Redscale Tree

I’d heard about this technique called “Redscale” for a while now. You can get redscale film, but it’s kind of pricey and I didn’t know just how much I’d like playing with this technique. Turns out what makes it special is the film is … backwards.

If you look at a roll of new film, the leader has a specific front and back appearance. The “front” is glossy and kind of brownish (assuming colour film) and the back is very matte and generally paler.

Without getting into too much complexity, basically the film consists of four layers on top of the plastic. The top one is blue, and then there’s a yellow (silver) filter, and then green, and then red. These dyes are made to be specifically sensitive to certain colours. However because of the nature of them (and the fact that in the world of colour, blue is the biggest, widest wavelength of them all) they are also somewhat sensitive to blue. (Hence the filter directly under the blue, it blocks that behaviour so that colours look fairly normal, when processed normally).

If you flip the film over and expose from the back side instead, weird things happen. You expose the red layer first.

Doing this causes a huge shift in colours. Your exposure time matters a lot here, too. The same image at different exposures will yield anything from a red/yellow only image all the way to a pretty “normal”, full colour image (with a very long exposure). It’s a very interesting study in light waves! :)

So what I did was I unrolled a roll of film (in a dark room of course), cut it off and then taped it back in… upside down. And then shot on it.

The image here has a bunch of streaks on it because my camera had a fit and I ended up scraping the film. So some of the red layers were scratched off completely, allowing the normal blue tones to appear.

Pretty fascinating, isn’t it?! I think so! :)

At least, I think so enough that I re-rolled six more rolls of film last night and intend to play with it a bit more.

nature redscale tree
canon t-50
Kodak Gold 400 (35mm)