For the Love of Slide

We all have our favorite mediums. We draw in ink, we write with Blackwing pencils, we take pictures. In my case, I often take pictures on film. While I can appreciate the contrasty look of black-and-white Tri-X or the soft tones of Fuji 400H, the one type of film I have always loved and continue to love inordinately is slide film.

When I was but a wee kid in ye olde 1990s, this began as a cost-saving measure. Where I lived there were several places where you could drop off film, but they all, to varying degrees, made you order prints with development. On a pocket money budget, every film became a big monetary decision. Once, I had to walk back home from the supermarket photo counter because I hadn’t realized they wouldn’t let you pick the prints you liked but made you buy all 36 from a roll instead, and I didn’t have enough money.

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Slide film was the solution. It was a bit more expensive, but it didn’t cost you anything in photo prints. Instead, you could get by with a small plastic tabletop lightbox (duly purchased) and a diminutive slide viewer. If I wanted to see my slides in all their glory, I had to pull out my dad’s fold-out silver screen and the old slide projector. 

Later, I would bring slide film along with me in an auto-everything point-and-shoot camera (the Fuji DL190, if you must know, finally purged from my possessions when it became clear that digital photography was both cheaper and more practical) on vacations and school trips. I mostly shot Fujichrome, and when I began film photography again in earnest a few years back, that’s what I returned to. I now shoot either Fuji Provia 100 or the very similar Agfa Precisa 100CT. Colors are true but vibrant, and grain is all but nonexistent if you don’t zoom in very close.

After a long sabbatical from film scanning, I recently started again, processing finally all the many slides I shot in 2016. Every time, seeing the colors and tones of slide film makes me happy. It makes me feel like I chose correctly when I picked a camera to bring and a film to slip into it. It makes me feel like I’m back where I belong. Back to my favorite medium.

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