I wish I knew now what kind of camera my dad actually had. I know it came in a brown case, and had a chrome body. It must of been an SLR of some kind, and dates back to the mid 1960’s. whatever it was, it’s long gone now….but I do have a few of the photos taken with it. Like most amateur photographers of the pre-digital age, the camera only seemed to come out on special occasions; weddings, trips to the beach, parties, family gatherings.
The other thing I remember is the little viewer that my dad had. It was a small box with a slot in the top for the mounted slides. As you pushed them in the pressure would trigger a light, and suddenly the picture would spring to life in glorious Kodacolor.
Beautiful, isn’t it? And very sad that it’s a dying format. Really, there is no getting away from it, no sugar coating it, slide film will be totally gone within the next few years. Kodachrome was much beloved, but that didn’t save it. Now Kodak has killed the entire line – not one colour reversal remains. Fuji are still producing a few, but they are getting ridiculously expensive. Still, every once in a while they take one out behind the barn and shoot it unceramoniously in the back of the head.
The reason I miss slide film, though, is not for it’s luminosity, it’s colour reproduction or it’s fine, smooth grain. To be honest, I think I’ve only shot about a dozen rolls of slide film for that in my life. I just find it too hard to meter correctly, too sensitive, and I don’t think it really suits my style. I have a couple of pictures I value, but not many more.
Both with a glass lens Holga, incidentally.
No, what I’ll miss about slide film is the cross-processing. Sacrilege, isn’t it? That gorgeous film dragged through the wrong chemicals to produce some kind of proto-instagram crap. Well, maybe. But don’t worry, you won’t be seeing it for much longer. In fact, I may well just have xpro’d my last roll of film.
The classic xpro look, the lomokev style, came from Agfa Precisa CT. Agfa are gone, with all their emulsions – what you see now branded as Agfa are just rebadged Fuji. And Fuji does not cross-process well at all.
I mean it’s interesting in it’s own way, but 36 neon pink or sickly green frames gets tired pretty fast. Crossprocessed Precisa, however, was still brash, but in a much more balanced and appealing way. Colours shifted rather than transformed completely. Grain was enhanced but not overpowering. Sometimes it was even subtle.
For a while, the Kodak films filled the gap. A little more punchy, a little more erratic, but still fun.
Now that’s gone too. So, down to my last roll, what’s the best thing to do? Intercontinental double exposure, cross processed, through a Lomo LCA? Of course!
I think I’ve got closure, and now I can move on.