photoblogography - Just some stuff about photography


Going all negative

in Film , Thursday, November 06, 2014

In film circles, Kodak Portra 400 is a very popular choice. Actually there’s not all that many alternatives left these days, but even if there were, I suspect Portra 400 would still have a considerable following. Based on the name, I always assumed that the film was designed for portraiture, and as I’m not really into that, I never really tried it. I think I used a few rolls of Portra 800 many years ago to shoot a flamenco show, and that’s about it. But it also has developed a following in landscape circles, where it seems to be the anti-Velvia option.

As a negative film, Portra lends itself very much to broad daylight photography, unlike most slide film, given soft, luminous, pastel tones. I’ve read advice to overexpose it, so I did so, using it in my Xpan with +1 stop exposure compensation. The fun thing about this film is that it seems almost impossible to burn the highlights. On the other hand, the shadow density is a bit weak.

One drawback of negative film is that it can be very trick to scan. However in this case, using the Silverfasrt Portra “NegaFix” profile worked pretty well straight out of the box. As you can in a previous post, the overall colour compared to an E100G slide film shot is pretty close.

Here are a few examples, shot in and around Dorgali and Oristana in wonderful Sardinia:


This was possibly the first time I’ve really set out to mimic a style. It seemed to work out quite well. However, as enjoyable as it was, it’s not really me. I’d just better remember to reset the exposure compensation on the XPan before I go back to slide film!



The Kodak Challenge

fun with film

in Film , Thursday, October 16, 2014

Continuing the report on my trials with Kodak Provia 400 in Sardinia, I’ve now got the heavyweight stuff processed, i.e the rolls that went through the XPan. Interestingly, without really planning it, I have two shots taken a few minutes apart of the same scene, one on the last frame of a roll of E100G that was in the camera, and one on Portra 400. Both were taken handheld, so the framing is a little different. And the light changed slightly, it was a little sunnier for the top image.

Both were scanned on the Opticfilm 120, using Silverfast. For the Portra, I used the 400NC Negafix profile. Both images are straight scans, no further processing. Can you tell which is which? (Try just looking at the colour, there are a few other giveaways for the more astute viewer…)




The Portra Report

sentimental journey

in Film , Friday, September 26, 2014

As I mentioned a few posts back, partly inspired by the photography of Johnny Patience and a few others I discovered through his blog, I decided that on my recent trip to Sardinia I would take just 5 rolls of Portra 400, and my resurrected Minox ML. Oh, and my Hasselblad XPan.

The Monox was a lot of fun to use. With no real expectations, there was no pressure, and I just pointed it at things and clicked. I’ve just received the processed films and low-res scans back from the lab ( and below are a few samples. I’m very pleased with the colour and tonality, but the scans are a little dark and of very poor quality. There is a linear defect running all the way across most of them which is not on the negatives.  And one film came back with a handwritten note saying “the emulsion was damaged”. Possibly time to change labs, and I certainly would think twice about sending mission-critical stuff to them.

I don’t know if I’ll carry on with film, or at least with negative film, but I have to say aesthetically I can see the attraction.


There are some shots I’d never have attempted on digital. Then again, others that I couldn’t take with Portra 400.  All a matter of choices.



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