During the Covid-19 pandemic, I taught myself to develop black and white film at home but have yet to try developing colour. I also usually prefer to shoot in black and white and this has meant that any colour film I have has sat neglected. However, towards the end of last year, I hit a creative slump and hadn’t shot very much film at all. I needed something to re-ignite that spark of creativity and I’ve had a roll of Lomography LomoChrome Purple XR 100-400 waiting to be shot for over two years now. LomoChrome Purple XR 100-400 is a colour negative film that can be developed with the standard C41 process. The Lomography website states that “the sensitivity of the film is ISO 400 (27°), yet its high flexibility in terms of light sensitivity also allows you to set your camera to ISO 200 (24°) and ISO 100 (21°). This gives you more options for experimentation in different lighting conditions. Blue becomes green, green becomes purple and yellow becomes pink! Red tones stay red though, which keeps skin tones looking natural in a sea of trippy hues.”
Ireland’s Ancient East
I loaded the film into my trusty Yashica 635 and made my way out to the Loughcrew Cairns located near Oldcastle in County Meath, a part of Ireland’s Ancient East. The cairns are a group of man made Neolithic passage tombs and the area is also known as Sliabh na Callaighe or Hill (or mountain) of the Witch. This name derives from a myth about a hag or a witch who jumped across the hills with an apron full of stones. The witch dropped the stones as she went and these stones formed the cairns we see today. Loughcrew is one of Ireland’s most important megalithic cemeteries, dating to c.3000BC and comprising some 30 tombs.
It is roughly contemporary with Ireland’s most famous passage tomb, Newgrange which is located in the Boyne Valley, County Meath. At Loughcrew, Cairn T is the highest and largest tomb in the complex. Inside this cairn is a cruciform chamber, a corbelled roof and some of the most beautiful examples of Neolithic art in Ireland. The cairn is aligned to sunrise at the spring and autumn equinoxes and at these times people gather there to greet the first rays of the sun.
I felt that this location offered a beautiful and unique landscape that would really highlight the otherworldliness of LomoChrome Purple and I wasn’t disappointed. It was overcast with the odd bright spot when I visited Loughcrew and I relied on the sunny 16 rule for deciding on exposure. I shot at ISO 400, an aperture of f/5.6 when overcast and f/8 when cloudy and a shutter speed of 1/500. I got 12 shots from the roll on the Yashica 635.
Despite having seen the results that others have achieved with LomoChrome Purple XR 100-400, I was still unsure as to how the roll would turn out for me. I believe that this is part of the joy of shooting with a film such as this, the excitement and anticipation of what will appear on the negatives. Seeing the negatives scanned onto my computer gave me a thrill that I hadn’t gotten from my photography in quite some time, I was genuinely excited by what I saw.
These are the first images I have taken in the past few months that have really made smile, not because they are great photographs or technically proficient, but because they are simply fun. Going out to shoot this roll with no expectations was freeing and the colours really do make landscapes look alien, like you are seeing visions from another world. I think the landscape shots are where this film really shines, providing that strange and otherworldly feeling. Seeing what transpired from this role has indeed sparked my creativity and if you are looking for something a little different outside of your usual comfort zone, then give LomoChrome Purple a try, you may be surprised by what you see.