I don’t shoot as much E6 film as I want to. Part of it is that I love the ease and practicality of B/W, and the other is I’m too cheap to send my rolls to a lab. I don’t shoot enough to warrant buying an Arista E-6 kit, so my stockpile of Provia and Ektachrome 400X sits in my freezer judging me every time something needs defrosting.

The idea of this film sitting there unused eventually became ridiculous, so I decided to use the resources I had at hand: an expired batch of C41 chemistry and a desire to experiment. As long as it’s an experiment, let’s up the ante and push it two stops? If I’m going to get funky colors, why not amplify the funkification?

Time for my first attempt at cross-processing!

Having never developed E-6 before, the dark purple color of the water after the pre-wash was particularly exciting, as was the bright purple color of the negatives. The green and yellow hues that I was expecting were there, but not as unpleasant as I anticipated. Skin tones seemed fine and, depending on the light source, the color temperatures were boosted, green for fluorescent, blue for daylight, etc. The interesting effect that I was not expecting were the red, gradient-like, seemingly unmotivated color shifts.

Overall I’m extremely happy with how these turned out, experiment or no. Im definitely setting aside some rolls for future cross-processing. Now I’m itching to shoot some slides to be processed normally, especially since new Ektachrome is “just around the corner”. Time to go back, hone my skills, and send some rolls off to the lab so I can officially take “Freezer Film Mountain” off of the list of attractions at my house.

All photos taken with a Mamiya C220 and 80mm f/2.8. As a bonus, here’s an exposure comparison, just to illustrate that cross processed E-6 is still very sensitive to overexposure.

Correct exposure, metered for highlights on the left, overexposed one stop to the right!

~ Thomas

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This series is being produced in conjunction with Hamish Gill's excellent 35mmc.com. Head on over to read the other half of these stories there.

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