Untitled (Gardening for Ordnance) 2018 copyright Douglas Stockdale
About four years ago a friend gifted me a couple blocks of expired 120 roll film for my Hasselblad camera; some Ilford Pan F black&white film that expired in June of 1984, Ilford HP5 black&white film that expired in July of 1982 and a 20 pack of FujiChrome Provia 100F daylight transparency film that expired in October 2006. What most photographers had drilled into their heads by the various film companies in the pre-digital years is that expired film is in danger of color shifts and should NOT be used. The dire warnings from the film companies implied that not storing film in a refrigerated was fraught with professional danger. Of course, if any film did expire, the photographer was assumed to want to replace it, thus ensuring a steady sales of “fresh” film.
Which for my memory projects, the idea that a film might have a serendipitous color shift as a result of being expired is actually something I am hoping for. (yes, in the mean time, I have become the repository of expired 120 film among my friends for some odd reason).
For my project Gardening for Ordnance (did I mention I live on a decommissioned WWII practice bombing range?) I chose the FijiChrome as my intended color medium. Perhaps the 12 years of addition aging of my 120 film would yield some unexpected results that might induce some visual metaphors? I think that my buddy Sandy had properly stored this film he donated because so far, no real color shifts that I can detect in either the processed transparencies or in my scan files. The scan of the unaltered transparency below includes the gray card, while the image above has been tweaked with an adjustment layer for some curve modifications (slight s curve).
So could using expired film add another dimension to a creative project? I think so, but so far for this 12 year overripe block of film, regretfully not yet. Although I am now tempted to hold on to this film for a little bit longer, I think that this expired film is suitable for this current project and adds a subtle dimension to my narrative. I will use what I need for now and if any of this film is left over from this project, all the better for another day and project.
Now I am worried about my 36 year old expired black&white film, will it be uneventful as well??
Technical Notes: 120mm Zeiss Makro-Planar CF on Hasselblad 503cx, exposure 1/125th at f/5.6 (EV 12), film normal commercial development (E6).