Photo Gallery: Slide Film is Bliss

A paddling photographer explains his love for the age-old medium

Will Miller and Patrick O'hea standup paddling between Scorpion Rock and Santa Cruz Island on the southeast end of the largest island off the coast of California
Craig Fernandez, Danny Trudeau and others enjoying the scenic beauty of Potato Harbor on Santa Cruz Island. In my opinion one of the prettiest anchorages on Santa Cruz.
Two paddlers paddling off the beach in the back end of Potato Harbor on Santa Cruz Island, the most biodiverse island in the Channel Islands NP. With over 60 plants and animals found nowhere else on earth, Santa Cruz is a treasure trove of discovery.
Garrett Kababik exiting a sea grotto on West Anacapa Island. Between Santa Cruz and Anacapa Islands there are more sea caves than anywhere else in the world.
Dave Glaser paddling beneath the iconic, 40-foot-tall arch on East Anacapa Island, the symbol of the Channel Islands NP.
Carl Donohue paddling inside Icy Bay in Wrangell St. Elias NP in Southeast Alaska. The region is one of the most seismically active in the world.
Dave Glaser paddling toward a huge flock of migratory American white pelicans along the North Shore of the Salton Sea, one of the quirkier places I've paddled. Located in Southeast California in the Colorado Desert, it's the Golden State's largest lake, a manmade mistake that has over 400 species of birds documented in and around its briny waters.
Kyle Denitz standup paddling the Lower Owens River just beneath the Alabama Hills, Mount Whitney, Mount Russell and Lone Pine Peak in the Eastern Sierra. The Lower Owens is 62 miles long, and it's the largest river restoration project in the history of the American West.
Craig Comen standup paddling the Albion River in Mendocino in Northern California. Lots of flatwater rivers feed the scenic Mendocino Headlands where dozens of sea caves and archways honeycomb the coastline.
Craig Comen again paddling through a giant sinkhole on the Mendocino Headlands in Northern California. This is a paddlers playground with all the sea caves and arches. No one around.

Words and photos by Chuck Graham

Sometimes it feels like I'm the last of the last slide film photographers. I know that can't possibly be, yet I wonder if the last dinosaurs felt the same way. Really though, I don't know what I'd do without slide film. Wait. Oh yeah, I'd have to go to digital. Until then, I'll stubbornly stick to my guns and reach for the 36 exposures, maximizing my frames. Film forever, or until it is not made anymore.

Why? In this age of more-is-better there are several reasons why I love shooting with slide film. For one, I simply like the way it looks compared to digital captures. Also too many photos means too many choices, which means more time spent on the computer. I already write for a living, so cleaning up and manipulating images doesn't entice me to stare at the screen any more than I have to. I'd rather spend that extra time in the field shooting photos of what I love such as kayaking, standup paddling, travel and wildlife.

Whenever I'm around other photographers they always say, "Don't you want to know what your photos look like right now, or if you got the shot?" As a film holdout in the digital age, I think I've had to become more patient with my work. It really doesn't bother me not to know right then. I can wait until I get home. When I do pick up my processed images, that is when the anticipation mounts. I turn on some U2, flip on the light box and scour over my images from my latest travels.

ADVERTISEMENT

Sometimes I feel like the black sheep at the airport. It's entertaining watching the quizzical looks from airport security. I'll ask them to hand-check my film. Most of the time, security is more than willing. It only takes a few minutes, but some airports are defiant. The worst was in Paris. They weren't going to give me an inch, adamant about me running my film through the X-ray machine. I stood my ground, held up the line and then the airport police arrived. I explained my position and they hand-checked my film. They told me next time I would have to comply. I'll dodge Paris in the future.

Zimbabwe was the same but their security was so lax, I simply waited for a couple of sleepy looking guards to turn their heads. When they did, I slipped my film past the X-ray machine and I kept moving forward.

Don't get me wrong. I love all the imagery out there. There are lots of phenomenal photographers, but I believe you have to go with what works best for you. For now, I'll stick with the little green boxes of Fuji Velvia 50 and Provia 100. I mean, digital is always going to be there. I can't say that with confidence in regards to film. I'm like a loyal old dog, but I'm enjoying every minute of it.

www.chuckgrahamphoto.com Instagram: @chuckgrahamphoto.

More from C&K

Behind the Lens: Chuck Graham

Paddle the Parks: Channel Islands National Park

ADVERTISEMENT