When I saw some great redscale photos on Lomography, I also wanted to shoot these great images. But I found out that 35mm redscale film is hard to find, so I decided to make my own redscale film from a roll of Fuji Pro 400H.
I had learned that a redscaled film looes about two stops of sensitivity, so picking a 400 iso roll would result in a redscale film to shoot at or around 100 iso. So I used a roll of Fuji Pro 400H 35mm color negative, of which I had bought 10 slightly expired rolls for a good price recently. I would not use any film with iso speed lower that 200 iso, as you would need long shutter speeds or a lens with a large aperture (typically a SLR prime lens) for a good exposure. And for use in a camera without an iso setting and light meter, like the La Sardina and Diana Mini, you best chance is by using at least iso 800 film to make your own redscale film.
As I did not have an empty roll available, I decided to pull the whole roll of film from the canister, of course after double checking for light leaks in the darkroom! Then I cut it about 1 cm from the canister, flipped the canister and glued the film back on the remaining part with some tape on both sides. Next I wound the film back into the canister, carefully leaving a piece out.
After leaving the darkroom I cut a new leader strip on the other side of the film and ready it was! However, I will not advise to make your own redscale film this way. At first, I was messing around with about 1,5 meter of film in the total darkness, which probably resulted in some dust and fingerprints sticking to the film. When I rolled the film back into the canister, these dust particles got stuck in the foam of the canister and made some scratches on the film.
Secondly, it was not so easy to tape the film on the remaining part of film with the canister, as you have to align it horizontally to be able to spool it back properly, still in the darkness. So I suggest using an old canister, which you might have lying around, or you can ask for one at a photo lab. Or you can offer one cheap roll of (expired) film initially, as you can use the remaining canister for your next roll of homemade redscale, and so on. Check this tipster on how to make it.
I shot this film on a pretty sunny day in May, when we made a walk from Geldermalsen to Beesd in the Netherlands. This walk along the river Linge gave us some nice views at the blossoms of the fruit trees in that area. I tried to shoot various objects from landscape views to buildings, and while shooting most pictures at iso 100, I alternated the iso setting from 200 to 50 on my Minolta X-500 SLR also to get an idea of the impact of this. By changing the iso setting one stop down, the exposure of the film will double.
When I got the film and the prints back from the lab, I was pretty satisfied with the results of my first redscale film. I noticed that the prints varied quite a bit in the clarity and sharpness of the images. Some were outright underexposed and showed large dark areas with just a little red in the air. On a few I could hardly recognize anything, so I did not bother to scan these. These were probably the iso 200 shots, however I had not kept a log of the settings of each shot, so I am not fully certain about the exposure of every photo.
What I think were the iso 100 shots were mostly light red with some orange, and some photo’s also showed green and blue accents as a small suprise!
The photos I liked best were the ones with the bright orange and yellow skies, and all details clearly visible. These were mostly the iso 50 shots as I remember. Based on the clarity and the details in the images, these seemed to be the best exposed. They gave me the wow-effect which I was looking for, but some of the other images also had a pleasant, maybe somewhat nostalgic view.
As a surprise I also found some light leaks in blue on quite a number of images. Normally these show as red flares on your images because the red layer is at the back side, but now the blue layer is in the back, and this side is more sensitive than the normal back side of the film. The sunny weather and the iso 400 film with the sensitive side to the back now revealed the aging light sealing for the first time, as I did not experience any light leaks on earlier rolls in that camera.
One last interesting thing to share is that you when you ask for printed images, these are all mirrored. So the “Kapper” sign above was printed backwards on the print. The reason for this is that all films are printed with the matte side of the negatives faced down towards the photo paper, regardless of the direction you exposed them. I have mirrored the scanning results of the prints again to show the images as I really saw them.
For a next redscale film I will use an old canister to make the winding process easier. Please remember to hide the barcode and DX-indicators and the name and type of the film with a sticker if this is not a C-41 color negative canister, otherwise the lab might process your redscale film in black&white or slide chemicals. Write clearly C-41 processing on the sticker to prevent any confusion.
To summarize, I think this Fuji Pro 400H is a great film for redscaling, and when you expose it at iso 100 or preferably an even lower iso, you will get some stunning results. I will probably do a little more scientific research by shooting the same images with different iso settings, to allow for a better comparison, and in the end, more predictable results. But for now, I am pretty satisfied with my first homemade redscale film!
My full album can be found here: First roll homemade redscale