In the good old days of film, black and white negatives, colour negatives and transparency films all had particular processing techniques which used specific chemicals and methods to produce the image. Popular colour negative process was called C41, and trannies from E6 were also common.

But what happened if you accidentally put a film needing C41 chemicals through the E6 process, or vice versa? The answer: weird things. Colours would shift and give an eery effect.

Of course, in the days of digital, nobody needs to do this any more, but plenty of people like to – by faking the same colour shifts as before, but this time in the digital darkroom.

I was fiddling about with some Cross Process Actions for Photoshop and decided to give my picture for Day #1099 a bit of treatment:

Original Image
1. Original Image looks quite flat and desaturated anyway

There were several different options to try, so this is what I compared:

2. CMYK Conversion - I was not too keen on the green tinge
Curves - Hue-Saturation
3. I tried out the Curves - Hue-Saturation action but did not like the pink sky
4. The E6-C41 action was nice, I nearly went with this one
5. Eventually chose the C41-E6 action for my final image

Actions are a powerful way to get Photoshop to do some pretty whacky things – and in a reproducible manner. This kind of effect won’t suit every picture, and I find using it sparingly is the best way. Otherwise, your images can end up looking very similar. But if you want to produce a series of pictures all with the same look, Actions are a very reliable way of doing so.