A little over a year ago I bought a somewhat oddball old film camera from a British dude off Craigslist trying to unload his collection of, worryingly, the same kind of cameras I was buying up. Along with the camera, he gave me a free lens and a 1998 World Cup commemorative roll of FujiFilm. I’d been saving this expired roll for a special occasion since then, and in the new rear-drive Alfa I finally had a good reason to bust it out.
It felt like the film and the Alfa would go together. I didn’t know how either the film or the Alfa would perform, but I imagined they’d both give up some outright quality for a sense of character and occasion.
I did manage to drive the new twin-turbo Alfa for a few short spells, on backroads, on the highway, and through traffic, and it turned out to be a much more capable sort of car than I imagined. The interior was spacious, the seats were great and the handling at sane speeds was pretty neutral. Foot to the floor in race mode, the car very much entered genuine terror territory. In the few hours I had with the Giulia Quadrifoglio, I had about twelve seconds of the car at its full, hard-edged self. I had to shut things down quick, as the Alfa starts getting happy north of a hundred miles an hour. When I calmed things down out of jail territory, the car felt kind of disappointed, like it really wanted to show me all of the good stuff that happened past 150.
The film worked kind of the same. I’d never shot expired film before, and I halfway hoped it would come out super artsy with lots of false purples and greens. When I got my negatives back from developing, I realized that this expired film basically ended up looking like normal film, only a little flatter and grainier. I acted like I had simultaneously under- and over-exposed every frame.
But it was an easy film to edit, and it didn’t fight me when I loaded my digital scans into photoshop and un-fucked the lighting. It handled like normal film in the same way the Alfa handled like a normal car.
The expired Fuji still does have its own little attitude, and I like the grain in it. The digital pictures I took as backups look almost startlingly clean by contrast.
You can see all my digital shots in Patrick’s review of the Quadrifoglio. I took those on my trusty Canon 6D with an ‘80s Soviet 35mm lens adapted onto it, a confusingly-named but very enjoyable Mir 24m. The film ones I took on a Canon Eos Rebel X, a plastic ‘90s camera I picked up for $10 at a yard sale a while back on a whim. I put my most beloved old lens on it with an adapter, a Pentax Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 50mm f1.4, famous for having a slightly-radioactive coating designed in the ‘60s for use by NASA on space missions to reduce glare.
I don’t think I’ll be looking for more expired film in the future. It doesn’t quite have enough weirdness or sharpness to justify itself. Though I’m not running back to use it again, it’s left a mark on my mind, kind of like that Alfa. Man, what a weird car.
Here are all my other shots I took up in the backroads of Harriman State Park, a short drive north of NYC:
And here are the rest of the pictures I took in the garage across the street from the office, when I noticed there was nice light cutting between the buildings onto it. These pics, as I now think about it, were through the 35mm Mir, not the 50mm Super-Tak. As you’ll note, getting consistent color and light (and dust-free scans) takes more time than I was bothering to put into this little project: