I recently completed a shoot in New York where I didn’t know how the lighting would be until I arrived.
As I made my way to the shoot location in Hell’s Kitchen, clouds moved in fast, and it had begun to pour rain. All I had in my camera bag was five rolls of Kodak Portra 400 and some Kodak T-Max.
I began to panic about the lighting situation. What if there was not enough light?
I packed a small handheld light in my luggage as a precaution, but that was the extent of my gear. No tripods, no strobes. I made the decision to make a pitstop at B&H Photo where I picked up two rolls of CineStill 800T and a small 8 inch reflector.
I didn’t want to solely shoot CineStill as the halation of the highlights can be distracting, so I determined that shooting half Portra and half CineStill would be a good mix.
Kodak Portra +1
To compensate for the lack of available light in the space we were shooting, I had to push the Portra 400. I shot to 800 and pushed one stop in development. This allowed me to shoot at a shutter speed of 1/40 at f/4 instead of 1/30 or even slower.
Portra is naturally a warm tinted film when shot in daylight, and when shot in artificial lighting, it leans heavily towards yellow/orange.
This is often seen as a negative aspect of shooting daylight film indoors, but I think that it can be used to your advantage in certain situations. Warm lighting compliments darker toned skin nicely, and I was pleased with the results.
Pushing this film also introduced a noticeable amount of contrast and a small amount of saturation, which I think fit the overall mood of the photos nicely.
It’s not a look that would work for all photoshoots in my opinion, but I’m glad it worked out.
The T in CineStill 800T references the fact that this film is tungsten balanced, meaning it’s meant to be shot indoors.
Because there was almost zero natural light present, using 800T allowed me to shoot at a workable shutter speed in the lowlight without the added effects of chemically pushing the film. Very convenient!
In comparison to Portra, the CineStill delivered an overall more balanced image in my opinion.
Where the Portra images are very warm with a high level of contrast, the CineStill 800T images have a more normal warmth level and a modest amount of contrast. The grain in the photos shot on 800T is also much less noticeable compared to the pushed Portra images.
The red halation that CineStill is known for wasn’t nearly as distracting as I was anticipating it to be. There are a few images where it is noticeable, but it seems that if you keep a strong light source out of the image, you’ll avoid the red glow.
If you have questions about CineStill 800T and Kodak Portra 400 pushed, leave them below in the comments! And you can pick up some Portra 400 and CineStill for yourself on Amazon here: Kodak Portra 400, CineStill 800T