My First Roll of Slide Film

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After Kodak announced the discontinuation of several transparency films, I decided to try some of them before they finally become just part of photography’s history. The photos that I’m showing here were captured using my beloved Nikon FM3A and Kodak E100VS slide film.

I was quite uncomfortable at first, knowing that slide film is probably the most unforgiving medium. It has a very narrow dynamic range of about 4-5 stops. It means that I had to carefully choose what I shoot. Before tripping the shutter I had to evaluate the light as best as I could and make sure that I am properly judging the meter reading from my camera. In the shot above, the exposure needle of my FM3A was almost pointing at 1/15s. I thought that it must have been tricked by the shadow areas. My goal was to capture the sunlight hitting the buildings and bridge so I was careful not to blow up the highlights. I decided to expose one stop lower at 1/30s and this is what I got. I really like the warm light hitting the top of the bridge against the storm clouds in the background. When I composed the shot I had panoramic cropping in mind so I made sure that the important parts are all framed right in the middle. I wanted to use the whole frame but in order to capture the building and the bridge I had to shoot wide and aim higher. Wide and high introduced so much distortion that the buildings seem to lean over to the center of the frame. My only option was to shoot wide but frame it in such a way that the horizon was almost in the middle, a mortal sin in composition unless you have a reason to do so. In this case, the reason was my goal of doing a 1×2 panoramic format and I think I have succeeded in doing that.

I wish I could let everyone see the actual frames on film. The colours are so intense and there’s depth that it looks three-dimensional. I used my cheap Epson V500 scanner to digital the film and to be honest, I think it just ruined the image. I guess slide film is meant to be viewed in a slide projector.

I am very happy with the results and would definitely buy more of this stuff before the world runs out of them. Of the 36 frames, I got more than 10 keepers and I think that says a lot about how film forces you to think a hundred times before clicking the shutter. There’s no reason you couldn’t do the same with digital photography but there’s always the temptation of deleting the bad ones or fixing it later in post or storage is cheap arguments.

Before I sign off, here’s more of my slide film captures:

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2 thoughts on “My First Roll of Slide Film”

  1. Those turned out really well, especially the second-to-last one. You obviously know how light works in your favour when photographing.

    (I found your blog entry by googling for the leniency of Ektachrome (whether or not I can over- or underexpose by a stop, maybe two, without ruining it), which I’m shooting for the first time too.)

    1. Thanks 🙂

      I treat slide film like digital. I probably won’t try pushing it unlike negative film which can handle up to 2 stops in either direction.

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