I went to Yellowstone National Park last fall to help lead a regional workshop for the North American Nature Photography Association and managed to get a few shots I liked. When I got home, I had an email reminder from Nature’s Best Magazine that their Yellowstone nature photography contest deadline was upon me.

Something about a fresh set of Yellowstone images and a deadline staring me in the face spurred me to get off my lazy ass and enter the contest.

It has been quite awhile since I entered a photo contest. My schedule is so nutty and I have so little extra time that I just never seem to get around to it.

In the worldwide pantheon of great nature photography magazines,¬†Nature’s Best Magazine is right near the top. So when they told me that one of my images from Yellowstone had been selected as the 3rd place winner in landscapes I was quite happy.

The results are posted online and yesterday I just got a complimentary copy of the magazine in the mail.  Very cool!

Assorted Musings about Slide Film and the Good Old Days

Nature’s Best¬†chose an image of Old Faithful I shot back in film days on Fuji Velvia. I threw it into the mix at the last minute and I am glad I did. After they picked it, I had to send the slide up to them in Washington DC so they could check it and get a full drum scan.

It was a blast from the past for me. I have not sent a slide to a client in years.

I really don’t miss¬†the “good old” pre-digital 35mm film days. It was expensive, much harder to shoot, much more difficult to be creative, and the images from today’s cameras just blow away what we could do then.

I do miss one thing, though.

The Emotional Roller Coaster

I would send off my film for developing, sometimes several hundred rolls at a time. Each roll would cost about $15 for the film and processing. Then came the wait. The photo lab would call me when the film was ready and I would drive there with my heart in my throat, hoping that the slides turned out ok.

I could never wait until I got home and I would tear into the slides at the lab like a 6 year old at Christmas.

Each roll could be an emotional roller coaster – one nice image, then an out of focus image, then an underexposed image, then an image where the flash did not go off, then an image that looked good in my mind’s eye but just did not translate to film.

Sometimes I would sit at the lightbox with an ever-deepening sense of gloom as the slides failed to match my hopes. One time the lab turned 60 rolls of film a lovely shade of pink, breaking my heart.  Another time I learned that several weeks trying to photograph a great horned owl in flight with a camera trap had captured nothing but wing tips.

But each new slide always held a renewed hope. Then, finally, MAGIC!

A beautiful slide is like fireworks jumping off the light box. Angels would sing hallelujah over my shoulder, and I would look up from the lightbox with a relieved, joyous look on my face. I had done it, and the analog proof was right in front of me on a glorious little piece of film!

Hope. Agony. Despair. Elation. Repeat. What a thrill! Digital photography is great but it killed much of that emotional roller coaster. Now you just look on the back of the camera and you know right away if you got it.

Like many photographers who started pre-digital, I have several file cabinets full of slides. Some images have been scanned and I still put those out there, but many just sit there unscanned and largely forgotten.

Someday I will get around to scanning the best, I tell myself, but it will probably never happen. It is just not worth the time, financially.

But I have to admit that it is great to know that a glorious old slide like this one from Old Faithful still has a little life!