Even though you might expect to see a Model-T just out of frame of this image, it was taken on April 2, 2011. Chuck Miller, the photographer, picked up the expired, government surplus 120mm film for a song on eBay. Before setting out on his experiment, Miller called Kodak HQ and spoke with their expert on old film, Charles Lang. Miller recalls their exchange thusly:
“Well, you’ll definitely need to use a developer like HC110, Dilution B, which is handy for developing old film, that developer is a low fogging product.”
“Thanks, Mr. Lang. Now if I want to use this film to photograph something – ”
“Wait – you what to do what? The film hasn’t been exposed? And you want to take pictures with it?”
After taking a moment, Lang told Miller that he should expect some fogging from ambient radiation that the film might have picked up, and around the edges since the film’s paper backing wasn’t meant to be wound since the Eisenhower administration. For anyone else thinking about following in Miller’s footsteps, Lang’s final advice was to shoot at half speed.
The resulting images are fantastic, though Miller said he had mixed success with the film and posted only four of the dozen exposures he took. He seems to have chosen the subjects of his photos very carefully, avoiding anything that would be too obviously modern. The result is a series of timeless images, looking like they were developed over 60 years ago.
In a time where I can create a “vintage” image with a few swipes of my iPhone, Miller has really raised the bar. He’s turned his time camera into a time machine that shifts our world back in time. Keep reading below to see the other images Miller took, shifted to an indeterminate age.
And here’s the film in question: