try, try again.
It would be an understatement to say that my first few attempts with Lomo Purple film were unsuccessful. Abject failure would be a more apt description. The first time I forgot that I had the color-shifted film loaded and proceeded to shoot a full roll of my kids on a spring break outing. Soft light, pastel blooms and . . . purple film. The film lent our family day a horror-film aesthetic. Cool for Halloween, but definitely not what I was going for that day in April. Here’s a hard-earned top tip, film friends: label your camera with the film inside every time you load a fresh roll or cartridge. If your camera back doesn’t have a little slot to hold a piece of the film packaging, paper tape works fine. This is especially helpful if you, as I tend to, go long stretches in between picking up your camera.
The next time I shot a roll of lomo purple, the light wasn’t strong enough resulting in a roll’s worth of distorted, muddy frames with scarcely a salvageable keeper. Then there was the third attempt where I doubled down and checked both these boxes. It happens.
I’ve been in a self-imposed film-buying moratorium the past few years. I have a bin of film just getting older in my fridge, so it hasn’t been a hardship to limit myself what I had on hand. This summer I came across a canister of long-ago purchased Lomo Purple, and I decided I was ready to give it another go. This time; however, I resolved to be far more intentional.
One of my favorite resources from my early days in photography was the Flickr database. Deconstructing Flickr’s exif data and user hashtags and a whole lot of chimping taught me most of what I know. I spent hours studying the sidebars of photos for the details on cameras, lenses, settings. When I’m curious about a film stock, a filter or a lens, Flickr is still the first place I turn. I quickly realized that the images I liked most made on Lomo Purple featured cool-colored subject matter – objects and nature – not people, and the more light, the better. The film has a box speed or ISO range of 100- 400, but my preference was for images shot in stronger light at the lower end of the ISO range. And, of course, I’d needed to stay mindful of the fact that there was purple film in my camera through multiple shooting days and the entire roll.
This time, I finally succeeded. The color of the film made these images what they are rather than detracted or distracted from them. It’s just my garden – again. The same flowers and insects I plant for, observe and photograph every year, but on purple film, with the occasional strategically placed prism, my commonplace appears otherworldly.
I’m so glad I have a few more rolls of the purple stuff in the fridge . . . and even more excited that Lomography recently announced they will be re-releasing their long out of stock (and assumed permanently gone) Lomo Turquoise this spring. I will happily break my film-buying moratorium once it’s available. I am eager for the chance to make some new mistakes.
Wishing you all health and happiness in the year to come,