August 20, 2011

Cross Processing

For a while now, my favorite photos have been monochrome: whether black and white, sepia, or coffee-stained, they have a je ne sais quoi about them that I can't seem to get enough of. But then I discovered cross processing, a developing technique that gives color photos a whole new appeal.

Piacenza, Italy

In the above image, I've overlapped five cross-processed photos to form a panoramic collage.

Here's how it works. Negative film is designed to be processed in C-41 chemicals, while slide film (which yields a positive instead of a negative, i.e. "normal" colors), should be processed in E-6 chemicals. The terms themselves aren't that important; what matters is which type of film is processed in what. Processing one in the type designed for the other can result in unrealistic and sometimes fantastic color shifts. In the photos of Piacenza above, for example, note the blue-green sky and the greenish tint to the buildings.

Piazza del Popolo, Rome

For this set of images, I used positive slide film that was then processed in chemicals designed for negative film. Although I was a bit disappointed with the results at first (I didn't like the harsh greenish cast that this particular film and processing combination gave me), adjusting their opacity made a world of difference. Once I rendered the photos translucent, the colors softened... and as I overlapped them one over the next, I liked them more and more. In the end, I loved the resulting tones.

The Pantheon, Rome

Cross processing seems to be proof that rules are meant to be broken. See what fun can be had when you do things all wrong?

One more: Cremona's fairy-tale-perfect cathedral.

So far, I like these results. But I have plans to try other films, as well as cross processing the other way... stay tuned!

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