Jason Talks Gear - Color Film Photography | Jason Scott Photography
Jason Scott Photography
Sarasota Wedding Photographer - Siesta Key Beach Portraits

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Jason Talks Gear - Color Film Photography

This is part of a series of blog entries written by Jason about the more technical side of Jason Scott Photography. 

I have been developing a lot of black and white film lately, and so far, no one seems too interested.  If my black and white endeavors come up, people always ask about color.  The question is always the same:

“Can you develop color?” 

Until yesterday, the answer was “No.”  

Last week, I ordered the C-41 Press Kit for Color Negatives from B&H Photo.  It was only $23.50, but I added about $75 bucks worth of “extras,” including inspection gloves, a glass thermometer (which I broke already), a larger tank, and some plastic bottles.  

I was very excited about this stuff coming in the mail, and it came one day early.  This was great for me, but  Allyson was not too excited.  She was expecting to go to the beach and test some off camera flash techniques for beach portraits last night - blah.  Sometimes I think she cares more about the business than my hobbies (and I think she secretly hates film)!

So, I took my wife, dog, and Mamiya RZ67 in the backyard and blew a roll  of Kodak Portra 400 (120 medium format) film.  I took ten photos - Badger was being very cooperative and showing some personality. We thought we had some great shots!

At this point,  I had my exposed roll of film and I was ready to develop.  So, I went out in the garage and started mixing the chemicals.  The chemicals need to be 110 degrees, EXACTLY!!! This is not exactly difficult, it’s just boring; extremely boring.   

By now, I had wrecked the kitchen and the garage (maybe this is why Allyson doesn’t like film), but the chemicals were the perfect temperature; I was ready to start. 

Here’s the process:

1 min pre soak (hot water)
3:30 developer
6:30 blix (bleach and fixer)
2:00 rinse
1 min stabilizer 

I hung up the film and gave it a good squeegee.  The film came detached from the hanging mechanism  and fell on the garage floor! (Dust!)  So, it went back in the wash, then into the bathroom to dry.  

After scanning the negatives (I dropped a couple of them again trying to get them in the scanner - more dust), we discovered they were all very overexposed, because I used the light meter app on Allyson’s iPhone.  This is a fine app if, and only if, you take the time to calibrate it. Unfortunately, I didn’t. (I’ve been using this app for quite a while. Now I know why my black and white photos haven’t been coming out quite right either!)

It was a learning process, but we still had some winners (although the colors, especially skin tones, were a little “off” due to the overexposure problem).

Today, once we figured out what was going on with the light meter, we went outside again to try another roll of film. When I developed this roll, I could immediately tell that the photos were better because I could see more color and detail on the negatives.

Unfortunately, Badger was not being very cooperative today (I don’t think he likes film either). Apparently, he wanted a belly rub. So even though these photos are technically better, in some ways they are not as nice. (They are sort of funny, though.)



The skin tones were better in these photos, but still not 100%. With both sets of photos, we had to do a lot of tinkering in Lightroom and Photoshop to achieve these colors. But the second set was definitely better than the first. I'm looking forward to working more with color film to see what else "develops."

To find out more about the professional gear we use when we photograph Sarasota Weddings and Siesta Key Beach Portraits, click here.

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