A colour scheme from the 1990s. Which is why is was so fitting to take this shot on a somewhat niche older film. Coles Express in Australia is a bit of a roadside icon. I just like the look of the 1990s vintage colours and layout, nothing in them has changed since I was growing up. I grabbed this shot on a spring photowalk in Gawler in 2018.
The Coles Express brand originally referred to a small number of medium-sized supermarkets Coles ran in the central business districts of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
With the launch of Coles’ fuel offer, these were rebranded as Coles Central with the service stations taking the Coles Express branding.
The current Coles Express chain began at more than 150 service stations in Victoria on 28 July 2003. After this initial trial, it was followed by a national roll-out from 1 December the same year, starting with New South Wales, and completed in mid-2004. The initial success of the discount offer saw fuel shortages in Victoria after the offer began in New South Wales – where Shell’s busiest sites are located – as Shell failed to cope with the distribution of a 30 percent increase in demand.
As at July 2021, there were 723 Coles Express service stations and stand-alone convenience sites across Australia. All former Shell multi-site franchisee sites became Coles Express stores.
I don’t normally like to shoot Kodak Ektar. I can get a very similar result when shooting Portra 160 and then boosting the saturation a bit. Kodak Ektar is more of a slide film look, but makes things easy with a wider dynamic range.
The Film: Kodak Ektar
Kodak Ektar started as a colour 35mm and 120 semi-professional film introduced by Kodak in 1989, which used the common C-41 process. It was designed to offer ultra-fine grain. It was manufactured in 25, 100 and 1000 ISO formats. 400 speed film was available until 1997. Poor market segmentation was cited as a factor in Kodak’s decision to discontinue Ektar in 1994.
But then…in 2008 it came back!
A new film was introduced in September 2008 under the name Kodak EKTAR 100, which claims to be the finest-grain color negative film with high saturation and vivid colors available on the market. The film was initially only offered in 35mm, but later the film offering was expanded to include 120 size film, then 4×5 and 8×10 sheet sizes in 2010.
For some spring/summer walkabout fun. Ektar is a good choice.