I’ve started getting into film photography more seriously over the past 18 months; and testing different films has been a huge part of discovering the right technology and technique.
My goal has been to evaluate different looks and determine if film opens additional creative opportunities.
This is how I found Kodak Ektar. Much has been written about this film but for me, I find Kodak Ektar at its most unique under unusual lighting conditions and when exposed in a somewhat unconventional fashion.
My first roll was a disaster. I ended up shooting with my camera’s meter set to EI 400, so the roll was underexposed by two stops. Still, this outing was not a total loss; and in the sea of underexposed frames, I found a very unique palette of rich tones between red and blue. Blue hour, as it turns out, seems to be the best time to get the most unique results out of this film.
Morning twilight is the best time to get deep, rich, and moody tones out of Ektar.
This film seems to render the transition from deep blue darkness to bright yellow sunlight with a grace that seems impossible to coax out of any digital detector. Exposing for this dramatic palette requires a little bit of experimentation, however.
During twilight – with the Sun hiding behind the horizon – I got the most pleasing results when exposing for highlights. At sunrise, however, I would shift to expose for shadows. This works for about first half an hour of sunlight. As Sun races up, Ektar’s colours tend to start looking more average.
Outside of blue hour, Ektar creates an interesting look under overcast skies. Reds, yellows and greens are intense, while the blue spectrum seems grey and subdued. This lends photographs a patina of sorts, a feel of a more distant world.
Blue-green fresh waters take a hue of understated emerald tones and long exposures produce almost an alien cast over the images. The exposure in these conditions seems straightforward – basic mid-tone exposure will ensure an even look, allowing the colour and cast to play the foreground role in a low contrast scene.
Kodak Ektar is a fascinating film. With a little experimentation in sub-standard lighting conditions, it offers a range of creative options. Rich colours and powerful pastel tones allow for both moody and exhilarating interpretation of landscape scenes.
When I develop a roll of Ektar, I am instantly inspired to head out the next morning and shoot another one.
This film seems to have a limitless creative potential, but it may be wasted on a sunny day.
~ Toni Skokovic
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