Time to think ahead and prune the film collection
I’ve been making the mistake of opening the fridge a lot recently ;-) There’s always too much film there. Of course the variety is great, but I’m also starting to think that I’ve been doing this game long enough that I know what I like most and what I want to use only once in a while. There is also the issue of consistency of results: the commercial photographers I love most tended to use huge batches of a single film, giving their portfolios a distinctive look. This was no doubt due to the fact that in the golden age of photo journalism every office had a bulk film loader from which all the cameramen took their daily dose. I’m accordingly coming around to the idea of using a smaller variety of cameras and film in order to try and focus on my compositions more, get more disciplined, and try and further evolve my own ‘character’ when it comes to making photographs. Portraits for example is something I want to try and develop more. I think it’s important to keep pushing yourself, otherwise the love of cameras and film can die very easily, and you end up either tired of your own stuff, or making what are effectively snapshots anybody could take.
The camera choice is simple: Prakticas with Zeiss Jena and Meyer-Optik lenses. The Praktica FX2 and Praktica IVs remain real workhorses so will be getting more use. For medium format I recently got a Flexaret, my first new camera in over two years, but the choices here remain harder-I love my Lubitel, Weltaflex and Pentacon Six almost equally, so they’ll all remain in circulation, plus the Mamiya C330.
For colour film, the choice is actually quite easy: Kodak Portra 160. I’ve tried the cheaper Kodak films such as colour plus or ultramax but the results never blew me away. The Kodak Ektar is very nice, but for me lacks some of Portra’s luminous delicate softness.
B&W is the area I want to move into more and more and where I currently have a little too much film in terms of variety. I want to prune the stockpile a bit (by shooting of course ;-)) and get to a stage where I’m pretty much using bulk supplies of Adox or Orwo (new stock) film. I have a frozen block of Efke KB25, and if that were still in production I’d use it forever, but once that batch is gone, it’s gone. On the other hand I’ve come round to prefering Adox and Orwo to the other alternatives out there on the market right now-even Fomapan or Ilford. Rollei and Agfa are fine but don’t light my boat. On the other hand I’ve been really impressed by Adox Silvermax and their new CHS stock. Orwo UN54 (ISO 100) and N74+ (ISO 400) I can also buy in 100 foot bulk rolls and be set for life. I somehow prefer the new stock Orwo to Ilford, and Adox gives me results that Fomapan doesn’t. So once the massacre in my fridge has taken place, I aim to be more monopolistic in the films I use from now on.