Color Shifts with Film


Fiesta lichen | Yellowstone National Park | August 2009

This past August, my girlfriend and I visited Yellowstone National Park. We had a blast touring the park for a week and a half. During that time, I was on the constant lookout for areas with strong color and texture. While on a hike in the park, I found a rock that had some amazingly colorful lichen. I knew that it would make for an interesting subject.

The photo above was shot with Velvia 50 using my 4×5 camera with a nikkor 210mm lens. The bellows were fully extended for maximum closeup ability.  I found it quite interesting that the color in the above image is nearly 100% incorrect.

In reality, the lichen was a brilliant neon green. The film was not able to replicate this particular color, so it ended up as a mustard yellow. The rust colored lichen in this image was in reality a shade of neon orange.

Although I had photographed this scene with the intent that the color would be faithfully rendered, I am much more satisfied with the incorrect color.  This is one of the reasons why I enjoy shooting film. When I get the film back from the lab, I enjoy placing the transparencies on a light table, and seeing how the color was rendered.

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