The Science of Double Exposures (And How to Make Them!)

Things we love here at our lab: cameras, films, and surprises.
Surprises for us come in all shapes and forms; sometimes we get candy inside the boxes delivered to our lab and sometimes we get to feast our eyes on the best double exposures of all time. It’s really a toss up for us which one we like better, but double exposures pretty much win first place. That’s why we have decided to dedicate a post on the science of double exposures and (bonus!) how to make them. Maybe, if you haven’t tried to create your own double exposure, you’ll be inspired to try it yourself so that you (and all of us, here at the lab) can enjoy that magical moment of being surprised with what you create.

Double exposures (and multiple exposures for that matter) is essentially capturing two or more images on one single frame. What you are essentially doing is “layering” one image onto another by not allowing your camera to advance the film to the next frame. By taking a picture without advancing to the next frame, you’re essentially exposing the same frame more than once. If you have ever severely over (and we mean over) exposed your film then you know that you will blow out the highlights of your film because of the oversaturation of light onto the film. This can happen when you double expose your film but with a little planning and strategy you can create some mind blowing magic.

 

 

THERE ARE TWO METHODS TO DOUBLE EXPOSE FILM:

1.) You can shoot an entire roll as normal (one shot for each frame), and after the roll has been shot and wound up, you can then use a film leader retriever tool to pull the film out again, and reshoot that same film, known as double exposing it. This method is useful if you just want to experiment and see what you can create with very little planning and if you love being surprised. This method may be a little more fun for an unstructured personal event in which you don’t have any deliverables (i.e. a day at the beach with your friends, at the circus with your family, etc.)

2.) Or you can double expose one frame at a time (for example, put one roll in your camera, take two images; and then advance to the next frame, take another two images; advance to the next frame, maybe just take one image on this frame; and so forth). This second method is useful if you don’t want to have a whole roll of double exposures but want to plan and take just a few shots when the inspiration hits you. This is probably the best method to use if you’re being contracted by a client or company, as you can be a little more thoughtful and planned should the inspiration strike you.

If you’re going to attempt the last method of making a double exposure and exposing one frame at a time, there are two essential components for doing so: you will need to know how to stop your camera from advancing the film, and you’ll need to plan on what images you’ll capture and layer onto one another. These two things are necessary because if your camera doesn’t have the capability to stop advancing to the next frame, you won’t be able to do or create double exposures (you can google the make and model of your camera to find the manual online to see if it’s possible for you to create a double exposure). And if you don’t have an idea or a goal in mind as to what you’d like to capture you may be disappointed with the result (or very very pleasantly surprised!)

 


THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND:

1.) Because you are exposing your film twice (or more times) you want to underexpose your shots. Earlier we mentioned that overexposing your film can lead to a loss of detail, so it would be best for you to underexpose by 1 or 2 stops for each shot that you take on the same frame. Having a light meter on hand to ensure you are underexposing by 1 or 2 stops will decrease your margin of error.

2.) When you take your first image, any highlighted parts (the white or light parts) from the first image will not capture or show anything after you take the second image. Your second image will only expose and be shown in the dark areas from your first image. For instance, if in your first shot, you take a picture of a black dot on a white page, the white has been completely exposed for on your film (it’s essentially been blown out). So when you take the second image, your second image will be seen only inside the circle of that black dot because the dark parts have not been overexposed like brightest parts of your first image have.

 

 

So once you’ve figured out how your camera makes double exposures it’s time to start creating them! There are a bunch of ways to plan, layer, and create double exposures. You can search the hashtag #filmdoubleexposure or #doubleexposurefilm on Instagram or check out Marcause’s project DUO:BSL which showcases some incredible double exposures for some insane ideas and inspiration! We’ll also give you two classic ways to make double exposures. Please keep in mind though, these are not hard fast or set-in-stone rules, use these only as a guide. When it comes to film, rules were made to be broken, so be inspired and break them!

 

THE “OUTLINE” DOUBLE EXPOSURE.

 

This one is a classic and can be made edgy or romantic.

For the first image take a profile or straight on shot of your subject against a white or light wall, or back lit, making sure to underexpose your shot. Then think about what you would like to fill in your subject with when you take your second image. Maybe you could take a picture of flowers (those are easy to find on a wedding day), or a concrete structure, or a stack of guitars, or maybe even another shot of the person themself. Then take your second image, making sure again to underexpose your shot. The outline double exposure is great for adding depth.

 

THE “LANDSCAPE” DOUBLE EXPOSURE.

 

This one can really set a scene and to us it always feels like it would make a good cover album photo. For the first image take a picture of your subject, could be a dog, or an object, or a human, or a couple of humans, anything, against a light background. Make sure to underexpose, ideally for this shot, by 2 stops. Then take a shot of the landscape, ideally your landscape would be a bit overcast to keep some detail in the sky, again we would recommend underexposing by 2 stops. This shot is a classic and always looks great.

 

TIPS TO MAKE YOUR DOUBLE EXPOSURES POP:

1.) When photographing humans, the darker the clothing they wear the better.

2.) Always keep in mind your first shot when composing and taking the second shot (especially remember if you took it horizontally or vertically!)

3.) You can always use things in your environment or nearby patterns as the filler for your second image.

4.) Underexpose more in bright situations or environments.

5.) Experiment, embrace mistakes, and most of all have fun!

 

Got a question about double exposures or your film? Drop us a line at ask@carmencitafilmlab.com! We’re always happy to help!

 

Ilford HP5 vs. Ilford Delta 400

Since Carmencita’s birth in 2012 we have carefully handled, developed, and scanned many types of black and white films. We have learned the unique qualities that each type of black and white film possess and how they can impact the emotion in a photograph. Black and white films can evoke the feeling of the scene, whether it be joy or sadness, the serenity or the drama, a happy timeless memory or an evocative powerful moment. Whether its a portrait, a wedding, a landscape, sports, or a shot captured during your travels, black and white films capture the essence and emotion of the moment. As the legendary Canadian photojournalist Ted Grant once said: “When you photograph people in colour you photograph their clothes. When you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls.” We feel that black and white photography gets to the heart of a scene and captures the emotion in it.

For this reason, we acknowledge the soft spot we have for Ilford. Founded in 1879, Ilford became a staple to the world of black and white films as we know it. It has a faithful following (of which we are apart of!) and has set a high standard for the film industry. Most people are aware of Delta 3200, but in this post we want to draw a little bit more attention towards Ilford’s other two offspring: Delta 400 and HP5. Delta 400 and HP5 are two films with the same ISO sensitivity but with vast differences between them. What precisely are those differences? We’re glad you ask 🙂

 

 

HP5 +

 

HP5 is a film with a great history behind it. It was born originally being called just HP but has evolved into what we know today as HP5. With a little more than 70 years of existence under its belt, HP5 has become the most shot black and white film in Europe and is one we see frequently in our lab! The full name of HP5 is Hypersensitive Panchromatic and its latest version was launched in 1989. Unique with its cubic grain and its wide latitude of exposure, it quickly became a favorite to those who were lovers of classical photography and its look.

 

Contax645 IlfordHP5 CarmencitaFilmLab TheresaPewal

Contax 645 +  Ilford HP5 by Theresa Pewal

Typical 400 ISO black and white films are pleasantly surprising due to their exposure of latitude and their ability to retain the information in the highlights and with HP5 that is no exception. We bracketed HP5, changing only the exposure settings, and we were delighted at how well HP5 plays! It retained the information and detail in the highlights, even at 4 stops overexposure! We found that it shines best, in regards to dynamic range, when it is overexposed by one stop. This 1 stop overexposure is the perfect mixture; there is a perfect balance between shadows and highlights. We did note that we still got acceptable results when exposed between -2 stops and +3 stops, thus, by our standards, we would consider this a very versatile film in various changing environments.*

*If you enjoy sitting in the control seat when it comes to the outcome of your images, HP5 might be your film. It’s an ideal film when it comes to choosing the level of contrast when self-developing and ideal when it comes to scanning. The power is really in your hands when it comes to shooting HP5; even more so because you’re already shooting analog 🙂

 

RolleiflexAutomatRF111A Ilford HP5+3stops CarmencitaFilmLab OliverSigloch

Rolleiflex Automat RF111A + Ilford HP5 +3 stops by Oliver Sigloch

 

This is one of our favorite films when it comes to rating it at 800, 1600, and even 3200 ISO. When you rate like such, the images render with a bit more intense blacks and whites and with a good deal more grain. These results can really make the image pop! And while yes, this look does bring forth more grain, and a more cubic sort of grain at that (see image), and a loss of sharpness, we feel that this highlights the artistic taste of the image with the powerful tones of black and white.

Something that bears mentioning is that HP5 is very good if you realize you need to PULL it. If you’re not quite certain what we mean by “pull” you can read more about pulling your film here. If you shoot HP5 intending to shoot it at box speed (which is 400), but you realize you rated it at 100, no sweat. Allow HP5 to do the heavy lifting cause it’s got you covered. It can easily be developed for less time and be “pulled” to appear like it was rated at 400. Breathe. Now doing this will give HP5 a wider range of grays and the highlights will be richer than Bill Gates’ bank account when it comes to detail, so just bear that in mind. And if that bothers you, take a deep breath, cause, again, HP5 can do some more heavy lifting. We can work on the negative in post to adjust the contrast to your liking. This film because of its contrast is ideal for sunny and warm summer days. Take a peek at the bracketed HP5 images we provided; these were taken right off the scanner and you can easily imagine how much more can be tweaked to an image simply by adjusting the curve or adding more contrast in post. Using HP5 is an easy walk in the park (how’s that for a beautiful relationship?)

 

Leica M6 + Ilford HP5 +2 stops by RichardPreston

 

It’s worth noting, all HP5 tests were designed for an average 18% gray and developed with our favorite black and white chemicals, Ilford DDX, for a wider image contrast and a finer grain.

Summing up, HP5 gives a gritty, grainy intense atmosphere to your images and the characteristic high contrast and deep shadow rendition can sometime mean that some fine detail can lost in the emulsion.

 

 

 

Delta 400

 

You must be wondering, after everything we mentioned with HP5, why would we bother convincing you to consider getting involved with another black and white film? While…yes HP5 is the best film in the whole world and it is a relationship we would encourage you to try (if you haven’t already). Delta 400 is also the best film in the whole world and we would also encourage you to try it because…well, you know the saying “different strokes for different folks”? That saying applies here. It all depends on you, the artist. It depends on what film you feel captures your scene best, what you feel highlights the moment intrinsically, and what expresses your style masterfully. In that way each film is the best for each photographer that feels it is most powerful when used in their hands. That’s why, if you haven’t explored the world of black and white films, we encourage you to try the two we mention here in this post, so that you will see which one is the best in the whole world for YOU. Because as you use them, you’ll begin to see that your preference for black and white film is as personal to you as is your favorite cereal brand. And thanks to brands like Ilford and Kodak you can enjoy an extensive range of black and white films (Fujifilm: please feel free to feel excluded).

 

NikonFA IlfordDelta400 CarmencitaFilmLab VincentDauphin

Nikon FA + Ilford Delta 400 by Vincent Dauphin

 

Delta 400 was born into existence in 1990 and was reformulated in 1994 to meet the expectations of the most technical photographers who enjoy having the absolute maximum definition in their images. This is predominantly due to its Core-shell™ emulsion technology that is based on the maximum use of the emulsion in the distribution of silver in the film in Tabular form. Not quite sure what we’re talking about? Because a picture is worth a thousand words, it’s probably best for you to check out the Delta 400 images (see image). Delta 400 contains what’s known as T-grain film (Tabular grain), this is slightly modified from a conventional-grain film in the way the film’s silver content is dispersed. T-grain films (such as Delta, Acros, T-Max) have flat crystals whereas conventional-grain films (like HP5, Tri-X, Rollei RPX) have round crystals. The flatness of the crystals permits better light absorption per quantity of silver within the emulsion.

The theory of T-grain film is that it should provide sharper images and finer grain when compared to a conventional-grain film of the same sensitivity. And that is one of the strong arguments for using Delta 400. It is pretty sharp with moderate grain (grain size is at an FP4). Consequently, this would probably be an ideal film for those who love the details in their images.

 

Pentax67 IlfordDelta400 CarmencitaFilmLab MtejKmet

Pentax 67 + Ilford Delta 400 by Mtej Kmet

 

Another point to note is that this film is capable of displaying much clearer, crisper tones than that of other films with standard technology. Its sensitivity is more effective and capable of recording maximum information in both the highlights and shadows, provided, of course, that it is properly exposed. Thus if Delta 400 is exposed properly you can get clear images with better contrast.

 

Mamiya645 IlfordDelta400 CarmencitaFilmLab VeraVolkova

Mamiya 645 + Ilford Delta 400 by Vera Volkova

 

In our bracketed test shots of Delta 400 (see image) we observed very good results between -1 and +1 of exposure, resulting, in our opinion, a film with a rather low exposure latitude. Consequently, you would have to be more cautious when measuring and reading the light since you can lose detail in shadows and highlights. This means it would be ideal for you to have a light meter handy or very close by to take a careful reading of the light in the scene you want to capture. By taking a proper reading with a light meter you’ll obtain higher quality images because you’ll have a lower margin of error. Yes, that can sometimes be a hassle for those who don’t like to be burdened with a light meter, but everything comes at a price 😉

 

 

Ilford has highlighted this film for its ability to be rated between 200 and 3200, however in our opinion, HP5 is much more versatile. With Delta 400 we noted in the tests that more information was lost in the blacks and the highlights. As such we feel it is a film with a lower latitude and with more sensitivity to high contrast. It should be noted though that it does have a great response when pulled during the development process so that the contrast will be manageable in high contrast situations.

If you’re self-developing, we’ll also mention the best kind of developer to use that can process this type of T-grain, that being Ilford DDX. This developer was designed to maintain a good balance of general contrast that is most ideal for scanning and printing.

In short, Delta 400 has remarkable inky tones, great contrast, and maintains a consistent sharpness just so long as it is exposed properly.

Have questions about HP5, Delta 400, or black and white films? Our team will be happy to answer your query! Simply drop us a line at ask@carmencitafilmlab.com!

Understanding Film Flaws

Since our doors have been open here at Carmencita Film Lab we’ve seen nearly every mishap that can occur with film and the results of those film mishaps. Now sometimes these mishaps are intentional and sometimes they’re not. Either way, today we’re going to tackle some of the most common unlucky (or lucky, depending on if that was your goal) accidents that can occur when handling or shooting film and we’re also going to talk about the things you can do to avoid them.

You may have experienced one (or many) of these accidents and if you haven’t, we hope this post will help you avoid it. We split the issues into two sections based on whether the mishap occurred because of the camera or because of the film’s condition.

 

1. LIGHT LEAKS

A light leak usually appears when the sealing of your camera is not working properly, consequently, traces of light will “sneak” into the film compartment. When your film in your camera is exposed to light that sneaks in, it will usually create fire-like patterns or uneven exposures across the frames. Light leaks can create a variety of different shapes or forms, so if you ever see anything strange on your images it’s very likely to be because of a light leak.

To avoid light leaks, we recommend checking to make sure that the foam that seals the back of your camera is in good shape. Typically, with time and age, the foam from cameras can become hard and deteriorate. If that’s the case, we definitely encourage you to replace it! Additionally, we recommend checking to see that your camera back closes evenly and that the shutter is functioning correctly. If it’s not, we would encourage you to get that fixed. But if that doesn’t solve the mystery of light leaks from appearing on your images, we recommend taking your camera to a camera specialist near you so they can take a quick look at it for you! 😉

*That being said like leaks can be very cool too if intentional! 

One of our favourite Instagram accounts actually features light leaks! You can check them out here: www.instagram.com/f1rstoftheroll

 

2. DUST OR DIRT 

If you notice that black dots or lines are appearing in your images, more than likely this means that there was or is dust inside your camera. Black dots or lines will appear in images when the camera contains dust or dirt that keeps film from being exposed.

To avoid dust or dirt from properly exposing your film, make sure that the film chamber of your camera is clean and that there aren’t any parts of your camera that are releasing particles inside the interior (old foam sealings, we’re lookin’ at you!)

*Important: If you see white dust on your scans then that’s a different story. White dust on your scans are a result of dust from the developing or scanning process. Basically the dust arrived after the image taking process. If you see this white dust, contact your lab and show them your images and they should be able to fix it.

 

 

3. SCRATCHES

Most of you are probably aware that the surface of film is sensitive and delicate. When you run the film through your camera you apply tension to it and if the surfaces that touch the film itself are not smooth, more than likely, this will lead to your film becoming scratched. Additionally, even dust, or sand, or any small solid particles that finds their way inside your camera can create a line that’s been scratched into the film which can be rather painful to remove.

When the scratches are perfectly straight, this means that they come from a mechanical movement inside the camera. And even if they look big on the screen or on your image, on the actual film negative itself, they are pretty small.

To avoid scratches on your frames, keep your camera clean and be vigilant to keep out any dust, dirt, sand, etcetera when switching film under dusty conditions or while outdoors. Although scratches can be fixed with today’s Photoshop tools, it’s better to be careful while out on the field 😉

 

 

4. HUMIDITY OR FUNGUS 

Humidity is one of the biggest enemies of photographic equipment in general, but even more so when it comes to lenses or the film emulsion itself. In warm environments there tends to be a lot more humidity in the air and drastic temperature changes to your equipment can lead to condensation on the surface of your lens. Luckily, this is fairly uncommon, but over the course of time this can lead to the appearance of fungus inside the elements of your lens glass; this is even more likely to occur if they are stored for a long time.

You can detect fungus if you illuminate the lens from the back element and look through it from the top. If you see some organic shaped spots coming from the side of the lens it’s most likely fungus. Also if you see an uniform translucent layer it’s possible that water has condensed due to the humidity. When this happens, images will appear very soft and perhaps a bit blurred especially in backlit situations and in the highlights, where light gets extra diffused inside the affected elements of the lens.

To avoid fungus or humidity in your lens, keep them stored in dry places if you are not planning on using them for a while and watch out when shooting around the coast/lakes/seaside to keep the front of the glass on your lens from becoming foggy. If you see soft images when looking through your viewfinder, it’s best to unmount the lens and give it a quick check.

 

5. WRONG “TILT SHIFT” EFFECT

You might occasionally notice that a specific part of your image is unfocused or blurred. This will be hard to miss because the effect is so unusual and peculiar. This blurred part of your image typically occurs when the film is not laying perfectly flat when you take your photo (this is usually a failure of the pressure plate on the camera or the advancing mechanism is a bit loose). This effect is especially common with the Contax 645.

Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot that you can do upfront to avoid seeing this blurred effect on your images. On most cameras (that are not the Contax 645) you can check the pressure plate to ensure it’s doing its job; this should be sufficient. However with the Contax 645, you should check to make sure that the inserts are advancing correctly and that they aren’t letting the film go backwards. Because if the advancing wheel is a little loose you’ll eventually encounter this problem.

 

 

6. UNEVEN SHUTTER ADVANCING

Most film cameras used today are far from new (#vintage!) and this means that it’s possible that not all of its mechanical parts are in the best shape. Specifically speaking, the shutters on older film cameras may have evidence of stress from usage. If there is a lot of wear and tear on your shutter, you will see evidence of uneven exposure on an image and maybe even parts of it being almost black. This occurs because the shutter is not moving evenly across the frame.

Unfortunately, there is little you can do to avoid this from happening to a camera. You can tell the shutter isn’t advancing properly because you’ll see evidence of black space or uneven exposures on your images when the shutter is working at its maximum speeds (ex. 1/1000th or 1/4000th of a sec.). If you start noticing this issue, take note that it will only get worse, so it’s best to take it to a camera repair shop or to a specialist so that they can replace the springs or the parts of the shutter that aren’t functioning properly.

 

 

7. FRAME OVERLAPING

Much like the wear and tear that can occur on shutters, other mechanical parts in a film camera can bend or crack with time and use. This can lead to irregular advancing on your film which will cause your images to overlap. This usually occurs if the indented wheels are damaged. Beware, there are some film cameras that are made of plastic or were built in the time of the old USSR that don’t have a very good reputation for lasting.

As soon as you notice your images overlapping, you can be certain that it will happen with every roll of film you shoot on that camera thereafter. So you might want to pay a visit to your favourite camera repair maestro and see if it’s worth fixing, cause sometimes the repair might be a bit pricey!

*This can also happen if the sprockets of your 35mm film are damaged, but if that does happen your friendly film lab will see it immediately and let you know.

 

 

8. X RAYS

Pretty much everything is scanned by x-rays prior to getting on a plane, that includes both check-in luggage and any carry-on baggage. Film is sensitive to radiation, however technology has advanced significantly and consequently the way that things are scanned today is not the same way they were scanned 20 years ago. In most European countries the x-rays used for carry-on baggage are much milder and usually safe for anything below 800 ISO film. However, the x-ray scanners used on large luggages are much stronger and much more aggressive. This is why we recommend that you DO NOT put your film (exposed or not) in your check-in luggage when you’re flying. Always keep it in your carry-on baggage!

If your film is exposed to excessive amounts of x-rays, you will notice wave-shaped marks repeatedly along the negative and the images will display a lot of grain, fog, muted colors and a loss in the detail of shadows. To get a bit of an idea of what it looks like check out this (old) Kodak article that illustrates it fairly well.

*If you still want to ensure your film is protected from x-rays you can purchase lead bags for your film, but be aware that you will be hand checked by airport security for sure!

 

 

9. MOISTURE

Since film has a yielding surface it must be protected from many elements that could negatively influence the outcome of your images. In this instance, we’re specifically referring to drastic temperature changes that can cause condensation or moisture to occur onto the film surface, or your film coming into contact with any water or liquids. In order to achieve optimal results, film should not be in contact with any liquid or moisture until the moment of developing (unless you’re into experimenting, than go ahead!) The problem with any moisture or liquid that comes into contact with your film is that it will sit on your film for a significant period of time and alter the images. And in regard to 120 film, any moisture or water will damage the film and the backing paper it lays on.

It is generally recommended to keep film refrigerated if you’ll have it around for awhile, but be careful not to put it near the back of the fridge where water tends to condensate! Are you looking to preserve your film for longer than the average storage time? You can freeze it as well! The colder the film is, the less chemical ageing will occur to your film. But keep in mind that if you choose to freeze your film, you’ll need to wait about 1.5 hours after you take it out of the freezer before you can shoot it!

 

Therefore, we recommend that you:

1.Avoid long term storage at relative humidities of 60% or above. Such high humidities can damage the labels and paper back of 120 (from moisture and mold) and can rust the cans of 35mm. Also keep your film in its original packaging until you are ready to use the film.

2.Keep your film in the fridge. If you’ll use your film film stock within 3 months, temperatures of 13°C or less are appropriate. If your film stock will be kept longer than 3 months, freezing at -18° to -23°C is recommended. After any cold storage, be sure to allow your film to slowly adjust to the ambient temperature in which it will be used.

3.Do not keep film in your camera longer than necessary. Process your film as soon as possible after exposure, that will ensure the best possible quality for your images!

 

 

10. EXPIRED FILM

The silver halides that make film light-sensitive are modified by a chemical reaction when exposed to light or other forms of radiation. The sensitivity of the silver emulsion in film can degrade or “rust” over time. When it degrades, it will decrease the regular ISO value that the film would have had, had it not expired. For example, a film that was originally 400ISO but is expired by over 5-6 years, would be around 100-160ISO. On top of that, the decrease of ISO is also coupled with a decrease in contrast and saturation, and introduces possible color shifts and an increase of the grain in your film.

You can compensate for the age of the emulsion by overexposing your film in order to add more light to your images which will also add saturation and contrast. The result won’t ever be as good as if the emulsion didn’t expire but that’s just one of the magical qualities of film : ) Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise, expired film is perfectly usable! In fact, we’ve shot B&W film that expired in 1992 and it worked absolutely perfectly! Color is a bit trickier but the option is still there to experiment!

 

 

Hopefully this little guide has helped you understand a little better the flaws and mishaps that can sometimes occur to film. We believe that these intricacies are a part of the film process and can sometimes be harnessed as creative tools to make something really spectacular! But that’s not always the case and when these issues aren’t desired they can be a bit of a pain in the ass.

Got a question about a specific flaw or issue you found on your film? Drop us a line at ask@carmencitafilmlab.com! Even if we haven’t developed or scanned your roll in our lab, we might be able to help you find out what caused it and how to fix it.

We are here to help 🙂

 

IMG 8845

Polaroid Revival – The Impossible Project

The Impossible Project


Today, we’re going to talk about something that’s been on our radar for a while now; the Impossible Project! (now rebranded as Polaroid Originals after the merge of both companies) If you’ve not heard of it, the Impossible Project was founded in 2008 with one sole purpose; to keep Polaroid film alive. This came about when, in February 2008, Polaroid announced that it would stop making Polaroid instant film. This announcement would have meant the end of an era and the end for Polaroid instant film, as we know it. It’s been already 10 years now from that date and we are super proud for them, they made impossible very very possible, like buying the original company possible!

Polaroids Hector 6

Polaroids Hector 5

Origins

 

However, like every good story, Polaroid was saved thanks to a hero: Florian Kaps. He pulled together enough resources to buy Polaroid’s equipment and film stock, and because of his efforts Polaroid instant film is still in existence and used by many artists, creatives, and first time users today.

 

To magnify the importance we place on Polaroids, we actually set aside some time to catch up with THE Dr. Florian Kaps, the mastermind and superhero behind the project and ask him a few questions on the Impossible Project. While we know why we love Polaroid, we wanted to crawl into Florian’s mind and find out why he saved Polaroid and what was his motivation for doing something that seemed, well…rather impossible.

 

When we asked him about that moment when he decided to save Polaroid he said that “When I heard the announcement it suddenly became crystal clear that I needed to undertake everything to find an alternative and viable future for analog instant photography”. Something we and mainstream artists are grateful that he did.
But with every challenge, there’s always some obstacles, and we asked Florian what those obstacles were when he started the Impossible Project. He said that “One of the three biggest challenges in the project was: one, trying to get Polaroid to talk to me despite being brushed off; two, trying to stop the company from destroying any remaining instant film production machines; and three, sourcing all the investments in order to save and purchase those machines.” That sounds quite a challenge!

 

Polaroids Hector 3

Carmencita Polaroid 8

 

While the Impossible Project has successfully kept Polaroid from being eliminated from the analogue industry, we asked where Florian envisioned the project going five years from now. His biggest hope, he said, “Was that Polaroid will continue to spread the magic, unpredictability and uniqueness of analog instant photography in a world that is more and more dominated by masses of digital images.”

When we asked our final question, and that was what was his most valued image that he had taken on a Polaroid was, he said it was a self portrait. It was the first self portrait that he had ever tried to take of himself on a Polaroid camera and while it didn’t go as successfully as he had hoped, he still, to this day, cherishes it. So maybe we can credit Florian with the first Polaroid selfie? 😉

 

The Impossible Project was one of the biggest adventures Florian had ever embarked on and given another chance, he said he would do it all over again. He’s now currently working on another analogue adventure which you can follow along with him on at www.supersense.com.

 

In our experience

Carmencita Polaroid 6

Carmencita Polaroid 5

 

While we have no association or ties with the Impossible Project, we love, support, and have a (serious) obsession with film, and consequently, we’re a big fan of the project. That’s why we wanted to raise awareness of its existence and share its magic with you.

 

Many of us at the lab are Impossible film shooters ourselves and not that we love it cause we don’t have to develop it or scan it (which might be true) but because it is a completely different feeling and a ritual to do so. Here are some examples from polaroid we did and we managed to keep.

*One of the big issues with polaroids that nobody talks about, subjects often want to keep them and it’s hard to say no

IMPORTANT TIP: We personally experienced how important is to keep the polaroid away from the sunlight once they have been shoot, at least keep them in the dark for 20-30min after shooting them. Also they do not like cold temperatures, if shoot in cold enviorments put them in your pocket or in your jacket to make sure they develop evenly 🙂

Polaroids Hector 2

Polaroids Hector 4

Carmencita Polaroid 4

Polaroids Hector 1

 

 

Funny thing is during the making of this article one of the photographers that work at the lab got approached by Polaroid to do some testing for new emulsions and collections and it’s actually featured on their website, congrats Hector!

 

Also we feel specialy in love with B&W polaroids, perhaps because it’s a very timeless feeling or just that sometimes we want to disconnect from color. In our experience we find the colors from the 600 series more pleasing than the colors in the SX-70 series, although the camera is much much pleasing to use and a marble of XXth century designed by Eams.

 

Our Conclusion

 

Polaroids are a creative, fun, and carefree option for professionals and non-professional photographers alike. They’re ideal for those who are open to spontaneity and don’t mind not having complete control over the resulting outcome of their images. It’s perfect for those who are wanting to capture a memory more than an impeccably controlled image. So if you think of yourself as a photographer who likes consistency in their images or who likes to have complete control over the light, Polaroids might not be the ideal medium in those instances.

 

But if you’re looking for another medium that will empower you as the photographer and developer, will give you a little more unpredictability, will offer a little bit more excitement, and will give you vibrant results that will be ingrained in your memory forever; Polaroids are where it’s at.

 

It’s an instant film that gives you so much in so little time. All you have to do is press the shutter, see the burst of flash, hear the trademark Polaroid sound, see the photograph roll out, and watch as your memory develops right before your eyes.

 

Wanna shoot some Polaroid?

Check our little shop to grab some instant film!
Need a camera? Check out the new Polaroid OneStep-2!

 

*All images are courtesy of Paula Codoñer, Hector Pozuelo and Albert Roig

Leila Peterson ContaxT3 KodakPortra400

An Introduction to the Portra family

We love a good party and when we found out that the Portra line is about to celebrate its twentieth birthday next year (introduced in 1998!), we thought we would take the time to cover some ground (and after, perhaps raise a glass) when it comes to Kodak’s Portra line. Kodak Portra has put out a variety of film stocks from this line, some of which are discontinued, but three of which are now a staple to film photographers like those of us at Carmencita and yourself. We’re gonna cover some ground on those three that take the cake when it comes to Kodak’s Portra line: Portra 160, Portra 400, and Portra 800 ISO.

 

PortraFamily

 

As most of you may know, the arch famous Kodak Portra is a family of daylight-balanced professional color negative film aimed to render the best skin tones possible in basically every light situation you can imagine, making them perfect for both portrait and social photography. These films are known to produce natural skin tones, ideal color, finer grain and are available in 35mm, 120 (medium format), and large format sheets. The Portra film lines are known for their their natural warmth (Portra 160 has red and brown undertones while Portra 400 has undertones of orange and yellow). This means that colors will be rendered differently than other films such as the well-known Fuji 400H. You can see the difference most perceptively in the greens. The greens in the Portra lines tend to be warmer, while the greens in Fuji 400H are a bit cooler. This, of course, depends on the light situation but it’s usually the rule of thumb.

 

Kodak made some noise a few years ago when it introduced a new version of the Portra 400 film which replaced the NC (“natural color”) and VC (“vivid color”) versions in late 2010. The new film incorporated a number of technological advances from the Kodak Vision line of motion pictures films and essentially blended the NC and VC versions together. The results of the new Portra 400 has generated quite a following, though perhaps reluctantly at first. Now it’s praised for its latitude and its Vision-3 technology. One of our favourite examples of the improvements to the Portra line is seen on Jonathan Canlas’ blog in which he shot Portra 400, rated it at 3200, and pushed it 3 stops in the developing. The results are spectacular and we encourage you to check it out so you can see just how flexible this film is in low light situations. The Portra line has not only made some incredible improvements in technology, but additionally the color palette has made this series popular for portraiture and editorial work.

 

Exposing Portra

Here are a few guidelines we use when shooting these stocks that we think expose (pun intended!) each one in their best light. (Tip: If you need more information on exposing, we highly recommend that you read (and see the results of some testing we’ve done) from a past post we’ve written on how exposure affects film. That post visually demonstrates the latitude of color film and should aid in understanding the important role exposure plays in shooting film.)

Portra 160

We’ve found with this stock the preference is split; those who have tried it either passionately love it or passionately hate it. However the general consensus tends to be that this is an excellent film stock for portraits. Skin tones (whether light skinned or dark skinned) are soft and natural looking and the grain of the film is extremely fine. However those of us here at Carmencita have found that the window is narrow on how much you can overexpose or underexpose it. If you expose it too much it lends to look much like Ektar, very bright, punchy, and with not so flattering skin tones. It also requires a well lit scene to shoot in. So if you’ve not tried this film stock and you see some sunny days in your forecast, we recommend picking some up to give it a try!

 

Theresa Pewal Portra 160

Kodak Portra 160 by Theresa Pewal

Porta 400

Ahhhhhhhh Portra 400. What is there not to love? This film stock is one of the most used and most comprehensive films on the market when it comes to changing light situations. It is shot by nearly everyone from established well-known film photographers to film photographers who are new to the scene. This film stock is a staple to your film stash and frankly, there is not a single thing to not love about this film stock. Portra 400 offers excellent colors; is fast enough for the vast majority of purposes; and is fine grained enough that the speed will rarely betray itself.

On top of all this, it’s fun, it’s easy, and not the least because the latitude for over and underexposure is remarkable. You can do everything with it. Overexposing this film stock by two stops looks amazing (bright and colorful) and under exposing it a stop also looks good (moody and contrasty). Keep in mind, if you expose Portra 400 more than two stops the film may be a little more yellow-ish than usual, so overexpose with care. This film stock also loves to be pushed. In fact, if you have to choose between using Portra 800 and Portra 400 in a setting we recommend using Portra 400, and pushing it if need be. It will just love it and in return we love it for it.

 

Leila Peterson ContaxT3 KodakPortra400

Kodak Portra 400 by Leila Peterson

Portra 800

If you find yourself in a sunny situation and you have Portra 800 on hand you won’t be disappointed. This film stock is divine if you overexpose it, even by 4 four stops! Out of this world divine, the colors tend to lean a bit towards Ektar (punchy and vibrant) but it is able to maintain incredible skin tones. However, if you underexpose it, it’s not very pretty at all. It quickly goes grainy and renders muddy colors. Even pushing it can’t save it entirely. It is essential to know that Portra 400 is based on Vision 3 technology, however Portra 800 is not, that’s why there are some major differences between how the two films handle underexposure.

Consequently, the  “ISO 800” marking is often misleading; while it certainly does the job at 800, we don’t think it performs best at that speed. In fact, we find that pushing Portra 400 one  stop usually gives more satisfying results than shooting Portra 800 at it’s box speed.

 

Christophe Boussamba KodakPortra800

Kodak Portra 800 Christophe Boussamba

 

Pushing

Understanding when to push film is an incredible tool to have in your bag when you’re in low light situations or when you want a punchier look to your images. In our experience, Kodak’s Portra line handles pushing magnificently when shot in well-lit environments. So we’re going to break down the results of each when they’re pushed by your lab.

(You can read more about pushing film on a past post we’ve written a few years back.)

 

MaOrtiz Pentax67 KodakPortra400 pushed one

Kodak Portra 400 pushed +1 stop Ma Ortiz

Portra 160 and Portra 400

Both Portra 160 and Portra 400 are very pushable in a well-lit environment. Portra 160 rated at 320 and pushed one stop is pretty incredible. Portra 400 rated at 800 and pushed one stop is also equally great. For both, the results of pushing will increase the contrast on your images, bringing the highlights up and cutting detail on the blacks. It will appear brighter because of the contrast and brighter highlights, so if that’s the look you’re aiming for, perfect! But take into consideration that you won’t be able to go back to a low contrast look once it’s pushed. Also keep in mind there will be side effects of increased grain, color shifts in the shadows, and some general loss of details in the darkest parts of the image. A higher ISO isn’t for free 😉

Pushing can save the day with the caveat that you know what you are doing, however, if you don’t know what you are doing, the results of pushing are going to be less than desirable.  Have any questions or doubts about pushing? Feel free to call us up and ask! We are always willing to help answer your questions and help clear up any doubts!  

(Tip: if you’re in a low light situation and you only have Portra 400, rate it at 800 and ask your lab to push it one stop. While shooting keep in mind where the light is coming from and how your subject is lit, aim for the highlights and midtones and forget about the shadows.)

 

Garderes and Dohmen Contax645 KodakPortra160pushed1 CarmencitaFilmLab

Portra 160 pushed +1 stop by Garderes and Dohmen

Portra 800

Portra 800 was created for low light situations and it’s pretty handy for that. However it’s the only one of the Portra line that we think is the least pushable due to the technology behind it. As we mentioned earlier, we feel Portra 800 really shines best when it’s overexposed, however it still does the job rated at 1250 and pushed one stop.

 

Inside Linda 21

Kodak Portra 800 pushed 1stop Gema González

Color Palette

 

The color palettes for each one of the Portra lines do vary from stock to stock. But overall, the Portra line is known for having a little bit of a yellow-ish highlight with blue-ish shadow color crossover. In comparison to some of the stock from Fuji’s line, the Portra line is known for having better yellows, reds, and purples; whereas Fuji has better blues, oranges, and magentas. But in this section, we’ll easily break down each stock from the Portra line so you can see the difference for yourself.

Portra 160

Portra 160 is described as having a natural color palette with low saturation and low contrast. It has breathtaking color, sharpness, and very fine grain. It seems almost ideal for portraiture as it delivers accurate skin tones and consistent results when exposed correctly, whereas if you shoot with Ektar you may get tomato-like skin tones. Like most films, Portra 160 loves to be overexposed but not too much and if you underexpose it the shadows in this film may have a blue-ish influence.

Examples of Portra 160:

 

 

Portra 400

Portra 400 at box speed has a very natural and neutral look, but it can also look warm, bright, and saturated when it’s overexposed. This film also handles skin tones, as well as natural landscapes, beautifully and at a 400 ISO it’s super handy in changing lighting conditions. Portra 400 has a warmer palette, whereas Fuji 400H has a much cooler palette. Portra 400 tends to be more yellow and Fuji 400H leans towards a more green color and turns  its blues more turquoise. Again, there is a lot of urban tales about how each film looks at the end, and the truth is that nowadays if you add retouching to any film stock you can make it look very different than what it naturally does. So, does that mean you’ll never see a warm picture shot on Fuji? Nope, we just mean that the “warmth” might go a bit more towards the magenta tones than the yellow tones.

 

Examples of Portra 400:

 

Portra 800

Portra 800 has a higher saturation and it’s slightly grainier than its counterparts, but it kicks butt when it comes to tough lighting conditions and bright colors. The colors in Portra 800 have a wonderful intensity and the blacks are very rich. It is ideal in capturing vivid colors and renders skin tones so creamy that this film stock will just melt like butter on  your screen. Many photographers love this film stock, with its only downside being  the cost of it.

(Something to bear in mind, if you shoot Portra in 35mm there will be an increase in grain and a slight loss in the depth of color, but if you’re shooting medium format that doesn’t really matter.)


Examples of Portra 800:

 

 

Conclusion

 

We know we’ve covered a lot of ground in this post and if you’ve made it this far, high five the closest human near you! Hopefully the information we’ve provided will be useful to you and in case you can’t remember it all, here’s a nice little summary of each stock from Portra’s line:

 

 

Portra 160

  • Low saturation
  • Extremely fine grain
  • Medium contrast
  • Ideal for controlled lighting
  • Less flexible on exposure

Portra 400

  • Medium saturation
  • Fine grain
  • Medium contrast
  • Ideal for most lighting conditions
  • Very pushable

Portra 800

  • Higher saturation
  • Fine grain
  • Superb sharpness
  • A lot of room for overexposing
  • Ideal for vivid colors while keeping skin tones in place

 


As of yet, there isn’t a film we’ve met that we haven’t loved and Portra’s line is no different. Between Portra 160, Portra 400, and Portra 800 you have a variety of options for different looks and lighting conditions. Each film stock from Portra’s line is versatile, unique in its own way, and compliments each other. If you’ve not tried one (or any!) from the Portra line order one immediately and get to snapping and creating great images! You will not be disappointed by the experience and certainly not by the incredible images you create!

As a film photographer, we feel it’s good to know the ins and outs of your craft and the tools and techniques available to you. That being said, don’t get cray-cray, good light is worth it’s weight in gold (or in this case film) and it will render incredibly in almost all film stocks. This doesn’t mean that because you choose one film stock over another all your images will be great. It is highly dependent on the quality of light you have to work with.


That being said, we believe every film stock has its own unique personality and when that goes along with the feeling of your work, it’s becomes a perfect match!

 

The most important thing, as always is to keep shooting, keep playing, keep pushing the boundaries, and keep exploring! Everything that you know and experience will eventually translate and show itself in your own work and that will only make it more interesting for the ones seeing it = )

 

 

Ilford Project Kathleen Frank 12

Ilford XP2 Camera – Single Use B&W Love

Disposable cameras don’t get enough love, so we thought we would take a moment to shine our spotlight on one of our favourite disposable cameras: Ilford’s black and white single use cameras. Ilford currently has two versions of these in either of their C-41 Black & White film; the XP2 Super, or the true Black & White HP5 Plus. Both of which are ISO 400 films. These little guys also feature a built-in flash and can shoot up to 27 exposures. We recently decided to take our own little joyride on the XP2 and here are our thoughts on it!

For starters, we like the way this camera looks! Most single use cameras aren’t quite as snazzy or as retro as this little one, and we dig it! We are also head over heels in love with the weight (or lack thereof) of Ilford’s disposable XP2 camera. Typically when you’re shooting film on a regular film body set up (whether it be 35mm or medium format bodies), more than likely it’s going to have a little heft to it. But with a disposable you are allowed to forget that you’re even carrying a camera on you. It’s a carefree way of capturing beautiful memories in black and white 🙂

 

by Birgit Hart

The XP2 disposable camera uses a black and white film that can easily be developed using the standard C41 process. All this basically means is: you can have the film developed at any local camera shop or film lab that can develop ordinary color film. Cheaper developing, no dust and high dynamic range!

We tested this little guy in both indoor and outdoor light and what we found was that the XP2 film yields an amazing contrast and has an extremely wide exposure latitude making it suitable for a variety of lighting conditions. Some might say that this camera does better outdoors in bright light but we found that if you use the flash indoors we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with how good the results can be indoors too! (pro tip: use the flash no matter what your lighting conditions are! You can’t go wrong using it and it will give your image an extra pop!)

 

by Joe Newmarch

We also did find that you will get a soft vignette on your film, which means the edges won’t be crisp, but, honestly we don’t think they need to be. This delightful result adds uniqueness and character to the image and coupled with black and white film just makes it timeless!

Our staff has unrestrainedly embraced this fun, portable, plastic wrapped, stuffed with black and white film, piece of joy and we simply can’t get enough of it! It’s a fun and different way to get into black and white photography. It’s also ideal for those who want to get into shooting film but are intimidated by the learning curve, or even for those who have forgotten about how fun film is!

 

by Kathleen Frank

In our experience, we can say without a doubt this is the perfect gift, both to give and to get. Got a friend going on a long trip and want to give them something meaningful? Throwing someone a birthday party? Got a friend that likes photography but never really takes pictures? Perhaps you want to capture the behind the scenes at your next workshop?

There’s no doubt the Ilford’s single use camera is an ideal way to capture those moments with a timeless black and white flavour.

We were terribly excited when Ilford announced these single use guys back in 2012, and we have to admit, little by little we came to love them. In fact, every time there is a event at the lab we have to bulk order them! Not to sell them, but to use them ourselves 🙂

It’s a nice throwback to the old family days, when single use cameras were queens and you had to wait a good week after coming back home to see any of your holiday memories. But more importantly, it’s our favourite way to carelessly capture the most ordinary memories in our lives, which, more often than not, are the most unique ones.

 

by Kathleen Frank

*Want more information like the specs of this single use camera like focal length, aperture, and more? Check it out on Ilford’s technical information here.

 

 

You can get yours in our little shop too!


 

KodakEktar Contax645 Mosbacher CarmcencitaFilmLab 2

Kodak Ektar Film Spotlight

Hi there everyone!

In our continuing effort to bring film photography education to everyone in the world we came up with a bunch of new strategies.

One of the many ideas that came to mind was creating a repository of images associated with a couple of the more used currently available film stocks. Needless to say there are a million factors affecting an image besides the particular film stock used (over/underexposure, type of light on the scene, scanning preferences requested, etc), but still we believe there are some main qualities that shine in some particular film stocks and we thought it’s a great idea for everyone to be able to grasp them by taking a quick glimpse through our favorite stuff that has come through the lab.

Of course this isn’t meant to be a “scientific” film stock visual dictionary ’cause we don’t have light meter readings for each photo and how much (if any) overexposure was applied by each photographer. But still, we do feel there is a common thread in all images.

For the particular film stock we’re featuring today (Kodak Ektar 100) these common characteristics are quite obvious: very strong saturation and high contrast.

Kodak Ektar is actually a tricky film and it’s no coincidence we decided to make it our first featured film on the blog. Famous for being “the world’s finest grain” and at 100 ISO it’s a typical go-to film for beginners and/or amateurs. But make no mistake, this film needs to be very carefully exposed or else it won’t deliver the results we feature here.

Most of these examples are metered for shadows (incident light hitting the shadow area), a few have overexposed this shadow metering and a few with very harsh light seem to have made an estimate between metering to highlights and shadows. Kodak Ektar looks great when correctly metered for shadows, but it can get extremely contrasty and otherworldly saturated if very overexposed, so if you’re used to overexposing the hell out of Fuji 400H relax, this is a totally different beast.

While we couldn’t recommend it per se as a “portrait” film due to it’s high saturation it can effectively be used for human  subjects providing you appreciate orangy or redish skintones, but hey, it’s no coincidence this film is called Ektar, since it’s meant to be a substitute for the now discontinued Kodak Ektachrome slide film, and if you remember that film those were some serioulsy saturated skintones (and nobody ever complained!). Of course if you want peachy and creamy skin tones we now have Kodak Portra and Fuji 400H films that are specifically designed for that (among other sutff). It is true however that when color correcting in-scanner for very red skins the backgrounds can get a little cyan, but hey that’s part of the Ektar magic, learn to appreciate if you’re gonna use it 😛

So yeah, you guessed it right: Kodak Ektar is a winner in landscape photography and generally in any scenes with high contrast and vivid colors.

 

Hope you appreciate these examples we compiled for you. We sneaked in two of our staff member’s photos… hope you don’t mind. Hey, we’re photographers too and some of us love Ektar!

 

Enjoy and hope this compilation is useful 😉

KodakEktar Pentacon Six tl PedroTerrinha 5
Pentacon Six TL + Kodak Ektar 100
photo by Pedro Terrinha

Mamiya645 KodakEktar CarmencitaFilmLab kjrstenmadsen
Mamiya 645 + Kodak Ektar 100
photo by Kjrsten Madsen

09Vovies-Pentax67ii-KodakEktar100-CarmencitaFilmLab-17Pentax 67ii + Kodak Ektar 100
photo by DungVo “Vovies

KodakEktar Contax645 Mosbacher CarmcencitaFilmLab 2
Contax 645 + Kodak Ektar 100
photo by Mathias Mosbacher

KodakEktar PimVan Mamiya645 CarmencitaFilmLab
Mamiya 645 + Kodak Ektar 100
photo by Pim Van Boesschoten

ContaxG2 KodakEktar SpeakingThroughSilence CarmencitaFilmLab 2
Contax G2 + Kodak Ektar 100
photo by Speaking Through Silence

CristophZoubek Contax645 KodakEktar100 CarmencitaFilmLab
Contax 645 + Kodak Ektar 100
photo by Christoph Zoubek

KodakEktar Contax645 Mosbacher CarmcencitaFilmLab 1
Contax 645 + Kodak Ektar 100
photo by Mathias Mosbacher

BuenaventuraMarco Contax645 KodakEktar CarmencitaFilmLab 1
Contax 645 + Kodak Ektar 100
photo by Buenaventura Marco

Contax645 KodakEktar CarmencitaFilmLab Teva

Contax 645 + Kodak Ektar 100
photo by Teva Cosic

KodakEktar Contax 645 StefanHellberg 5

Contax 645 + Kodak Ektar 100
photo by Stefan Hellberg

KodakEktar Canon1V CarmencitaFilmLab IvanSanchis 1
Canon 1V + Kodak Ektar 100
photo by Ivan Sanchis

KodakEktar ContaxG2 CarmencitaFIlmlab JoaoMascarenhas 2

Contax G2 + Kodak Ektar 100
photo by Joao Mascarenhas

Contax645 KodakEktar CarmencitaFIlmLab ToniRaper 1

Contax 645 + Kodak Ektar 100
photo by Toni Raper

KodakEktar Contax 645 StefanHellberg 3

Contax 645 + Kodak Ektar 100
photo by Stefan Hellberg

KodakEktar Canon1V CarmencitaFilmLab IvanSanchis 2Canon 1V + Kodak Ektar 100
photo by Ivan Sanchis

KodakEktar Contax 645 StefanHellberg 4Contax 645 + Kodak Ektar 100
photo by Stefan Hellberg

BuenaventuraMarco ContaxN1 KodakEktar CarmencitaFIlmLab 1 Contax N1 + Kodak Ektar 100
photo by Buenaventura Marco

How Exposure Affects Film

OK, so for a while we’ve been wanting to explain a couple of film technicalities that we’re pretty sure will change many people’s understanding of film and exposure.
Alright, take a deep breath ‘cause this stuff is easy but sometimes difficult to explain in written communication.

So the thing is that exposure on film (unlike in digital photography) is not equivalent at all to overall brightness of an image. For example, in the digital photography world when someone speaks of an overexposed image you instantly imagine a bright, all-white image with (probably) clipped highlights. In the film world this is not necessarily so.

Color film’s latitude is huge. Like 2-3 stops for underexposure and up to 6 spots for over-exposure (depending on the film stock). Also clipped highlights are literally impossible on film (straight from the scanner).
Add to this awesome characteristics the fact that brightness can be controlled during the scanning process.
Now this “overexposed = bright all-white” and “underexposed = dark black” rules of thumb start to make less sense right?
So then what’s the big deal with all that “overexposed 1 stop” etc film talk you read everywhere on the Internets?

OK, so we’ve had so many questions about this and we’ve told so many customers on our Wetransfer feedbacks that we decided to shoot some stuff and show you guys how this thing works.
Here’s a shot of our colleague Héctor we shot on Fuji 400H film and a Contax 645 medium format camera.
We metered with our handheld (incident) light meter below his chin with the bulb out facing the shooter. That shot will be considered our “anchor” or “box speed” example, meaning it was shot at 400 ISO not over or under-exposing.
From there we shot in one stop increments down to 6 steps under (all the way to the left) and up to 6 steps over (all the way to the right… yeah, 1/15 handheld at f2 right there!).
We then scanned these on our Fuji Frontier SP3000 at the same brightness level (important).
Make sure you click on the images to view larger and even the upper right hand icon to for full size 😉

Here’s the full spectrum of the 13 stops of the test
Bracketing400H_Final
Now zooming in on the Overexposure side
Bracketing400H_OVER
And finally the Underexposure side of the test. (yeah, the -6 was Héctor’s profile pic for a while 😛 )
Bracketing400H_UNDER

We did the same thing for these shots of our colleague Gloria , but this time in a totally different light situation and on Kodak Portra 400 film.

BracketingP400_Final

BracketingP400_OVER
BracketingP400_UNDER

What conclusions can be made from this test?

Well… first of all… 6 stops overexposed? And it still looks amazing? That’s pretty sweet.
Overall, there seems to be a higher number of usable shots on the overexposure side than on the underexposure side. So what does this tell us? Film LOVES overexposure. Unlike what happens in digital photography, with overexposure film gets a little more saturated and you get more details on the shadows, but definitely no clipped highlights or “all-white” burnt images. That’s why it’s totally safe to say that if you’re in doubt between two possible camera values for your exposure you’ll always be safer on the “over” side than on the “under” one.

It must be noted also that underexposure brings out grain and colors shifts and extreme overexposure will make images flat, contrast-less and with magenta or yellow highlights.

So again, remember that for these tests we scanned all images at equal brightness, so that’s why you get a -6 image full of grainy shadows and a +6 image that’s less bright than you’d expect. So underexposed images can be brightened by “bringing up” grainy shadows (hello VSCO look!) and overexposed images can be “brought down” so they don’t look hyper white-ish.

Also bare in mind that these were scanned and then posted UNEDITED. It goes without saying that with very basic edits the -1 shot can be made to look maybe similar to the correctly exposed one and for example the -3 can be scanned darker and slightly edited to look more “chiaroscuro”-like, but you get the picture, right? (no pun intended;) )

So that’s a lot of info to digest!
Hope this clarifies some doubts that so many of our customers have written to us about and that it helped you somehow to be more confident when you’re shooting and getting you closer to the look you want out of your scans.

Happy shooting!

Carmencita Team

CineStill 800T Film

Hi there!

Hope everyone’s having (or about to have) a great Spring Break, Easter or Semana Santa (as we call it in Spain).
Today, by popular request,  we’d like to do a little post on a film that’s quite unique for many reasons: meet CineStill 800T.

This film has been brought to life by The Brothers Wright , who made it a reality to adapt to regular film camera use (and regular C41 developing) the amazing film stocks the cinema industry uses.
By means of removing the antihalation “remjet” layer out of Kodak 500T cinema film (and through extensive testing) they effectively adapted this amazing emulsion (which you’ve seen in countless Hollywood movies) to be processed in regular C41 chemistry and then scanned and/or printed like “regular” film stocks we all use on a regular basis.

CineStill 800T has been tested to be 800 ISO and is tungsten balanced, which means by default it renders tungsten lights as neutral white (which would traditionally be rendered yellow on all other C41 films, which are daylight balanced). Of course the magic of it being C41 allows for much color “interpretation” and thus we’ve seen pretty amazing results shooting it in daylight with no filters whatsoever.
On the F.A.Q. area of the CineStill website The Brothers Wright have compiled tons of info regarding proper exposure and all the discoveries they’ve made about this great new film.

From our experience this film works great under many lights but it really outshines other C41 daylight balanced film when shooting artificially lit situations, whether tungsten, fluorescent or a mixture of both!

As a lab we’ve seen all kinds of test by customers ever since CineStill started to be commercialized in Europe and we’ve seen that a common error is thinking that 800 ISO and great reproduction of artificial lights will get you away with anything, and it’s not necessarily so … we still need correct metering guys! The best results we’ve seen are by customers who meter with a handheld meter (hence incident light) at 400-800 ISO or maybe meter reflective/spot meter in-camera but for shadows. Evaluative in-camera metering for complex artificial light situations can very easily throw off the meter and make you underexpose your film to levels which will not bring out the best of this film.

A common “error” we’ve observed is pushing this film to 1600 , 3200 or 6400 ISO and shooting the same values that a digital camera gives you for theses ISOs . As is the case for any PUSH there has to be some kind of “quality” light source on the subject. If that’s not the case and there’s just a very dim ambient light those 2 stops of chemical push won’t bring out your subjects, even if theoretically the meter reading is correct. Again, this also happens when pushing  Portra 400 and has to do with how blacks, shadows and highlights behave when chemically pushing (pretty long explanation, you can read more about it here ).

So yeah, meter for shadows and/or overexpose (as with any C41 film) and you’ll get amazing results in the most varied light situations possible!

Oh, and by the way: we’ve got fresh stock of CineStill 800T available at our online film shop, so go out and do some testing!

We did a little compilation of a few of our favorite CineStill shots that we’ve developed and scanned recently.

Hope you enjoy these and Happy Easter everyone!

 

jancholzCINEstill
photo by Jan Scholz “micmojo” on CineStill 800T

2014-05_Feria_Cinestill_06_webphoto by Miguel Jiménez on CineStill 800T

BarlatierCinePushed3200-1photo by Benjamin Barlatier on CineStill 800T pushed 2 Stops

DominiqueCinePushed6400-1
photo by Dominique Jahn on CineStill 800T pushed 3 stops

MicmojoCinestill800-1
photo by Jan Scholz “micmojo” on CineStill 800T

DominiqueCinestill800-1
photo by Dominique Jahn on CineStill 800T with an 85B filter

AlbertRoigCinestill800-1photo by Albert Roig on CineStill 800T

IsabelleCinestill800-1photo by Isabelle Hesselberg “2Brides” on CineStill 800T

SiegridCainCinestill800-1
photo by Siegrid Cain

“To Push” or “Not to Push” That is the question!

OK, so if you’ve made it this far it means you’ve been reading/hearing about this concept of “pushing” film for a while. You know it has something to do with “stops” but sometimes it feels confusing because you see all sorts of amazing pictures with stuff like “Fuji 400H shot @ 100” or “overexposed two stops” and then you see “TriX 400 shot and developed @ 1600” and it all just starts to sound closer to mathematics than photography. Confused? Then read on:

We call “Pushing Film” when we chemically increase the film’s exposure during the development process. There might be a couple reasons to do so. For example, let’s say you’ve only got Kodak Portra 400 loaded on your camera while you’re at a wedding, and you enter the church for the ceremony. You take a meter reading and for 400 ISO at apperture f2 the meter says you should shoot at 1/15 speed. Panic arises the moment you associate that shutter speed with blurry pictures either due to camera shake (hello shaky hands!) or the subject’s movement. Here’s one situation when PUSHING FILM would be quite useful. Imagine you had 1600 ISO speed loaded on your camera… That’d be cool.. those 2 extra stops would make such a difference… the meter reading would now say “1600 ISO at f2 1/60 speed”, and you know you’ve taken some decent shots at 1/60. OK, so no need to imagine that 1600 ISO roll, just shoot the Kodak Portra 400 like it’s 1600 ISO and ask the lab to push that roll 2 stops. Needless to say you should mark that on the roll somehow so that it won’t get mixed up with all those Portra 400 you shot before the ceremony at their regular 400 ISO.

So when your lovely package arrives to Carmencita HQ’s (along with those wonderful chocolate bars!) we’ll take that Kodak Portra 400 roll with the handwriten “Push to 1600” note and let it develop longer than the “unlabeled” Portra 400. That way you’re happy with your perfectly-exposed/non-blury church shots, your client is happy with their pictures and we’re happy we made your day! (again, thanks for the chocolate bars!)

THE WHOLE PUSHING/PULLING/OVEREXPOSING/UNDEREXPOSING/ISO RATING MISUNDERSTANDING

So, as some of you might have realised, you are essentially UNDER-EXPOSING your Portra 400 by two stops by making it an “imaginary 1600 roll” and asking

Is try the? A allegra 30 mg tablets applications much nipples Well trazodone without a prescription heart into is lotion.

us to chemically compensate for that..

Here is where the confusion might kick in, right? “Underexpose? I heard that’s bad… I usually overexpose.. But isn’t that done in-camera? At what ISO should I rate my film? Will this expired film be OK? Should I buy more chocolate for the awesome guys at Carmencita?”

Here’s the thing. Pushing is done chemically by the lab. Overexposing (or underexposing) whether it be by changing your ISO (rating film at different ISO than box speed) or not is done in-camera by the photographer. For example; we all know that color negative film looks great when overexposed. So you could meter your subject’s shadow and let’s say the meter says “1/1000 at f2” for your Portra 160: so if you wanted those creamier skin tones with more detail on the shadows you’d overexpose a stop and shoot that at “1/500 f2”. Needless to say you would have gotten the same results by “rating” the film at ISO 80 in your lightmeter and shooting exactly what the meter told you (hint: 1/500 at f2!)

JENNI1

Kodak Ektar 100 shot and pushed to 400. Photos by Nico Jenni

CONSIDERATIONS WHEN THINKING ABOUT PUSHING FILM

So all that being said: why push film? Our church example is a very obvious reason. With the very few high-ISO film stocks we currently have it’s great knowing there’s an alternative and no reason to be intimidated by low-light situations.

However it must be noted that pushing film has it’s “side effects”, most notably an increase in contrast/grain and general detail loss in the shadows. Some films lend themselves better to pushing; like most black and white films and the Fuji Provia 400 slide film. Pushed color negative film results vary a lot. In our experience Kodak Portra for a well-lit scene handles pushing pretty well. If the the light source is not that great (like distant tungsten lamp posts mixed with hallogen lights) the colors can get a little funky, but hey, sometimes you just don’t get to decide what light you shot in! 😉

WHAT ABOUT PULLING?

DipticoPULL

Ilford Delta 3200 shot and pulled to 800. Photos by Buenaventura Marco

We call pulling when, let’s say you only have Ilford 3200 ISO film and you’re shooting a family session at bright daylight ( #truestory). Your camera only goes to 1/1000 speed and you’d hate to shoot the whole thing at f16… So you can shoot the roll like it’s 800 ISO and the ask the lab to PULL. That would mean we would develop that particular roll for less time, exactly the time needed for 2 stops less than the actual 3200 ISO that would be the “box speed”.

NOTE: Pulling is less common since it’s really not that frequent to have a higher ISO film than you wished for AND color negative film looks really great overexposed, so even if you shot a Portra 800 at noon and overexposed it like 4 stops it would probably still look great. Yes, film is awesome in case you were wondering!

OK, off to eat a couple more chocolate bars before lunch break…