Back to the vault: old vacation pics shot on film

My love letter to film cameras as a solution to smartphone addiction at parties had me looking for some old film photos. Do we enjoy the idea of film more than the reality? I found a set of photos from a vacation to Las Vegas in April 2001. It’s clear that whatever photographic technique I’d developed years before had gone fallow. At the time I was shooting with an Olympus Stylus Epic, probably on Kodak 400 or 800 speed print film. This is a subset of about 50 photos I’d scanned from negative five or six years ago. I don’t know how selective I was in my film scanning, but I’m a digital hoarder, so I probably didn’t cut too many.

The camera didn’t suffer light leaks, but I’m ashamed to find I shot so many from within the car. Reflections abound, some even look like the light leaks I sometimes manipulate into my photos today. I also struggled to level my horizons. The camera did suffer from some drive problems, however, causing some of the frames overlap slightly. My scanning was inconsistent and cropped the frame in some cases and left it in others. I’d like to think the scratches showed up during development, rather than during my scanning, but I don’t know for sure. The grain is big and bold, and worse than I suffer with my DSLR now, and I love it.

All of that, however, contributes to a gritty, somewhat dystopic portrait of Las Vegas and its surroundings that is quite enjoyable today.

Holsum Bread

Circus Circus

Dosimetry issue & return

Sometimes the dragon wins

Nevada test site

Arizona Charlie's

Welcom to Pahrump



vacuums sales-service

Stratosphere Casino

4 thoughts on “Back to the vault: old vacation pics shot on film

  1. One thing I noticed about these pictures is the intensity of the color of the sky. Now, I used to live in the desert, and have been to Las Vegas, but at least with my cameras, I have not been able to capture that same blue intensity. Look at the ones with the clouds….the burro crossing sign, the Circus Circus RV lot. I can’t remember getting that kind of blue from my photos lately. I will credit it to the film.

    Nice pics!

    • It’s the film and not my excellent technique?

      Okay, a few things to consider:

      Some of these photos were taken through a car windshield, and so benefit from the tinting at the top. That doesn’t explain the burro crossing sign, but it explains some of it.

      Pretty much all of the photos I post to Flickr are manipulated in some way. Even on my photos that look “natural” I typically I try to improve local contrast and overall brightness, often I also adjust color balance, sometimes I adjust saturation. These photos were no exception.

      I apologize for not being more clear about that in my original post.

      All that said, I do remember seeing printed photos as a teenager from an older cousin’s road trip west and being awed by how blue the sky was. It wasn’t a special camera, film, or processing, and he didn’t use any additional filters. He just shot photos with a remarkably blue sky. I’ve wondered on the how and why of that ever since. What I understand of it now is probably worth another post, but I’ve also resigned myself to the likely fact that my memory probably exaggerated the reality of what I saw.

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