Shooting slide film – brilliance meets insanity

When Kodak re-introduced Ektachrome I was “all-in” since as a young photographer I exclusively shot slide film. As stated before I very much preferred Kodachrome over Ektachrome back in the days, but I had to give it a try when this new old filmstock was finally available here in Germany. My first experience was a mixed one (see post “Ektachrome – finally”), but I played with filters and ISO when shooting the next roles and it seems that pushing the film one stop and using a warming filter sucessfully counterbalances the film’s blueish to greenish tint when shot in overcast light conditions. I first learned about this in a vlog on Hashem McAdam’s Youtube channel “Pushing Film”, where he even compared his results with the old Kodachrome color palette.

Slide film having a rather narrow dynamic range needs careful metering and for all other Ektachrome roles I used my trusty Nikon F90x, which offers matrix metering. Let’s take a closer look at one of the shots I got with this camera and a 85mm prime lens.

Autumn leaves

It was an overcast day in autumn and the floor of my local woodland was covered in leaves, which ranged from bright yellow through orange to dark brown in color. I used intentional camera movement and a rather slow shutter speed to blur the leaves producing soft streams of autumnal colors across the frame. The result is a beautiful abstract image representing the season. The warming filter obviously did its job, the colors are vibrant and a very authentic representation of what I saw when walking through the forest. So, it’s all fine and dandy, you think? I know how to shoot this film now, and brilliant results galore are to be expected on the horizon? Not quite! Technically I would say yes that’s possible, but there is a tiny problem: the insane price of the film. For one roll of Ektachrome you have to pay a little over 21,- Euros, having it developed costs the next 10,- Euros and obviously only few people are willing to pay that much for 36 exposures. The labs developing E6 in Germany seem to receive low numbers of exposed slide films and pool them over a longer period of time before processing them in a fresh batch of developer.  The last Ektachrome I shot is with the lab for 6 weeks now and I may only get it back after Christmas. Film shooters often praise the “phase of patience” they have to go through when sending their exposed films to the lab as a time of growing excitement. They even see this as the antedote to the instant gratification digital shooters have when they immediately check their images on the back of their cameras. Although I  don’t believe in this philosophy, I can relate to the excitement part of the story…when the turnover time is not longer than a week or two. But to wait eight to ten weeks for an E6 development puts me off – not talking about the costs incurred. Will I shoot Ektachrome in the future? I would like to, since I still love the vibrance and contrast of slide film. But looking at it from an economic perspective, it’s simply impossible.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s