The Shopfronts and Subway Series [CineStill 800T]

Images shot on CineStill 800T in Yashica Electro 35 GSN

I talk a lot on here about the importance of creating and making things. About getting out there and shooting as much as we can. About how doing it is always better than not doing it, whatever the results you come back with are like.

And while I hope that message comes across, there are times when the last thing I want to do is walk around the same streets again looking for scenes to capture – even in a city as photogenic as Shanghai.

That usually happens when all I have is the vague idea to find scenes to capture, though. To get over this when I had this roll of CineStill film to shoot, I gave myself a few specific themes to cover with its 36 exposures.

These neon signs were one, and this article’s shopfronts and subway shots were the others. The shopfronts meant I could see how the film did with artificial light at night while the subway gave us some indoor and outdoor daylight situations too.

Opening with the shops

That shot there is the biggest example I have from this set of the (in)famous CineStill 800T red halation around light sources. It’s apparent in a few of the other low light images below, but nothing like the above.

If you’re not a fan of the halation, it can be avoided if you keep the actual light sources out of your frame. That’s not something I was trying to achieve at the time. I just noticed it after I got the images back from the lab.

Overall I’m pretty happy with what the CineStill did with the artificial light of these various shopfronts. It was my first time shooting film at night and I wasn’t quite sure how they’d come out; if the shutter speed would be fast enough, even with though the camera wasn’t warning me it wouldn’t.

The ISO 800 rating does of course help when working in these lower light environments, but this style of image has some inherent conditions that assist you too.

The first is that there is light. That’s what shops do at night. Turn on the lights so people can see what they’re doing. Yes, it’s not sunlight, but if you point your camera at it and meter for it, you’ll probably be okay if you have the right film and settings.

An ISO 100 stock and f11, not so much. But an ISO 800 CineStill and f5.6 should be fine. And that’s the second thing that helps you shoot images like this at night. That because the compositions are pretty flat and front-on, f5.6 will give you enough depth-of-field.

Some Shanghai subway shots on CineStill

As already mentioned, I took the opportunity to shoot a few mini-sets on this CineStill 800T. With 36 exposures on the roll and a little forethought, there’s ample opportunity to do so.

The final idea was for a set based in and on the subway. That is, in stations and on the train itself. Because the Shanghai subway has a mix of underground and overland stations, I could mix up the artificial light with the daylight too.

CineStill 800T isn’t designed to be shot under the sun without a yellow filter, but I thought I’d do so anyway. I wanted to see how the film did shot the same way in all conditions. The results, in my humble opinion, weren’t bad at all.

There’s a bit of a blue tinge to them, but there is with a lot of the artificial light ones too. I quite like that, though. It’s good that different films give you a different look. If you want warm yellows, there’s plenty of Kodak options out there.

You probably won’t be able to mix in some night shots on your roll of ColorPlus 200 or Gold 200 though, unless you go with a tripod and long exposure.


Wrapping up the shopfronts and subway series

With so many films out there to shoot, I do like to squeeze as much as I can from each roll, because that means I can then move on and try something different.

That usually means only one shot of a particular scene, unless I feel I messed the first attempt up. It often also means trying to get a variety of images. That may be from different locations, or just different situations or compositions.

Neon signs, shopfronts and subways was a good enough haul from the special CineStill film for me, and I was pretty happy with my first real go at night time film photography.

On that note, I’ll end with some encouragement for you. If you’re unsure about going out and shooting after dark, don’t be. The same rules apply as in the day. If there’s enough light, there’s enough light. It doesn’t matter where it’s coming from.

Choose a high ISO film, set your aperture perhaps a stop or two wider than you normally would, and meter for the light that’s there. That’s all I did and I wouldn’t have most of these shots to show you if I hadn’t.

You can either try it and have a bunch of your own shots too, or just not bother and have none. I know which I’d prefer you do. 🙂

If you enjoyed that post, why not take a look at these others to stay inspired or learn more about the CineStill 800T film I used here:

  1. My complete review of this CineStill 800T film
  2. Another film photo essay with this film
  3. Shooting another special film in Shanghai

And if you think others will enjoy this account of shooting CineStill too, help them find it by sharing or pinning.  😀

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.