Frugal Film Project – April ’23

Have you ever gone somewhere, like a museum or garden or zoo, and tried and see everything except the main attraction? It’s weird, and depending on the venue, can be boring. With the right location it’s like a scavenger hunt. That was my goal for FFP 4/23, to make photos at the Memphis Zoo of the Memphis Zoo, but try not to make photos of the animals.

Just to add to the story, I’m shooting a 1961 Kodak Retinette 1A and a roll of Kodak 5213 (Kodak Vision3 200T Motion Picture Film). This time I even splurged for a chemical kit of ECN-2 motion picture developer.

The day was absolutely beautiful… when I got in the car to drive to Midtown. Of course, when I got there it was overcast quite a bit, but I had fast ISO 200 film and the latest in film camera technology, right ? Believe it or not the Kodak Retinette and ISO 200 film is just about perfect for a cloudy day. I was able to shoot many of the shots at f/4 1/60s hand-held without any issues, while the rest sat around f/8 1/125s.

I have to admit, I’m both impressed and not so impressed with ECN-2. I like that the colors don’t shift into a crazy green hue like C41 does with this film, but I was hoping ECN-2, by using some chemistry magic, would make the Rem Jet layer disappear without any intervention. Nope. It’s still necessary to do a final wash in warm water and scrub the support side of the film. I am going to shoot a roll or two of standard C41 film and try to develop it in ECN-2 before it skunks, and see if the color shifts are different or if there is little difference at all.

The Retinette, oh boy, I just really am enjoying shooting it. It was one of the first film cameras I ever bought, way back in like 2014. The Art Deco look, film advance on the bottom of the camera, zone focusing, and bright viewfinder make it damn near a perfect camera for outings. Literally, most of the shots were f/8 at 1/125s or 1/60s. Occasionally I’d dip down to f/4 for some subject separation, but I didn’t have the Blik rangefinder with me, so I didn’t really nail the focus right on those shots.

This shot was one end of the extremes with the lighting. Behind me a sun-bathed park and in front of me a giant storm cloud. I took some liberty with this photo since I was today years old when I learned Lightroom has a cool feature that allows me to separate the foreground and background. Thanks Omar Gonzales for showing me how to use Lightroom 8 years after I started using Lightroom! I was able to kick up the contrast on just the clouds in the background, making them a tad more ominous than they originally were.

The above photo was right after that set of storm clouds was passing. Did I mention it was super-windy, Sunday? Yeah, that puffy white cloud in the background is the same as the ugly dark cloud behind the water park. This is the entrance tower to the Panda exhibit — or China exhibit — at the Memphis Zoo. It’s star animal, Yaya the Panda, was flown to China to live out her remaining years in her home country. She was well loved here and will be missed.

This photo was taken at f/4, hence the very mild subject separation. As you can see, f/4 is soft on this camera lens. It’s the nature of the beast. I still like the shot. Again, I was attempting to photograph the Zoo but not the animals. It was just for fun. I love all the animals here!

I like the way reds pop on Vision3 film. Even when cross-processed in C41 the reds are great. The difference here with ECN-2 is the red is brighter as if it has a slight pinch of red-orange. I could have done some better dust removal on this frame. I am getting lazy, but also I forgot to add a drop of dish soap to the last rinse, so… water spots.

Ok, Ok, hear me out. I love this photo. Yes, it’s tilted, blurry, and isn’t even that great of a composition. However, together all three of those things make it a fun photo. This is me, though. I like blowing expensive rolls of film through plastic-lensed toy cameras. But I do like this photo and I’m sharing it for that reason.

Of course I took a photo (several) of the animals. I’ll share this one. It’s another favorite. This one and the first image (white tree, red wall) are getting sent off for big prints.

I shot 3 rolls on the Retinette and a roll on the Leica, Sunday, and I have to say I just had more fun with the Retinette. It’s a no-fuss camera that embodied the idea of making photography accessible to everyone, as this was a really, really basic version of the Retina series cameras. The camera lens has simple markings, all the controls are at the same location and easy to adjust quickly, and the resulting images are keepers that could be made by amateurs on a budget. I’m happy to have it and the Frugal Film Project is a great community in which to share the images I make on it!

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