There is one type of photo that I often took during the 1980’s and 90’s because of my job as a management consultant. These are slides. I suspect many of my younger readers do not know what is a film slide. To them the word ‘slide’ probably conjures the image of a Powerpoint slide.
A slide is a film negative mounted on a stiff rectangular frame. To show the image to a group in a classroom or a conference hall, you need to mount the slide on a carousel and project the images onto a screen using a slide projector.
The film by the way is different from that for normal photography; although they looked just the same. You have to check the roll of film carefully. The method of processing is also different. I remember a very nasty incident with a shop located at Coronation Plaza. I brought my roll of slides there for processing but they mistook it for normal film. In the end the film was ruined and the images came out all black and yellowish. My precious effort in taking the photos at my client’s factory was all wasted. The shop was unapologetic and simply compensated me with a new roll of film.
In my work, I have to take a lot of photos of situations in the client’s premises that could be improved by 5S. (A Japanese technique for good housekeeping and workplace organisation. Please see my other blog to if you want to know what is 5S). But using slides was a very tiresome affair, and I am really thankful for the new digital technology. For one, not all the clients had a slide projector because it was very expensive. And, they are very heavy.
Using the slide projector can also give rise to many problems. If you placed the slide into the carousel in the wrong position, the picture would come up wrong; either upside-down or front-to-back. A trick I used was to draw a small stick figure at the lower corner of my slide. When the slide is positioned correctly, you should be able to see the man standing upright. Thus, at one glance, you can spot any slide that has been positioned incorrectly in the carousel. In 5S jargon, this is known as visual control (mede miru kanri in Japanese).
As a trainer, you had to get to the class early to set up the equipment and also to arrange all the slides properly and test the equipment. If possible, I would bring my own carousel with all the slides already pre-arranged. The carousel has a transparent cover and the slides won’t fall out. But some machines - usually the cheaper ones, used a straight tray instead of a circular carousel.
Another problem with slides is that they easily get jammed in the projector. This is especially so when you needed to tilt the projector at an angle to project your image upwards. Let me explain.
As I said earlier, the slides are arranged in a carousel with 80 slots. The first time you pressed the advance button, the carousel would rotate anti-clockwise by 1 position. The first slide would drop into a slot in front of the projection bulb. As you continued to press the advance button, the previous slide would be ejected, the carousel would rotate and the next slide would drop in and so on. If a slide gets jammed in the machine, you have to rotate the carousel manually to the beginning, remove it and eject the jammed slide and start all over again.
In the nineties, after I left the NPB to go into private practice, I did a lot of work in Malaysia. Can you imagine how tedious it was every time I went for an assignment outstation. Not only had I to carry along a heavy load of transparencies, I also had to remember to bring along my collection of 5S slides.
With a huge collection of film slides, I needed a good system of storing and organizing them. I used a special folder or album like this one. The slides are placed into individual pockets on a plastic page that can be filed in the folder.
So you can see why I took to digital photography very happily when the technology came along. But first I had to convert some of my slides to jpeg images. I remember paying a hefty sum for the service.
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