The Weird and Wonderful Blue-toned World
I picked up a bulk roll of something rather weird on eBay last year. Called Kodak Vericolor Slide Film, it had nary a detail as to the exposure required (though this, in and of itself, isn’t truly weird, as, for instance, Tech Pan for a long time didn’t either). It did mention that it was to be developed in C41 chemistry which raised my eyebrows as typically slide film is processed in E6 chemistry. Upon further inspection, it had filter pack recommendations which indicated that this was a lab film, not a camera film. Colour me intrigued (pardon the pun)…
A Brief History
When I researched a little more, I found out that Kodak Vericolor Slide Film was a type of film that was designed to produce positive transparencies from colour negatives or to make smaller transparencies from larger negatives. It was mainly used for professional and photofinishing applications, but it also had some pictorial uses, such as copying black-and-white line art to make reverse-text slides or cropping negatives to make tighter compositions on transparencies.
Kodak Vericolor Slide Film was discontinued by Kodak in the early 2000s. There’s no surprise there, given its applications have been far surpassed by digital techniques, even where film is used as the original medium.
Some photographers still use it now — but for creative purposes, such as producing blue-toned silhouettes or graphic images when developed in standard C41 chemistry. When expired and cross-processed in E6 chemistry, Kodak Vericolor Slide Film produces unusual colour shifts and tones that can create a unique aesthetic.
Shooting this film requires different exposures depending on how you plan to develop the film.
When developed in C41 chemistry, I exposed the film with an effective exposure index of 6, and pushed 2 stops in development. When processed in E6 chemicals, I exposed at an effective EI of 25, with no push.
I’m not saying these were ideal exposures, but I did get very usable (if entirely colour shifted) images out of the E6 processed roll. I got … images out of the C41 processed rolls, although they’re so blue-monochromatic that I can’t honestly say I’d recommend this way of shooting it.
Scanning this film is tricky. When processed in C41 chemistry, you get a positive image, but the film is heavily green-blue masked. This green-blue mask essentially offset the orange mask of the negative that it was supposed to be copying. Trying to scan with any auto-corrections on was pointless. There was never going to be any colour accuracy anyway…
When processed in E6 chemistry, you get a lightly orange masked negative, but the colours are completely wacky. I have to say that these were my preferred images from the brief tests I made of the film. I scanned the images as negatives to attempt to remove the orange cast, then re-reversed them in Lightroom. A veritable fantasia resulted, completely colour-shifted but the subjects were rendered mostly sharply and the colour palette was pretty decent.
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First up are the C41 processed images. Remember, this provides a direct positive, but heavily green-blue cast when shot in camera as the film is designed to counteract the orange mask of the original negative it was intended to copy (as well as requiring extra filter packs on the copying light source).
The first batch I shot on the Greenwich riverside and they came out thoroughly monochromatic, but I think it suits the grittier, more industrial milieu:
You can see some hints of colour in some of these ones that I shot while out on a street photography walk in Soho:
Now the interesting part — when processed in E6 you get a lightly masked negative. The scanning software cannot really remove that mask properly but it does a decent job. But the real fun comes when re-reversing the colours.
How would I rate this film as an experience? Well, it was an… experience. Definitely fun as an experiment but I wouldn’t really use it again seriously. And as you can see from my (lack of) dust spotting… I didn’t take much time cleaning these up. They’re fun images but I find it hard to think that I would use them for anything other than showing what is possible in this review.
The film is far too expired these days to be sure that you will get a roll that actually renders images (I was lucky with my bulk roll, but your mileage may vary). After shooting 3 or 4 rolls out of the 100ft, I sold the rest off on eBay and let someone else deal with it.
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