The power of the latent image

I was helping my mom rearrange some things in her house and came across a roll of film that had been in a basket just lying around the house.  I thought it might have been a roll that I shot when I first moved to Colorado, maybe a good 7-8 years old now, as I still have one roll unaccounted for.  It turned out to be something much more precious:

This was our home in Ohio which we had to sell back in 2002 which means that these pics are at least 15 years old, and judging by the way my brother looks, are probably closer to 20.  While mostly different angles of the front of our house, I also managed to capture our dog Pinto that my mom brought out to Colorado, and who sadly didn’t survive long after that.  Also in the background is a straw barn that we spent many an afternoon playing in back in the day.  These were taken by me, with my Kodak Cameo Focus Free point & shoot camera, picked up at a thrift store at some point and probably still in my top drawer in the chest at my dad’s.

I bumped up the contrast a bit but that was all, and am pretty impressed with how good the images held up, even if they do now look a bit vintage.  Knowing from experience how reluctant people are to drop off old film at a camera store these days, I recently had a single-use camera processed for a friend of mine and they were at least this usable.  If people you know have film lying around undeveloped, please encourage them to make a trip to their local camera store, or barring that, offer to do it for them: it’s a nice favor and can bring back some great memories.

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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.

Penarth Pier

I stayed in the little town of Penarth (just a short train ride south of Cardiff) for a few days before flying out, and it’s a lovely town.

Evidently this is one of the last Victorian piers left in existence.  I believe it’s been recently renovated/restored but there’s some stink about the mishandling of the money they had, but thankfully I was just able to enjoy myself while I was there.  It doesn’t look like it from the pictures, but the place was crowded.

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.

Old stone

Some brick and stone work around South Wales.  Some of it is old, some of it is newer but made to look old.

Talking to Britons, one of the things that came up is architecture and how they feel so tired of everything being made to match Victorian architecture, and wished for more modern-looking buildings.  And of course, being American, I’m sick to death of modern architecture and love seeing buildings, houses, churches, that might only be 200 years old (or younger), but look like they’ve been there for a millennium.

Cardiff Castle

Cardiff Castle stands in the middle of the city of Cardiff, just North of the city centre (I’ll use British spelling), quite easy to get to if you’re out on the town, just remember that they close at 6 and stop letting people in at 5.  Definitely go see it if you’re traveling in the area.

From what I remember from watching Secrets of Great British Castles, Cardiff Castle stands on the ruins of an old Roman fort, and was originally constructed during the reign of Edward I.  Talking with an Englishman at the bar one night, evidently castles of this sort are called “war castles,” built during either the Norman Invasion or the English conquest of Wales under Edward Longshanks.  As you can see, it’s a motte-and-bailey style, but of course the original structure would have been made of wood.

Cardiff Castle is sort of looked down upon by locals specifically because it isn’t all original, though I don’t know why, if they were already building it in stone by the 1200s.  The main problem is that the Marquesses of Bute started their own “restorations” in the 1800s cashing in on the gothic revival fad of the time (many wealthy noblemen of the time tore down castles built in the 14th and 15th centuries to make something more in keeping with what was considered a castle at the time).  I believe there was rather a large stink raised about the demolition of the medieval inner bailey wall along with other buildings dating from at least the 1300s.  The grounds of the bailey would have held extensive gardens, but now are just lawn.

There was a rather impressive collection of buildings on the outer bailey wall built (or restored) during the 1800s and containing rather impressive living quarters, said to be kept as close as possible to medieval dwelling conditions.  Unfortunately I did not have enough time to take the tour, preferring to wander the castle grounds by myself and only leaving right when they closed.  I’m still impressed with what I saw, and coming from a country where something built in the 1850s is considered old, Cardiff Castle is still properly ancient.