Fast forward a couple of years and I found myself back there, with the reason for both trips being the same: visiting my better half’s family for Chinese New Year.
If you’re not from Yuhuan, which I’m clearly not, there aren’t that many reasons to go. The only other one I can think of would be for business.
As you’ve likely guessed if you’re reading this, I took the opportunity to shoot some film street photography there again. This time it was Kentmere 400, which I’d not tried before in my Yashica Electro GSN.
What follows is what I came back with. If it piques your interest and makes you want to learn more about this film, I suggest you check out my full review of it afterwards.
Yuhuan Women’s Street
A lot of shiny new buildings have sprung up since my last visit to Yuhuan. There’s plenty in the pipeline too, with more building projects going on than anywhere else I remember seeing.
They make quite the contrast with the little old neighbourhoods that are still to be completely torn down.
One place I hope doesn’t disappear is the older quarter around Women’s Street – which I think is a colloquial name rather than the official one – just to the northwest of the big park. Of all the places I know in the city, this has the most character.
The narrow roads lined with small clothes shops are made narrower still by the number of people and vehicles packing them out, with the row of street food stalls running down the middle giving the ideal place to sit and refuel should you be able to find a seat.
I recommend the chips topped with chilli, peanuts, and coriander.
Official small city street photography
I was never sure whether Yuhuan was technically a city or a town before. Coming from the UK, it’s hard to grasp the differences between the sizes of places back home and in China.
Yuhuan is a little place here, yet it looks comparable in size to Nottingham, my closest big city back home, both in terms of city centre and wider area. Although having spent so much time in Shanghai, even Nottingham seems small to me now.
For the record, according to Wikipedia, Yuhuan is now a county-level city, which means it’s a city and a county rather than a city in the way I’d understand it, and has been since 2017.
Not that any of this makes a difference to me, although it’s nice to have a blog post title that’s officially at least semi-accurate I guess.
Speaking of which, here’s some more small city street photography.
A note on the Kentmere 400
As mentioned, this was the first roll of Kentmere 400 I’d shot. I’m not unhappy with the results.
They don’t seem uber-grainy like the Ilford Pan 400 I used in Yuhuan before was and the 400 ISO meant I could shoot on the days that weren’t quite as sunny as I’d have liked.
With it being an inexpensive film, I certainly think you could do worse if you’re looking for a few rolls to play with out on the street.
To wrap up what I got from playing with it out on the street, here are the final three images. They all have a common theme related to the reason that I was in Yuhuan in the first place.
That Chinese New Year and its lanterns.
How these photographs could have been better
Although I’m okay with how these photographs turned out, there was something that could have gone better – but only if I’d thought about it in advance.
I took the Kentmere 400 to Yuhuan as it had been in my drawer for months and months and I just wanted to get it shot. And very happy I was shooting it too until I came across those lanterns.
Using colour in your photography instead of just shooting in colour, as explained in this eBook, is a great way to elevate its quality. This is something I should maybe have thought about in advance given the time of year.
I thought when I saw those lanterns that a colour film, especially something like Fujicolor Industrial 100 which is known for its great reds, would have given much more striking results on those shots.
The last one in particular looks a prime candidate with its light and contrast.
We could speculate on whether this was a correct suspicion, but that seems pointless now. Not when we could just ask the past me instead.
So, would that last shot have looked better in colour?
But, as always, we live and learn. And I can console myself with the thought that a lot of the other photographs on this post work better in monochrome than they would have in colour.
Unless I’m going to carry two film cameras around with me, this is a trade-off I’m just going to have to accept. And believe me when I say that, aside from in special circumstances, I’m not going to start carrying two film cameras around with me.
You can if you want to though, of course. And you could even load one of them with some Kentmere Pan 400.
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