A quick post with a few photos from Christmas time around Blåvand, snow in Amsterdam, and a Paris flea market. Not too good with exposure on this one for some reason.
I hadn’t shot a Kodak Ektar for a long time — somehow the last one had left a bad impression, though looking at it now I can only vaguely remember why. In any case, a good friend talked positively about it recently so decided to give it another try.
The rendering of City Park is great, and the same for Windows, Sea Resistance, and Les Pirates. The rendering of Bunker Hotel, Market Barn, and View is close to how I remembered the film, being either a bit too strong on some colours (reds) or a bit too dark on others (dark greens). The rest look somewhat like a Kodak Portra.
Overall I’m happy with the result and have a more positive opinion on the film now. Perhaps it’s important to not underexpose the film, and to use something else for scenes with dark greens and, to a lesser extend, blues.
July has been a busy month with work and visits, but perhaps because of the latter I also managed to finish three films with a mix of your typical tourist photos, and whatever kind of photos it is that I tend to take when out on my own.
The first one is a Kodak Portra 400, and as always it’s the forgiving hero delivering great colours even when the exposure is sure to have been a bit off. Skin tones, greens, sky — all is good. All but one are from Paris (Fête Nationale and Le Tour), with the last one being from my brother’s gymnasium graduation (congratulations again!).
Next up is an Ilford Delta 100 Professional. I still can’t tell the difference between this one and the Kodak T-Max, not least because so much is determined during scanning, but perhaps this will change when I eventually make prints.
And last but not least, a Lomography X-Pro Slide 200. Although surprisingly the colours are quite different from the first one (perhaps because I used a different printer) the result is still pretty good when the exposure is right — take Educating or Hanging Around for instance.
On the other hand, it is clear that the film is not nearly as forgiving as the Portra, and both underexposure (High) or overexposure (Expensive District, Wineyard, and Blue Shades) leads to an unpleasant purple tint — the best example perhaps is Scholastique (Smiling) and Scholastique (Looking) where the latter seems to be correctly exposed, and the former was deliberately given one stop more.
At less than 9€ for three I wanted to try the Lomography Redscale XR 50-200 even if the official photos most of all simply looked like they’d been with a cheap colour film behind a red filter.
The film is rated ASA 50-200, and the seller elaborated by saying that by exposing for 50 you get several hues (what he recommended) while exposing for 200 it’s mostly just red. Looking at samples I decided to go with his advice, but since I’ll still horrible at manual metering inside and in dark areas there are a few which are probably closer to 200.
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Concretely, Backyard Chat, Red Chairs and Watch Out are probably exposed for around 50 while Summer Fruits, Closed Eyes, and Redscale for around 200. So indeed, like the seller I’m not too much of a fan of the latter but might pick up another pack based on the former.
My first roll of Fuijfilm FujiChrome Velvia 50 invoked mixed feelings. At first I was tempted to say that it was a bit disappointing, yet in reality it’s perhaps more a question of finding the right scene for the film.
Searching around I found high praise of the film online, not least some great shots on Flickr. However, the film is among the most expensive so it wasn’t until I found a good offer on a batch of almost-expired films that I went for it. Add to that a more expensive development and it really has to be worth it, slide film or not.
Perhaps the mistake I made was to shoot it as a general-purpose film, including scenes with city-scape, street, and nature (sky at least). For instance, based on Old English it doesn’t live up to it’s price tag: the print is okay, but not something you couldn’t get with much cheaper film. Hogwarts likewise, though here there might also be an element of poor metering on my part (however still showing somewhat poor latitude). In general, for most photos on this roll my guess is that I would have preferred them on Kodak Portra or Fujifilm Superia.
But, and this is key I think, when it comes to blue (and to lesser extend green), the film is unmatched! Look at Sunny Side for example, or Hôtel de Ville, A Green Spot, Fit, or Scholastique (In the Rain) — I would not expend to see that from the above mentioned films, not at that level of saturation.
I’m guessing of course, but for the next roll of this film I’ll focus on nature, with plenty of sky, and a mix of greens and reds.
A few weeks ago I was heading for a week-long conference in Copenhagen and figured I’d only bring the Nikon FM as my only camera, and the practical 28-70mm lens as my only lens. And since this is a slow lens I went with a fast film: a Kodak Portra 400.
It had been a while since the last Portra, and even though I’d halfway declared it my general-purpose go-to film, I’d also kind of forgotten how good it is, perhaps thinking it a bit boring even after all the adventures into Lomography films and cross-processing. Fortunately the prints brought a very happy surprise! Perhaps it plays a part as well that I’ve switched back to my old (and more remote) printer after the inconsistent prints from the Precisa 100, but in the end I really like the result.
While the above film was shot within a week, I also recently finished a Kodak Portra 160 that’s been in my Olympus OM-1 since last autumn. And although it’s apparently against recommendation to let a film in a camera for that long due to light leaks, radiation, heat, and what not, this indicates that the advice should be balanced against the increased quality of the photos when you are more picky about releasing the shutter!
In my on-going hunt for a Lomography X-Pro Chrome substitute I’ve heard the AgfaPhoto CT Precisa 100 mentioned on a few occasions, and it finally became time to try it. It has done a decent job, and moreover illustrated that a step might have been missing in my process so far.
As you never really know which film is actually inside the Lomography canisters (rumour has it they were using old Kodak film in the beginning and has since gone through several manufactures, including unknown Chinese brands) it is also non-trivial to tell if it’s actually a negative or a positive film — and apparently it isn’t just me who’s confused: for the first time my developer charged a special cross-processing feed, even though I’ve given her Lomography films before that were supposedly also meant to be cross-processed. But this time I’m absolutely certain that I have in my hands a bona fide cross-processed film!
As mentioned, I think the film has done a decent job. Scholastique (from Above) for example is exactly what I was hoping for, and also like the toning in House.
However, most prints are quite a bit off in terms of colour balance, as for example Behind the Park, In Time, and Cornershop. For some it works out nicely, e.g. Scholastique (In the Rain) and Goth Metro, while for others I felt the need to cheat and colour correct in Photoshop afterwards: Pearl of the Quartier, for instance, was shot seconds after Scholastique (from Above) using exactly the same exposure yet completely green.
I’ll be asking my developer the next time if it’s really a question of exposure or not, but at this point my suspicion goes in direction of the printing process simply not being as standardised as I believed it was. More specifically, that asking the developer to either scan the film or make prints is still not enough to achieve the “real” colours of the film.
After coming across the astonishing Infra photos taken by Richard Mosse using the now discontinued Kodak Aerochrome, I kept an open eye when Lomography last year announced their new Aerochrome-inspired LomoChrome Purple XR film. I didn’t buy into it for the first batch, but in a weak moment I put down the order for the minimum of five rolls when the second batch came up for pre-sale, at a price of around 10€ each. Here are a few photos from the first roll.
Overall I’m a tad disappointed, but perhaps was so even before putting the film in the camera: the key, I suppose, is that the film is inspired by Aerochrome and does in fact produce results quite different from this old professional film apparently developed for the military. And this became clear when the photos from the first batch started showing up online.
However, paradoxically as it may sound, picking up the prints from the first film was actually a positively surprise; while they are not amazing, it does work better in some situations than I dared expect from following the film on Flickr.
For instance, the total submersion in purple in English Garden and Purple, Dog is not too bad. And although at first a bit skeptical about how the film renders blue sky, Dome and Collage are among my favourites on this roll.
Finally, since the film is rated ASA 100-400, and since there has been some talk online about making sure to overexpose, I also did a few test shots to see if there would be any difference: one correctly exposed according to an external light meter and two respectively over- and under-exposed by one stop.
And here perhaps was the biggest surprise, namely how very different the results are.
As disappointed as I was when I learned that the X-Pro Chrome from Lomography was not out of stock but in fact out of production, as surprised was I when an email popped in about a month ago saying that their other slide film, the X-Pro Slide, was now back in stock. I soon after grabbed a copy from the store, shot it, and went to pick up the prints today.
So I’ve gotten wiser since my surprise with the X-Pro Chrome. I now know that X-Pro stands for “cross processing“, and that this means using different chemicals during development than those originally intended. Handing in the Lomography film the other day was hence less shameful since I now understood what the woman behind the desk was saying and could respond with “you’re absolutely right, it’s a slide film for E6 processing, but would it be possible to have it developed in C41 anyway, for effect?” — won’t dwell too much on whether that’s cool or nerdy though.
I was a bit suspicious about the outcome for at least two reasons. Firstly because I’ve since learned that the X-Pro Chrome might have been a repackaged Kodak film of unmatched quality, and secondly because both the seller and various online galleries hinted that the photos will have a strong citrus tint. In the end though, they turned out much better than expected and I’ll probably head to the stores for some more soon.
Again I like the vivid colours, especially the orange/red shades as in Dissidi, Red and White, Child’s Play, and Fake Roof. The blue sky in most of them is not amazing, but looking at the negatives it might have been because I over-exposed too much. Lastly, what happened in Weird Red remains a mystery for now, as no extra filter was used nor was the lighting different.
I bought my Fisheye together with two three-packs of Lomography film: the Color Negative 400 and the X-Pro Chrome 100. But while the former have produced decent results, the latter has until now been quite a let-down.
The first two rolls of the X-Pro Chrome was shot on a Diana Mini, and while this is certainly a toy camera, it has actually resulted in some usable photos in the past. However, for the two X-Pro Chrome films the results have been very poor, as bad in fact that the negatives just sit here in my drawer without having been printed nor properly scanned (the colours got too weird for me to continue).
To test if it was really a poor film or simply a bad combination with the Diana Mini, I decided to load the last roll into an Olympus OM-1. Not excepting much I quickly finished it and went to the developer, who, as an additional experiment, I asked to make small prints instead of scans (same price). Since I’m always a bit embarrassed to hand over a Lomography film for its low quality, my surprise when picking them up was even better: the photos were way better than expected, especially the vivid colours. It doesn’t renders the sky that nicely, but for the Autumn colours of yellow and red it is definitely not too bad.
As mentioned I asked for prints instead of scans, and this might be the strategy from now on, at least when I feel like saving the 5€ extra it is to have both: obtaining a good result from scanning the prints myself are far easier than from scanning the negatives! It doesn’t allow me to change the exposure of course (Under the Bridge, for instance, could benefit from more shadow detail), but given how much trouble this particular kind of film caused it was no doubt worth it. Plus, it’s nice to actually have prints to hold in your hands or even go as far as putting them into frames.
Bottom-line? When the film comes back in stock I’ll be getting a lot more of it, even if it means making excuses and covering my face when I go to the developer.