Man with Damaged Eye, by Steve McCurry, Pakistan

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Before you go ‘this looks shopped’, this photo was taken in 1981;

Probably using 200 ISO Kodachrome. I say 200 because it does have some noticeable film grain.

It is possible to edit digital scans of negatives, but slide film really does pop that much. The image does specify ‘retouched by’, but photographic retouching is done in the darkroom as well as in Photoshop.

**Edit**; If you know what ISO and Kodachrome are, you can skip the wall of text below! If you don’t know, or aren’t sure, read on! Or not, I mean, it’s a lot of words, I wouldn’t read it. But there’s some good information down there, you might learn something!

Okay, so, I said ‘200 ISO Kodachrome’, and I don’t want people think ‘oh guhfaw look at this guy, using words we may or may not know the meaning of to show how *smart* he is, and it’s not my intent to come off like some sort of elitist douche canoe. I want to educate people about the things I know a lot about, I’ve spent a lot of time learning about three things! Those things are, in order, audio engineering/acoustics (for which I went to school), the history of spaceflight, and photography. I think people need to spend more time educating people who don’t know what they know rather than dismissing people who don’t know the things they know. It’s not that people don’t want to know it’s that no one’s telling them! I don’t expect everyone to know what a bit rate is, I don’t expect everyone to know the difference between Mercury-Atlas and Mercury-Redstone, I don’t expect people to know what ISO is, but I am very ready and willing to tell you what these things are, because when I’m talking about my trades and hobbies I *do not shut up*, hence the long intro as to why I want to tell you what Kodachrome and ISO are.

Okay so before Kodachrome was a song by Paul Simon, and before [Ginger Sling did a totally bitchin’ cover of it](, and before it was associated with the hipster movement (of which I have nothing against, I invite any and all subcultures that don’t perpetuate violence or bigotry unto themselves or other people. Hipsters aren’t throwing rocks at you because you believe in Mithraism [like, the religion, [not the bangin’ hot catgirls from Final Fantasy XI]( {that link will not be safe for work}]. Let them wear their hats and clothes and let them have their Instagram, they’re not hurting you) it was a type of photographic film. The three most common types of photographic film are black and white, colour negative, and colour transparency, which is also commonly called slide film. Black and white film is, y’know, black and white. Colour negative film is in colour, but they’re negatives, meaning on the film the colours are reversed. Red is green, orange is blue, etcetera. Colour transparency film is also in colour, but they’re positives.

Oh, oh! Ed, Ed! Why have two types of colour film? I mean, why not just one?

Reasons. Colour negative film really commonly has kinda weird colours? It really varies from film to film, they’ll have different colour casts and they’ll handle different colours differently. On some of them red will look more rust, or more orange, blues will shift to green, but some colour negative film will replicate colours uniformly and quite well. One of the benefits of colour negative film is it’s easier to develop and is more easily found in higher ISOs (we’ll get to ISOs, bear with me), and it’s much, much cheaper for making prints. Also, cheaper in general. To make a print with a film negative, you need paper that’s also a negative. If you print a negative onto a negative you get a positive. Negative photographic print paper is way, way, *way* cheaper than positive print paper, which is what you need if you want to make a darkroom print of colour transparency or slide film, positive photographic print paper is *really* expensive. Also, colour transparency or slide film has really, really awesome colour. Like, super saturated, super contrasty, it looks *fantastic*. [Look at it]( It is delectable. [Here’s some colour negative film for contrast]([email protected]/pool/). There’s not as much as contrast, the colours don’t pop as much, it’s a different look. It’s not a better or a worse look, it’s a different look! There are things that are suited for colour negative film, and things that are suited colour positive film. There’s also the thing about slide projectors so grandma can go to Niagara Falls and take pictures of the Falls from 500 meters away with the flash ’cause y’know, that’s what flash is for, and her finger covering half the image, then show them to you with her slide projector when she gets back. But don’t ridicule her! Your grandmother is probably like, seventy, *at least*, and she raised your parents and probably got roped into babysitting you a lot, too! So, when she makes you cookies, *you eat them*.

So, ISO. I’ve been saying that for a while. ISO refers to how light sensitive a photographic medium is, be it film or digital. A high ISO, something like 3200, has less light sensitive photographic particles on it. This means that there are less photographic particles to expose to light, and thus you don’t need to expose it as long to get a proper looking image. This also means that the images won’t be as fine since there’s less light sensitive particles spread over the same area. A low ISO, something like 100 is chock full of light sensitive particles! So you need to expose it to more light to get a proper looking image, and since there are more light sensitive particles in the same area, you get a much finer image.

Check this out; [here’s some 3200 ISO work](, *by me*, most of what I shoot is 3200+ ISO. This was shot on 35mm film.

[Here’s some 200 ISO film I shot on a large format camera](! The first picture is me holding the camera, I was excited about it! I’d wanted to get into large format photography forever and I finally had (and still have) a large format camera! There’s not going to be much grain on that because 200 ISO is medium-low, low-medium ISO? Large format cameras shoot negatives that are 4″x5″ (they can go bigger, but 4″x5″ is the most common size), and are about 20 times larger than one shot of 35mm. That means 200 ISO 4×5 has *20 times* the amount of film grain as 200 ISO 35mm film, so when you’re digital scans, or darkroom enlargements onto photographic paper, you’re getting *a ton* more fidelity. Despite the increase in size, the exposure time remains the same, because the distribution of the light sensitive particles is the same.

I’m going to regret linking to a 400MB file hosted on my servers, but here it is anyway;

That’s a large format negative scan. It’s the equivalent of 669 megapixels. Up close, you can really see the grain, but when you mush it down to the small previews on tumblr, it looks *so fine*. It really looks three dimensional, it gives you great sense of depth.

Anyway, if I didn’t explain something well enough or if you’re still confused, let me know and I’d be willing to reiterate some things!

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