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.
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This series is 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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