Images shot on Lomography Color Tiger 200 in Kodak Ektra 250
There was a quick dabble with 120 when the Littlest Holga was passing through Shanghai but apart from that, it’s been all 35mm at the time of writing.
In quite a meta turn of events though, writing this very essay is about the change that as it introduces some 110 film I shot at Shanghai’s Jade Buddha temple.
Lomography Color Tiger 200, to be precise, in a Kodak Ektra 250 that was handed down to me by my mother.
Results were mixed, but you’re still going to see all 24 of them here – because it’s useful and interesting to see things warts ‘n’ all sometimes rather than just the highlights.
A disclaimer: 110 film isn’t the best, and neither was this camera
Before we go on with this post, we need to get one thing clear straight away. It’s something you may have already noticed from the two images posted above.
It’s with great regret that I have to inform you that 110 film just can’t compete with even 35mm when it comes to image quality. And that’s not to even mention medium and larger formats.
The 13mm x 17mm negatives that 110 gives you are approximately half the size of the ones you get with 35mm film. As a result of this, they just can’t squeeze enough detail on there to give comparable results.
To compound this further, the Kodak Ektra 250 I used here wasn’t the best camera I’ve ever shot either. It’s supposed to have fixed focus between 1.2 metres and infinity, which appeared to be true most of the time.
On some occasions though, it completely failed to focus on anything. As this was the first time I’d used it, I’m not quite sure what happened there. I’ll investigate and try to do better next time though.
All that is to say, if you’re here for a film photo essay showing off some exemplary images, this one ain’t going to be it. Maybe try one of these many others instead.
But if you fancy some mixed results from a lower quality film and camera combination and some related musings on where they were shot, read on.
What and where is Shanghai’s Jade Buddha temple?
The timeline of Shanghai’s Jade Buddha temple – which is also known as Yufo temple – dates back to 1882 although, like a lot of historic sites in China, the building we see now is not the original.
Indeed, it seems the present-day Jade Buddha temple is even in a different place to the old one.
Regardless, the story begins when two jade Buddha statues were brought back from Myanmar by a travelling monk named Huigen. They had been donated by a Chinese man living in Myanmar at the time.
On his return to the city, Huigen had a temple built to house the two statues. This place stood until 1911 when it destroyed during the Wuchang Uprising. Fortunately, the statues themselves were moved elsewhere and survived.
In 1928, a replacement temple was built on the current site.
The original two jade Buddhas – a 1.95 metre high sitting one and a 96 centimetre long reclining one – were joined in 1989 by a much bigger four metre long reclining one. This latest addition was brought from Singapore and is made of marble.
The temple underwent some restoration and renovation work beginning in 2104, which culminated in a pretty impressive engineering project in 2017 when the main hall was moved 30 metres to the north of its original spot.
The Jade Buddha temple is on Anyuan Road in the Putuo district of Shanghai. You can reach it by taking line 13 on the subway and getting off at Jiangning Road Station.
Allow me to show you some actual keepers
To be fair, I don’t think the set of images you’ve just seen came out too badly. The last one could have been sharper and less blurred, yes, but it’s nothing compared to what’s coming up later.
Before that though, allow me a moment to pat myself on the back and present what I thought were the best of the bunch.
Also, and more importantly, I think the following set can give you some inspiration by showing it’s possible to get some half-decent shots with a not very good camera and one of the worst film formats ever devised as far as image quality goes.
You don’t need a Hasselblad loaded with 120 Portra, or even a Contax T2 or whatever is the point ‘n’ shoot soup du jour flavour of the month this year.
Go out and shoot with what you’ve already got. Because it’s probably better than the setup I went to the Jade Buddha temple and got these shots with.
Now please enjoy some out of focus ones
That being said, you’ll probably want to go out and shoot with something you can rely on to focus on what it is you’re pointing it at. That’s the very least you expect from a camera really.
It’s a shame I couldn’t rely on the Kodak Ektra 250 here because I think a couple of the images below might have been okay too had they come out in focus. They do vary in how out of focus they are, but they definitely are all out of focus to some degree.
It’s still worthwhile publishing them though. This is a blog. It’s not a portfolio through which I’m trying to get work as a photographer.
If you’re building a library of work of your own to that end, I would very much advise you to only include your best shots. Because you’re only as good as your worst image in the eyes of the people looking at them.
Again though, that’s not something I concern myself with. I’ll show you my film fails on here and don’t mind having them on my Instagram either – a place notable for people showing their lives in the form of highlights only.
And while the Kodak Ektra did miss focus on most of these, the first one at least was my fault. It’s only now I’m writing this that I did some research and found out its closest focusing distance is 1.2 metres.
I gave this lion no chance.
Red dots and even worse shots
I’m probably never going to own a Leica. They cost way too much for me even if I did want one. That compounded with the fact that I don’t is why I think I’ll never have one.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t have some red dot action in my life – especially with this Lomo 110 film.
Because as well as the missed focus, you may have noticed some spectral-looking artefacts on a few of the images above.
These particular red dots are caused by light leaks in the 110 film casing where the window is that tells you how many shots you’ve taken. You can stop these leaks from happening by putting some tape over the window.
Much like the Ektra 250’s minimum focus distance, that’s something I only found out after shooting this roll. Perhaps I should have researched both film and camera at least a little beforehand.
And now, for the sake of completeness, I’ll show you the final three shots of the 24 I got here.
Two were where I had the idea to contrast the temple roofs with the surrounding high-rise buildings, with the last one being similar to the vertical wooden window shot that came out okay and was posted above.
Unfortunately, these images were blighted by one or more of the following: overexposure, underexposure, a lack of focus or sharpness, and probably also just being not very good attempts at photographs really.
It happens. Just learn from it and do better next time.
The gear may change but the temples remain
Going to a temple to take some photographs, as well as just enjoying the environs, is something I always liked doing when I was in Asia.
Be it the large Jing’an temple, the smaller Qibao temple, or the historic Longhua temple, there were several in Shanghai alone. Not to mention Nanchan temple out in there in Wuxi, which was a place I always enjoyed going to.
This goes all the way back to when I was living in Chiang Mai, Thailand, which now feels like a lifetime ago as I write this. Spending time at any of the city’s many temples was one of my favourite things to do there, too.
It didn’t really matter which of the city’s countless temples that was either, as they were all as good as each other for taking some time to relax, reflect, and recharge – all of which were and still are as important as the photography.
My time in Chiang Mai came a few years before I got into film photography. I was still only really shooting vintage lenses on digital, like the F.Zuiko 38mm I used at the temples you see on this post here.
Back then, I had no notion I’d ever get into film. It was something I didn’t really understand and had no real desire to attempt to do so. I was happy with digital, shooting in the streets and at temples.
And as far as locations go, not much ever changed. Which brings us to a nice quote to wrap this all up with.
As Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr said, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. Or, put in a language that I can understand, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
It really means that surface-level changes only strengthen the status quo at the deeper level.
You can change your gear. You can put the vintage lenses and digital camera away and try some 35mm film. You can find yourself shooting some 120 also.
Go more nuts than that though. Get into pinhole. Or large format. Or wet plate.
Whatever it is, based on my past, I think I know where at least some of my own work with any of those would be done in the future, if presented with half the chance.
Out there at some temples I’ve yet to visit. 🙂
- Roar with Color -The Tiger is our first 110 C41 color negative film. With a speed of 200 ISO, this pocket film is great for everyday shooting and delivers wonderful night-time photos with a little help from a flash.
If you enjoyed that post, why not take a look at these others to stay inspired or learn more about some other films I’ve shot and reviewed:
- My comprehensive review of another lesser-shot colour film
- Shooting some 35mm film at another Shanghai temple
- Shooting some monochrome film in and around Shanghai
And if you think others will enjoy this post on shooting some 110 film at the temple, help them find it by giving it a share. 😀