Two Worlds Crossed

Taking chances and having fun is what photography is all about. How else does one learn? Sometimes you fall flat on your face; sometimes you strike gold; often you're ambivalent but end up learning something new. I took a chance with a whole roll of film by doing something that's more easily done in photoshop or lightroom; I cross-processed the film.

Cross-processing is intentionally processing a roll of film in the wrong chemicals. E-6 (slide film) processed in C-41 (color negative) chemicals and vice versa. The results can be wildly unpredictable, but usually result in high contrast, wild color casts and exposure variations. It's very artsy and a favorite among shutterbugs, fashion and student photographers. However, these days photoshop and lightroom presets have taken over and tamed the beast.

Hasselblad 503cw with 80mm f/2.8 and #16 tube - Kodak Ektachrome E100G 100ASA - f8 @125th; strobe camera left shooting through diffusion material; bounce camera right and below for detail in wood; bounce camera right just out of frame to fill in shadows; bounce camera right in the back to fill in shadows on background.

I absolutely love the results!

With the unpredictable nature of cross-processing and having no experience with it, I varied the lighting and ratios wildly with each exposure.  The first 11 exposures on the roll came out unusable - either too light,  too contrasty, or too dark. However on the final exposure, I went in the opposite direction and blasted the scene with a lot of fill light and underexposed it by a stop.  This ended up being the perfect formula.

Each brand of film has it's own characteristics and cross-processing them enhances and reveals the variety of tones and color casts of each. Some films favor the redder side of the spectrum, others the blue. You may try a shot with one brand, but get completely different results with another. Kodak E100G film tends to lean towards the green end when cross-processed. However, the results above show more of a blue-green cast. Another example of the unpredictable nature of shooting film. Albeit, a welcomed one!