I’m getting back to my “summer experiment” -– testing medium format slide film. This time I’d like to share results from FujiFilm Velvia 50. Why do I call it “testing”? Because in my 9 years experience of shooting film, I tried slide film for the first time only this spring. Slide film is still a novelty for me, even when in reality it’s old news.
I already went through Fujifilm Provia 100F film -– tried it, because I got the impression that it’s still affordable and has a balanced, classic colour, then I tried Kodak Ektachrome E100 -– because of the personal impression I had before shooting it –- it’s “slide film for negative film shooters” (subjective, but after my initial tests I can confirm that).
I was very tempted to try shooting FujiFilm Velvia film, because of the legendary properties this film offers: high saturation, great contrast and very fine grain. It looks like this film is targeted more to landscape photography with that exaggerated saturation, and I was planning to use it for shooting some natural detail, but my first outing I got to shoot people. Oops! Even though I have seen good portraits shot on Velvia, I got the impression that in most cases, this film is not the best for skin tones.
My story is simple. One Friday, before a weekend I was planning to head over to my getaway cabin outside of town, I loaded my Rolleiflex 2.8GX with Velvia 50. My plan was to go for a walk during the best light to shoot some landscape scenery and details. A pleasant surprise got in the way -– I got a call from my brother with the news that his family was coming to visit us. As the unofficial photographer of my family, I knew my duty :).
I’d have to make a portrait-orientated reportage on a manual focusing medium format film camera, with the “wrong” film. My department…easy peasy… Getting a bit more serious, that was a small challenge as many other things could possibly also go wrong: Velvia 50 and people. I was afraid that I’d get red-skinned “hell boys and hell girls”, and then there was the very slow ISO 50 film and evening twilight to contend with. Ultimately, I had to use very slow shutter speeds, handheld. Slide film requires very precise metering and it was a bit of a task to manage it during the family party. Finally, manual focus in an uncontrollable / non-staged situation.
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Still, it looks like the majority of the shots came out fine! And the most pleasant surprise is how well Velvia slide handled skin tones. I’m amazed by it. Take a look! The content of the shots is a bit personal, but I hope you’ll see the beauty of slide film, even without my personal emotionally related point of view.
As a conclusion – I think that FujiFilm Velvia 50 CAN be a specialized portrait slide film when you want to get bright and a bit surreal memories.
Thanks for reading and have fun!
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