Tuesday, September 10, 2019

One Roll Review- Dubblefilm's Moonstruck

It's hard to keep up with what's going on in the altered film market, with so many new releases from at least four sources.  Altered films are standard color C-41 films produced by Kodak and Fuji that are then subjected to either a chemical process or modified with laser or other light to become something altogether different from the standard emulsion.  Companies such as Dubblefilm, Yodica, Revolog, and Kono!, have brought these to market to bring some fun, serendipity, and zaniness to film shooters.  Perhaps you are looking for something different to change up your shooting, and one of the altered films may be just the thing.  First of all, none of these companies actually manufacture film. They are treating ho-hum everyday color films such as Kodak Gold 200 with whatever process they are using to give you something different.  Color shifts, weird patterns, or bands of color may be the result. Maybe that unpredictability isn't your thing, but I can bet that it will appeal to people that are looking for something fun and different.

I have only tried Revolog's Tesla film prior to using the Dubblefilm. It was for a film-swap event with the Ann Arbor Crappy Camera Club, and I was really surprised and pleased with the results.  Redscale is a popular way to shoot color differently, but the film has not been altered, just re-spooled so that the light passes through the film base before reaching the emulsion. 

Dubblefilm is owned by Adam Scott, and the film is shipped from Europe.  Expect to pay far more than you would for a standard roll of C-41 color film.  Like I said, it's not for everyone.  Any of the altered films range from $10-$15/roll US. Considering that the film has been pre-treated, etc., I think that the price is reasonable.  I purchased my roll of "Moonstruck" at Camera Mall in Ann Arbor, and shot it in late May 2019.  Dubblefilms are available at the FPP store as well as Freestyle Photo.

I loaded the film into my Canon AE-1 Program, and shot it on the streets of Yspilanti and Ann Arbor MI.  I sent it out to The Darkroom for developing, and I scanned the negatives in just this morning. Overall, I really didn't know what to expect, since I hadn't looked at any other results online until today.

Dubblefilm's lineup has changed, and Moonstruck is no longer available.  Like any of these altered films, how you expose it, your choice of subject, and the light source may give different results compared to what others have achieved.  It uses standard C-41 processing, and you may want to scan it yourself to avoid machine scans that try to "normalize" the results.

Here is a sample of the images that I got from my scans.  I did do minor brightness/contrast adjustments, but no color adjustments.

Overall, I think the results are interesting, with red hues really popping.  The images do give me a different look than conventional color film, and since the production of the altered films involve repeatable processes, I can see where someone may want to order a batch of any particular film and be assured of getting similar results as they shoot it. Also, since these films are produced in small batches, you may not be able to get more of a certain type of effect if it is sold out.  So, my suggestion is to buy a few rolls if you like a certain effect. Almost all of the altered films have examples on Flickr. 

Are altered films just a fad or are they here to stay?  So long as there is a market for them, I suppose the sellers will keep making them.  But, as with any of these operations, they are just a few people (or only one) doing all the work to get something magical in your camera.  Expect that any particular film may not be available in a year from now.   I find that they are fun, and certainly can add something different to your photography.

Saturday, September 07, 2019


I have always  been fascinated with trees -- their form, the shadows that result from them, and the fantastic moods that they can create, along with whatever weather is impacting them. Of course, as we now head towards autumn later this month -- the autumnal equinox, many trees are starting to exhibit that change towards the fall colors that we so love to see.   I grew up in the Adirondacks of New York, and even as a child, I loved the big sugar maples along our driveway blazing forth with brilliant oranges and reds.  In the northeast, fall was a glorious time of year with crisp mornings and slightly warm afternoons, until heavy frosts took their toll and the leaves dropped like snowflakes.  When my wife and I moved to Michigan in 1981, fall color was a bit of a disappointment in the lower part of the state, as the predominant oak-hickory forest was more subtle in its colors.  One really needs to travel north in Michigan to see the wonderful climax of color that's found in aspen-birch-maple forests.  Now, we are living in the mountains of Western North Carolina, and this will be our first fall and winter in the South.  I know that we will get some good color here in late October, and I look forward to shooting it and traveling around the nearby Appalachians.

"A woodland in full color is awesome as a forest fire, in magnitude at least, but a single tree is like a dancing tongue of flame to warm the heart." -- Hal Borland

However, trees are more than just color. Think of the myriad of forms and the different times of the year that a deciduous tree can look so different, and the arrangement of branches makes a species identifiable in the field.  When I was a forestry student, we had to identify at least 75 species of trees and shrubs by their leaves, fruit, buds, bark, etc., and of course also know their Latin names.  That course was a lot of fun, and also quite challenging.  I have never regretted any of those hands-on field classes in botany and zoology. All have been a part of my world since, and while I may not always know what a plant or an insect is, I know how to find out.   My point is, that you have two eyes, yet many people don't know how to look.  As a photographer, you should be seeing more than just the forest -- you also need to pick out the trees.  Seeing and understanding what you are seeing makes for a better image.  Deciphering the scene before you press the shutter button can result in a more  meaningful image.  I'm not saying I do that all the time, but when I do, I know that I am more in control of the final result on film or the sensor.

Sometimes, the shapes of the trees just resonate with me, and it's just using my intuition and imagination that propels me through the creative process.  I immerse myself in the little world of that place and time, and sometimes, I come away with some great images.  But it's not all about the image -- being in the woods -- in the moment -- with nature, is a refreshing connection with the earth.  I always felt some connection, and it's taken me years to appreciate just how essential that connection is to well-being and to creativity.

"To really feel a forest canopy one must use different senses, and often the most useful one is the sense of imagination." -- Joan Maloof 

Lately, I have been more captivated with trees and their shapes, and here in North Carolina, the trees in the mountains can exhibit some fantastic shapes.  I hope to get a portfolio together in the next year or two and see where that obsession goes.

"I often lay on that bench looking up into the tree, past the trunk and up into the branches. It was particularly fine at night with the stars above the tree." -- Georgia O'Keeffe

Here is a small selection of my images that showcase trees.  I hope that you enjoy them.