Last year, I wrote about my 2022 summer trip to Seoul as captured on 35 mm film. A year and a half later, during the 2023 holiday season, I found myself in the same city, but now experiencing a cool winter. I rang in the new leap year, 2024, with my family and captured two full winter days in Seoul on LomoChrome Purple 120 film.
This film stock is often used for landscape and outdoor photography because of its purple-hued color-shifting effect. This effect causes green elements in the frame to turn purple. However, I was interested to see how this effect would work in an urban setting against neutral-colored buildings and snow on the pavement.
I used two different versions of LomoChrome Purple film to take photographs of the narrow streets, alleys, and corners of the Hannam-dong district and the Bukchon Hanok Village. One of the rolls was an expired 2019 LomoChrome Purple formula, while the other was a fresh 2021 LomoChrome Purple Pétillant. I decided to use the expired roll first to mark the end of the previous year, and then I loaded the fresh roll to celebrate the first day of the new year. A bit corny and overtly symbolic, but it was memorable, and for me, that counts for something!
First Roll: Expired 2019 LomoChrome Purple
These photos were taken on December 30th, which also happened to be the final snowfall of the year. I felt like a supporting character in a Hong Sang-Soo film, walking around and examining the complexities and intricacies of life, or even as a witness in the life-altering ending of Park Chan-Wook's 2003 film 'Oldboy' which takes place in the middle of a snowstorm as I captured my day, from morning till afternoon spent in the Hannam-dong neighborhood.
I wasn't sure how the photographs would turn out due to the overcast sky and falling snow. Surprisingly, the expired 2019 LomoChrome Purple film roll produced a well-balanced, muted look that subverts the usual gloominess associated with winter. I think this is partly because I still maintained the ISO 400 on the film roll, which was relatively "freshly expired," to bring a more practical look to a color-shifting film — a paradox in its own way.
Visiting Seoul at this time of the year was interesting when juxtaposed with my summer trip. A complete 180 with the fallen leaves, making it an even stronger case to go beyond what you're usually used to and experiment with the special formulas present in the LomoChrome film stocks for the season.
The photo on the left was shot using the 2019 expired formula, while the right is of the fresh 2021 formula taken on the morning of New Year's Day, strolling around Bukchon Hanok Village. The colors of the expired photo appeared much faded and lacked the vibrancy and pulsing velvety violent hues of the fresh roll on the right. The unique color-shifting look brought about by the 2021 LomoChrome Purple Pétillant formula visibly hinges on more contrasts and shadows.
The LomoChrome Purple formula line as a whole brings a fresh perspective to a city that you might have thought you knew well. Spotlighting the potency of the color purple, my main takeaway from using this film stock is that I need to photograph even more with it given its surprising flexibility when used in different lighting conditions and environments.
The purple tint can be playful but can also be set to more pragmatic-looking hues when used with the ‘right’ ISO for the image you’re looking to compose. Remember, the LomoChrome Purple line has a range of ISO 100-400.
The purple formula also serves as a reminder to have fun with your film photography practice; visually pushing you to open up to new techniques and welcoming you into the multitude of ways you can photograph a place, capture a moment, or remember an experience.
Second Roll: 2021 LomoChrome Purple Pétillant
The four photographs below were taken on a quiet New Year’s Day in the historic Bukchon Hanok Village, a neighborhood street lined up with traditional Korean houses called ‘Hanoks’, which overlooks a part of Seoul. Ringing in a new year in a space that traces over 600 years of history and cultural heritage was quite special.
The leak in the last image on the bottom right row was a great way to conclude the dream-like sequence created by the LomoChrome Purple. The light leak that pierced throughout the entirety of the photo was due to my accidental mistake of opening the back of my camera and exposing the 120 film strip paper for a brief moment. As a result, the photo gained some interesting dynamics and and I'm now literally seeing things in a different light.
With film you develop a gentle kind of willingness to accept accidental mistakes. Embracing hiccups can lead to a sense of clarity later on, and managing certain risks and technicalities can make room for immaculate images and stories to be shared.
What is it about the 120 format that is so appealing to me? Perhaps it's the postcard-like scale and the believability of the images. I also appreciate the fact that it only offers 10-16 shots (depending on the camera). I value the fact that it forces me to be mindful and intentional with what I photograph; purposefully crafting images I believe in, those that truly move me and that I would love to see printed one day.
The LomoChrome Purple 120 was the second film stock from the LomoChrome line that I’ve tried so far. I’m looking forward to experimenting more with this stock and the Turquoise (which I have yet to try) — overall, excited to incorporate more color-shifting films that can add a whole new dimension to my photography practice.
Thank you to Yeonnamfilm for the film scan and development.
Looking to load up your 120 film cameras with the LomoChrome line? Check out the Lomography online store to see the full 120 campaign in action along with its limited run price reductions for the medium format film stocks.