Altamont in Redscale

Over the years, I’ve acquired various film stocks that, for one reason or another, I just don’t use. To the point where if I ever wanted to employ them in standard photography, well, the stock just doesn’t stand up to the efforts.

Such was the case when I acquired a pack of Kodak Vericolor 120 film. Yeah, this stuff’s at least 40 or 45 years old, so expecting any sort of decent color out of it is asking a lot.

With that in mind, I decided that this roll needed a wee adjustment.

I shot the film in redscale.

Redscale is part of the lo-fi photography movement, and it involves shooting the film while it’s loaded backwards in the camera. In other words, the back side of the film – the emulsion side – gets exposed first, which means that colorful pictures become eerie creations of reds and oranges and yellows.

For 35mm film, you have to take the film out of the cartridge, turn it around, and re-thread it onto the cartridge. I had a roll of 120 film, so I had to unroll the film, detach the film from the backing paper, flip the film over, re-attach it to the backing paper, and roll the product up. And since this was going on a 620 spool for use in my Kodak Medalist II (“Kodak Red”), I took the extra step of re-threading the film onto a 620 spool. Hey, work smarter, not harder, right?

Couple of things to remember when shooting in redscale. Add some extra shutter speed to the film; a film originally rated at 100 ISO should be shot at 50. Also, cloudy days bring a lot of drama to the picture, so wait for that stormy, overcast sky to really make things look like you just created a live-action version of Fallout.

Now of the eight shots I took that evening, I was only able to snag one good image. That’s partially due to the age of the film, I mean, I’m pushing 40+ year old film to do what it probably couldn’t have done 20 years ago.

But here’s what came out of it.

Ferris Wheel in Redscale. Kodak Medalist II camera, Kodak Vericolor expired film, flipped in redscale. (c) 2021 Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

Now that’s a creepy-cool photo. I may just keep that around for next year, or for some other project.

Essentially, redscale is to film as expired bananas are to banana bread. You can make something out of it before it goes completely stale.

And in the end, how cool is that?