By Irene Stylianou
(Note: Some of the images below are NSFW)
Ever since I was a photography major in Italy and was neck deep in darkroom chemicals and film data sheets, I knew I had a soft spot for extremely high contrast emulsions. Those blacks. Those whites. No greyscale. And this is why I love Film Washi “A”.
Film “A” is a handcrafted, specialty, black and white orthochromatic 12 ISO film, “used as leader and protection during the reproduction process of motion picture films. It is sensitised to record technical data and offers a very fine grain and a very high contrast.”
I’ve only used it outdoors so far, but I can certainly attest to its natural light performance, even though it was obvious that the sky could be easily overexposed, since it was really sunny that day. The film is based on 120 μm polyester and Film Washi recommends loading it under shadow and unloading it in total darkness inside a darkroom.
Its very low ISO calls for plenty of available light, but you can also use it if you feel comfortable using wide-open apertures or long shutter speeds.
Now, if you’re an analogue photography enthusiast, then you definitely know who Film Washi is. But, in case you’re a newbie, here’s a quick intro to the company’s history. Film Washi was founded in France, in 2013, by Lomig Perrotin and was soon moved to the family garage.
It managed to grow, even as a one-man business and has sold over 40,000 films so far. The company prides on manufacturing rolled films, packaged manually in recycled 120 rollers and 135 cartridge loaders and trying not to compete against the major players of the analogue industry. They offer something different and different is something we all crave, sooner or later.
Sure, photographers love the predictability of Kodak Tri-X’s and they love knowing they can always depend on it, but Washi A 12 ISO offers a novel approach to film photography. It’s new, it’s exciting and it complements everything else that’s been in the market for the past decades.
I’ve been shooting film since 1998 and even though I have some (or a LOT) of favourites, I enjoy trying new things; it’s my job (and a pleasure) after all.
I decided to try out “A” for the first time on a sunny autumnal morning. I loaded my Fujica AX Multi Program camera and drove out to a rather secluded field, somewhere in Cyprus. I had to have my favourite “model” with me, my friend and talented designer, Natalie.
The sky was clear and the trees were a-changin’. I shot mostly close-up portraits, to avoid overexposure, but when I got the results back from the lab, I was ecstatic.
I guess it depends on what you’re shooting, but I’d say that Film Washi “A” gives you a hint of “artistic drama”, whether you want it or not. It’s ideal for street photography and still life, but I loved shooting portraits with it and I can’t wait to shoot more rolls of it.
- Irene Stylianou is a photographer and owner of LOMOgraphy Cyprus
Follow her Instagram: @lomography_cyprus