I’ve been holding off on posting this for some time, the roll was finished in time for the final week of Emulsive.org but me being an imbecile and massively underestimating how long it takes to get slide film developed, and then for some insane reason deciding to actually get mounted slides made also, I missed the deadline for posting my entries by a solid 2 and a half weeks. Perhaps I’ve been hiding these away to cover my shame at not being able to enter the final week, or perhaps it’s just because I’ve been busy and haven’t had the time to sit down and write an actual article on this blog (something I haven’t done properly for some time), but the images have been languishing away on my desk and not seen the light of day. Until now. So hello all and welcome to The 6 Million P Man’s first foray into shooting colour positive slide reversal film.
So what is slide film, or positive reversal, or whatever else you want to call it? To put it bluntly, when you shoot normal colour film you get a negative, when you shoot slide you get a positive, in other words a perfect little picture of exactly what you would see if you blew it up into a bigger size. It can be mounted as a slide and shown through a projector, it can be used to make prints like any other film. However what makes it particularly fun to work with is the quality of the images it can produce and the very true to life representation of colour as well. Now I’m going to hold my hands up and say this is not going to be an in depth review or a technical jargon filled piece, in fact it’s probably going to be littered with conjecture and errors. What this is going to be is my opinion of what it was like to shoot this type of film for the first time.
The roll of film in question was Agfa CT Precisa 100, it is a 100 ISO daylight film and, rumour has it, a re-branded Fuji slide film (I may be right I may be wrong on this count, you know what internet rumours are like). Whatever the film may be, it’s very true to life in the colour it produces and I think it produces a very life-like and almost “digital look” in the images it produced for me. Yes I know that sounds a bit ridiculous, why would you shoot a film that you think looks like a digital image when the whole reason you like to shoot film is the aesthetic of the “film look”? But that is what I think and you may or may not agree with me.
As I said previously I had never shot this type of film before, and as such I ran into the dreaded problem that everything I have read warned me of, the lack of room for error. Oh yes, “normal” colour film tends to have a rather wide latitude for failure when it comes to under or overexposing, this stuff does not. In fact it will laugh in your face and call you mean names if you get it wrong, it’s pretty unforgiving. As you can see from the two images below, look what a difference underexposing makes.
I’d say lesson learned, but I’m a slow learner, and a persistent failure to everyone.
So yes, slide is a cruel mistress at times and even though I tried to cheat by shooting on a Canon AE-1 Programme in auto exposure mode I managed to balls up a few frames, perhaps not as badly as I think I did (you be the judge of that), but still considering how much this stuff costs per roll, I was a little peeved with myself. Anyway despite the useless nature of my ability to correctly expose an image I did manage to shoot a few frames that I thought looked particularly good, exposure-wise, those below being some examples.
Now the most important reason I decided to give a go of shooting this type of film was the ability it has to represent colour. Already if you have a similar eye to me you may have noticed how “cool” some of the blues and greens appear in the previous images, which is pretty true to life, but what I was really wanting to see was the “pop” that you get from seeing vibrant colours literally look like they are coming out of the image at you. For that I thought there was no better subject than a load of flower beds in the one of the local parks, a nice variety of colour and the ability to get up close and, with generous use of bokeh and wide aperture’s, separate a subject from the surrounding masses so that it feels like it’s bursting out of the frame at you.
Can you see what I mean about the colours? To me it feels like I could literally touch some of the flowers through the screen.
So there you have it, a very short introduction to my first go at shooting slide film. Would I do it again? Definitely. Would I try to actually learn to use it correctly next time? Again definitely. It’s an unforgiving medium, and one that I think is difficult to master, but as with all things it wouldn’t be hard if there wasn’t a reward at the end of it. Plus now I have a box of slides that I need to show my granddad and he’ll want me to show him more, so I’d better get out there and make some.