It seems that as film photography has roared back from the almost-dead, we are seeing some quite oddball emulsions popping up that we would never have seen pre-digital era. However, while black and white film choices have expanded, color film choices from the big companies have shrunk, as Fujifilm has reduced the number of its color emulsions, and Kodak's color emulsions are much fewer than a dozen years ago. Offsetting that of course, is Lomography and its stable of oddball films. In addition, access to ECN-2 chemistry has brought some really wonderful color cine films from Kodak to the fore. So, while the pre-digital era C-41 and E-6 films stressed color fidelity, we now see a number of unusual films such as Lomochrome Purple and Lomo Metropolis that do the opposite. In that vein, here is a color C-41 film from the Film Photography Project that is sure to be of interest.
|FPP Blue Ultra film|
FPP Blue Ultra is a low-ISO (ISO 3) color film with a pronounced blue shift and muted colors that is unlike anything I have shot. It's much like a duotone with the blue -purple and popping reds. Since it is so slow, it's a challenge to shoot without a tripod, but believe me, you can. On a sunny day you can shoot wide open at 1/30 sec, giving you an opportunity to exercise your creativity. The film comes in 24 exposure rolls, and it's obvious just by looking at the unexposed film that blue is dominant. The film appears to be on a polyester base. The sprocket holes do not look like cine sprockets, but normal 35mm film. There is no antihalation layer or remjet.
Mike Raso sent me some rolls of Blue Ultra to test, and I shot my first roll with my Nikon F100 and my 50mm f/1.4 AF-D Nikkor lens. The FPP suggests trying an orange filter, which I did also use, but more on that later. I set the ISO to 6 (as low as it goes on the F100) and set the exposure compensation dial to +1 to give me an ISO of 3. I went for a stroll in downtown Weaverville to test the film on a partly cloudy December afternoon. Shooting at apertures of f/1.4 - f/2.8 allowed me to shoot without a tripod, and of course, I tried to choose objects and scenes that were well-lit by the sun. I also went for shooting colorful compositions to see what I'd get. I typically shot a scene with and without the orange filter to see the difference.
After I was done with the roll, I developed it in the FPP (Unicolor) C-41 developing kit. I really did not know what to expect, and after seeing the negatives, I have to say that I really like this film. It is extremely fine-grained, and after scanning the negatives with my Epson V700 scanner, I'm even more impressed. You want a different look? This film has it. On top of that, shooting wide-open changes a lot about a scene.
|contact sheet - non-filtered shots are yellow-ish|
The film renders a scene bluish to purple, and reds are really nice. Yellows are not seen. It sort of has a faded look to it, and using a photo editor to restore faded film won't work here, because part of the colors are actually lacking. When I used an orange filter, the colors are somewhat more punchy, but you also lose almost 2 stops of light when you need it most. In addition, white areas look almost sepia, but more like a dark yellow, but not so much when in bright sun. Another time I'll try a K-12 (yellow) filter to see what happens. Saving the color images as grayscale to give you lovely black and white images isn't too bad a thing, either. However, I really liked the results without any filtration the best.
Here is a selection of images from the first roll. This film is certainly worth a try! I do advise use of a tripod if you are shooting at smaller apertures.
|no filtering - the yellow mustard container seems light blue|
|orange filter. Another stop of exposure would have helped.|
|orange filter with strong sun. Definitely better with the sun at your back|