Working on a long-term project, Expired. Using expired film this series explores spaces and places that are close to expiring or are very well worn. I am using a Graflex: Super Graphic 4x5 for the series, the last model of the expired large format Graflex camera line. This series is a look at the beauty and usefulness of the things we discard.
The Graflex: Super Graphic was the inspiration for this series I found it in the bottom of a tattered cardboard box full of well used cameras and lenses. This camera is the last of the line of handheld 4x5 press cameras made by Graflex. This model was produced from 1958-1973 and was one of the first cameras to have an electronic shutter release. This model was also a refinement of the line it was smaller and easier to use incorporating a range finder, sports frame finder, built in focusing hood and focusing and flash scales. This style of camera fell out of use for press photographers in favour of more convenient roll film cameras like the 35mm and medium format systems.
Having used 8x10 field cameras and 4x5 studio cameras I really appreciate the thought and engineering that went into the design of this camera. It is more portable and easier to use, a good re-introduction to large format photography. It allows me to easily explore the places I am photographing but still provides all the camera movements of a 4x5 and a large negative. The large film size affords me a wide exposure latitude and renders fine details very well, excellent for large format printing. I will be using the camera movements to help isolate elements within the frame and create images that are more dreamlike. For me this is a reflection of the large format process itself as it is very surreal composing an image on the ground glass, it is reversed and upside down. This and metering with a one degree spot meter for the zone system really slows down the process of taking a photograph. This time makes me focus more on the quality of light and the composition of the image.
Using film removes the immediacy of seeing the image on the back of the camera also accidents can happen in the handling and processing of the film, I really like this uncertainty. When the film is away at the lab for processing it allows me further time to reflect on the image, there is also the anticipation of waiting which is exciting and adds to the process. Using expired film adds a further element of chance and anticipation as the film reacts differently to light given its age and how it was stored. It also reinforces my theme for although the film is expired it is still useful, it renders an image, and its supposed flaws, due to its age, can be beautiful. Currently I am using expired Kodak Portra NC 160, the colours are a little muted and the images have a magenta colour shift in areas that I tone down in Photoshop. The negatives still maintain detail in the highlights and shadows if exposed correctly, leading me to surmise that the expiration date and how this box of film was stored really only affected the colour forming chemicals rather than the silver halides in the film. For me this uncertainty makes each negative unique and it will be interesting to try other expired film types and manufacturers to see what results I will get.