Slow Film

I’ve been working with Kodak Rapid Process Copy film recently, and I’m still trying to figure out how to use it. I took the remainder of the first test roll to Matthaei Botanical Gardens in late summer. I wanted colors and bright skies, and boy, did I get them.

I made 8 or 9 setups and made 2 exposures at each stop. The basic exposure was 8 seconds at f/8, and then I did the second one at 16 seconds. More-or-less. I wanted to have overexposure to make sure I could overexpose the film, and while I don’t show that here, I was able to overexpose a bit.

To give you an idea of what the day was like, here’s a phone photo I made as a reference:

Color image of a garden. Clear blue sky, dark green trees, orange, red, yellow, white and purple flowers massed in the foreground. There are some fenceposts in the background and a fieldstone gatepost.

Gate (reference)

Here is the RPC version after scanning and a bit of editing (you can see my terrible processing)1

Similar scene as above, but the red flowers are indistinguishable from the green leaves, the sky is gray, and the purple flowers look white.


The thing that interests me, especially seeing these two together, is how the film version reminds me of a mid-century photograph of a garden. I understand that it’s an artifact of the orthochromatism, but seeing it so directly with images that I know I made makes me feel like I have some sort of historical superpowers.

This next image is of a frilly dark red cockscomb in front of some foliage. Cockscomb is sort of stiff, which is why the 8 second exposure didn’t really matter — no motion is evident.

Dark, very detailed frilly flowers in lower half; lighter mottled out of focus background.


This last image of water dripping along some stacked stones is probably my favorite one of the set.

Stacked rocks in a beehive shape with water coming down and landing in a pool. The water is smoothed out, not droplets. Tall plants in the background are blurry and soft.


I spent some time in Photoshop with the phone version of this image, and while I could get the tones mostly right, the background flowers and the water drips were too sharp. I like how a bright sunny day (you can tell by the sharp shadows) yields soft water and foliage.

It’s been a few weeks since I made these images, and looking at them again just reminds me that I want to do something special with this film. I had been considering a project that presents the film itself (because it’s totally weird but maybe it’s only weird to people who are used to seeing negatives?), but I really like the pieces I get from scanning and editing. So back to the notebooks I go…

  1. I need to decide how much I really care about seeing this stuff on my film and scans. Mostly I don’t worry about it, but I don’t want specks and blebs and scratches to detract from the scene if they are not enhancing it.