Prior to and kinda concurrant to getting my hands on the Fuji X-T1 The Brothers Wright gave me a few rolls of Cinestill Film during dinner with Ryan Muirhead this past December-ish. It could have been January, though. I don’t remember
I have to digress a bit. I know I’ve been caught in a “Cartier-Bresson Vortex.” When I shoot for clients I’m shooting color. Digital color. Shooting black and white images is how I started when I was 10. I’ve loved seeing black and white for a long time. It always felt to me that it was a perfect foil to making color photos for clients.
It really wasn’t until I shot the M9 that I learned to really enjoy seeing some color street shots. Prior to that 99.9% of my street work was shot on black and white film. I didn’t see what was in my viewfinder in color; I saw it in monochrome. Seeing the .dng files come out of the M9 I saw the files that I originally shot in my mind as black and white. There were other frames that even though I may have seen them as monochromes they appeared to work in color. It got me thinking about color street shots and actually making more and more of them.
That thinking definitely carried forward when I retired my Leica digitals to eBay and got the Fuji X-Pro1. I hadn’t really considered shooting tungsten film – either C-41 or E-6 – because it’s so specific. When I’ve done unit photography I’ve always shot a couple Ektachrome 640T rolls. This happens less and less because, to be honest, there was almost no reason to take an extra body and to have that body limited to film on a commercial shoot … hmm … not so much.
Personally, though, when I just felt like manually focusing my MP and feeling that slight left to right torque when I made a frame I felt limited using Tri-X. I’d see some frames I really wished I could shoot in color. Then I finally met the Brothers Wright guys in person and they gave me a few rolls. I’m sure I’ll lament when I get a frame in color that I really love but can’t print. No, I’m never going to do C-41 printing. Doing black and white printing is enough.
Even though I wasn’t limited in the context of only having a black and white photo I was still shooting tungsten. I was told the results of shooting it straight during the day was cool but a little different. I wasn’t sure I wanted that look. Finding an 85B filter is difficult unless, of course, you go straight to B&H. B+W was the only brand offering immediate shipping. I gotta think the number of people using them was really small these days.
I tried to think of when I mostly used tungsten and originally thought it’d be at night. With this film, though, you become well-aware of the myriad color temperatures that exist in different places in the frame.
She seemed as though she was somewhere else. I think we had to repeat our order at least twice and ask for things we wanted at least twice. We were still nice to her, though. The lights if I remember correctly were the cheap CFL curly variety. Clearly, those lights on this film look like UFO’s. I really like the tension in the frame but I’m not wholly in love with the way the UFO’s are depicted.
I don’t think the rendition of the CFL’s bug me too too much.
Even when there wasn’t too much light and you exposed exactly for what you’re exposing for it holds up. Oh, and by the way, all of these photographs were shot with a Leica MP and Leica Summilux-M 35/1.4 ASPH (not the FLE as I don’t use a Leica to shoot at less than a meter and I’m not shooting Leica digital).
During the day using the 85B filter it seemed as though it looked different – sometimes a lot different – during different lighting scenarios. Overcast gave off a really cold look.
At night it was really a crapshoot.
As long as you have some light you can make a frame.
Those were not CFL’s; they were the popular Edison vintage bulbs. I don’t think they were more than 60 watts and I’m not sure they were turned up all the way.
The guy falling asleep at his valet stand was lit by some UFO-looking LED light. In the background there were so many different types of light sources.
I really enjoy the color palates of this film. I’m not sure if I like what I get at night or during the day more or less.
Incredibly mixed light would make its own color palate such as this lunch crowd downtown.
Skin tones – even during the day with an 85B – were so much more “interesting” than Portra.
The tones are really lovely. Again, any day-shot is filtered with an 85B.
Been watching this project progress albeit slowly. Knowing I didn’t have black and white film loaded allowed me to see interesting color patterns that wouldn’t necessarily work in monochrome.
Lights in backgrounds look so trippy at night. I’m not exactly sure why they look like that because I’m not sure I recall really studying movies made with this film stock. I was about an eighth wide open for that last one.
There’s definitely no digital file that I know of that looks like this stuff.
This was shot on the same day as the next one but the sun came out in this one.
This film – I think, at least – really looks cinematic. Guess it stands to reason given what it is.
I also go to many of the same places a lot. This time the pervy valet pervert wasn’t at his post.
Sometimes shooting in flat light is – for me, at least – almost always a moment. I don’t really go for a shot with just form or composition. With Cinestill film I found I made frames that may just include an interesting palate. Sometimes it was that cold grayness that I liked.
I’m not really sure what’s going on here. I do know that some of the more inebriated downtown inhabitants were LOVING the dj a drug store hired to entertain during their grand opening.
I was told that backlight subjects weren’t all that good to shoot because of possible halation because the Rem-jet was removed. This film is designed for subjects that are well light from the front. It’s movie film. Makes sense.
When I was testing the Fujifilm X-T1 I also brought the MP loaded with the last few frames of Cinestill Film. Okay, I also shot a Contax 645 a Phase P45+ digital back, too. I have yet to do selects or color grade those frames.
These particular frames were light with Mole Richardson Baby 1K’s. This particular shot was the tungsten 1K bounced on some foamcore. There was still a bit of daylight pouring in from some of the windows.
Even though it was a semi-mixed lighting scenario, Cody was lit primarily with tungsten and tungsten lights in a book lighting scenario primarily used in motion pictures. Her skin tones were as I expected and more than pleasing.
The bathroom was primarily light with red-color bulbs and some tungsten pouring in from the window. I also used some 4x4 bottom floppies to block out some of the daylight spilling in.
I’d turned off the 1K tungstens to allow them some time to cool down. I saw Cody relaxing on the couch after our grueling shoot. I saw I had one frame left from the five rolls I’d shot. Reached in my pocket, grabbed the 85B and had my assistant bounce in some of the daylight with a medium-soft bead board. Again, this film handled a lot of lighting influences with ease and produced absolutely lovely skin tones.
Having shot so much native color digital street photography ever since I beta-tested the M9 for Leica I’ve gotten to really love shooting color photos for myself. Although I’ll still shoot Tri-X or Fujifilm Acros 100 or APX 25 (because I still love making prints in the darkroom), I think that Cinestill Film is definitely going to find a way into my heart. The tones and color palate are so lovely and complimentary to a lot the things I want to see again. The UFO-quality of odd lights with odd color temperatures will be something I’ll have to get used to but I’m looking forward to making many more frames with this stock.