I’ve made my love for the Infra-red films of old pretty clear around here. There’s just one problem – you can’t buy them anymore. Thanks Kodak, and, I suppose economic reality.
There’s another issue though – that film was hard to use. You had to load it in complete darkness. It had to be unloaded and processed in complete darkness. Neither the camera nor the processor could have an infrared detector to read the film codes, which most do. It was expensive. You had to process it E-6 – it was slide film. Don’t get me wrong – if I found some new 35mm stock, I’d immediately buy a ton, but it’s not without issues.
Enter LomoChrome Purple. To be clear, this isn’t infrared. It’s a color-shifting print film. Ignore the chrome part of the name – it’s print, not slide. Ignore the implication of infrared – it does some of the same stuff, but it isn’t. That makes it less cool, but much easier and cheaper to work with. Although the film isn’t cheap or readily available, you can get it processed the “normal” way at your corner drug store. And how does it work?
Fiery red leaves on a spring day – color shift courtesy of LomoChrome Purple film
Pretty darn well in the same places that EktaChrome EIR worked best – trees and foliage. I took it out for a day at the beach in Carkeek Park, and I was happy with the tree shots, fairly happy with the broad panoramas, and a little less happy with people. Things get a little weird with a green tint on skin, which is too bad – when your jacket turns from purple to green it’s neat. When your skin turns from tan to green, it’s a little creepy. The grain is pretty pronounced as well, but the effect is nice. I’ve left these pictures more or less how they scanned. You can also shoot and process the film anywhere between 100 and 400 ISO – these I shot at 200. I’ve got a bunch more so I’ll see what else I can do, now that I know how these came out.
Instagram? Great stuff. Easy to use, lots of filters, and an awesome way to show people the taco truck you’re currently visiting. Strip of all the glossy varnish and what you’ve got is a pretty impressive digital picture – at least for something that came out of a phone. Want to get those saturated and then washed out colors? That great film noise? Those warps and lines that sometimes look so artificial when you digitally create them? There’s an easy system to do all that.
Film. If it’s been sitting in your fridge for upwards of 5 years like this Kodak Gold 200 has, so much the better. If you want to get into it this way, it’s not even too expensive. Film will set you back a few bucks, but really not much. Processing is an even better deal. Most big photo labs will develop negatives for a couple bucks (at Target it’s less than $2) and if you don’t have a film scanner, most places will scan the lot straight to CD-ROM for another few bucks – probably about the same cost as getting some crummy prints, which you probably don’t want anyway.
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You might not even have a 35mm film camera sitting around anymore. I do have the last SLR I used before switching to digital, but frankly I don’t like it. That’s why I went back out and bough my first camera love all over again – the Canon A-1. Great camera, and after a little tune-up, it’s in good shape. They are also fairly easy to find with a high-quality 50mm 1.8 lens (and remember, since this is 35mm film, it’s actually 50mm – we don’t have the APS-C crop factor you get on consumer-grade digitals). The sound of that film-advance lever? Priceless.
Sure you can clean it up in Photoshop, but don’t do it – the first button you hit loses that look you’ve been trying so hard to create. Here it is, in all it’s questionable glory.