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Peter Kruschwitz' ultra expired Viennese excursion

Peter Kruschwitz didn't know what to expect when he got a hold of some almost 50 years' expired AGFA CT18. The photos were shot in Vienna, mostly in bright sunlight (the film was originally rated at ISO 50, ish, so you can imagine what a pain it was to get anything out of them).

Peter has described the process on his website:

See more of Peter's work on Instagram at @thepetrifiedmuse

A/A:  Where did you find such old film?

PK: A completely random discovery, in fact! I was searching eBay for expired film – I had played with expired Portra 400 before, and I loved the effects. I usually shoot in black and white, and I especially love colour film if it distorts what I see: in addition to expired Portra 400, I’ve experimented with Rollei Redbird Redscale film, for example. I also loved ADOX Colour Implosion and especially SGF Senna. When I encountered a set of AGFA CT18, my heart skipped a beat: the packaging! So many memories – it was a film I remembered from my childhood. So it just had to happen.

A/A:  What were the challenges to working with film of that age?

PK: A veritable trifecta: shooting it, developing it, and scanning it. It’s a low ISO slide film to begin with, so how much action can it have left in it after almost 50 years (the film is older than I am!)? I’ve decided to shoot it at a shutter speed of 1/15th to 1/20th, on super sunny days, which turned out to work fine. I’ve shot handheld, rather than using a tripod, which at such a slow speed is, of course, a bit of a gamble. But hey, I like a challenge. Developing was perhaps the biggest risk: the chemical process has long been discontinued. E6 and C41 processes would simply destroy the film. So I decided to cross-process in black-and-white chemicals (I have the details here on my photo page: ) … and, astonishingly, that worked. Sort of. The film remains very thick, very yellow, very low contrast. But there are results! Scanning it was also an adventure, but doing everything by hand, scanning as black-and-white, and doing a colour reversal eventually gave me the results. And I love the eerie, distant, uncanny feel – a look into our world through a veil from the past.

A/A:  How did you get started with film photography?

PK: I absolutely loved photography as a teenager (think: in the 1980s). Then forgot about it. And then reclaimed it when I really needed a break from my digital work life. Got hooked through the enthusiasm and knowledge of The Poison Archives, my partner-in-crime at Team Fox Talbot. Starting with a mini Diana, I eventually built up a small but fine selection of cameras, mostly Russian rangefinders, 35 mill and medium format. With one firm rule: no decorative items, only cameras that I actually use. My go-to cameras now are a Zorki-1, a Fed-2, and a Kiev-80. I can’t imagine my life without photography anymore.

A/A:  What are you working on next?

PK: I’ve managed to source the same AGFA CT18 film in medium format (also expired in 1972), so that’s gonna be fun. Also I want to get much deeper into large-format (4x5 inch) photography, but I still need get some more equipment.  Also, rebuilding a darkroom after my move from the UK to Austria last year. That’d be amazing. Oh, and I want to put together an exhibition of photos of creepy dolls – I go to a Vienna-based fleamarket on a regular basis, and the items there are … something else. It’s uncanny. So hopefully, I’ll be able to do something cool with that. (If anyone is keen to exhibit my pictures, I’d be super excited to hear from them… shameless plug, I know.)

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