Old and Backwards: How I Shot Expired Redscale Film

Maybe I need to keep better track of my film.

You may have read about my outing with a roll of Fujifilm Reala 100 that expired in 2001. I got some decent shots out of that roll, luckily.

More recently, I stumbled upon two 35mm rolls of manufacturer-unknown redscale film. There’s no expiration date listed but I don’t think I’d be too far astray in guessing that it expired 15-20 years ago.

If you’re unfamiliar with redscale film, it’s just film that has been flipped over so that it is exposed through the film base. This arrangement means that the red sensitive layer of the film gets exposed first, resulting in a strong shift to deep red, orange and yellow tones. 

You can buy redscale film, as I apparently did at some point, or you can make your own.

My canister of unbranded redscale film did indicate an ISO 100. Considering the fact that redscale photography is a light hungry process, I figured I’d play it say and meter for ISO 50. Next, I packed up – wait….

“This stuff is like 20 years expired,” I reminded myself.

ISO 12.

Long story short, I headed to the North Woods of Central Park with my Canon Elan 7NE, my Canon 40mm f/2.8, a tripod (because ISO 12) and a reluctant enthusiasm for whatever I was about to get myself into (I hate tripods).

The good thing is that developing redscale film requires a standard C-41 process. So after all the chemicals baths, rinsing, drying and scanning, this is what came out the other end.

Weird. Otherworldly. Quirky.

*shrug*

Whatever.

I shot redscale film for the first time. I’m over it.

But I’ll probably do it again one day.


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