A Splash of 'Velvia' Color on a Sipadan Reef

by B. N. Sullivan

In the days before digital photography, we shot all of our photos as transparencies (slides).  From about 1990 onward, my preferred film for use underwater was Fuji Velvia (ISO 50).  We jokingly referred to it as "Disneychrome" because it rendered such dazzling colors.  Also, it was developed using the E-6 process, available just about everywhere including on many live-aboard dive boats.  No more having to send the Kodachrome off for processing and waiting, waiting, waiting for the results.

I do not miss most aspects of film photography.  I certainly don't miss having to return to the boat or shore to change film after, say, 36 shots [you can't change film underwater!], nor do I miss having to wait until the film was developed to see if the images I captured were the ones I wanted.  But, once in awhile I get nostalgic for the incredible color saturation and fine grain that only Fuji Velvia seemed to yield.

The photo above was shot using Fuji Velvia.  The transparency was later scanned for online use.  The subject was an unusually 'fluffy' crinoid -- species unknown -- posing for us near a stand of equally fluffy-looking and very colorful Nephtheid soft corals. The location was Barracuda Point at Pulau Sipadan, Malaysia.