Since I started shooting film 2 years ago, I have wanted to shoot Motion Picture Stock and have it processed in its native ECN-2 chemistry. I’d shot a tonne of CineStill in the past and was feeling jaded that my pictures had a similar look and feel to everyone else’s (and that halation!). Then, after months of searching for a lab that could process ECN-2 I came across Quiet We’re Dreaming lab in Philly who sell and process cine stock in ECN-2. Happy days!
I immediately bought 5 rolls of both the high-speed tungsten stock (VISION3 500T 5219) and the saturated daylight sister, (VISION3 250D 5207) – which has since become my favourite stock ever – and shot the 500T at EI 1600. As a (mostly) night photographer, descriptions like “cinematic” and “Blade Runner vibes” (ugh) get used often when shooting with strong artificial light – particularly neon, so I was really curious to see how the shots would compare and whether they would indeed look like a motion picture still.
Shooting at EI 1600 and asking QWD Lab to push process it 2 stops meant I could walk around nearby suburbs shooting hand-held with my Nikon FA and 50mm f/1.4 lens with no motion blur or issues.
The first thing I noticed when the scans came into my inbox was how low the contrast of Kodak VISION3 500T film naturally is and how cool and blue/purple the main tones are. It’s meant to be graded to your personal taste, but honestly, I was thrilled with the look as is. I made some minor adjustments in Lightroom – mostly bumping contrast, shadows and the highlights but left the scans mostly as they came.
I have since done some major colour grading on a few photos, but I keep coming back to the original scans.
The difference between processing these stocks in C-41 (effectively cross-processing) and developing in ECN-2 is immense! Next time I will definitely overexpose a stop and see what the 500T can do with overexposure.
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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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