The Alps in colour

Continuing my slide film theme from the last post I have been scanning in some colour slides I shot in and around Chamonix from a road trip I took there in about 2004. At the time (and because I was driving there in my Land Rover from the UK) I took basically all of my camera equipment. By then I was shooting both colour slide and B&W film in my medium format Bronica and I was using my twin Canon combo of A-1 with B&W film and T90 dealing with the colour slide film.


I’m not sure what type of slide film these were shot on. The original are not saturated enough to be Velvia, and at the time i was shooting all sorts of different stuff (back when film was £1.25 a roll!) so it could be Astia, Provia, or Kodak EP-something-or-other.

Some of these shots highlight the shortcomings of slide film in that they show a digital-like lack of dynamic range, but they have at least captured enough depth to preserve colour in the sky so they clean up nicely.


I am retrospectively impressed by the metering accuracy of the Canon T90 in these tricky high contrast situations.

If you browse my Flickr stream you’ll mostly see punchy high contrast monochrome images from my film cameras. I have a roll of Ilford Delta 400 i shot on the same trip and it’s all black skys and white snow capped mountains (some of my most favorite images) but there is a certain subtlety to these colour images that I really like.


The haze at this altitude gives a real depth to the images, and requires a fair shove on the white balance correction in Lightroom to pull it back to a reasonable balance.

It’s the first proper glacier i’d ever seen, and shots like the one above really capture the epic scale and almost alien nature of the flaky blue flowing ice. Again when I look at my monochrome images they have a very different feel, trading the subtlety shown here for  much more punch and drama but in the process loosing some of the feeling of being there.


Most of these shots were taken while walking along either side of the valley so composition was a challenge as you basically had three choices; along the valley, across the valley, or up the slope above you. Occasionally the latter produced a good result, giving a more abstract view of the landscape.

The compositions I think worked best generally make use of the sloping diagonals of the mountainsides as lead in lines to draw the eye up to a suitably positioned high point. I am not one for taking general scenes of views or places, instead I always seek to make an interesting image that captures something of the feeling of being there (and often returning home without any of the regular kind of snapshots that people expect to see). I guess this is the benefit of only shooting to please one’s self.


I feel a colour Vs monochrome article coming on as I’ve just re-scanned my monochrome images from this trip and replaced the previous versions I had on Flickr with some that I’ve worked on a bit more to. That’s the thing with film, as your skills get better you can go back and put right your early attempts!


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