Kodak Gold is a film close to my heart, if such a thing is possible. This is a basic, cheap consumer film that used to be sold in huge quantities to amateur photographers all over the world until digital photography came along (ironically that revolution was originally started by Kodak only for them to miss the boat entirely and the company is currently sliding into oblivion). More importantly (to me), this is the film that recorded my childhood. When I saw a couple of rolls gathering dust at my local Tesco for a couple of quid a pop, my sense of nostalgia was piqued so I grabbed them and was surprised to find that they came up at the till for just 74 pence each!

The photo above definitely has that nostalgic look. I can’t quite put my finger on exactly what it is – some mystical combination of grain, colour balance, contrast I guess – but it makes me think of flipping through my parents’ photo albums to see myself growing up.

I can’t say that either of these pictures, above and below, make me nostalgic in quite the same way, but if I didn’t know better I could probably believe they were decades old. Once again they show how well my little communist camera can perform. The sharpness is great, especially when you consider the camera and lens together were only a tenner on eBay.

One problem I have found, with both of these colour negative films, is that my SLR film scanning set-up is really difficult to get colours to look right, even with the use of a gel on the flash to correct for the orange film backing and trying to reuse settings in Lightroom. Some of it could simply be down to me getting the original exposures wrong on the film, but I am beginning to suspect something more fundamental – that because the camera sensor is designed to capture the real world, pointing it at an inverted image on a negative with a strong orange cast is just too far outside of its design parameters. Kind of like using a kettle to fry an egg – it will work but it’s not quite right.

The image below is an example where no matter what I did, I simply could not get the colour balance to look neutral. In the end I settled on this slightly cyan-tinted version.

Since I could much more easily take digital photos and give them a weird colour cast myself, I am now thinking that any future film work is going to be entirely in black and white. Digital black and white is very much a post-processing exercise (unless you have six grand to spend on a Leica M Monochrom) but on film it feels like a wholly different medium. To me, colour film just feels like a more fiddly and ultimately worse version of what I could do with a digital camera. So for my next film I am trying out Ilford XP2, which is black and white film that can be processed in the same chemicals as colour film. The idea being that I can get it developed in a shop without having to send it off or learn how to set up a darkroom and do it myself. Watch this space…

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