5 Frames… Of Kodak Portra 400 (EI 400 / 120 format / Hasselblad 500CM) – by Trevor Hong

Red has always been my favourite colour. Additionally, in my culture, the year I was born essentially gave me the fire feng shui; hence, the colour red (should) provide protection and luck.

So this project RED has always been a dream of mine. I mean, this idea wasn’t original, of course, I was inspired by a lot of Chinese photographers. I took me a year to practice using a lot of different cameras, from the Pentax 67, Nikon F3HP, Nikon FA, Mamiya 645 1000s, etc. and many film stocks to finally settle for the Hasselblad 500C/M and Kodak Portra 400.


I believe this was the perfect combination to make project RED happen: Red background, red clothing, reddish makeup, yellow lighting. To be honest, the studio lighting was a bit weak and I forgot to bring my tripod. I wanted to shoot the film at ISO 200 (1-stop over) but because of the f/2.8 and f/4 lens, I couldn’t.

Everything was shot at 1/30s and 1/60s. But I was amazed by how well the Kodak Portra 400 rendered colours on the skin tones, the red and yellow, I believe Portra 400’s colour is more to the warmer temperature than Fujifilm Pro 400H so this film is probably perfect for this shoot.

The fine grain of Portra on 120 film is just crazy as well. People have mistaken the photos to be digital because of the crazy amount of details and non-existent grain. After the shoot, I was pretty much running out of breath due to all the ‘sniper breathing’ to prevent camera shake at 1/30s and 1/60s. I didn’t wanna do mirror lock up because I didn’t have my tripod on me, but then again, if I have my tripod with me I wouldn’t need mirror lock-up anyways.

As for the Hassy, well, there’s nothing to complain about. To be honest, this is probably Sweden’s greatest invention. The camera is modular, fully mechanical, and don’t get me started on the curtain sound – Hasselblad’s V series signature sound, and quite frankly in my opinion, nothing can beat it.

~ Trevor

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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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Trevor Hong
Trevor Hong
I’m a former Vietnamese Haematologist/Geneticist who is extremely enthusiastic about film photography. Now I mainly teach IELTS to fun this hobby of mine.

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