How to Shoot Ektar

We love Ektar100 for landscapes. Its high saturation, dynamic range and fine grain lend themselves best to terrain—and even sunsets—as seen here in Matt Santomarco’s jaw-dropping shot.

As with most color negative film, slight overexposure is pretty much your standard MO.

Here are Matt's thoughts on Ektar100:

🏜️ It's more saturated than other color negative films like Portra, so it’s great for landscapes.

🏜️ Not ideal for skin tones, due to its high saturation. It can turn skin pink-ish.

🏜️ It really sings during cloudy sunsets, sunrise or when shooting directly into the sun.

🏜️ It has a red cast in the shadows, which you can use to your advantage when shooting in the desert, but I tend to remove it in post.

🏜️ In daylight, it tends to produce a digital-looking, cyan hue. I’m not a fan, so I will adjust the hue on the cyan slider to make it more of a true blue and then slightly desaturate the hue.

🏜️ Due to its cyan color and red shadows, I do not like to shoot Ektar in the afternoon or midday—it produces a color palette that does not look realistic or natural to me.

🏜️ I tend to use gradient filters for Ektar during sunrise/sunset. It's important not to over-filter the skies on Ektar, because when the tonality of the sky matches the ground, it looks unnatural. (This is something I am always careful of when I make small tweaks in post.) I like to meter my shots (with the gradient filters in place) so that the sky is either +1 or +2 stops brighter than the ground.

🏜️ It’s important to expose the film for the shadows. When it’s underexposed, it’s very difficult to save in post. With my meter, I make sure my darkest shadows are no darker than -1 stop.

🏜️ If I find the colors a bit off after a scan, I will adjust them using very gradual adjustments with the Color Balance sliders in Photoshop.

We love Matt Santomarco’s story behind his shot, which he captured with a Mamiya7II on 6x7 film:

“Yeah, yeah—Horseshoe Bend is a very popular spot and has been photographed thousands of times. That said, it was my first time there and was still awe-inspiring. It was even better seeing I was the only photographer there with a film camera. I was lucky, it was a really powerful sunset and I had Kodak Ektar to capture the moment. As the sun broke free, I metered my shot and let Ektar do the rest. I was able to capture the wild dynamic range and still hold onto detail and saturation in the sky. I left the iconic location very optimistic I was coming home with a great shot! I was very lucky to have such a powerful sunset that really brought everything together. I'm glad I didn't botch the exposure!! It was important for me to come away with a shot on film. I am enjoying shooting much of the American West's iconic locations on film. Everything has been so overshot with gaudy digital images, I like to take a fresh look at it with modern film stocks.” — Matt Santomarco

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