35mm Film Photography: The Welcome Imperfection of Expired Film

I shoot film…and I’m a total amateur. And that’s ok. Because imperfection is interesting.

Expired Kodak Elite Chrome 35mm Expired film photograph Volcano at Petroglyph National Monument Albuquerque New Mexico
Volcano at Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque, New Mexico

The photos in this post were shot in August 2017 on one expired (2005) roll of Kodak Elite Chrome 100 ISO slide film, using our Nikon L35 AF point-and-shoot camera.

Expired Kodak Elite Chrome 35mm expired film photograph Santa Fe Railyard Sign passing train in Clovis, New Mexico
Passing train at Santa Fe Railyard in Clovis, New Mexico

Some of my happiest days have been spent strolling around a small town for the first time with a film camera (or 2 or 3) slung over my shoulder, seeking out the little things that make that town unique. Those things aren’t always pretty. But they are usually interesting.

Expired Kodak Elite Chrome 35mm expired film photograph Young Sirs by playmates Department Store in Clovis, New Mexico
Young Sirs by playmates Department Store in Clovis, New Mexico
Expired Kodak Elite Chrome 35mm expired film photograph: Sweet vintage Station Wagon in Clovis, New Mexico
Sweet Ride. Clovis, New Mexico
Expired Kodak Elite Chrome 35mm expired film photograph: Kung Fu in Clovis, New Mexico
KUNG FU. Clovis, New Mexico

Shooting film can be an expensive hobby. That said, when one takes the time to slow down and consider each shot – because that shot COSTS something – through more careful consideration of lighting, and deliberation over angle, framing, and depth of field, one can develop skills that make one a better photographer.

Expired Kodak Elite Chrome 35mm expired film photograph 30 minutes to total Solar Eclipse at Old Union Cemetery White County, Tennessee
30 minutes to total Solar Eclipse at Old Union Cemetery (White County, Tennessee)

I’m kind of a purist when it comes to my film photos, so these are presented unretouched, uncropped, and totally imperfect. I enjoy the feel of a vintage camera in hand, and the process of making a film picture, so it just feels like cheating when I digitally manipulate a film photo. Whether a film picture is good or bad, it was made by me in that one moment. The negative proves that I earned that exact image.

Expired Kodak Elite Chrome 35mm film photograph Shooting into the sun at Petroglyph National Monument (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
Shooting into the sun. Petroglyph National Monument (Albuquerque, New Mexico)

It’s a relief to be free from obsession over making an image look better, and from the frustration of being unable to manipulate my image into something it isn’t and never will be.

Expired Kodak Elite Chrome 35mm film photograph Old Town Emporium at Dusk Albuquerque, New Mexico
Old Town Emporium at Dusk (Albuquerque, New Mexico)

Expired film presents potential for underexposure, overexposure, excessive grain, and those wonderful weird color shifts. With managed expectations and an appreciation for imperfection, shooting expired film can be pretty fun. Experts recommend low ISO color films for best results, and shooting one stop lower than box speed for every 10 years that the film is expired.

Expired Kodak Elite Chrome 35mm film photograph Burned out liquor store. STAY HAPPY West Texas
Burned out liquor store. STAY HAPPY (West Texas – somewhere along a blue highway)

One of these days I’ll get around to creating a gallery page, but until then, if you are interested in seeing more of my film photography, visit (and if you’re keen to it, follow) my film-dedicated instagram feed.

Do you shoot film? If so, what’s your favorite film/camera combo?

Into film photography? See more of mine here, or follow me on instagram.

 

 

 

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