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Wednesday, November 7

Comedy of Errors

I had a major cock-up on the film development front on Monday but just managed to get away with it. I'd convinced myself that I had two rolls of Fomapan 100 120 to develop so I started amassing all the bits and pieces I'd need on the kitchen worktop (I develop film at the kitchen sink).

I pocketed the films - one from my Rolleiflex 2.8F and the other from the SL66E - zipped everything inside the changing bag I use, pushed my hands containing the films in throughout the elasticated sleeves and set about winding them onto the Paterson spirals.

Normally this is a pain-free process. The worst that sometimes happens is that a film is a bit recalcitrant when it comes to doing its duty of wrapping itself around the spiral and sticks a bit. I tend to give the reel a sharp bang on one side then the other and that usually does the trick. Not this time, though.

I haven't been so flummoxed since I started developing my own films as a 15-year-old. I stripped the film back off the reel and tried again - same result. I did it again, this time convinced that I'd kinked it in several places. Again, it refused to go on as it should. A third attempt - no joy. Well, the air was blue, I can tell you. I hate swearing just for the sake of it in every day speech but it can be extremely cathartic, all the more so if there's some creativity to it. You'll have to take my dogs' word for it as they were the only witnesses but there weren't many words missed out as I cursed this cheap piece of Paterson rubbish (only joking, I've been using these tanks for years).

Sweaty Palms

Anyone who changes films in a light-tight bag will know that if you mess about too much your hands start to get sweaty. The risk is that moisture-laden digits will make contact with the emulsion side of the film. I was obviously keen to avoid this so I slipped my hands out of the bag dragging the offending reel with me. It turned out that one of the two reels I'd picked up was one that I hadn't used for years - for the same reason that it was a bit of a bugger. I should have thrown it out.

Anyway, I got one of my normal reels, went back inside the bag and loaded the two films on without any further drama. Everything was put away and the backing paper was thrown into the bin. Then I fired up the Massive Dev Chart app on my iPad to get a time for Fomapan 100 in D76 1+1.

It was around this time I realised that I hadn't actually checked to see if both films were indeed Fomapan. The dogs' ears took another hammering as I went in search of the backing paper. Bugger, twice bugger and thrice bugger. One of the rolls was Fomapan and the other was TMax 100! The TMax must have been sitting in the TLR for a couple of months as it was ages since I last had any of Kodak's finest.

There is a God (and he doesn't mind swearing)

There was no way of determining which film was which and, to my and the dogs' amazement, I managed to dredge up another descriptive barrage as I bet myself that there would be a yawning chasm between the development times for the two roll films. Then I got my first break: the difference was just 30 seconds. They both got the same time which was about nine minutes I think. Of course, I was still convinced that there would be some tell-tale kinks right across the best negatives but, pulling them off the reels, I was surprised to find that they appeared OK. I've posted a couple of pics from the SL66E roll here.

Both were made with the 250mm Sonnar and within a few minutes of each other. The shot at the top of the post is of the stumps left behind when some wooden breakers lived up to their name and broke. I was casually setting the tripod up when I saw the guy approaching with his dogs. I had to rush to get everything sorted. Using the SL66E is a slightly more involved and lengthy process than shooting with a DSLR. I tried to get him right between the stumps with a dog either side but I took just a little too long to get ready and missing it by a second or two. (Maybe I should have just blamed the SL66E's shutter lag. HaHa! ) Still, it worked out quite well, I think.

The second photo was quite straightforward. The light on the North Sea was lovely with a slight mist softening the glare of the sun. The only difficulty was in deciding how the finished image should look. I metered the sand and placed it on zone four to make it a darkish grey. It's a simple shot but I like it.

You'll have noticed that blogging has been light to non-existent for a wee while. There's no special reason for it beyond a lack of inspiration. Sometimes it seems like I've photographed everything photographable in my part of the world a dozen times over. However, from a photographic point of view, I like it when the leaves start falling from the trees. I love the look of bare branches against a dramatic sky - much more interesting than clumps of dense greenery with a plain blue sky. Hopefully, I'll get back to some regular shooting in the coming weeks. In the meantime, sincere thanks for continuing to pop by to check out the blog and to all the people who have "joined" the site. Can't be long before there's 100 of you!


Paul Glover said...

I've had the nightmare experience of film refusing to go on the reel without some seriously colorful language and more than a little brute force and ignorance. It is NOT fun times.

In my case, loading two reels with 35mm, I managed to set both reels down in a wet patch on the bathroom counter without realizing it. Mercifully I forced the (now wet on the edges) film onto the reels without any apparent damage and I now make very certain to dry all my work surfaces before killing the lights! Lesson learned.

Gregory said...

I've got a reel of last resort, but I hate using it. The guides are much narrower than my normal reels and it's quite easy to pop the film out of the guides. I've had a few times where I needed to walk around, take a few deep breaths and start over.


A reel of last resort? I call that a bin...

steve said...

I use to have these troubles too, but never had a problem since I switched to stainless steel reels..

Omar Özenir hakkında said...

Like Steve, stainless steel reels solved all my woes.

As for inspiration, how about a trip to Istanbul? It would be quite a change of scenery...


I'd love to visit Istabul but the state of my finances just now means that I probably wont get a holiday for a few years. :-(

Richard Warom said...

I also have experienced the madness of film not going on the reel, I now give them a good blow with a warm hair dryer, no more problem after that. I really like your light on the North Sea a very restful photo.


Omar, I saw the new James Bond film last night and Istanbul features in that one as well! The last film before that was Taken 2 and the rooftop chase over the Grand Bazaar in that film was repeated in Skyfall. What is it with Istanbul at the moment? Are they offering massive tax breaks or other financial incentives to film makers?

The strange thing is that, although the rooftops look amazing, I can't remember ever seeing any photographs of them. Are they difficult to access?

Omar Özenir hakkında said...

Bruce, no idea why Istanbul is so popular these days. I see a huge increase in the number of tourists as well.

As to the rooftop of the Grand Bazaar, I don't remember having seen any photos either! I'd reckon access to be very difficult; although a bit of luck coupled with some charm is capable of quite a lot around here. I've photographed from the rooftops of the famous Suleymaniye mosque for example...pure luck that one was. I so wish the photos I took didn't suck :(

Anonymous said...

Interesting thread,I always scrub my Patersons plastic developing spools with an old toothbrush under running water,before processing,and then dry with a hairdryer,,also wear lint free gloves too..I never encounter any problems with film snagging'kinking on the spool when I keep to this method.

Best regards,
Al Denholm