I’ve joked in the past that I’m in a committed menage-a-trois with Kodak Portra 400 and ILFORD HP5 PLUS. Truth be told if this were a polyamorous relationship then HP5 would be feeling pretty put out at the moment. I’ve been shooting Portra pretty solidly now for a few years, on 4×5, 120 and 35mm. It’s predictable I know, but it’s pretty, detailed and forgiving and the more I shoot it, the more I like it.

Given this lazy and accommodating approach to film photography, you may be wondering how I came to be shooting LomoChrome Purple XR? Someone nice at Lomography gave it to me when I was on a London Camera Project photowalk last year. Having considered putting it through a few different cameras for a few different projects or events, I eventually managed to get it shot while I was in Barcelona, using a Leica M4-P and a 7artisans 50mm f/1.1 lens.

Given my limited knowledge of the film and having read different reports about the consistency of results I decided to make no allowances for it, I just metered occasionally using a light meter phone app and hoped things would work out.

The results are striking, unsurprisingly very purple, and while I like them I don’t know if I’d shoot it again.

Reviewing the images I kept asking, would I prefer them if they were shot on Portra. In most cases is yes. I like the separation that film gives from the hyperreality of digital, but LomoChrome Purple creates too much of an abstraction for me.

So why am I writing a ‘5 Frames’ about a film I didn’t think I would like, wouldn’t have shot, didn’t like and probably won’t shoot again? Because before Portra lived in my cameras something else did, and until I tried Portra I didn’t know I would love it so much.

Complacency can mean missing out, I have the new Ektachrome, some medium format Cinestill, and a pile of expired stuff in my stash. I need to get shooting and to keep trying new things. Sooner or later I’ll find something I love as much as Portra.

~ James

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James Greenoff

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  1. It’s interesting to me just how purple these images came out. I’ve shot about 5 rolls or so of lomochrome and my results, while clearly very purple, are far more subdued generally.

    In proper lighting my skin tones generally maintain decently, and there is clear separation between colors. In darker environments it can hue closer to full purple, but again, not nearly as strong as these images.

    I’m curious if there was anything strange in the scanning or post processing that led to the almost monochromatic image.

    1. Yep. Since posting I’ve scanned them myself and they look completely different. I posted the images as scanned from the lab and put the fact that they look so different to other people’s results down to consistency issues with the film.

      I’m going to addend the post with the new scams shortly.

    1. Hi Kathleen,

      I read your post with interest while I was writing mine. Since posting, and in response to some other feedback I’ve scanned the images myself.

      The original images were scanned by my lab, and my scans look very different.

      I’m going to add an addendum to this post, (the above intact), which will include my scans as a reference.

      You aren’t wrong, my images are an erroneous representation of Lomochrome Purple, I didn’t question the images I got back from the lab, even though they didn’t look the way I expected them to.

      Hmmmmmm indeed.