The film community is a beautiful myriad of folks passionately devoted to image-making while realizing that profits are relatively slim. And, of course, sometimes you need to think crafty. Many folks would say that the Brooklyn Instant Film Initiative rainbow sliver is interesting, but I vehemently avoid that word. Instead, I believe it’s a fascinating tool with many possibilities when combined with the right creative vision. But I’m not sure I’d want to dedicate an entire roll of 35mm film to it.
I’m pretty confident you’re wondering what I’m talking about. Well, it’s a little tiny plastic sliver. This sliver is reusable and cut for the camera format you’re using. When I spoke to Bunny over at Brooklyn Instant Film Initiative, I asked for something to suit my Leica M6. Because of the way it’s cut, it can also work in my Nikon F2, Pentax Spotmatic, Leica CL, and my Fujifilm Natura S. The sliver is cut to format/camera you’re using. And, obviously, it’s in the color of a rainbow.
I stuck the Brooklyn Instant Film Initiative rainbow sliver to the area around my film plane. Then I loaded my last roll of Fujifilm Pro 400H into my M6 and got to shooting. During this test, I used various lenses I own.
The good thing about all this is that you’re pretty much just photographing the world as you usually would. But it can serve you well to remember that every image you shoot will have a rainbow effect. I overexposed my film to ISO 160 and asked Blue Moon Camera to develop it normally at ISO 400. (And, as always, they did a phenomenal job with the scans.)
I noticed a few big things. The rainbow effect would look smoother when my lenses were wide open. Because I also overexposed the scene, the effect is lighter. However, it’s still apparent and visible. If you didn’t know any better, you’d probably say they’re faulty scans, which is not the case.
As you stop your lenses down, the texture of the actual sliver becomes more visible in your photos. At times it will look like you’re shooting through mesh. But instead of it being like a pantyhose effect, it will look a bit like a fence in your photos. This is where I’m not really a fan of it. However, when it’s wide open, it will look pretty awesome.
When I shoot film, I tend to overexpose by around a stop or so of light. If the film is expired, I’ll give it more than an extra stop of light. If that sounds like you, then you’ll probably use the Brooklyn Instant Film Initiative rainbow sliver and also experience a more subdued effect. But if you want a more pronounced look, expose normally or underexpose a bit.
I think this would work well with a portrait shoot in a studio. I’m thinking Oliphant or Gravity backdrops, Profoto or Elinchrom lighting, and medium format cameras. Maybe well-done frames in a controlled lighting environment while photographing someone from the LGBTQAI+ community. Or better yet, just shoot a bunch of those humans on the same roll.
I asked Bunny why she wouldn’t create this as a lens filter, where I could remove the effect as I needed. Bunny’s response was that it will require a holder of some sort. And while I’d be able to use this easier if it were a filter, I understand Bunny’s concern.
This is totally something I’d use again if it were something I could apply and remove as I wish.