What is Found Film?

Posted: 09/20/2011

What is found film?

Guest blog by Gidn Hendriksen

Simply put ‘Found film’ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Found_film) (also known as ‘forgotten film’) is film that you sometimes find hiding or ‘living’ in old cameras at thrift stores, car boot sales or yard sales. I say living because some of them have a form of fungus or mold on the film emulsion, as you can see in the picture below. Together with base fog caused by aging of the film and/or exposure to heat and light it destroys any latent image on the film.

The two images below are the only usable images of the first roll I ever found. It was an AgfaPan 100 (B&W) I found it sitting in a 1950s East-German Franka Solida 6x6 bellows camera. I brought the roll to a camera store to develop, because I did not self-process back then. You can just decipher two kids snapping a picture of the photographer with, I think, Agfa Click camera.

This almost complete early failure might easily put you off. However, if you, like me, follow the FPP saying ‘don’t be scared!’ and continue to search for film, you will eventually find true gems. I recently found five rolls of black and white Ilford FP4 120 film (that’s without plus) They were kept in an old metal sigar case. This film type was introduced in 1968 and I suspect these rolls were shot around that time.

below: 6 images of ilford fp4 120 rolfilm late 1960s

Many thanks to Chris Fecio, Tom Schaefer and John Milleker for super fast twitter advice on how to stand develop these rolls with Rodinal.

What is the allure of spending the time and money developing found film?

Shooting film always has an element of surprise. Up until the film is developed you never know exactly how your shots have turned out. I feel developing found film rolls increases this element of surprise ten fold. Waiting to develop and seeing how the negs come out of the tank is really a great feeling. Like hopping in a time machine a taking a trip back in time.

As I started developing myself, money isn’t that big of an issue anymore, as you cut the labor out of the process. If you buy basic or second hand process equipment and use basic chemistry, these costs can be kept low too. As for time spend on it, I usually keep a bunch of rolls and store them in a dark and cool place until I develop them all a once, together with rolls I shot myself. I usually develop twice a month.

What feelings and thoughts go through your head when looking at the negs when you have developed the film?

I can honestly say that I get a kick out of finding some obscure rolls of films somewhere in a pile of junk at a yard sale or hiding in a camera in an antiques store. I start asking myself questions about what images could be on it and, if I didn’t find it in a camera, what camera it was shot on. And most importantly… why I wasn’t developed after shooting, although I guess most of the time this would be cost of development or forgetting about the rolls.

I currently have two 126 Kodacolor II cartridges and one house-brand cartridge from the Dutch HEMA department store (actually rebranded Ferrania) cartridges from a couple of Kodak Instamatic’s I bought. I’ve also recently found 12 APS rolls which… I shot myself, 10+ years ago!! Looks like I have been producing my own found film…

About Gidn Hendriksen

I’m 24 years old and live in The Netherlands, The Hague. I currently study International Communication and Media.

I’ve always been interested in photography. My parents used to have a make shift 'kitchen darkroom’ when I was 3 years old. I remember this because as a child I was always playing with either water or sand in the paper developing trays. We lived in a town that was expanding at an enormous rate and I was amazed by all the construction and excavation machines at work. From my 5th until I was 16 years old you could always find me at construction sites, shooting with my parents’ Olympus 35mm zoom-camera and later on with my own Kodak Advantix APS camera.

In 2001, I was given a digital Nikon Coolpix which cut down on film and developing costs but died on me 3 years later. Another Coolpix died on me last year, after a vacation to Barcelona, so I decided to try film again. I bought a Canon AE-1 kit which is still my main shooter but soon after I quickly acquired a case of G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). Needless to say, many camera’s (insert link gear page) followed, among which are Zenit-E’s, a nifty Olympus OM10, Olympus Trip35’s, a heavy Kiev 60 and a even heavier Cambo-Polaroid instant pass portrait camera and a couple of 1950’s box type camera’s (Agfa Clack and Click, GevaBox, Brownie etc.) I also share Michael Raso’s love for the 110 film format and its camera's, of which the Agfamatic 4000 is the most used. As I have only a couple of Agfa Vista colour rolls remaining I will have to wait for Adox to start producing again.

This September I will start a minor study in photography abroad, in Antwerp, Belgium. For classes digital is required… the rest, off course, will all be shot on film!

My website: www.urbanlocations.nl
About one year ago I joined a workshop in ‘street combing’ this is combing the street (as one would do one the beach) to spot funny, significant, sad, happy coincidences that occur on the street, the workshop focuses on how to incorporate ideas you find on the street in your work. After following this workshop I decided to start my own blog about what I see on the streets. One thing led to another and I began to feel attracted to street photography. Soon thereafter I was posting both ‘street combing’ and street photography images. Another favorite is architecture and run-down, abandoned buildings… i.e. Urban Locations. I now shoot 90% film for all my personal photography work. Sometimes I use my iPhone for some on-the-fly shots. I develop C-41, black and white and have a E-6 kit waiting for me to try developing slide film. For scanning I recently upgraded to the Epson V500 which scans 35mm and medium format.

Read our follow-up blogs about Found Film: https://filmphotographyproject.com/content/features/2013/08/found-film-discovering-lost-memories


Have you found some exposed film in an old camera. Whatever the format might be, The Darkroom can process it! http://thedarkroom.com/

Need fresh film for your 110, 126, 620, 35mm, 120, 4x5 or 8x10 camera? Look no further! https://filmphotographyproject.com/store



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