Stunning X-Pro Slide or Warm Colour Negative?

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After journeying down the Lomographic path for the past year, my heart was torn between the mediums of photos. As a lover of warm and nostalgic colors, my heart yearns for natural color negative photos. But as a experimenter and member of this community, cross processed slide film is always a big winner. Which is your favorite? I highlight the pros and cons of both methods after the jump!

Credits: dearjme

As a disclaimer, I would like to point out that I am no expert at Lomography, but rather a passionate lover of what this amazing community stands for — the joy of analogue, the desire to stretch one’s comfort zone, and the production of beautiful photos spanning the globe. And I believe that a crucial part of why this community is so successful is because of our interactions, albeit through technology and not face to face, that are indeed sincere and stimulating.

An internal dialogue within my soul has been itching to burst forth into the realms of the interwebs for you all, my beloved friends and online family, to read. The discourse that churns our fingers to press “click, click, click” is also intermingled with much deeper contrivances of consumerism, which reveal a vast range of results. Just take a look at the Photos section of our website and glance at the different tags that appear.

However, one tag or category does bring some sorrow to my heart, the Most Popular section of Lomography. Here, we see a “dog eat dog” sort of environment, reminiscent of the “popular” hierarchy in high school. This section is studded with famous usernames that I will not take the time to divulge, since that isn’t the heart of my article, bringing focus to what I’ve noticed seems to bring forth a common theme within the photos in this elite class….cross processing.

Credits: dearjme

Now, please, my dear reader, do not take my words with bitterness or wrongful distain. I absolutely love the photos that show up on this category; they are simply stunning, breathtaking, and otherworldly peeks into the brilliant viewfinders (or stances from the hip) of beautiful imaginations. I myself, spend most of my analogue endeavors with cross processed film, and my personal favorite film to shoot is Kodak Ektachrome E100VS.

However, I’ve also noticed that through deductive reasoning…

1. Most of the photos in the “Most Popular” subsection under “Photos” are of cross processed (x-pro) results.
2. Who doesn’t want their photos to end up in the popular section?

THUS

3. We must shoot photos in “color slide films”: http://shop.lomography.com/films/color-slide-film and cross process them in color negative chemicals to get the results that will give us attention and “likes” to possibly end up on the “Most Popular” section.

Credits: dearjme

Once again, I pray that my thoughts will not be taken to the extreme and bashed, because like I’ve mentioned countless times, I adore cross processing, not just for the attention and wow-factor it produces, but just because it’s plain beautiful. And I hoard no discontent for those photos in the popular section, because in all sincerity and honesty, my main audience that I shoot for is my love, Alex. His opinions alone drive me to better myself as a photographer. This community is simply a great and fantastic support in subsequent means.

Now onto my main point…

I also love simple, natural color negative photos.

Credits: dearjme

No funky experimenting, no x-pro, no digital casts or extra contrast. The warm C-41 photos that come out of my Canon AE-1 Program or Lomo LC-A+ do not require much tweaking other than a simple crop or two, and the glow of my subjects and their faces simply ooze into the lens, projecting a gorgeous, organic, and pure specimen as my negatives are developed.

Credits: dearjme

With color negative, I am pushed to pay more attention to everything. There is no lenient movement allowed that can be covered by extreme saturation and color shifting like x-pro brings to the table. My camera and I must be all the more attentive to the lighting, the shadows, the mood, and the way my subject’s spirit soars in the minute details of a wrinkle in their chin or a crease in their forehead.

Perhaps its the way that color negative stays true to the human eye’s vision that makes objects so difficult to “fantasize” or “dress up.” It’s real, straight up, but yet can be the most stunning medium to produce crafty art. In my opinion, the warm, fresh and orange glow of the sunset is much more satisfying and refreshing in simple color negative than in x-pro.

Credits: dearjme

In an interesting twist, I’d like to bring up another facet to this discussion. And that is… Instagram, the iPhone/iPad app that allows users to digitally manipulate their photos and instantly share them on the app with other users. Now, you may be thinking, why speak of such digital blasphemy?! Well, the digital filters that Instagram offers (also including other apps, but this one is extremely popular) are inspired by classic Lomography x-pro examples. The names of the popular filters include “cross processed” and “lo-fi” and “lomography.” And in that online world, the popular photos that tend to bring in the most likes (hey, doesn’t that sound familiar?) are the photos that are digitally manipulated to look like x-pro analogue photos! I think these users (which include my beloved Alex, sadly) should just take the time to switch to the real deal. Who’s with me?

Going back to my point, is x-pro the only way to shoot famously? Why does simple color negative tend to get a “boring” rep?

So, which mode do you prefer? To x-pro or to not? They are both #1 in my heart, weighing heavily and strong in my favorites. Both produce unforgettable shots, both deserve their share of fair attention and recognition.

I close this article in hopes that you, my awesome friends, will post up interesting, quirky, thought-provoking thoughts in these comments, free from hate or distain, and rich in the motivation of making this world a more exquisite place. And as always, LOMO ON!

written by dearjme on 2012-01-26 #gear #review #question-debate-color-negative-or-color-slide-x-pro-e-6-c-41-better

24 Comments

  1. jeffr
    jeffr ·

    great article! it's refreshing to hear your thoughts. i've actually yet to use my first roll of slide film and i only joined lomography's community about 4 or 5 months ago. i gotta say, even though i'm very satisfied with many of my color negative photos, it is incredibly noticeable how much more x-pro'd photos get recognized on this site and at first it was a little "intimidating" to me - as silly as that may sound. at first i thought my photos may not be good enough, but i've gotten over that idea even though i still feel that x-pro'd photos are more recognized here.

  2. jeffr
    jeffr ·

    also, i hope no one takes my comment to offense because i just like you @dearjme really like the x-pro'd photos i see here too.

  3. wuxiong
    wuxiong ·

    Like your article and it 's a good topic to make people think about things. For me, I think both normal negatives and slids films are great. They are just two different image tastes, like colors to the black/whites. People tend to see more normal negatives developed with C-41, When the slids x-proccesed, they seem more eye-catching and kindof pop out. So, my idea is I love all negative, slide, or b/w film images as long as the photo is good in its own way, It really is the photo that counts....<:)

  4. dearjme
    dearjme ·

    @jeffr Thank you for your thoughts!! I was really hesitant to post this.....since xpro is such a huge part of this community, but I feel that we are all mature enough to realize some hierarchy status quos. Your photos are great (looking through them at this moment) and keep up your independent spirit!

  5. dearjme
    dearjme ·

    @wuxiong Thank you! It's definitely great to really think about the reasons why things are the way they are, instead of simply accepting them for how they are established. Why is it that we as humans yearn for the "different" or the "eye catching"? Why do we need to see extreme color shifts and strong intensities in hues in order to really see a Lomograph? And once again, this is all in good heart of understanding Lomography as a mindset. But YES to each photo in its own way :)

  6. stratski
    stratski ·

    I agree with you here. I first came into lomography about ten years ago. I think I actually witnessed the rise of cross processing on this site. It had always been around, of course, but I remember that at some point it became more and more popular. Pictures of the day, contest winners, to me they all seemed to be xpr-pics. I was a poor student then, and coudn't afford to do much cross processing (which tends to be more expensive here, both in buying film and in processing). It bummed me out a bit then, that xpro shots got all the glory. After a while I gradually stopped visiting and my lomohome became more of a sleeper home. About a year ago my analogue love got rekindled, and by that time I had come into the possesion of a processing machine, giving me the opportunity to cross process my own pictures cheaply.

    Now I can look more objectively at xpro, and I have come to this conclusion: A mediocre photo can be 'saved' by cross processing, despite the lack of greatness, it can still be pretty, or amusing. I'm not sayin that every xpro pic is mediocre, just that it's easier to take an acceptible photo when cross processing. Of coarse, there are plenty of cross processed pictures out there that are truly beautiful, nothing mediocre about them. A mediocre 'normal' picture is just that, mediocre. It takes more skill and talent to take a beautiful, intersting picture in color negative, than in cross processing (or redscale, or B&W for that matter). So in this popularity contest that is lomography.com (which I love and in which I gladly take part), the eyecatching color negative pictures are more rare than the eyecatching xpro pictures.

    Well that's my theory, anyway. Feel free to disagree. :)

    (PS Sorry for the long story...)

  7. laurasulilly
    laurasulilly ·

    Well, first of all I'd like to say that I guess you're right in that it's a lot of x-pro's on handpicked. Interestingly, however, 2 out of 4 pictures of mine that was selected were just normal colour negatives. But still, you have a very valid point.
    And I want to add: (@stratski): I really don't think that B&W takes less skill than colour, because in B&W you take the colours away and replace them with black, white, shades of grey. What is left to the picture isn't eye-catching colours but composition (maybe contrast, too, but too much contrast is sometimes also a way of "pushing" an otherwise poor picture), and after the composition comes the art and science of deciding on the right developer, time, printing paper, contrast filters in the enlarger, etc. A really good B&W picture thus takes an immense amount of skill and work, as you can see on this site, for example- it's no coincidence that fine art photography is mostly in B&W rather than colour and most certainly rather than X-Pro: www.artlimited.net/
    I know, this isn't that much related to the topc and I'm referring to a really small side remark only, but B&W is my passion, so I felt the need to say something about it. I hope you don't mind :)

  8. stratski
    stratski ·

    @laurasulilly: You are absolutely right. I stand corrected.

  9. neanderthalis
    neanderthalis ·

    I can appreciate xpro. but, I suppose I am more of a "realist". I am in love with B&W and Slide processed normally in E6 for my own work when I can afford it.

  10. dearjme
    dearjme ·

    @stratski Thank you for your thoughts! You've got some great points. And it's simply wonderful to hear from such a seasoned veteran of Lomography! I bet it's really interesting to have seen how the community has grown, in its users, and its methods of choosing "star quality" photos. I agree that it's usually "easier" to make a mediocre shot (of like a flower) seem more stunning in xpro than in color neg, redscale, or b&w. And I say b&w simply because in intro to photo, we always start with b&w -- more laymen associate b&w with "artistic" venues and tastes, and this is all, of course, subjective. And no worries! I loved your long response!!

  11. dearjme
    dearjme ·

    @laurasulilly Thank you! Your thoughts are greatly appreciated. I also have been more recognized for some color neg photos than my xpro, as well -- but my article's point is to simply notice and bring to light some issues. And I see your point about b&w, when disregarding "colors" and really focusing upon those other key points of composition, and also post processing. Your b&w photos are truly stunning! Thank you for your contribution to our amazing community.

  12. dearjme
    dearjme ·

    @neanderthalis Hello fellow local! I do see a sense of "staying true to realistic colors" in your photos, which I truly appreciate and honor, especially in light of my topic here. Keep up the passion!

  13. dearjme
    dearjme ·

    @stratski Also, I am so jealous that you have your photo processing machine!!

  14. laurasulilly
    laurasulilly ·

    Thank you for your kind words and you great article! And you are of course perfectly right in pointing those issues out, and I'm with you on that (even though it was different in my special case), but generally speaking, I agree with the points made in your article 100 % :)

  15. neanderthalis
    neanderthalis ·

    @dearjme Can you tell me where you get your developing done for xpro?

  16. dearjme
    dearjme ·

    @laurasulilly, Love your feedback :)

    @neanderthalis, depends on the film. If it's Lomography Xpro or Xtungsten, then any lab accepts it (the canisters are labeled "develop C-41") If I'm using any other slide, I'll usually take it to Rainbow Photo, on Keeamoku st. right across the street from Walmart, they willingly xpro. Or Costco Hawaii Kai accepts it for xpro. Sometimes I'll pull out the entire film from the canister, wrap it in foil, and take it to any 1hr lab and just say my film got pulled out -- and they'll usually take it, sympathetically. Lots of trial and error at the different labs.

  17. natalieerachel
    natalieerachel ·

    Hahaha Jamie you are a crafty one, I must say. I dunno why HK Costco doesn't let you Xpro :/ They usually don't say anything about it to me.

  18. neanderthalis
    neanderthalis ·

    @dearjme Thanks, I use Rainbows as my primary developer, but I am always looking for a back up. I heard there is a place down by HPU that develops inexpensively, but have yet to try. I have gotten heat from Costco Iwilei for xpro and another guy I know is "banned" from a few places around here for taking xpro film to them. Funny stuff.

  19. dearjme
    dearjme ·

    @natalieerachel, Oh no, HK took my film no prob :) I texted you about costco dillingham/iwilei not accepting my film. But the drive to hk is so far for every roll haha!

    @neanderthalis no problem! rainbow is SO expensive though :/ And yea, costco iwilei says NO straight up haha.

  20. carsten-schmitt
    carsten-schmitt ·

    I know what you mean. I would even go a bit further. I have shot (and crossed) some slide films recently. It's good fun and I am quite pleased with the results. But, you know its a bit like the Vertigo effect in filming. The first time someone (Hitchcock) did it it was new, and cool. It's the same in digitial image processing. Using all those cool filters that Photoshop and likes offer is cool - for a while... Do it a few more times and all of a sudden the effect becomes shale and quite frankly boring. When I looked at my last batch of crossed images (liking some of them) I decided that next time I'll put a slide film in my camera I will have it developed as E6! If getting into the most popular means only shooting x-pro then damn the "most popular" section. You should use the medium and technique that best suits your topic and what you want to express.
    Personally, I'll give x-pro a rest for a while!

  21. balduin_blumenthal
    balduin_blumenthal ·

    thank you Dearjme for this Review. It's good to think about my mind about shooting. I think it should give more articles like this and everbody should think occassionally about the mind of photography. Everybody should thinking, than reading tipster and copying. I hope more people discover the fun by thinking and no copying.

  22. dearjme
    dearjme ·

    @carsten-schmitt Sorry I didn't see your comment on this article, but thank you for your thoughts! Your point about Hitchcock's vertigo effect is definitely something we can relate to this xpro craze. And amen to your thoughts about using the technique that suits your expression best. We should definitely keep up that spirit, no matter what Lomography tells us.

  23. dearjme
    dearjme ·

    @balduin_blumenthal Thank you for your comment! Originality is so very important, yet we all draw inspirations and ideas from somewhere, someone else, somehow. I only wish we could equally glorify all techniques, and not just cross process. Lomo on!

  24. paanyay
    paanyay ·

    I'm developing film with Lomography's own lomo lab and I was given the choice between x-pro development and colour negative and I really didn't know what I was choosing between! I'm pretty much a lomo-newbie and your article helped a lot - thankyou! all the best :-)

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