Oops! That Was Slide Film
I usually put a fair amount of thought into the film I’m shooting. Unlike digital photography, which can be endlessly changed after the fact, film is all about forethought. I make choices when I buy the film, when I put a few rolls in my bag for the day, when I actually load the camera.
However, sometimes the gods of chance intervene. I bought some film I was unfamiliar with on a whim, assuming it was just regular color negative film. I threw it in my bag with a handful of other rolls. It was the first one I grabbed when I needed a new roll, so I put it in my camera.
I didn’t realize anything was strange until I’d shot the entire roll. I brought it in to be developed and the nice guy at my photo shop asked if I’d like to have the film developed in E6.
A bit of a refresher for those who don’t shoot film—regular color negative film, the stuff you’ve encountered in your childhoods or in disposable cameras, is developed in a chemical called C41. It creates negatives, with all the colors reversed—they become the appropriate colors when printed.
Color slide film is different. It is designed to be developed as POSITIVES, images that are meant to be projected. This film is intended to be developed in a chemical called E6.
Most of the time, I cross-process my slide film (which I’ve written about here), which means I develop slide (E6) film in the wrong chemicals (C41) to get negatives with skewed and saturated colors. Different slide films give different results. (If you think this is interesting—and it is—I encourage you to read that post about the process.)
So after shooting a whole roll of AgfaPhoto CT Precisa 100 under the illusion that it was regular negative film, I had to quickly decide whether or not to shell out the extra money for slides, or take my chances on cross-processing.
Sometimes I live dangerously. I cross-processed.
It is fascinating to see the results of images that I didn’t think would be skewed at all. Maybe I wouldn’t have shot those pictures of Turkish breakfast. (I think the pictures are cool, but perhaps not appetizing.) But why not? Film, as I’ve said before, isn’t about capturing something exactly as it looked. It’s about capturing the FEELING.
And these pictures, with that punch of turquoise and purple and dark green and gold, are resplendent with feeling. In the end, that’s what I really aim for. It’s a good reminder to keep your heart, mind, and camera open to chance.