And just when it had all been going so well...
Leica is famous for its red dot logo but perhaps I should be paying more attention to two much smaller red dots that feature on the classic M bodies. I'm talking about the dots on the rewind knob that spin round to confirm that the film is winding on properly...
I had hoped to be able to show you some cracking photographs from the latest roll to pass through my M2. Except it didn't. Pass through, that is. And had I been paying closer attention to the aforementioned dots I would have noticed this before I spent lots of time taking some really nice photographs only to realise, when I'd wound on to the 40th frame, that something was amiss.
Leica knee-trembler?Some people have difficulty with this system but I'm not one of them. I think the method of attaching the film to the take-up spool is very secure. Yes, the process of getting the film ensemble back into the camera can be finicky but it's not difficult. The problems start, however, when you attempt to load the camera standing up outside with nothing to lean it on. At least one spare hand would certainly make for lighter work and a grand total of four wouldn't be too many.
I'm fairly sure that's where I went wrong, hunched over like a dog doing its business with the detachable camera base between my teeth and a face set in furious concentration against dropping many hundreds of pounds of camera and lens onto the ground. Since it's rare to get more than 39 frames from a 35mm roll I suspected one of two things when the wind-on lever refused to stop at what should have been the end of the roll: operator error or a malfunction in the film transport system.
When I opened the camera up in the darkroom and had a grope around the take-up spool it was obvious that the film, although still attached, hadn't wound on. I switched on the room light and my error revealed itself.
|A Summicron shot from an earlier, successful roll.|
The film hadn't been laid flat across the film gate and had kinked just where the transport sprockets would normally engage. This lifted the film clear of the sprockets with the result that my attempts to wind on were doing no more than spinning the toothed wheels without them making contact with the film. A beginner's error but that's OK because, in Leica terms, that's what I am.
ScunneredI would tell you exactly what was going through my mind at this point but my mum occasionally reads my blog so I'll exercise some self control. It's euphemistically covered by the good Scottish word "scunnered"*.
Normally, I'd chalk something like this up to experience and reload the film but I knew there were some fine images on that roll - or would have been. I'd spent a creative hour at the waterfront at Montrose and was seeing one picture after another, some in the finest traditions of Ralph Gibson. Or so I'd like to think - they might have been rubbish.
It's difficult to know how I managed to cock up the film loading. Checking that the rewind crank is spinning on an SLR or watching for the red dots turning on the M2 is what I always do as I wind the film onto the No. 1 mark. For some reason, perhaps because it was a wonderful day at the seafront, I must have been so keen to get snapping that I forgot. A lesson learned the hard way.
So, instead of some inspiring pics, you'll have to make do with a few token gestures instead. The kinky roll is back in the camera - yes, the dots are spinning - and it won't be long until I've got something else to develop. I might even, time and weather permitting, go back to Montrose and re-shoot the earlier images I saw.
But will I be able to recreate those shots that got away? If the sun's shining and I'm at the seafront at around 11 a.m. then there will be every chance but this is Scotland and I'm sure the sun finished shining for the year sometime during the Easter holidays.
* Scunner: to disgust; nauseate. Apparently, the word is used in the north of England too, according to the dictionary.
You can read the rest of the LEICA Diaries here.