Holiday Lights With CineStill 800T

Photographing Beverly Hills, California With a Yashica T5

4 min read by Kevan Wilkinson. Published in Film, Photography.
Holiday Lights and Decorations in Beverly Hills, California.

When November arrives, the weather gets cooler, the leaves change color, the football season reaches the half-way mark, and holiday decorations start going up. I have looked forward to this time of year for as long as I can remember. It instills memories of family, friends, and holiday gatherings. The winter months also remind me of film photography, as it was the only option available when I was young. Just about everyone in my family would grab their trusty analog cameras and snap pictures at Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve.

I recently perused an old box of photographs from those days, and it inspired me to take my Yashica T5 and two rolls of CineStill 800T film to Beverly Hills, California, to shoot the holiday decor at night.

Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California.

The mix of color, light, and shape that adorns the shops and streets of Beverly Hills during the winter holidays is truly a sight to behold. The city does not compromise when it comes to its holiday decor. It comes alive with spectacular light installations, life-sized Christmas ornaments, and vibrant holiday displays in all of the boutique shop windows. In short, it was the perfect setting for CineStill 800T. This is a tungsten-based 35mm film stock, which means it presents a natural blue hue to compensate for yellow tones that are commonly associated with indoor lighting situations.

The Yashica T5 sports a razor-sharp Carl Zeiss f/3.5 lens, and I have achieved excellent results with it in poorly lit situations, including night time, with a multitude of film stocks. The speed of the CineStill 800T film, coupled with the superior performance of the Yashica T5, made me want to shoot without using the camera’s built-in flash. So, that is just what I did.

Window Display at Tiffany’s in Beverly Hills, California.

I walked through Beverly Hills and snapped pictures of streets, storefronts, and small window displays. I take for granted that these places are recognized the world over, and have been featured in films, television shows, and print advertisements for decades.

There were lots of tourists taking pictures with their mobile phones and large DSLR cameras, but I did not feel out of place. Reason being, there is something about shooting with film that cannot be easily replicated with digital photography.

Christmas light display in Beverly Hills, California.

I had the rolls of CineStill 800T film processed at a professional photo lab in Orange County, California. It was scanned using a Fuji Frontier FP 3000 film scanner without any color modifications or corrections. The pictures ended up just what I expected. The film turned the nighttime streets and storefronts with their holiday decor into a winter dreamland.

The photographs have a unique color rendition and a noticeable film grain, and almost all of them had the red glow around points of light that CineStill 800T is known for. 

Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California.

I have shot a lot of CineStill 800T film this year, and these last two rolls ended up being the perfect holiday gift… for myself.