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Photograph Red on Green by Richard Keeling on 500px

Red on Green by Richard Keeling on 500px

I am slowly tiptoeing into the world of color film photography. Slowly because it has taken a while to gather the courage necessary to start home developing color, a necessary prerequisite to keeping costs down. Commercial developing is both rarer and a lot more expensive than it used to be, an unavoidable consequence of the relegation of film photography to a fringe operation.

No matter. Paradoxically, provided you use fresh reagents and keep a tight control on temperature, in some ways color developing is easier than black and white.

The results can show some variation in color balance depending partly on developing conditions and partly on the type of film used. The above photograph is another shot using the very cheap (comparatively) Agfa Vista 200 film and one that upon developing showed a slight magenta tint that I corrected for with Photoshop. The look is quite different from that obtained with a digital camera. It has a much more organic feel and a warmth that undoubtedly results from the particular color balance characteristic of this film, even with slight color corrections. Not as sharp though and discernably film grainy. Completely free though of both the color and luminence noise characteristic of digital images.

It’s a look that I like and one that will keep me persisting with color film photography.

Sometimes I wonder why and how my own personal photographic aesthetic has changed so much over the past year.  I used to be a sharpness-fixed pixel peeper, chasing the highest resolving digital sensors and lenses. No longer. I’m currently shooting with an old and relatively cheap consumer zoom lens, the Canon EF 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 II USM, that is marginally inferior to my standard go-to lens of old, the 24-105mm f/4L in terms both of sharpness and distortion. No image stabilization either. It’s a lens I stopped using way back in 2006 when I bought the L lens. Yet here it is today in almost constant use on my outmoded and obsolete Canon camera film bodies. Giving me images such as the one above. Images that I currently prize.

It hard to adequately articulate the relief that this turn backwards has brought me. I have stepped off the photographic consumer treadmill. I’ll never step back on. My pictures, good, bad or ugly, have a different feel that is tangible and that rescues even the most cock-eyed effort from the indifference that plagued the hundreds of digital images that I used to collect daily. In doing so, my art has reclaimed a personality, my personality. I don’t need anything else from it.

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