When it comes to shooting film I would more often be drawn to professional films like Portra or Ektar but they are not always the best when you just want to shoot for the sake of shooting. Sunny days during the winter on Vancouver Island are far and few between so my wife and I took some time to wander though Rathtrevor Park just outside of Parksville. Below are just a few of the images I shot. What is your favourite drug store variety film, or does your drug store even carry film any longer?
Nestled amongst a pile of thrift store treasures was an unopened 5 pack of expired Kodak Ultramax 400 film. Snatching up expired film, wether stored well or not is something I can never pass up. I asked thee older gentleman attending the shop how much he would like for the film and he very quickly said “how about a dollar”. How can you say no to a dollar for 5 rolls of film. Even if the film didn’t work the amount of fun that could be had just wandering and shooting would be worth it. As I do whenever I get film, expired or fresh, I quickly transfer it into my dedicated film fridge at home. This is where the Ultramax 400 sat for almost 9 months before I loaded it into my favourite walk around shooter, the Pentax ME.
Expired film is one of those things that people equate with lo-fi, lo-contrast, lo-quality, Lo-mography kind of images. However my experience with expired film stocks has been for the most part pretty favourable. I have no idea how long these rolls of Ultramax were laying on the thrift store junk heap or even if the previous owners had ever refrigerated them (doubtful) but I didn’t care, I decided to shoot it at box speed anyway. The expiration in 2002 which should have told me to shoot it 1 stop slower at ISO 200, but something in me said shoot it at box speed. What did I have to lose, it was only a buck. I shot the below images between 2 locations not far from my home in Nanaimo British Columbia. The first 8 images were shot in a quaint little hippie town called Coombs, known for their goats on the roof market place. The final two images were shot in a beautiful little beach town called Parksville during the world sand castle championships that are held here each year. I think the results really speak for themselves. Kodak colour negative films are almost impossible to over expose and this film renders colours in such a way that bring you back but not too far back, if you know what I mean. For a consumer grade film the grain seemed to be decently fine and although sharpened in Lightroom everything turned out fairly crisp. Over all I get kind of an Ektar vibe from this film and I love Ektar. Will I shoot Ultramax again. Definitely! To be fair, it’s not a pro film but When I compare it to some of its peers like Fuji Superia or Kodak Gold the Ultramax wins by a landslide. If you’ve made it this far in the article leave a comment and let me know what you think of Ultramax and also what your favourite consumer film to shoot is.