Returning to Yuhuan With the Rollei 35 [Fomapan Classic 100]

yuhuan women's street

Images shot on Fomapan Classic 100 in the Rollei 35

A long time ago, I visited a small town on the east coast of China called Yuhuan. Whilst there, I shot some photographs on some Ilford Pan 400 film in the Canon Sure Shot AF-7, and then wrote about them here.

A couple of years later, I went back. That time, I shot some more photographs, on Kentmere Pan 400 in the Yashica Electro. You can see how they turned out here and here.

A few years after that, I returned to Yuhuan yet again. And I shot some more monochrome film. This time some Fomapan Classic 100 in the Rollei 35.

These are what we’re looking at here in this blog post. We’ll start at the beginning. With the actual first of the roll shot.

You’ll probably never go to Yuhuan

As I mentioned numerous times in those other blog posts, Yuhuan isn’t a place many visitors to China will ever go to. It’s not even a place many people from China will go to.

My only connection with it is that it’s where my partner is from, and every time I went there before was to go home for Chinese New Year.

Similarly here, we only went to visit her family while I was back in China for a couple of weeks. But I had to take the opportunity to bust out the Rollei 35 and get back to doing what I always enjoyed when I lived in 中国 – walking around taking photographs of streets and people.

You never know what or who you’re going to come across. I certainly didn’t expect to see the chairman, and yet there he was.

return to yuhuan

Street photography in China vs in England

When I lived in China, in Shanghai specifically, the only photography style I would really do was street photography.

For example, when I shot a roll of Shanghai GP3 100 in the city, I didn’t want to just shoot landmarks. It had to be landmarks with people in the shots contributing to them too.

I’ve found that harder to do since I came back to live in England – just going out and shooting pictures in a town or city with people clearly in them, and those people realising what you’re doing too.

There are a number of reasons that make this so, I think. First is that I feel it more likely someone will get annoyed with me here.

It’s just a cultural thing, and also the age-old street photography conundrum. On one hand, if it’s in public, it’s public. But people deserve some privacy wherever they are too.

That’s as deep as I’m going to get into that topic right now. It’s not getting resolved here on this blog post, is it?

The second and third reasons for me not doing this kind of thing so much anymore are to do with time – in that I had a lot more time to do it when I lived in Shanghai, and inspiration – in that the towns and cities near to where I live aren’t always the most inspiring to go and shoot in.

I touched on this in this post here. How many times can I go to Mansfield and come back with truly different images?

Consider driving for an hour to get to somewhere I haven’t shot film at before – Worksop or Derby or Sheffield, perhaps – and compare that to having the whole of Shanghai on my doorstep.

There’s nothing wrong with Worksop or Derby or Sheffield, but of course somewhere like Shanghai is going to be a heck of a lot more interesting for me and where I’m from.

And that’s why I loved this day walking around Yuhuan. Because it reminded me of what it used to be like, to walk around these Chinese streets and get through a couple of rolls of film in a day.

The freedom and inspiration was back.

Testing the Fomapan 100 for contrast and sharpness

This was the first roll of Fomapan 100 I’d shot, and the next three shots were taken really for the film review I’ll eventually get around to writing of it.

The light was very good that day, which always makes photography more enjoyable too, and so I thought I’d see how Foma 100 did with some light, shadows, shapes and details.

That last image up there already showed some very good contrast in that wonderful light, whereas the following ones are a little flatter but still good for me.

I like what I see from this film and I reckon it’ll be getting a positive review when the time comes. Contributing to that will be the factor that in an era where film prices are a hot topic, Fomapan 100, 200 and 400 all remain some of the most affordable you can buy.

Of course they’re not going to be as sharp as an Ilford Delta 100 or 400, but not much is, and you can’t expect them to be for how much they cost.

The final shots from this day in Yuhuan

As the sun was beginning to set on my day shooting some Foma 100 in Yuhuan, I had to leave the city centre streets, meet my partner and go with her friend to pick up her kid from school.

Not the most exciting end to the day, but it gave me the opportunity for some more different shots on this roll as I wandered off alone for ten minutes while they waited for the young one to emerge from class.

Conventional photography advice is to shoot with the sun rather than into it, but doing the latter can produce decent results in certain circumstances.

Like when the haze of a Chinese evening is descending over half-built buildings, for example.

I tried to frame a building with some trees also, and thought the silhouettes of those streetlamps might look a bit foreboding too.

Not quite sure how well these came out compared to how I saw them at the time, but I think they make a nicely wound-down ending to this set regardless.

Wrapping up from Yuhuan, again

There’s not much else to say here so I’ll keep this brief, and of course positive as I always try to be on this site.

There’s no doubt that going somewhere new and different is good for raising that motivation and inspiration to shoot some film, and you don’t have to go as far as China.

For me, Barcelona was nearer. Great Yarmouth was even nearer than that – albeit still a long drive away by UK standards.

Maybe I need to hit up Worksop or Derby or Sheffield after all.

They may not be the most glamourous places I’m ever going to shoot at – but let’s face it, neither is Yuhuan – but any one of those will be better than not shooting at all. 🙂

If you liked that return to Yuhuan with the Rollei 35 and want more essays illustrated with film photography, why not have a look at some of these:

And if you think others will find this post worth a read, help them find it by giving it a share 😀

written by
LEE WEBB
Hi, I'm Lee - creator of My Favourite Lens and the one whose work you're seeing whenever you read a post on here.
I shoot as much film as I can in as many different cameras as I can, and I enjoy playing with vintage lenses on digital cameras also.

Everything I do and what I learn along the way gets shared on here, to inform and inspire you to get out and shoot as much - and as well - as you can too.

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