We lost Fujifilm Velvia 50 briefly. The ensuing outcry from distraught photographers was loud enough for Fujifilm to think again and reintroduce Velvia 50, albeit with a revised formula. As might be expected, there were (still are) mutterings about the new Velvia 50 compared to the previous version. Personally, I feel any changes are subtle enough not to bother me. Fujifilm Velvia 50 is, in my mind, still the finest emulsion for landscape photography for those of us who adhere to colour transparency film. When I load an A12 back and click it into place on my 503cw, I do it with a satisfying confidence that something special can be the result. Film photographers will understand why I say this, it takes time and experience to understand how to extract the full potential from an emulsion whether it be colour or black and white, negative or positive. There is no fast track to that understanding, you have to serve your apprenticeship to find confidence in the choices you make and that does not come cheap in either time or financial cost.
The learning and the discovery, though, is the real essence of photography and is not confined to any particular medium. I make a point of avoiding those life-wasting film vs. digital arguments that still rage on photography forums, but I will always attempt to offer an explanation as to why I use film if asked. When the light, atmospheric and location conditions all combine in favour of Fujifilm Velvia 50’s ability to produce those great slabs of pastel hues and colour washes that I want to achieve, I know the result is likely, but cannot be guaranteed, to be one I can never seem to replicate absolutely from a digital file. Fujifilm Velvia 50 has it’s own way of ‘seeing’. As a landscape photographer, I can only succeed with Velvia if I can learn how to ‘see’ in the same way as Velvia does.
Fujifilm Velvia 50 as a landscapist’s medium of choice requires a ‘layering’ approach similar to the composition of the image below, which has five distinct layers. North Atlantic skies are often overcast and the light soft. Depending on the time of day, the pastel hues I refer to above will range from cyan to blue to magenta to red and all shades between. A longish exposure (around 1.5 minutes here) with a 3 stop irnd neutral density filter enhances the washes of colour. I never have been a fan of flawlessly white balanced landscape images rendered with the finest detail. Such images to me are records of the literal, often technically near perfect but invariably sterile and aloof. I prefer to look at images that promote awareness beyond the technology used to create them.
Whichever technology is chosen, there is no escape. Both directions require education and understanding to really find one’s own voice as a photographer.
Fujifilm Velvia 50 and soft evening light at Luskentyre.