I didn’t know what to expect after purchasing a roll of just barely expired but heavily discounted Provia 100F. It would be my first time shooting a slide film, all I knew was nail my exposure and I’d be rewarded with beautiful and detailed images. With this in mind, I proceeded to load the roll into my Pentax K-1000 with its broken light meter and decided to place faith in my smartphone app.
My plan for the day, like most days: just explore the streets of Wroclaw, Poland and see what catches my eye. Secondly, I wanted to see where slide film might fit in when it comes to my shooting style. The lighting conditions that spring day were interesting, the sun was still low in the sky so even though it wasn’t too late there were a lot of shadows and highlights. In retrospect, these are some of the toughest conditions to be shooting slide film in but at the time film-newbie was blissfully ignorant.
My wandering led me to the town square where I found a large collection of stalls with shopkeepers selling odd and ends. One such stall had a interesting selection of newly crafted clay pots, mugs and oil lamps. I metered for the highlights like a champion and take a shot.
Next, I made my way through the cobbled streets to the old university building, an intersection of streets provides a corridor of light which illuminated the otherwise dark alley. By the time I make it to the Cathedral island the sun has gone down substantially, casting its golden light onto an already fantastically orange parish building which I photographed.
I finish off the day with a quick meal at my favourite baozi restaurant and decided to test the merit of this new (to me) filmstock by shooting a portrait of the server in rather dim conditions.
A week later, I received the developed film and after allowing a few moments to take in how gosh-darn cool slides look held up against the window, I popped them in my scanner. I was thoroughly impressed with the images I got, and after a few minor saturation and shadow adjustments, I was happy with the final shots.
Despite the diminished dynamic range of E6 film, Provia 100F managed to maintain enough shadow detail even in higher contrast scenes. One comment to make is that it does tend to make your sky look whiter than it is (as seen the final photo of a row of houses).
All in all, if you want a film that delivers the maximum possible resolution with descent performance in most lighting conditions then Provia is for you (if money is no object). Ultimately, Provia 100F was the gateway drug to Velvia for me, and that is now my go-to film for architecture & landscapes. But if I want a general-purpose slide film then Provia is it.
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