I enjoy waking up early and just walk, which are two great things that combine well with photography. I bring my camera with me on my commute, get out of public transportation earlier and walk to work for half an hour. It’s very fortunate being able to walk along the Tagus River in Lisbon and get to see the sunrise every day. I love how beautiful and peaceful it is before the storm. Before everyone else gets out to go to work and the tourists arrive.
There was this week that I brought with me my Nikon F100 with a Nikkor 28mm f/3.5 AI lens and experimented shooting a roll of Kodak ColorPlus 200 at EI 800 and pushed two stops. I knew that consumer-grade films such as ColorPlus aren’t suitable for pushing due to its resulting grain and high contrast. However, sunrises are already low contrast scenes so I believed that the film would balance it. And it was an interesting personal experiment that I wanted to do as well. Oh, and the results surprised me!
I exposed for the shadows because I knew that the pushed ColorPlus would be challenged. Even shooting at EI 800, it required that I shot with slow shutter speeds which weren’t a big issue because I was using a wide-angle lens.
I remember asking the guy at the film lab’s balcony to push it two stops. He looked at me with a surprised look of someone that just received a crazy request and he told me that it would be horribly grainy. I told him that it was fine and that was it.
I scanned the developed film with my DSLR and at first sight, all of the photos looked awful to me. They had a huge contrast, heavy saturation and lots of grain. I had to flatten out the contrast quite a bit and lift up the shadows a lot to achieve a look that pleased me. The grain wasn’t a problem to me, I have learned to accept and like it.
I really loved how the images turned out. And I got surprised once more by how much value I could get from such a cheap little film stock.
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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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