What is cross processing, and how does it work?

Cross processing
You can create cross processing effect in Photoshop, Lightroom and any other program with curves adjustments, by modifying the red, green and blue curves individually. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

Back in the days of film, amidst all the different film formats available, there were two distinct colour film types you could get – positive film (also known as transparency film or slide film) and negative film. The former produced a colour slide for direct viewing, and the latter produced a reversed version of the scene for printing onto light-sensitive paper. The two types used different chemicals to develop the film (E6 chemicals for positives and C41 for negatives) but cross-processing involved developing slide film in the C41 chemicals designed for negatives, or negative film in the E6 chemicals for slides. 

DxO Nik Collection. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Andrew James

Andrew makes his living as a photographer, videographer and journalist. For 26 years he was a specialist magazine editor, the last 13 of which were on Practical Photography magazine. A long-time expert in photographic techniques across many disciplines, he's a self-confessed photo generalist, and a font of creative knowledge to capturing just about any subject, although he has a strong leaning to wildlife and travel photography. Andrew's wide-ranging photography experience means he authors the long-running Photo Answers section for Digital Camera Magazine. His work as a journalist, guide and educator dovetails neatly into his commitment to Foto-Buzz - an online subscription community he founded, where Andrew writes articles, films tutorials and records blogs on all manner of photo-related subjects and techniques for enthusiast photographers.