Booze and sun – old camera, friends and expired film not pictured

Instagram and Hipstamatic have turned us into a world of snappers – ones very keen to tweak our digital creations to resemble the retro looks of analogue photography.

Look at the Facebook or Flickr accounts of your friends, and chances are you’ll see a bunch of pics of parties, meet-ups, picnics, day trips of a drink or two made to look like old Polaroids, xpro’d slide, old colour prints or other remnants of an analogue age.

When my friend Matt celebrated getting his PhD in American Studies, there was a meet-up of a bunch of us at a south London bar called Frank’s Café – an al fresco venue on the top of an old car parking building in hipster haven Peckham.

London summers have been drab affairs since 2006. While the world was watching last summer, the grey clouds managed to dissolve enough for the Olympics to be held successfully. But sweaty summery weather has been depressingly rare.

Early evening is my favourite time to shoot. The light goes golden, shadows soften and lengthen, texture is teased out of objects that are rendered hard and flat in the noonday sun.

I have a freezer full of film gleaned from camera shops or on eBay, including a bunch of films recently or not-so recently discontinued. I’m down to my last half-dozen rolls of Agfa RSX II 100; a slide film produced until the early 2000s, and capable of beautiful results. It’s essentially a professional version of Agfa’s much-loved Precisa, a cross-processing holy grail for LOMOgraphers.

I shot these pics on an old Zenit 3M, a Soviet camera I’ve written about before. It’s one of the simplest SLRs built still capable of giving you decent results; a handful of speeds and a pre-set Helios lens perfect for the golden hour. Old lenses like this don’t come with the contrast boosting coatings which you’ll find on more modern ones. But for an impromptu session with a bunch of friends, it’s a pairing which works a treat.

Check out more pics from my RSX stash here, and more shots from the Zenit 3M.


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Stephen Dowling
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