My Favorite Color Negtive Film

A few frames with my 27mm Lumenbox lens and Film Washi X


sonny rosenberg

3/2/20232 min read

I don't shoot a lot of color film. Not because I have any distaste for color. I love color especially an intense vibrant hue juxtaposed with it's desaturated near complement. Sorry, I digress into Art teacher talk. Anyhow, color is just fine with me but it adds a whole nuther magnitude of difficulty to photography for me.

Usually when I'm out shooting black and white, my eyes are attuned to form and light, especially the ways that light plays on a given form. I don't much care what the subject is, or the layers of meaning that might embedded in and alluded to by that subject. Maybe that's why my photos are often of the most mundane of subjects? Forced ignorance is bliss.

When I'm shooting color though, I'm looking for all the above factors but with the addition of color and how it contrasts with its surroundings. The adding on of this extra layer of perceptual exertion is almost too much for me. With black and white I see shots everywhere, more in a given block than I could possibly take in a lifetime. With color, I see maybe one shot in a mile of walking or riding. It's just a lot more difficult for me, occasionally though, shooting color is rewarding enough to make it worth the effort. Especially if I'm shooting a color film that I'm really fond of. Here's where I bow my head and comtemplate in silence the apparent demise of Fuji Velvia 50. Maybe it exists somewhere out there but I haven't been able to get it for quite some time. I have been able to score several rolls of expired Provia though, which I like almost as much as Velvia, I guess I can unbow my head in that case?

Indeed with the advent of several "new" color films becoming available, I can find, and occasionally afford a roll or two of color film that I love. I'm talking about respooled recently available versions of Kodak Aerocolor IV, films like Washi X, Santa Color and Film Electra 100. Aerocolor (unlike Aerochrome) has remained in production throughout the years, but until recently was only available in enormous quantity. Recenty a few small companies have been able to purchase and respool it for 35mm use. Yay! I love it whatever it's called, I love it's selective saturation and the way it make things really pop. I don't often think of myself as being overly nostalgic, but to my eye Aerocolor seems to pull things back in time, a time when color films were a little more raw and unsophisticated than today. I also love that it's sharp as tack and seems to have a great exposure lattitude.

Here I have to make an excuse for the photos below. When presented with a subdued palette, Washi-X returns a subdued palette, so not much pop or intensity in the shots below despite my going on about it.

Sometimes I really enjoy shooting color with my Leica screw mount adapted 27mm Lumenbox fisheye lens. The combination of color with the way this lens bends, gathers and generally distorts light can often give unexpectedly interesting aspects (at least to me) to my otherwise mundane subjects. Pretty tricky huh? Shoot an extremely sharp high acuity film with an inherently blurry and distorted lens. I never said I was smart.

I only shot a few photos with the Lumenbox lens before other exigencies intruded on my photographing. These were developed by The Darkroom in San Clemente, oh and the camera was my trusty old Leica Ic. More normal color shots should follow soon.