Just out of the blue, my dear friend Edward, a stage magician, called me up to ask if I could cover his performance. Without hesitation, I said yes. The venue was an afternoon wedding feast and knowing it would be indoor with lots of yellow LED light, I decided to use Cinestill 800T. But, it turns out my supplier only does pre-orders because the film doesn’t stay fresh long. However, he recommended me to try Kodak VISION 500T (5219), a motion picture film, as well as the base film for Cinestill 800T.
I took two rolls without thinking much and I tried to study the nature of the film as much as possible before I use them for the shoot. I couldn’t find much information about it being used as photography film rather, I found out that filmmakers usually push it two stops during production, thus I decided to do the same.
To be fair, the correct exposure of the film when being push two stops is EI 2000, however I made a small mistake to rated it at EI 1500. It was my first time pushing film…
The most important aspect of covering a magic performance is capturing the reactions of the magician’s audience. It is not an easy task when you only have 36 frames with no preview and you have to follow the magician table-to-table looking for his potential audience in a tight corner. At the shoot, you find yourself that you need to forget what you learned and get on shooting with instinct instead. Sure, some of the shots might be out of focus and underexposed but at least it was better than nothing. The moment of reaction is just a fraction of second and they are no room to thinking too much.
The films were sent to Darkroom8, my local film lab for developing and scanning. I asked the film to be developed with a two stop push, which according to the lab would take a full week of waiting. I was in agony because I had no idea how the result would look and was afraid I wouldn’t have any shots that my magician friend asked for.
Overall, the images are pleasant looking and organic and being a movie buff I always like how visual and image are presented in the movie and with Kodak VISION3, I have a taste to produce an image with that movie-looks I adore.
Although almost 40% of the shots were unusable, the process taught me more about film photography. The experience also taught me how to respect and appreciate photographers of yesterday more.
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This series is being 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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