March 2000. On one of several trips to Florida specifically for photography, back before I lived there for a couple of years, I’d had a slow day shooting almost nothing at JN “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge and decided to check out a little attached hiking loop called Shell Mound Trail, not really expecting much. As it was, I shot many more slides there than in the entire rest of the refuge.
Now, there’s this little rule of mine: if you’ve been in Florida for more than an hour and you haven’t seen a lizard, you’re not paying attention. Maybe it’s a little overblown, but really, not by a lot – the state’s littered with reptiles. In this case, a brown anole (Anolis sagrei) was scampering around a tree trunk, reluctant to give up its relative position for my shenanigans even though it could have eluded me easily by going up into the canopy or down into the ground foliage. This is the fartsy shot, but if you want to see what a brown anole looks like in detail, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
I’ll talk briefly about the nature of slide film. First off, it’s higher in contrast than print/negative film, which the photographer has to make some allowances for. And a general rule is, the lower the ISO, the better the detail and color, which holds true even for digital yet for entirely different reasons. I’m very fond of Fuji Provia 100F, even though I don’t shoot it much at all anymore, but the best results were obtained by rating it at ISO 80 instead of its native 100. It was advertised as being pretty tolerant of “pushing,” which is shooting at a higher ISO and then developing it for a longer period – it’s a fairly common tactic of professionals when faster shutter speeds are needed, but of course you have to shoot the entire roll that way since you can’t selectively alter the development times for only certain frames on the roll. Pushing is done in stops, as in, doubling the ISO, though I suppose if you do your own developing you can do smaller increments, but photo labs are going to keep you to the broad measures. For this particular shot (and again, the entire roll,) I pushed two stops, but from my normal 80 rating, so setting the camera at ISO 320, and instructed the lab accordingly. This increased contrast even more, but Provia 100F was up to the task – while the anole became a silhouette on a pretty bright day, just be being in a patch of shade, the color and grain stayed within useful ranges.
And in the same general location, less than 20 minutes later, I found another model to work with.