Like pinning over a lost love in my teens, I have waves of missing Kodachrome something fierce lately, I keep seeing light that it was practically made for, but at least a little bit of the sting is sweetened by Kodak’s fabulous Ektar 100 Color Negative film. It takes time to get to know any new film at first, but if it is good, like a nicely made guitar, you start to hit the right notes after awhile and man, it really feels good. I’m not gonna lie, Kodachrome’s now ever larger than life visual attributes will never be replaced, but Ektar is a truly fantastic pairing to Kodak’s Portra 400, another well loved modern color negative film. I use both mostly in medium format, and do load the 35mm version in my XPan on occasions. But now I am about to start using Ektar in 4×5, a format where the term “Hyper-Real” was truly born and comes to life in a way that mesmerizes the viewer as more details seem to emerge the longer you look at the image. My mom was about 7 the last time you could shoot Kodachrome in this format. Besides 35mm, 120mm and 4×5, Ektar comes in made to order 8×10 in batches that are almost always in stock at B&H Photo, all sizes performing solidly at or above the highest quality and consistency of any film made to date.
Now, since the conclusion of Kodachrome, I have really scaled back my shooting of color in favor of printing real darkroom prints in black and white. For this I use other Kodak stock such as Tmax-100 and Tmax-400 films in both 120 and now 4×5 along with good ol’ Tri-X in my Leica and Xpan. All of those black and white negatives are developed in my Jobo CPP2 processor using Kodak and Ilford chemistry printed by hand on superb Ilford Multigrade Warmtone fiber silver gelatin paper.
But I have recently been lulled into shooting color neg for it’s great scan-ability for my color fine art and editorial use, I was a fool to think I can completely let go of color film, it was just a matter of time. So I have started a fun project this year called “Mirror Us” that was born of the idea of how could I impart a sense of in camera “Hipstamatic” photographs using the engaging randomness of multiple exposures and splashes of filtered color…but with film. So I use both Ektar 100 and Portra 400 in medium format and now Ektar in 4×5 to make in camera produced color work disjointed with layers of lord-knows-whats shot though what-the-heck-is-its…..or just use a mirror. Either way, it is big fat color film gone outta control and it is a lot of fun!
The the new ride for my 4×5 format Ektar is a gorgeous and refined Chamonix 45N-2 large format field camera, a high tech affair made out of teak, aluminum and carbon fiber, it is feather light at 3.4 pounds. I have not taken much time at all to build of a stable of now very sensibly priced Schneider and Rodenstock lenses of top quality too, really making this fun, it is truly a completely different experience in photography. But for now, I do have the medium format Ektar and Portra scanned in, so here are a few takes from the project…..who needs “Hipstamatic” in a phone all the time when you could grab a roll of film and take a fun camera for a spin?
The Chamonix 45N-2 in Teak on a Acratech GP ballhead…If Tim Allen were a photographer, he would pass out in joy using this one, spot the focusing stage born of technology used in high tech micro-robotics..pre-cis-ion….
A few samples from “Mirror Us”, shot in a Hasselblad 501 C/M with either a 60mm 3.5 or 100mm 3.5, 120 Ektar 100 and 220 Portra 400…
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