5 Frames… With 15-year expired Kodak KODALITH Ortho Film 6556 (EI 12 / 35mm format / Nikon N90S) – by Guilherme Maranhao

I knew this film existed, but it was not until 2016 when a friend showed up in my studio with this box as a gift that I saw it. Yes, it a box, not a can, if you haven’t seen it. A black box, similar to the ones Kodak sells 16mm film, self-sealing box, probably perfect for a pinhole camera, but I didn’t make one, unfortunately. I was not a stranger to lith film, I had used in larger formats already and also had been able to cut and re-spool 120 format lith film from very large rolls (I’ll save that story for some other time). My experience with lith film involved using Soemarko’s LC-1 developer, an easy path to tame its high contrast and get interesting orthochromatic results. Yes, lith film is mainly sensitive to blue and green light and can be handled in red light darkrooms for some time, it yields white skies and dark skin if not filtered.

This particular box was expired for around 15 years, I went straight ISO 12 (had it been fresh ISO 25 would be the way to go) and shot this roll while visiting the top floor of a building in a mainly business area of São Paulo where top floors are kind of useless. You can easily see how pollution has adhered to all exposed surfaces: the contrast of Kodalith really shows that.


It’s hard not to think about one’s lungs filtering this place’s air. Photographing with ISO 25 on a bright cloudy day is not that hard, especially with my Nikon N90S and Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 AF lens. I used f/4 and 1/125 for most shots.

When it came to developing the film, my LC-1 stock was empty and I had fresh Parodinal, an earlier note reminded me I had used Parodinal 1+100 for 20 minutes at 20 degrees celsius, with a single set of inversions at the 10-minute mark, a semi-stand development. As soon as the film came out of the fixer I was pretty satisfied. To my naked eye, the densities looked fine. Once I was on my desk after the Pakon scanner went thru the entire roll, as the images appeared on screen I could tell I had some pretty strong edge effects. Having used this combination of film and Parodinal only on larger films that needed less enlarging, I never really noticed how strong the effect was.

If you look at the images, please find some black pipes over some white walls and notice how the walls are brighter near the pipes. There is also bromide drag bellows most darker windows on these white walls.

It looks just like I used the unsharp mask tool to create local contrast, so it was a eureka moment as I came up with a way to produce this effect so visibly and so easily with film. It reminded me of William Klein’s prints using a soft-focus filter, where blacks get very deep and spread a bit around.

~ Guilherme

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Guilherme Maranhão
Guilherme Maranhãohttp://guilhermemaranhao.art.br
Guilherme Maranhão, artist. Published Travessia book, author of Refotografia blog. Colaborates with FotoPlusTV. Currently living in Braga, Portugal.

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