Apart from portrait photography, Kodak’s Portra film also sees major use in landscape and travel photography due to the unique and natural reproduction and saturation of colours. However, how does Kodak Portra behave in predominantly white snowy landscapes?
Last January, I spent a day at the Swiss mountain village of Leukerbad. After taking the cable car up to the ‘house mountain’ Gemmi and its amazing panorama, I used a roll of Kodak Portra 160 to put the things I saw on film. I thought I lost the roll however, and only got to see the results after finding it 5 months later at the back of a shelf. I was amazed by the results and behaviour of the film, which displayed the alps in very distinctive tonality. The images were largely untouched, only with slightest brightness correction. Also, sitting exposed at room temperature at the back of a shelf, the colours still seemed very vivid.
Shadows and mountain rock, depending on development, either in a slight red when underdeveloped, or slight green tone. The photographs, taken using a Leica M6, Summicron 35mm and Elmarit-M 90mm lenses, seem brilliantly sharp. The colour grain is prominent especially in darker skies, but not distractingly so. The noise that appears in homogenic colours (such as the sky) in these digital scans due to automatic sharpening is not too rough, and can easily be corrected in post-processing.
I am very impressed with the results delivered by the film. If you’re looking for a more neutral reproduction of snowy landscapes however, you might want to try a different type of film or perform some saturation adjustment in the darkroom or post-processing of scanned images. Or just ask your photo lab to skip any possible automated colour adjustments. I really like the images as they came, though.