Here's A Photographer's Amazing Account Of Brit Car Magazines' Glory Days

Running through a roll of slide film today will run you around $20, before you add in any cost of processing and scanning a single photo. It costs a lot to hold a slide up to a light and see a more colorful world shining back at you. What’s free, though, is looking through this wonderful repository of slide film car photography in the British car mags’ glory days of the 1990s and 2000s.

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I don’t know when or how I first came upon David Shepard’s Twitter feed, but I was glad I did, as someone who has certainly wasted plenty of time and money on rolls of Provia and Velvia. I can’t say I know a lot about photography, but I can say I know the feeling of satisfaction of glimpsing at your old shots.

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When you shoot normal film, what you get back are negatives. Everything is inverted, and no matter how rich the colors turn out on your pictures when processed, everything looks like a slab of smoked salmon when you pull out a roll of negatives.

Slide film, on the other hand, gives you frame after frame of a glowing alternate reality. That is, if you got the exposure right. Slide can be unforgiving when you’re scanning it, so mistakes are costly to both your wallet and self-esteem.

That’s just slide versus negative film. The joy of seeing car photography like this on film at all is a joy on its own. Here’s Chris Harris trying some twin drift action with Richard Meaden back when all anyone cared about was Evo vs STI:

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Getting the shot meant firing away and hoping things came out. You can see how you’d have to really blast the shutter to get the moment:

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Here’s also some advice on how to get low-angle shots: bring gloves and goggles:

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There’s lots of eccentric film stuff here, like shoots done with panoramic cameras both in 35mm:

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...and in the bigger, costlier medium format.

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These are gorgeous photos, and are making me want to hunt down some old issues of Performance Car and EVO just to stare at the photography.

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.

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DISCUSSION

the1969dodgechargerguy
the 1969 Dodge Charger Guy

Tell me about it: I had to throw in the towel from my SLRs to a DSLR when the cost of four rolls of Ektachrome plus processing came to two hundred dollarsOUCH!

Now when I shoot, the only production cost is storage space for RAW files—big, big benefit.

But then there’s the aesthetic cost, and it’s a major bummer. I’m referring to how “dead” the colors look from digitally-shot photographs. The RGB values are undoubtedly as close to reality as the sensor can encode*, but that version doesn’t make it inherently better—right along the lines of the Brit shooter’s points. There’s just something about the “look” of analog film with their interpretations of the colors from the grains of silver that’s more pleasing than the lifeless pixels—Kodachrome with its in-your-face reds and Ektachrome with its rich blues and greens that contribute to the photograph’s aesthetics 100%.

But “progress” marches on and it’s an ephemeral world of lifeless images we exist in nowadays. How “wonderful”.

* Yes, you can set the DSLR’s sensor to “vivid” or even “B&W”, but you’re still trying to beat life into a dead horse.