My favourite thing about film photography is the different ‘personalities’ that exist in individual film stocks. I have shot lots of ILFORD black and white and Kodak Portra and a little Ektar 100, each has its own quirks and peculiarities – and to be honest, I haven’t yet come across a film stock that I DON’T like.
I was somewhat oblivious to Fujifilm film stocks but I kept seeing beautiful results with Velvia 50. Wondering how much of this was down to post-production tweaking, I decided to order a couple of rolls and the recommended warming filter, and loaded it up in my Hasselblad 503CXi. I had scouted a great abandoned warehouse location that I thought would be perfect to shoot during golden hour, especially with a warmed-up, low-grain slide film.
My camera came in an industry-standard Pelican case – awesome. At the time, I believed I would happily haul that thing around, but how wrong I was! I use a shoulder bag which I had bought for my DSLR. With a camera, spare back, filters and hood it’s a tight fit. On my way to the warehouse, I saw a Karmann Ghia. As I took the camera out of the bag, it caught on the side flap, and it caught good! I got it out, but the locking mechanism of the insert had pulled open, exposing the film inside. I quickly re-locked it, snapped the Karmann and kept going.
As I advanced the film, I heard the sound of grinding plastic. The rest of the roll seemed to go through OK, but the frame counter was off by a couple of exposures. When I wound back the roll the bad sounds returned and had to work through the physical resistance. I knew something was not right but…
I LOVE Velvia 50! The colour rendition is spectacular. It’s beautifully saturated through the spectrum, and deep and rich in the shadows. The grain is almost imperceptible.
Since my return to film photography a few years ago, I have tried to live by this credo: every frame is an experiment, every roll is an adventure. The only failures are the shots you don’t learn from. So, after scanning the torn film and piecing the shot back together in PhotoShop, recalling the sound of ripping plastic, worrying how fogged the rest of the roll would be, the biggest lesson I learned from this roll is probably one you’ve already spotted. The car is not in focus!
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This series is produced in conjunction with Hamish Gill's excellent 35mmc.com. Head on over to read the other half of these stories there.
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