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Melbourne After Hours on Film ft. Lucie Poevaiki Regal

Updated: May 21

Please note that all photographs displayed in this post have been edited and colour-graded in Adobe Lightroom for optimal presentation.

As I draft this post, I find myself utterly spent after a demanding day at work. Despite this, a spark of excitement ignited within me upon receiving an email from the photo lab mid-shift. They had processed the images from a recent impromptu Melbourne After Hours on Film adventure through the City with my friend Lucie.

Nikon F3 HP, 35mm f2.8, CineStill 800T

Nikon F3 HP, 35mm f2.8, CineStill 800T

This particular outing was somewhat experimental and laid-back in nature. I decided to venture out of my comfort zone, as I usually favour natural light for my shoots. This time, I equipped myself with my Nikon Speedlight to explore its capabilities in nighttime portraiture. The endeavour also presented a perfect opportunity to make use of my Cinestill film collection, some of which had been biding their time in the cool confines of my fridge for nearly two years.

So, what did I take with me? Here's the rundown:

- Pentax 67 with a Pentax 105mm f2.4 lens

- Nikon F3 HP

- Nikon FM2

- A selection of Nikkor lenses: AIS 35mm f2.8, AI’d 85mm f1.8, and AI 105mm f2.5

- Pentax PC-606W point and shoot camera for extra carefree shooting

- Shutter release cable for those crisp shots

- A sturdy tripod for stability

- The aforementioned Nikon SB-15 Speedlight for a touch of artificial brilliance

And the film stocks that accompanied me were as follows:

- Two rolls of 120 CineStill 800T, loaded in the Pentax 67, both pushed a stop for that extra sensitivity

- 35mm CineStill 800T, loaded in the Nikon F3 HP, a versatile favourite

- 35mm Kodak Portra 800, loaded in the Nikon F3 HP, for its natural colour palette

- 35mm Ilford Delta 3200, loaded in the Nikon FM2, when the light gets really scarce

- 35mm Remjet-removed Kodak Vision 3 500T, distributed by FilmNeverDie and rebranded as Umi 800, loaded in the Pentax PC-606W

Each roll was chosen with purpose, ready to capture the essence of our nocturnal escapade.

Bourke Street Mall sits at the heart of Melbourne’s bustling CBD, a veritable hotspot for avid shoppers. We decided on this spot as our initial foray into the night, largely owing to its proximity to our dinner venue – a testament to our laid-back approach. Our session kicked off with a series of relaxed shots near the tramlines. Being spring, dusk was drawing in later than usual, which brought concerns that the tungsten-balanced CineStill film might skew too blue. However, the eventual photos were quite pleasing. Below are a selection of frames captured with my Nikon F3:

Nikon F3 HP, 35mm f2.8, 85mm f1.8, 105mm f2.5, CineStill 800T

Following our trackside session, we shifted our setup in front of a stark black construction board, employing it as an impromptu backdrop. This act of improvisation embodies the true spirit and delight of street photography. I have to admit, the results were quite striking.

Pentax 67, 105mm f2.4, CineStill 800T [pushed to ISO 1600]

Pentax 67, 105mm f2.4, CineStill 800T [pushed to ISO 1600]

Nikon F3 HP, 35mm f2.8, 85mm f1.8, 105mm f2.5, CineStill 800T

The construction board looks a bit blue because the 800T film stock is a tungsten-balanced film. The tungsten-balanced film is specifically designed for photography under tungsten lighting, which has a lower colour temperature around 3200 Kelvin and imparts a warm, orange cast to photos. This type of film is calibrated to accommodate the yellowish hue of tungsten bulbs, ensuring that colours are rendered more accurately when photographed under this lighting condition. Without such calibration, images taken under tungsten light on regular daylight film would appear with a pronounced orange tint. Tungsten film is particularly popular among professional photographers for indoor shoots, giving a natural look to the scenes captured in such warm artificial light.

Here are some shots taken on Ilford Delta 3200. This high-speed monochrome film stands out for its remarkable capacity to render crisp, clear images in dimly lit scenarios, all while maintaining its fine grain structure. At its core, Ilford Delta 3200 boasts a sensitivity of ISO 3200, offering incredible adaptability and the ability to capture a wealth of detail and a nuanced spectrum of grey tones, trademarks of the Ilford Delta series.

Nikon FM2, 35mm f2.8, 85mm f1.8, 105mm f2.5, Ilford Delta 3200

We next ventured to Melbourne's iconic Flinders Street Station. Truth be told, capturing a decent shot during the bustle of peak hours is no mean feat, prompting me to forgo the unwieldy medium format camera. I snapped a few quick shots, some with flash, some without, and the contrast in ambience between them is starkly evident.

The bokeh effect produced by the 105mm f2.5 lens is genuinely remarkable. Incidentally, you may be familiar with the iconic 'Afghan Girl' portrait – an immensely renowned image in the realm of photography. This compelling portrait was captured using this very model of lens paired with a Nikon FM2. The sole distinction is that my lens is the AI version, as opposed to the AIS variant.

Nikon F3 HP, 35mm f2.8, 85mm f1.8, 105mm f2.5, CineStill 800T

Nikon FM2, 35mm f2.8, 85mm f1.8, 105mm f2.5, Ilford Delta 3200

I'm inclined to believe that shooting without flash yields a more authentic tone, which is rather self-evident. In my view, utilising flash with a film stock that naturally reproduces colours would produce even more stunning results than with a tungsten-balanced cinematic film. These are, of course, merely my personal reflections on the matter.

The entire shoot was essentially an exploratory exercise in experimenting with flash and various film stocks. For instance, I discovered the rather pleasant surprise that tungsten-balanced film stock can actually yield quite appealing results during the sunset period.

As the sunlight waned, we ventured to Docklands, ushering in the perfect moment for CineStill 800T to unveil its nocturnal charm. I led us to a favoured secluded spot of mine, ideal for capturing the essence of the night in portraits. Amidst the descending darkness, we snapped numerous shots, yielding a series of pleasing outcomes. Devoid of professional lighting equipment, I harnessed the ambient illumination from streetlights, pairing it with strategic camera angles to craft an adequate lighting setup. It was, admittedly, a process mottled with hits and misses. Yet, amidst a variety of outcomes, the photos I'm about to showcase are those I take pride in.

Pentax 67, 105mm f2.4, CineStill 800T [pushed to ISO 1600]

In a spontaneous burst of creativity, we embarked on a playful endeavour: attempting a double exposure with the F3. The result was far from flawless, yet it carried a distinctive charm, a memorable quirkiness. It's all part of the learning curve—no cause for concern.

Nikon F3 HP, 35mm f2.8, 105mm f2.5, CineStill 800T

Nikon FM2, 85mm f1.8, 105mm f2.5, Ilford Delta 3200

Selecting the best captures was only the beginning; dedicating a considerable amount of time to colour grading these photographs followed. I firmly believe in the editability of film photography. There's a certain purist belief that film shots should remain untouched post-development—a stance I don't quite grasp but nonetheless respect. Art, in my view, is deeply personal, and each creator charts their own artistic course. This, the process of refining film images through editing, is simply my chosen approach to the art form.

Returning to the subject at hand, as we progressed with the shoot, my Nikon F3 HP exhausted its roll, prompting me to load a fresh roll of Kodak Portra 800. The comparison between the Kodak Portra 800 and CineStill 800T, captured under identical conditions and lighting, presents a striking contrast:

Nikon F3 HP, 35mm f2.8, 105mm f2.5, Kodak Portra 800

Indeed, I took several photographs utilising the flash, which yielded a more authentic colour representation when compared to the results using CineStill 800T:

Nikon F3 HP, 35mm f2.8, 105mm f2.5, Kodak Portra 800

We next ventured to Webb Bridge, an architectural gem that forges a link between Melbourne CBD and Southbank, and another of my favoured spots for photography. The chill in the air hastened our portrait session here – quite unexpectedly given that it's already November in Melbourne. The persistent cold served as a brisk reminder of the city’s unpredictable weather patterns.

Nikon F3 HP, 105mm f2.5, Kodak Portra 800

Nikon F3 HP, 105mm f2.5, Kodak Portra 800

The photograph distinctly captures Lucie's discomfort; you can almost feel the shiver through the image, a testament to the Melbourne chill that has evidently left her feeling quite frozen.

Pentax 67, 105mm f2.4, CineStill 800T [pushed to ISO 1600]

I captured a series of images with my Pentax 67 that unexpectedly exuded a Christmassy atmosphere. However, I was somewhat disenchanted by the colour output; the shades seemed lacklustre. This may have been a consequence of the particularly dim surroundings, despite pushing the film one stop to compensate for the low light.

In case you're curious about the absence of flash in my Pentax 67 shots, the reason is simple: compatibility issues. The Nikon SB-15 Speedlight is designed to work with cameras that have a hot shoe, typically found on Nikon models. Unfortunately, the Pentax 67 doesn't come equipped with a hot shoe, rendering it incompatible with my flash unit. If there's a workaround or an accessory I've overlooked that could bridge this gap, I'd be eager to learn about it – please drop me a message on my contact page with any insights.

At Lucie's behest, we dabbled in some long exposure photography. One shot, in particular, was deliberately timed to encapsulate the streak of light left by a passing bicycle – a luminous trail etched into the fabric of the night. Take a moment to appreciate this mingling of stillness and motion in the photo below:

Nikon F3 HP, 35mm f2.8, Kodak Portra 800

The long exposure attempts didn't quite hit the mark – a brief four-second exposure fell short of capturing the full dynamic range of the night. It appears a lengthier ten-second exposure could have woven a richer tapestry of light and shade. However, venturing into such prolonged exposure territories might necessitate the use of an ND filter to temper the light influx, a technique earmarked for exploration in future endeavours.

Eventually, the biting cold got the better of us, prompting a decision to conclude our nocturnal photoshoot. Yet, as we journeyed homeward – serendipitously neighbours – the camera continued to flicker to life. These impromptu captures, brimming with spontaneity, seemed to chronicle Lucie's odyssey through an urban 'fossil forest', her presence breathing life into the stillness of the city's nightscape.

Nikon F3 HP, 35mm f2.8, 85mm f1.8, 105mm f2.5, Kodak Portra 800

Our session drew to a close with an attempt at a selfie using my Nikon F3 HP – a moment poised to seal the memory. Alas, the flash hadn't been secured properly, resulting in an underexposed swansong for the film roll. Such mishaps, though frustrating, are part and parcel of the film experience.

Nevertheless, I'd like to conclude this post on a high note, sharing my favourite snapshot of Lucie from the evening – a still frame that captures more than just a moment, but the essence of our nocturnal escapade.

Nikon F3 HP, 35mm f2.8, Kodak Portra 800

Nikon F3 HP, 35mm f2.8, Kodak Portra 800

Click here to check out Lucie's portfolio:


Extra glimpse: Here are some of the shots I captured with my mobile phone, which I've carefully colour-graded using Adobe Lightroom to enhance their aesthetic appeal.

iPhone 15 Pro Max, Adobe Lightroom

I'll also share a selection of images taken with my point-and-shoot camera. With this device, the intricacies of focus and exposure are beyond my command, leaving the camera to make these decisions. Consequently, these photographs emanate a distinctively different ambience, shaped by the machine's automatic choices. On a side note, the camera seems to have light leaks.

Pentax PC-606W, FilmNeverDie Umi 800


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What is Roll Trip?

Join me as I document the intricate tales behind multiple rolls of film, capturing the essence of varied photographic escapades. This series is a collection of detailed narratives, revealing the behind-the-scenes nuances of diverse shooting journeys. From the hum of city streets to the quiet of natural landscapes, discover the stories, techniques, and spontaneous moments that each film roll encapsulates. Melbourne After Hours on Film is the first of the series.


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