of my expired film adventures up on Insta if you’d like to see them.

  • Reply
    Jonny Wolfe-Slater
    September 4, 2020 at 6:43 pm

    I love these images, the way the abstraction created by overlapping the frames makes you look longer and I think you actually see more of, and in, the image because of that, not to mention how atmospheric they are!
    I’ve been a fan for a little while, and have just taken delivery of my own isolette in a hope that I can play around with producing something similar.

    • Reply
      David Hume
      September 4, 2020 at 8:19 pm

      Thanks Jonny – I hope you enjoy your Isolette, I think they are remarkable; so compact and so beautifully made. I had the bellows replaced on mine. They seem to me like the ultimate no-plastic all-manual MF folder. I’ve now realised that my shutter is maybe half a stop slow at lower speeds so I might get that fixed while there are still people round who can do it, but if I keep using it so it doesn’t gum up it should last longer than I will.

  • Reply
    Paulino Varela
    September 4, 2020 at 9:56 pm

    David, I totally agree with Jonny. I enjoyed your pictures. Landscapes, some times are a little boring and you made than looks different.
    Congratulations. One technical issue – who developed the film? Yourself or some photo lab?
    Have a great weekend both of you.

    • Reply
      David Hume
      September 4, 2020 at 10:26 pm

      Thanks Paulino – There are done by a lab. Where I live there are two places that develop E6, and quite a few that do C41. They do E6 twice a week so I don’t have to wait too long!

  • Reply
    Huss
    September 4, 2020 at 10:21 pm

    Yow I love these pics! Never thought of doing that with my Zeiss Ikon Nettar.
    Thanks for the inspiration!

    Huss

    • Reply
      David Hume
      September 4, 2020 at 10:31 pm

      Thanks Huss – yes, I find it satisfying for this type of pic. It’s not to everyone’s taste for sure, but I shoot a lot of coastal landscapes like this.

  • Reply
    Jonathan Wolfe-Slater
    September 5, 2020 at 8:54 am

    I need fix or replace the bellows on mine before I get to use it too,and the range finder needs unsticking. Shutter sounds ok but that’s not a very scientific way of assessing it’s accuracy! Time will tell.
    Thanks for the inspiration

    • Reply
      David Hume
      September 5, 2020 at 9:14 am

      There’s a free app that uses sound to measure shutter speed (I believe it might be called “Shutter Speed”) by Lukas Fritz that does a good job on slow speeds (1/2s etc) but for faster speeds you rally need a light one I think. My rangefinder was stuck, and I had it freed, but it’s starting to stick up again. I find it very accurate by the way, but usually I’m just on infinity.

  • Reply
    Ben Garcia
    September 8, 2020 at 1:22 am

    I love these, David! Very beautiful. It’s like a painter making a dozen canvases of the same scene, trying to find one with the right nuance.

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