Saturday, May 17, 2014

Cross Processing Film

Ax & Ladder - Boron, California
Fuji Velvia 50 C-41 Cross Processed.
Cross processing film is an old technique, one that was likely discovered by accident. Cross processing is developing film in the wrong chemicals. Most commonly it is color reversal film (a.k.a slide or transparency film) processed as color negative film (the C-41 process). But any film can be purposefully developed in the wrong chemicals.

The technique is simple enough. If you have the right tools and chemicals you can even do it yourself at home. Most often it is done by photography labs.
Westbound California Highway 58 - Tehachapi, California
Fuji Velvia 50 C-41 Cross Processed.
When film is developed in the wrong chemicals, the look of the photographs are changed. The exact changes depend on the film and the chemicals used. There can be quite a variance in what a cross processed photograph looks like.

The vast majority of film that is cross processed is color reversal film developed in C-41 chemicals (which is meant for color negative film). The colors will shift (often, but not always, toward yellow), and contrast and film grain will increase. It changes the look of the photographs into something more dramatic and abstract.
Old Tractor - Tehachapi, California
Kodak Gold 400 E-6 Cross Processed.
While much less common than cross processing color reversal film, color negative film (a.k.a print film) can be developed in E-6 chemicals (which is meant for color reversal film). The colors will shift (often, but not always, toward blue), film grain will increase dramatically, and contrast and saturation will decrease. It changes the look of the photographs into something more soft and abstract.

There are a host of different ways to cross process film. Any number of film types can be developed using many different chemical combinations. However, the two mentioned above (color reversal film C-41 cross processed and color negative film E-6 cross processed) are by far the most common.
Barstow - Barstow, California
Fuji Velvia 50 C-41 Cross Processed.
There are some special considerations when cross processing film. Color reversal film should be exposed normally or slightly underexposed. Color negative film should be overexposed by about two stops. Adjusting the times and temperatures during development will affect the look of the images, so if you develop the film yourself or use a professional lab don't be afraid to experiment with this. Films that have expired will act differently in development, so be sure to use them if you have them (the results can be interesting).

The once popular color reversal film Kodachrome can only be processed one way (interestingly, not as color film but as black-and-white and only by a few labs that know the exact formula), so don't use Kodachrome if you should run across it.
Arizona - Barstow, California
Fuji Velvia 50 C-41 Cross Processed.
Any photography lab can cross process film, although many one-hour labs may be unwilling to do so. It is best to find a professional lab to develop your film. They get requests to cross process all the time and so they're used to it.

All of the photographs here were captured using a FED 5c Rangefinder. I used North Coast Photography Services to develop and scan the images.
Red Caboose - Boron, California
Fuji Velvia 50 C-41 Cross Processed.
Fire Hose - Boron, California
Fuji Velvia 50 C-41 Cross Processed.
Dump Truck - Boron, California
Fuji Velvia 50 C-41 Cross Processed.
Boy, Big Wheel - Boron, California
Fuji Velvia 50 C-41 Cross Processed.
Flare & Flag - Barstow, California
Fuji Velvia 50 C-41 Cross Processed.
Santa - Barstow, California
Fuji Velvia 50 C-41 Cross Processed.
Boy Waiting - Barstow, California
Fuji Velvia 50 C-41 Cross Processed.
Harvey House - Barstow, California
Fuji Velvia 50 C-41 Cross Processed.
76 Gasoline - Kramer's Junction, California

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