Each time I have shot a roll of Kodak Ektar 100 it has seemed difficult to achieve the types of beautiful images I have witnessed other analog photographers getting from this film. The color cast seems a bit too far into the blue or something isn’t quite right with the reds.
I chalked it up to inexperience and took a break from it to shoot other film stocks. In mid-November 2019 I had the opportunity to give it another go and wound up finding a situation where Ektar really shines, at least to my eye: night photography! The colors seem to settle very well into the urban color palette after dark, giving the whole scene the saturation and pop that it needs.
This outing was not necessarily the ideal time to be in the elements with a film camera. The temperature hovered around 25F/-4C during the hour-long walk. An icy mist fell as precursor to an approaching snowstorm. I had hoped that wetness or a frozen glaze on the pavement would provide a little reflection of light and color.
My gear of choice was a Mamiya 645 AFD camera with a 55mm f/2.8 lens, roughly equivalent to a 35mm field of view on a 35mm camera. Neither lens nor camera seemed to have any trouble dealing with the moisture. Although the tripod did not fare as well, picking up a nice coating of ice along the way which had to be broken off before stuffing it back into the car.
The standard cable release began to stick in the cold and was abandoned in favor of using the camera’s in-built timer. Exposures were metered using a Sekonic handheld meter and reciprocity factored in via the use of an iPhone app. The negatives were developed at home using the Cinestill C-41 kit.
The colorful mixed lighting and deep shadows of back alleys and streetscapes have renewed my faith in Ektar and I hope to shoot more of it soon!
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Thanks for sharing, Jason. Ektar is one of my favourite 135 colour films, and I have been looking for a reliable colour film to shoot in my MF Rollei for nighttime photography. You have convinced me to stick with a good thing.
Thank you for sharing these, Jason. I have been looking for the “perfect” film for night photography, in 35 or 120, and I hadn’t thought of Ektra because I hadn’t seen any results, Love yours! I’ll have to try Ektar next
This was an interesting write-up. I’m one of those increasingly rare folks, at least these days, who prefers Ektar over Portra. That being said, I’ve not considered using it for night work until reading this. Looks like that’s about to change. Thanks for the article.