Shootin’ Slides

So after becoming frustrated with the world of scanning negatives and trying/hoping/praying that the color balance was true for each one, I’ve decided to shoot more slides. This has a couple of ramifications. First, I’ll have to shoot more Fuji film, since they’re the only ones that make color transparencies anymore. Secondly, the exposures have to be much better (so they say).

The first doesn’t bother me so much. My main thing is that I like to support Kodak, since they’re also the only manufacturer of motion picture film stock anymore. The second doesn’t really change things for me. It’s always been a goal of mine to be as precise as possible with my exposures. Spot meters are a favorite, as they are an excellent tool that helps with the visualization of the final image. Once you know in which zone (in Zone System terms) everything falls, then you can imagine what each portion of the image will look like in the end.

Now, using a spot meter doesn’t make one infallible. I have my share of bad exposures. The nice thing about slides, is that you can see easily see exposure errors and how they affect the image. With negatives, you can only guess at the density, and you can’t easily tell if there is a color shift from the error.

Getting slides developed is pretty easy. The labs want you to think it’s nigh impossible to do at home in your kitchen, but they are also trying to get your business. Locally, the only lab that will take any film is Mike’s Camera, so that’s where I used to take my slides. I long for the days where they did the processing in-house, for now, they send the film to Colorado, and the turnaround is roughly three weeks! That’s way too long to wait. The solution was to do the impossible: home slide developing.

It’s not so hard, after all. One simply needs a roaster oven and a thermometer to get the job done. A roaster oven is basically a big crock pot with a metal bowl, instead of a ceramic one. I found this link on Ken Rockwell’s site. It’s from a guy on Smugmug that processes his film in one of these roaster ovens. It’s easy to find one on Amazon, but make sure you get one with a smooth dial that you can adjust in tiny increments.

In the end, slides are easy to do at home. It’s also cheaper if you reuse the chemicals. The results are just as good as the three week alternative. Here are a few examples of some things I’ve shot lately. The color of slide film really is much better than negatives. The tones are not as compressed as in negative film, meaning greater bit depth per channel when scanning. Thanks for reading.

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