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Redscale

Posted 2011.08.09 12.14 in Hobbies, Photography by Stephanie

Another “experimental” technique for playing around with film and photography, Redscale is where you load the film backwards in the camera. That is, instead of the emulsion facing the lens, you load it so the emulsion is towards the backplate and the back of the film is towards the lens.

Redscale, like cross-processing, is another one of those well-known techniques that I’m only just trying out now.

This technique mostly only makes sense with colour negatives. The idea is that film for colour prints includes a red mask in its base layer. If you look at processed colour negatives you will see they do have an overall red, orange, or brownish tone to them. When using the film as intended, this has no effect on your pictures as the light coming in through the lens strikes the emulsion before getting to that red mask.

When the film is loaded backwards however, the light has to pass through the mask before getting to the emulsion, giving the pictures a red or orange tone. There can be additional strange colour effects as some films employ additional colour filtering in between the layers of emulsion, and when using the film ‘backwards’ everything is in the wrong order.

The four images above all came from the same roll of film. I found that the amount of red varies with the exposure, as the longest exposure had the most non-red in it. These were all shot with my beat-up Holga, using medium-format ISO 100 colour negative “redscale” film, processed and scanned at home.

I’m going to try some more of this redscale stuff. I had been thinking to try it with a faster film, but I’ve read that faster films have darker anti-halation coatings which nullify the speed advantages. I might try it anyways just to be sure.