blog by Christopher Fecio
Fortepan 400 Film
In case you haven’t heard, there is a tremendous thing happening, and it involves free film!
The Film Photography Podcast, headed up by the enthusiastic Michael Raso, has monthly giveaways of both 35mm and medium format film. I’ve been extra lucky in the month of July because I happened to be one of those few who received some film in the mail.
Mike sent me a roll of Fortepan 400 B&W and a roll of EasyClix 400 color print film (I’ll be shooting that one soon and will write another review of it).
Over the weekend a couple of friends were participating in a 48 hour film project, in which they had from Friday night to Sunday night to write, shoot, edit, and create music for a short film. It was a tremendous undertaking and I am very proud of them for doing it. There will be screenings for all the films created over the weekend on Wednesday August 11 and Thursday August 12 at 7pm at the Market Arcade in downtown Buffalo. You should head out there if you have a chance.
But back to the roll of Fortepan – this is what it looks like:
It even comes with that neat little spec sheet that gives development times for different chemicals and some tips on shooting the film.
The main reason I chose to shoot this film at this time was because of what I have seen others do with it. All the examples I found online were rather grainy and had a bit lower contrast, so I figured that since we were going to be on an old farm with a lot of different textures and excellent subjects it would make the most sense to shoot this grainy, organic film. The film also expired in 2000, so I expected even more grain. And, in the end, this was also pushed a little further because I processed the exposed film in Rodinal (that was the only developer that I had on hand at the time).
This is the first shot from the roll. And it sort of explains the rest of the farm. There is a lot of plank, a lot of deterioration, and a lot of beauty. The film looks the way I had expected, after looking at what other people had done. The grain is definitely noticeable, especially where the focus falls off.
I decided to shoot this roll with my Konica Auto S2 for a number of reasons. First of all, it is nearly fifty years old. It shares so much with the barns on this farm; unlike those barns, though, the camera has been given a second chance to live through a complete CLA (Clean, Lubricate, Adjust). The barns haven’t been so lucky. The smaller of the two is being slowly taken apart, plank by plank. It is starting to become a problem and it would be better to see it taken down rather than face ultimate collapse.
The second reason that I decided to use the Konica is that the gentleman that it belonged to before me traveled with it throughout Europe. The camera had been so many places and seen so many things, and I thought it would only be right to give it a chance to see a bit more. And, perhaps, it would be able to see something that it had never known before.
While the others were preparing to film, I decided to shoot a few behind-the-scenes shots on this film. I figured it wouldn’t hurt anything, and at the very least, I might get a couple neat images out of it. The house in this image is an early 19th century farmhouse that has been meticulously taken care of by my friend’s father. It is such a beautiful place that truly lends itself to the past. In the film, the man returns to his childhood home with his girlfriend/wife after his father’s death. This is them standing and looking at it.
During filming I also took a couple of the Directors/Actors/Helpers aside to do some portrait work, just to see what would come of it. This was my favorite of all the portraits. It almost has a candid-posed feel to it (if that is even possible). The contrast was great, and I thought the framing worked well with the leading lines, subject, etc.
In the end, I’d say that I had a really great time shooting this film. It was everything that I hoped it would be, and as a sucker for expired film, it definitely met my expectations.
It is always a treat to work with expired or odd films, and when I can do it for free, it just makes it that much better.
I want to give a very special Thank You to Mike from the FPP for sending me this film.
Keep shooting that film!
– Christopher Fecio
All photos by Christopher Fecio (except top image by Mat Marrash on Kodak Ektar 100)