Federal Courthouse

Let me say right off that I’m frustrated with myself. These photographs don’t capture the best that Film Washi S can do. It wasn’t until after I shot most of the roll that I read over at EMULSIVE that you’re supposed to shoot this film in dull, diffuse lighting. I shot every single frame in blistering, blazing summer sunshine.


And so I’m considerably embarrassed to admit that this post is sponsored by Analogue Wonderland, who sent me a roll of this film to try in exchange for this mention. My humblest apologies to the very good people at Analogue Wonderland that I bungled this so badly. Click here to buy some Film Washi S of your own from them. But don’t be a doofus like me — shoot it in the right light.


Not that the roll was a total bust. With a little light Photoshoppery I was able to get usable images from almost every frame. The contrast is mighty high, is all. In full sun, you get your black, you get your white, but you get very little in between. On a few photographs it was mighty appealing. But not on the one below. It shows the film at its contrastiest.

City Market

Film Washi S is actually sound recording film — bright purple! — spooled into 35mm cartridges. On a film print of a movie, the soundtrack is imprinted optically onto the film, and is then transferred to the final movie print.


I loaded the Film Washi S into my Pentax ME and mounted my 35mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax-A lens. That light little SLR and that widish lens are a great kit for making photographs in Downtown Indianapolis, as I did.

Circle Tower

Whenever the sun was not directly behind me, the frame tended to fog a little.

Mass Ave corner

I can’t see any grain on any of these images. I’m not surprised, as this is an ISO 50 film. Check out all the great detail the film captured on this ornate theater building.

Indiana Repertory Theater

It is a shame, however, that so much is lost in the shadows. This is why with specialty films it pays to read everything you can before you go off shooting. (That’s a note to self.)


Despite my challenging choice of lighting for this film, it did lovely work in a few cases. Like this one. So silvery! So sharp!


Shooting specialty films is great fun under any circumstances. But it is even more fun when you read up on it first and know the conditions in which it delivers its best results. So let me be clear: shoot Film Washi S on an overcast day. Don’t be a doofus like me.

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18 responses to “Shooting Film Washi S”

  1. Stuart Templeton Avatar

    Actually – that’s a very useful review Jim, as at least it highlights something that we need to know and might miss as well. That last image is superb – i can see what you like it, that glass looks like it’s highly polished metal sheet!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yes, under the right conditions the silver in this film is strong. Maybe I’ll try more in the right light to see if I can bring that silveriness out.

  2. bodegabayf2 Avatar

    I shall follow with great interest as you shoot this film again under more favorable conditions.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Not sure when I’ll get to it, but I do have on my list to try again.

      I’ll admit to enjoying the Ilford films I’ve tried recently so much that I’m much more interested in shooting those again (and again).

  3. -N- Avatar

    Washi film is a bit of an odd duck, and if I remember correctly needs special handling for processing it. I watched a video on processing it.

    I think these pictures are great. Also, if you don’t know, Films Washi is on Facebook, if you use that platform. There are a lot of photos, many are not optimal, but most are quite interesting, I think. Also, as with anything new, there are steps to learn.

    Maybe the film lab screwed up? There is also that possibility.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yeah, it sure seems like the Washi films are best for people who process their own and have the right chems and know how to do it. I sent mine off to the lab I use most and crossed my fingers. I’m sure they just processed it in their normal chems. We did email about it and they found a dev time chart on the Washi web site and used that.

  4. lasousa2015 Avatar

    Great Jim, I have a pending article on Emulsive for this film. Neat stuff. Have you tried the paper based? It has given me fits.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I look forward to your article! I haven’t tried the paper-based stuff. For that I’d want to process it myself. I had enough anxiety sending this S off to a lab. I have the gear to start processing at home now, but haven’t made the time to start yet. Hopefully in Sept.

      1. lasousa2015 Avatar

        Processing the paper based film requires a dedicated film reel from Washi. It is very fragile like the paper and mine broke already. If you get a good image, it’s very cool, having the striations of the paper. You must use a smooth advancing manual SLR….It advances well in a TLR also.

  5. analogphotobug Avatar

    Still it has a bit of a “Film Noir” look……..

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      To the max!

  6. marcusterrypeddle Avatar

    At least you only have to apologise to one photo shop. I’m constantly apologising (in my own head) to Kodak, Fuji, Nikon, Zeiss, the ghost of Contax, Ilford, and every other producer of photographic equipment and materials that I’ve disappointed…..
    Knowing what you know now about how the film reacts to strong light, I bet you could go out on another sunny day and make some interesting photos using strong shadows. Maybe Ralph Gibson would enjoy this film.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      How did I miss your comment this long? My apologies. Yes, you’re right — I could lean into deep shadow with this film and get some dramatic results.

      1. Marcus Peddle Avatar

        No worries. I forgot about it myself.

  7. billeccles Avatar

    The building labeled “Lacy” is the home of my aunt’s company, Lacy Diversified Industries, or just LDI, Ltd. She and my uncle moved back to Indy for her to help run the company when the then-current leadership was getting up in age, and in her later years she bombed around downtown Indy on her Segway because smoking had pretty much destroyed her lungs. She was a fascinating woman, as was my uncle (I miss them both), and LDI is a company I hold in high regard.

    I was surprised and pleased to see the pic in your feed. Thanks!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      The Lacy Building has been a frequent photo subject because I really like it. How wonderful that it’s named for a part of your family! I’ve always wondered why it was named Lacy and now I know.

      Before the Lacys moved in, this was known as the Test building. Click to see at ginormous size:


      Here are all the photos I’ve made of this building:


  8. Sam Avatar

    A compelling set of pics Jim great results!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks Sam!

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