5 Frames… Of the Gatineau River on LOW ISO Color film (35mm format / EI 1.6 / Nikon FA + Nikkor 20mm f/2.8D) – by Alex Saucier
In late May I decided to try the slowest film I had shot to date: FPP’s LOW Color negative. This is a standard C-41 process film, rated at a stunning ISO of 1.6, and honestly, I think this is generous.
I bracketed my frames, Negative 1-stop, 0, Plus 1-stop, in almost every shoot +1 gave me a better negative but slightly over-exposed. That being said when I shoot this film stock again I’ll be rating it at ISO 1.2. This film has a very pronounced blue shift, this must be due to the nature of the film being a Kodak Lab film intended for making digital dupes in motion pictures. It’s also devoid of an anti-halation backing.
To start the adventure, I loaded the film in my Nikon FA fitted with a Nikkor 20mm f/2.8 AF-D lens. This camera was the forefather of Matrix metering and has the full range of exposure modes: Programmed, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual, it’s often referred to as the Technocamera. I like bigger, heavier cameras so of course it’s fitted with its very specific MD-15 motor drive.
In bright light, I brought along a full set of Cokin ND Filters just in case, and sure enough, they came in very handy for the water shots. Such a long exposure required a sturdy tripod, I have one tripod that I use with all my cameras, my heavy-weight Manffotto with a large Ball Head. I must look a bit odd considering the tripod was mainly intended to be used with 4×5 cameras or bigger. But it never fails me, and it’s as steady as one can get. As for metering, I was using a Gossen LunaSix 3 fitted with a spot meter attachment that provides a 15 and 8 degrees spot setting, this meter is surprisingly accurate and meters down to ISO 0.8.
We just had lots of rain and the northern Quebec snow melts were really swelling the rivers, so I started my adventure down the Gatineau river, but I found very little inspiration. I took a picture of a small rushing river around an island. That was taken in full sun, I stopped down to f/22 but still could not get that long exposure I was looking for so I added an ND4 filter and I slipped in a graduated ND2 for the upper portion of the shot. This was a full 8-second metered exposure, I ended up going to 12-seconds trying to make up for reciprocity failure, I think that was a great call.
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After leaving the busy city I ended up in Wakefield QC, and took my time in and around the covered bridge. All the shots were taken with an ND4 or ND8 filter and an ND2 graduated filter to balance out the sky. Shutter speeds ranged from 8-seconds to 18-seconds.
I’m very pleased with the results I got. I took one last shoot across the Gatineau river, it’s not the best of shots but I think it illustrated very well the possibilities of this film. This last shot was unfiltered, and honestly I just needed to hear one final shutter click to finish the roll.
I’ve been restarting a love affair with slow films, which I find forces me to slow down and relax. This brings me back to my start in photography with slower film such as Tech Pan.
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