Favorite Film Stocks for Harsh Midday Light
Before you send your film off for developing and scanning, you have a very important question to ask yourself as a photographer that will influence the look of your final photos: which film stock is best for what I'm shooting?
With summer comes intense sun, so we asked five film photographers to share their favorite film for shooting in harsh midday light. Here's what they had to say...
"My go-to favorite is Portra 400. It never lets me down! I love the consistent, creamy skin tones and the flexibility of this stock. I shoot it at 320 and love it a little extra on sunny days—it handles harsh midday light perfectly. With my custom Color PAC with Richard, I cool down the warmth of the tones slightly. It’s just the right fit for my work: dreamy skin tones and a little bit of extra punch and contrast." – Audra Wrisley
"Portra 400 all day! The dynamic range it gives in harsh, super bright sunlight is awesome, and I know I’ll be able to retain detail in a high contrast scene. I also know I’ve got a lot of latitude to overexpose even more than usual if I don’t want to stop down for a particular scene—even if the light is bright." – Chris Isham
"Ektar is everything. It screams happiness with its bold colors and low grain. It is a tricky film to master, but it is magic in almost every lighting condition once you do... my favorite is full sun. It is fantastic in 35mm and 120, and I use it for everything, from portraits to landscapes. It makes every subject shine.
"My favorite way to shoot it for clients, and personal work, is in full sun. When the sun is high, I rate Ektar at box speed and meter for the shadows, and I let the film work its magic." – Jennifer Lawrence
"High noon is dreaded for most photographers. Where I live in California, 90% of the days are sunny and bright. I really wanted to find a way to embrace the sun without compromising my aesthetic or skin tones. I was tired of being dependent on golden hour to run a business. Now I can shoot most of the day without fear! Ektar has such a beautiful saturation and contrast. It's my go-to film stock." – Mallory Gardner
"Kodak Tri-X 400... Oh man, this is such a hidden secret. Obviously everyone loves being able to use lower ISO film stocks when they have the chance, but I don’t feel like I get that chance very often. And I don’t like stressing about my metering being off when dipping in and out of different light scenarios (harsh light to open shade, etc). This film does absolute wonders to an image and renders it so clean and classic. Some of my own favorite surprise images came from using this film in broad daylight." – Catherine Abegg
And there you have it! Shooting in harsh midday light on film can give you great results once you find the right stock for you. Test them for yourself (and make sure to use your light meter).
Whether you love Portra 120 film, Ektar in 35mm, or disposable cameras, Richard can take care of your film developing and film scanning...