Why I love Fuji slide film

I might shoot a whole lot of Double-X and Tri-X, but when it comes to color, Fuji still has my heart.  If you need a reason to shoot a roll of slide film, look below.  I mean, what’s not to love?

The price, I suppose, so I usually save this film for special occasions.  And it’s the processing costs that really can drain one’s bank account fast, around $20 for developing and scanning (plus $10-15 for the roll of film itself).  Yikes.  But then I look at a slide on a light table or scanned, and all misgivings go by the wayside:

I don’t shoot a whole lot of slide film, but that’s changing the more I get good results.  While I will shoot Ektachrome when it returns (and with Ferrania not too far away either), Fuji is still my first love for color film.  As I look through these pictures, I notice that a lot of them have very striking shades of blue, a favorite color of mine.  To be honest, Velvia 50 and I didn’t get on very well, but then I’ve only shot one roll and I probably need a bit more practice with it.

The modern slide films are remarkable.  Compared to Velvia 50, which is a bit of an older emulsion from the early-’90s, the more modern Provia 100F and Velvia 100 are pretty remarkable in their latitude, being able to survive one stop of over- or underexposure with only slightly noticeable differences in color.  Color, in fact, that is supposed to have an archival life of 300 years.  Color negative film doesn’t come anywhere close.

It’s a bit sad the direction that Fujifilm as a company has gone, and I don’t doubt that at some point in the next decade we will be holding the last-ever Fuji slide film.  I’ve been on the fence about whether or not to continue supporting their business when they have obviously abandoned film photographers.  Perhaps it would be better to not get attached to anything Fuji makes, because I know that whatever it is, its days are numbered.  But then I look back to the point when I knew Plus-X was discontinued, and only bought one roll to shoot, or when I passed up the opportunity to buy a few rolls of Provia 400X, or Superia 400 in 120 size.  Or the fact that I never got a chance to shoot Kodachrome (or Ektachrome, Astia, Sensia, Fortia, or Velvia 100F); I regret those things.  And so, like marrying a person with a terminal condition, all I can do is enjoy the time that is left, knowing that at some point all good things must come to an end.

Trip 35 and color slides

Some of these go back to last fall, when I thought I’d try doing the tourist thing in my own town, but really just by snapping pics when I was supposed to be giving the tour.

I used an expired roll of AGFAPhoto Precisa CT 100 (aka Fuji Provia 100F) giving the Trip 35 the ultimate exposure test and I’m quite pleased that the selenium-powered autoexposure works perfectly fine, even after a period of 40-50 years.  I’m now starting to see that the Trip 35’s lens isn’t the most contrasty ever, especially when the sun sneaks behind the clouds, so I’m happy that I’ll be able to shoot slide film in here.

Armed with that knowledge I took the Trip 35 to Wales with me to shoot a few rolls of Velvia 100 and am very happy with the results (I’ve been posting them for the last few weeks).  The more I use this camera the more I love it.  At $8.00 from a thrift store it was a real bargain too, and one that I’m happy I sprung for.  Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so surprised that it did so well with slide film since that’s what people were shooting back when the camera was being made, but it’s nice to know that after such a period of time it still has what it takes.

Poolside fun with the Weathermatic

The ice and snow finally came last Thursday.  Then it left again, but now it’s back in full force, having somewhere around 6in on the ground up in Divide.  And since I don’t have easy access to a fireplace and glass of scotch at this precise moment, I can at least look back on a warmer time, 2 1/2 months ago.

Ah, the Minolta Weathermatic Dual 35.  I was glad to dig this camera out of the garage and put it back to work!  Staying at my friend’s house while on vacation, most of what we did during the day was hanging out in his pool.  Most everything else we did is captured here.  Again, there aren’t too many outstanding pictures here (and I wasn’t even wearing my glasses when I took any of these).

Those 223 batteries are getting expensive!  I picked a Duracell-made one at Batteries Plus just before I left, cost me $18…should have bought one online a few weeks before, I guess.  At the cost of a new battery every two years, this camera is costing a lot more than I thought it would.  I guess I need to use the camera a bit more here and there (and it does well outside of the pool as well) before the battery runs out by itself.

Knowing that the Weathermatic handles slide film well, I took along a roll of AGFAPhoto Precisa CT 100 (AKA Fuji Provia 100F), as well as a roll of Kodak Gold 200.  The C-41 was scanned at my local shop using the Pakon F235, the Provia was shipped to Mike’s in Boulder and scanned using their Noritsu.  I still have it in my head to gather up all my slide film and do a comparison between the Noritsu, Fuji Frontier used at Mike’s in Colorado Springs, and my own Pakon F335.  Maybe someday…

The Kodak Gold looks pretty good to me, especially when overexposed one stop, looks like lots of detail in the shadows, but I didn’t bother with dodging and burning.  I’ve shot other rolls of Kodak Gold, but they’re still waiting to be developed.  What I’ve seen of Kodak Gold so far made me want to try it out, and I’m glad I did.  I’m still in love with Fuji’s colors though!  At least I remembered to make sure that the lens didn’t have water droplets on it when taking pictures.  I wonder if being in a private pool helped (chemicals, I assume), as last time we were in a lake.  In any event, the water seemed to pour off of its own volition and wasn’t a problem.

If one looks close enough, a little motion blur can be occasionally seen, something I noticed last time I used it as well, and knowing that the camera only shoots at ASA100 and 400, I should have loaded up some 400 speed film in it, but forgot.  Even in bright sunlight, there can be motion blur from me holding the camera, and other times the motion is quite frozen.  I can’t quite say I understand it.  One thing else I found out is that occasionally, the Weathermatic’s exposure isn’t quite spot on, like below.  Of course it had to happen when shooting the Provia:

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Home

We lived in this house 1994-2002, the longest I’ve consecutively lived in one place.  The house was built in 1820 by J.C. Hayes, a veteran of the War of 1812.  War veterans were given land in that part of Ohio as a reward for their service–many of them became farmers and this house is still surrounded by 3000+ acres of farmland, all owned by one man.

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There was originally a red wooden barn behind the summer kitchen that among other things, held a tunnel that had been filled in.  There was talk that this house might have been a stop on the underground railroad, though I don’t know that my parents ever looked into it.  Unfortunately the current owners demolished the barn, so I don’t know if any evidence is left of that.  In the 1970s, the band McGuffey Lane used it as a practice space, I’m told.  Our next door neighbor and dear friend, a construction contractor, had owned this house for years, and at that point was in quite bad repair, to the point of deer living inside.  He put a lot of work into that house, and is responsible for much of the electrical work and plumbing.

There was a lot of work still left to do, but my parents saw the potential in the house.  When our friend died in the early ’90s, we bought the house from his parents, and continued the renovation, and opened a bed & breakfast.  I have a lot of hard memories growing up, but the house itself was home, a sanctuary away from the madness of life.  My grandpa died in that house.  My brother and mother insist that it’s haunted–I’m not quite as spiritually aware as they are, and the house never bothered me.  My mom had a premonition (if you want to call it that), and wanted to sell the business in 2000, but my dad refused; revenue had been steadily climbing since they opened.  Unfortunately after Sept 11 happened, a lot of people stopped traveling and pretty much anything connected to travel and tourism took a big hit, including us.  We sold the house and the business less than a year later.

The people who bought the bed & breakfast after us didn’t do too well and went under.  They owed us quite a lot of money but escaped that by declaring bankruptcy, as well as making off with several articles of antique furniture, etc before they moved down South.  I also think they took an industrial waffle iron that I was quite fond of, and would have loved to have owned.  Oh well, life goes on.  My dad knows more about the current owners and I didn’t ask him too many questions, though apparently the house is still operated as a bed & breakfast.  If I ever become filthy rich, I will definitely own that house again.

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The scans were a bit on the green side for some reason, and I had to do a little correction in Photoshop.  Strangely, it didn’t affect the rest of the roll.  The artifacts on the left side of the second picture are tears, I believe: it was the last shot on the roll, and the Weathermatic would be damned if it didn’t give me one last exposure.  God bless it…

Cyanotype onesies – Alternative Processes

So here are the final examples of the cyanotypes I did on cotton.  I never was able to determine why exactly they turned yellow, but I have ideas, and perhaps one day I’ll experiment more.

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I tried washing the onesies beforehand, that didn’t work.  I tried washing afterwards in cold water, but they started to fade.  I tried prewashing cold without detergent for the last one, didn’t make a difference.  The only thing I can think of right now, is that I was on well water at the time, whereas the cyanotype solution was mixed on campus with city water, but aside from that, I don’t know what I did wrong.  Other people printed cyanotypes on cotton with no problem!  For the record, they were a gorgeous deep blue until I took them home and put them through the washing machine.

I snapped this just to have a record of it before I sent these off to my friends (and their new baby) in Boulder.

The first part of this post is here.

On the water with the Minolta Weathermatic Dual 35

It’s been a bit wintry here in Colorado these last few days, and makes me want my sunburn back for just a little while longer…so here are my vacation pictures (Labor Day weekend) while on Lake Cumberland in southern Kentucky, with (most of) my college friends from Ohio State.

note: I apologize for the Bud Light cans marring a few of the images.  It was later in the day and evidently some of my friends have no taste.  In compensation, here’s a (somewhat blurry) picture of me drinking my Magic Hat No. 9:
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Life’s too short to drink cheap beer.

Speaking of being just a bit blurry, that’s probably my only real gripe with this camera; I suppose something like a Nikonos would give me just a little bit more control.  I used 100 speed film that day, and I think next time I’ll be sure to bring along some 400 speed as well.  I’m sure ASA100 works fine most of the time, but unfortunately you’ll need that extra stop or two if it clouds over:
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(or maybe I could have used the flash?)

On the other hand, I have 2 focal lengths, 50mm and 35mm, and that’s nice to have occasionally.  The only other problem I had with the Weathermatic was with the water spots on the lens (it can be seen in a few of the color shots).  I suppose there is some sort of substance that you can rub on the glass to help keep water off of it, I just didn’t think about it until it was too late.

I’m really pleased with how the camera performed out of water (the black & white pictures) and I think that in a pinch I could go on vacation taking only this camera, as long as everything I was shooting was outdoors.  The shutter is extremely silent (and the auto-winder isn’t all too loud either), to the point that I actually wasted a frame or two making sure it was actually working.  It doesn’t waste all of the leader, either.  On one roll I got 38 exposures, pretty respectable.  While being made sometime in the late ’80s, it’s still water-tight (I didn’t test just how deep I could push it), and amazingly, it floats!  The camera cost me a whole $7.00 from a thrift store, though the 6V lithium battery was probably twice that.  Thankfully I have another camera or two that can use that battery…  I just learned today from reading a few other online reviews that while the camera only shoots at ASA100 and 400, it will accept anything up to ASA1000.  Shooting 800-speed negative film at 400 isn’t such a bad idea anyway, so I might give that a try next time.

The black & white film is AGFAPhoto APX 100, the color is Fuji Provia 100F.  It was a bit risky I suppose to shoot slide film in a camera I’d never used before, but I think that’s the true test of performance, and the results speak for themselves.  AGFAPhoto doesn’t make its own film.  I’ve read that APX 100 is repackaged Kentmere 100 made by Ilford.  I paid around $8.00 for that film (more than I paid for the camera) and it’s really not worth it when one could buy Kentmere-branded film for under $5.00 a roll–it’s the same problem with how much Precisa CT 100 costs now.  Whatever this company is that has bought the rights to the AGFAPhoto brand, I don’t know what they’re trying to accomplish by rebranding other companies’ films and marking the prices up.  Sooner or later people will wise up; they’re not likely to get any more of my money, that’s for sure.  If you want real AGFA film, it’s labelled Rollei now.  The Kentmere 100 film, which I’d never shot before, looks very pleasing to me most of the time, but it is pretty grainy.  I’m not normally one to whine about a bit of grain, but it’s really noticeable for a 100-speed film, so be prepared.  Again, I’m not complaining (except for how much I paid), I think it has a great look to it that reminds me of what film looked like back in the ’60s and ’70s.  That said, it’s grainier than my beloved Tri-X (at least with whatever developer my camera lab is using, and maybe I should ask just what that is) and two stops slower, which makes it hard for me to find reasons to use it right now.

I wish I didn’t live so far away from my friends now, but then a lot of them have moved away as well.  This is the first time I’d seen some of them in 7 years.  It’s hard to know where the time went, but this marked the 10th anniversary of us all being in the dorms together.  It’s scary thinking that there are legal adults now an entire decade younger than me, or to think that I’m in classes with some of them.  I’m thinking about mortality more these days; perhaps still a bit humorous in someone only 28 years old, I’m sure.

My apologies if you don’t like to look at pictures of half-naked hairy fat guys.  We can’t all of us shoot nothing but gorgeous female models, though a lot of people do get away with it (and get paid for their trouble).  I’m just not that lucky I guess…

More on slides: AGFA Precisa CT 100 (and more bracketing)

Which according to the internet (so it must be true), is rebranded Fuji that didn’t meet quality standards.  Despite what the saleslady said when I bought it (“It’s not Fuji!”), I don’t think it’s Agfachrome, don’t think it’s actually made by AGFA (their film is sold by and as Rollei now), and since the box said “Made in Japan” as well as the film canister coming in the standard Fuji plastic container, I’m going to have to go with the internet on this one.  As far as quality goes, I’d say it looks great, I have no complaints there at all; perhaps the colors aren’t as wild as Velvia 50 but it does make up for it in other areas.  I bracketed some shots I wasn’t sure about, but the differences are pretty minute compared to the Velvia.  Whether this is Provia or possibly Astia, this is a much more forgiving film, and I might have gotten away with not bracketing at all.  It’s something that’s good to know in case I get one chance at a particular shot: at the very least I won’t have to worry as much.  Here’s what I mean:

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f/11 250                 f/9.5 250                 f/8 250   on a 35mm lens

And again, this time a whole stop apart:

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f/5.6 500               f/4 500                   f/2.8 500    on a 100mm lens

I think in both cases, the middle picture seems most correct to me, judging by color.  So with this film, the penalty for fudging your exposure by a stop or so is that the colors will be slightly different–you’re not really in danger of missing the shot.  As far as I remember, the light meter told me the shots on the left, the ones on the right were the reading of my hand against a green background.

I picked up this film to try because it was quite a bit cheaper ($8/roll) and would do so again if I could find any more.  It seems stocks are depleted and prices are high now, so unless you can get this cheap you’re better off with the real Fuji Provia 100F.  As with the last roll, I used the Canon AE-1 that was gifted to me, and most of my pictures were taken with a 35mm lens that was also gifted to me.  Here’s one more series that my brother insisted I get a picture of; I think I’d go far left this time as the most correct-looking:

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f/11 125                 f/8 125                  f/5.6 125   on a 35mm lens
You’re welcome, Jake.

In other news, I will be going for a minor in Visual Arts, emphasis in photography, because I’m not busy enough already with all my music stuff.  Yay for me.  Actually, I’ve found that I really enjoy taking pictures and want to continue taking photography classes.  Also, this will give me a good excuse to spend more money on cameras.