Push processing is one of the film photographer’s secret weapons. It’s a useful trick when you suddenly find you need to use higher shutter speeds to capture action, or find yourself in lower light than expected. It allows you to use faster shutter speeds – meaning pictures won’t be blurred or underexposed – and increases grain, which can add bags of atmosphere. Pushing film/ uprating also produces more contrast and increases the effective sensitivity of your film too, allowing you to shoot well into night fall!
Pushing film involves when one goes to develop their film you simply give it more time in the developer as the technique is overdeveloping the film compensating for the underexposure in the camera.
As long as your camera allows you to manually change your film speed rating, push-processing is easy to do. It means changing the ISO rating on your camera so that the camera thinks it’s shooting a faster-speed film. So if you have a roll of 100-speed film, you set the camera’s meter to 200, or 400. Or if you have 400-speed film, uprating the meter to 800 or 1600 is also a tried-and-tested trick.
It’s one of the easiest film experiments to try out, though for best results there’s a few things to remember.
Label them – immediately: Pushing film will only work if the lab knows that that’s your intent. Changing the meter means you’ll be using faster shutter speeds, which means the film is exposed for less time. This means the film will need longer development times. If you don’t label the film that it needs to be uprated, you’ll get negs that are horribly underexposed. The more the film has been pushed, the worse this will be. So label them, as soon as you’ve shot the roll – a pack of stickers are always in my camera bag for just this reason.
Mark the film speed as soon as you’ve taken the film out of the camera. That way you don’t have the frustrating problem of trying to work which of the rolls you’ve shot on a weekend or a trip away that needed to be uprated…
Most labs will do this, perhaps with a small extra charge. If your lab doesn’t – find one that does. They deserve your custom.