Frugal Film Project – Marius Voicu

January – Texture

After a very interesting edition of the Frugal Film Project in 2019, I thought:”I can’t miss the 2020 edition and what challenges it may offer”. When we talked about it on the group, themes were proposed for each month and to use certain film stocks each quarter. That certainly raised the challenge bar higher than 2019, but only good things can come when restrictions are imposed (that’s what I always say).

For the first quarter we have to use HP5+ as the chosen film stock, in any format we want, depending on what camera we chose to use. My experience with HP5 is very good so far. I have tested it mainly at box speed and just a couple of times I have pushed it at EI800 and EI1600. The results are visually pleasing with a decent amount of grain, contrast (when you expose the frame correctly) and a wide exposure latitude that makes it an excellent choice for almost any subject you want to shoot. I am using it on a regular basis when I am out shooting street, landscape, documentary or travel at EI400. That is usually the preferred film speed. It covers all the lighting conditions, except night photography. That is where pushing it to 800 or 1600 makes sense.


Regarding the camera used for this first quarter, I have chosen a simple and reliable camera: the Kodak Brownie Twin 20. It is using 120/220 format film, it has a normal eye-level viewfinder and a waist-level finder for composition and a plastic lens. I cannot complain about the quality of the lens given the fact that is was produced between 1959-1964. It is an f11 with focus from 4 feet to infinity and has 3 exposure markings: 13 (for color), 14 and 15 (for B&W). I have used this camera in parallel last year with the main FFP 2019 camera of choice and it produces some very interesting shots, with a good sharpness in the center of the frame and fades towards the edges, which is to be expected given the technical progress of those times. It was one of the first cameras, besides the box type ones, that could have been used by the average Joe, who had no photographic knowledge and used the famous 620 format film made by Kodak. It is plasticky, most of it, but it is also very lite and can be carried with ease in a regular bag.

January’s theme was a bit challenging since I needed to find something interesting during a snowless winter in Bucharest (not an easy task). Since the beginning of the month I have loaded the Brownie and had it with me hoping something will turn up and I would be there at the right time to shoot it. As with many of my images, some interesting weather conditions happened. Being cold and dry we have had a warm air current from the south of Europe and we had 1 week of foggy mornings and evenings. During one morning the fog was a bit thicker and the fence near the building where I live presented with a unique frame. The fence is covered with Lonicera Japonica and it looked so awesome. I took this shot, one of 12 (one can never be too sure), and hoped for the best. As it can be seen the film batch is not quite OK, but I think it turned out quite nice. Will be looking forward to see what I get for the next themes with this camera and film combination.

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