Updated: Nov 14
AKA: Turn the World Turquoise, Live Like A Smurf!
Lomography cops a lot of divisive feelings among the film photography community - on the one hand they are doing a lot to promote and help the film photography community flourish; on the other hand, there are some dissenting voices who say they rip off their customers (especially when a "new" Lomo LC-A+ camera costs over 6x what the original - and better model - can be had for on eBay. And while I'm an outspoken critic of film rebranding (and feel that taking Fomapan 100 and rebranding it as "Earl Grey" and charging more for it is a complete load of BS), Lomography do have some incredibly fun and funky films produced for them - in the main, if the hearsay is to be believed, by Inoviscoat.
The Lomochrome series (confusingly, not slide films, but colour print films) are more or less funky. I never got on with Metropolis particularly - a desaturated, apocalyptic looking affair, the only roll of which I shot in a Diana F+ and the roll came out fat (a combination of the ridiculously thick backing paper and the wimpy film advance on the Diana F+), with light leaks on the last couple of frames, which I'm sure would delight most "lomographers", but was annoying to me. Purple - that is supposed to emulate somewhat the effects of a false colour infrared film - always gave me really mundane, undercooked results. But when Lomochrome Turquoise returned to production, oh my... I think I fell in love when I pulled out the first reels from the tank and scanned them, when I saw them.
Blue skies shift to deep orange. Deep reds become midnight blue and yellows shift orange ever so slightly. Green grass remains green, but moreso, like the Emerald City. People turn into Smurfs! The hilarity! The joy!
More film reviews:
First roll - Zeiss Box Tengor 54/2
A random Selection Since I Didn't Know How The Film Would React - EI400
Trying to predict what would happen on the first couple of rolls was difficult. At this point I was refusing to read other reviews and advice so that I could find my own feet. In true Lomography style, I started with a roll through my lowly box camera (ahem, the Zeiss Box Tengor is not lowly...). Because the film is a variable exposure index film (remember that article where I discuss how there's no real correct exposure of film? - this is a true case in point), I could shoot at 400 and make the most of the light/shutter speed/aperture restrictions I had (f/8-16 and 1/100 or T mode... such a wide range of options!).
Apologies for the dust on these but I haven't had time to go through and correct the poor effort my scanner did at digital ICE.
All of these were shot at EI400. The last shot was shot at Heron Quays station, with the box sat on a wall for stability and I'd guesstimate an exposure of 1-1.5 seconds. The rest were shot on the way from Greenwich to Canary Wharf.
Probably not quite the right subjects to truly bring out the full glory of the colour shifts, this feels like it sits somewhere between Turquoise and Metropolis (especially the first one in the colonnades at the Old Royal Naval College). Everything feels a bit muddy, low saturation, not what I was expecting, but I still enjoyed these results in and of themselves.
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Second roll - Olympus OM-1
Landscapes/Still Lives - EI100
By this point I decided to have a peek at some reviews like the one over at Shoot It With Film where Sara Johansen gives us a rundown on how to shoot it.
And now we're really cooking with gas. Taking this film out in the bright sunlight and shooting at EI100 is where it's really at! Look at those orange skies, the bright green grass, the subtle variations in the greens of the trees - not measurably noticeable in true colour but really brought out on Turquoise. Exactly as it says on Lomography's page introducing Turquoise - the colour shifts are fantastic!
The first five were shot walking through Greenwich Park to Blackheath - the funfair was in town so it was impossible not to grab a few shots to see how the saturated rainbow of colours would turn out on Turquoise, and the shop in Blackheath (rather punnily called "Snackheath") was a cornucopia of colour as well. The latter three were shot on the Greenwich foreshore by Enderby Wharf, a favourite place of mine to shoot still lives of the flotsam and jetsam that washes up from time to time.
O beauteous colour, o magnificent saturation, o glorious tones. These really swept me off my feet. And rather counter to my previous set, I actually quite liked the more muted tone of the foreshore shots - especially the second one with the stones lined up on the sand.
Third Roll - Olympus OM-1
Daytime Street Photography - EI200
This was where I was a little dubious about whether I would like the results of using Turquoise for street photography or not. Having heard that Turquoise turns people blue, I felt I had to explore this and see for myself, but in the right circumstances it actually becomes quite surreal and pretty hilarious, as you'll see from some of the shots below from around Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square in London.
Again, apologies for the skewiff-ness of some of these, they were mostly shot hyperfocal distance from the hip and I haven't had a chance to correct the angle on them, though I believe the whole Lomography ethos would welcome this...
Wow. Smurfville here we come. It's clear certain skin tones are affected more than others with pale, white skin really shifting blue, and the effect apparently diminishing as you move towards darker skin tones. I'm not sure if it actually truly diminishes or that the difference in hue/saturation between light skin tones and the blue that is rendered is so much greater than that of dark skin tones. Upon re-examination, the blues feel fairly evenly distributed, so maybe it's more psychologically than physically apparent.
Again, there's not much by way of brilliant orange sky or rich emerald green grass in these shots, so in that way they're more like the first roll in overall palette, but because of the subjects, there's definitely more variety in the colours that allows you to see the weird and funky ways this film shifts colour, and for that reason I like them more as a representation of what this film can do than the first roll.
Fourth Roll - Olympus OM-1
Night Time Street Photography - EI400+
This was where I really pushed it with this film (mostly not literally...). Wide open dreamy shots on the Zuiko 50mm f/1.4, longer shutter speeds but boy what a beautiful scene. We're in the City of London and wandering from Chancery Lane towards City Thameslink station. The world is on its way home after a long day. City bars empty out. Buses transport weary workers homewards. A police car siren wails; suddenly, shooting past, lights blaring, turning up Fleet Street. People mill. Bicycles bicycle. It's this world, yet another, slightly more surreal world, quite literally.
I truly had no idea the joy that this roll would bring me. Gobs of grain, for sure; some of these were probably pushing EI800 and developed normally so pulling the details out of the shadows massively enhanced the grain. It's kind of like how I'd envisage the world in a post-nuclear apocalypse; with similar palette to Fallout 3 just after the nuclear bomb goes off in Megaton (those who know, know). Rather than a rich, bright, saturated orange, the sky is that low tone, like the colour of sodium street lamps of old, but on a more massive scale. Fluorescent lights shift blue (they always naturally had a cold blue tone to them anyway). There's a heavy, ominous undercurrent to all of these images. Something bad is going to happen. When? We're not sure, but it's on its way...
Hopefully the rolls I shot have given you a fairly broad knowledge of how this film handles in a variety of conditions, from bright daylight shot at EI100 to night time photography shot at EI400+. The film continues to delight and produce images that make me proud to own film cameras. Lomography have done a brilliant job bringing this emulsion back to the market after a rather extended hiatus and I have to say that I much prefer this film to the Lomochrome Purple emulsion.
Hit me up in the comments with your thoughts about this film. I'd love to hear your experiences!
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