Color Film · Developing Adventures · film photography · Film Processing · How To · Kodak Film · Rangefinder Camera

My First Roll of Ektachrome and E6 Developing

In this Developing Adventure, I wanted to share my first experience shooting and developing a roll of Kodak Ektachrome. This was also my first time using E6 developer, and I was a bit nervous because I know color slide film is not as forgiving as color negative or black and white film.

The Film

Kodak Ektachrome is a low speed color reversal film that gives your photos a saturated, and cool tone. When I shoot a film for the first time, I often do a test run to get an idea of what it looks like with my style of shooting. I don’t expect great results the first time around, but I was really happy with these none the less.

Being that color reversal film doesn’t have much latitude, you have to be really careful with your exposures. I used my Fuji GF670 medium format camera for this test roll because I really trust the built in meter.

E6 Developing Ektachrome

To develop this roll, I used a Unicolor Rapid E6 Kit. The instructions for the kit were pretty easy to enact and I just carefully followed the directions that were included. The only snag I ran into was that I use a tank that agitates with an agitator rod, and the instructions only specified for inversion. I don’t like to use this type of agitation because my tanks leak and I lose chemicals that way. Therefore, I wasn’t really sure how long to twist the rod. I went with 5 seconds every 30 seconds.

My Results

Once I finished processing this roll, I was so excited to get to see positive film in person for the first time. I’ve always heard about how beautiful color positive film negatives are, but seeing it in person with my own work was amazing.

Ecktachrome on Light Box
Ecktachrome on Light Box

For this roll, I decided on a whim, to shoot a quick portrait session with Kelsey. Nothing formal. I literally saw that the weather was beautiful and thought the colors of her dress might suit this film well. I followed her with my camera around our yard and just took these photos.

Kodak Ektachrome with E6 Developing

This was in the late afternoon so the contrast is a little high, but I really love the warmth and shadows. These look a touch under exposed, but I didn’t want to take a chance with wavering from my meter. I am not experienced enough just yet to make those decisions when shooting color positive.

Ecktachrome and E6 Developing
Ecktachrome and E6 Developing

In the two pics below, I was trying to capture Kelsey’s blue eye in the split light.

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Kelsey doesn’t like to have her picture taken, and is very self conscious, but I think she is beautiful and wish as a photographer I could show her that with my photos. I don’t think I have the skills yet for portraiture, knowing how to pose someone, things like that. That being said, I think these photos are beautiful, and not just because she is my fiancé.

Ektachrome and E6 Developing

Final Thoughts

Kodak Ektachrome is a beautiful film that I know I will shoot with in the future. I don’t shoot with many low ISO films, but when I shoot outdoors, this will definitely be a film I bring along.

I’m not crazy about needing to have a separate set of chemicals to develop this one film, especially since I can barely keep up with developing my backlog of C41 and black and white films. However, for certain subjects, and special settings I will make an exception.

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15 thoughts on “My First Roll of Ektachrome and E6 Developing

  1. That takes me back so many years!

    Developing film should become routine and without excitment. That is how to get consistent results.

    A perfectly developed negative film just looks OK when it comes out of the spiral. However, processing a colour reversal film, such as Ektachrome, is a whole different story. Seeing beautiful positive colour images on a film coming out of the spiral is something wonderful. When the film is medium-format, it is just mind-blowing! No-one should ever become immune to that excitment.

    I have processed very many E-6 films, but the last was in the 1990s. However, I can still remember the absolute joy of opening the tank and looking at a 120 roll of newly-processed Ektachrome. Even if the pictures were not all that good, just seeing them new-born from the tank was a special experience.

    Have great fun and enjoy,
    All the best
    Alistair

  2. Aly, thanks so much for sharing your first roll of Ektachrome with us! It was wonderful to see your images and hear about your experience. I admire you giving something new to you a try (I know trying new things takes courage for myself anyway). Until you mentioned it I’d never thought about how exciting it would be to see your positives as you pull the developed film off the reel. I know it’s exciting with negative film and imagine it would be even more so with positive. That thought you brought up and seeing your courage to give this a try are helpful in encouraging me to consider giving this a try sometime. Thank you!

  3. Beautiful shots. I never would have known this was your first try if you hadn’t written it. One thing you might consider: if your subject is in shadow in front of a bright background, try a fill flash. Set the flash unit to low power and use a diffuser. The idea is for the light to reach the subject, but not wash out the shadows behind.

    Looking forward to more of your slide film adventures!

  4. Great episode and the pic’s of Kelsey are quite nice. I agree that dress was perfect for her and the sun.
    I love to shoot chrome film, for exactly what you stated, the saturation and the beauty of seeing that image on film.

    I am about to start shooting black and white reversal film and self developing it. See ADOX and SCALA.

    From what I’ve seen those black and white positives are spectacular. I already have a project in mind, and I’ll be shooting it this weekend. I’ll be at a wildlife refuge shooting in the morning fog.

    Probably shooting a Hasselblad 501c and Rollei Ortho 25.

  5. Fun! The last time I shot a roll of Ektachrome was in 1980, while working as a photo assistant for the Lake Placid Olympic Organizing Committee’s A/V department. Ektachrome was expensive – around $6.50/roll for 24 exposures, and around $8/roll for 36 exposures – but one of the advantages of working for the Olympic Committee was that I could get Ektachrome film developed free. So the extra outlay for the film was offset by not having the pay to get it developed. (I was not set up for developing anything other than B&W myself.) This also meant that I had to buy slide frames and learn how to put the slides in them, but I was a student with time on my hands, so I enjoyed it. Color slide film may have less latitude than you’re used to, but as you play with it more, you’ll discover that it has more than you think. I took a whole slideshow of Olympic photos back in 1980, all on Ektachrome using a Minolta XG-1 SLR, mainly outdoor, fast-action shots. I’m no pro, but most of my pictures came out quite well. Yours will, too. And yes, Kelsey is beautiful. The hard part, for her, will be learning to ignore the camera and just do her thing while you do yours.

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