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.
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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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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