The Perils of Film-Based Photography

You will have noticed the photo post from earlier today — a rare bird these days, as a.) I haven’t been photographing much lately, and b.) I’m not particularly smitten by much of my photography… enough to post it here, anyway.

So, how did it come to be that I waited nine months to get this particular roll developed? Well, I’ll tell you…

I don’t use my film cameras much these days. If I need to take photos in low light and can’t bring my Nikon DSLR, I’ll bring my compact-but-reliable Olympus XA. (My Lomo LC-A doesn’t get much love anymore, since the shutter release flaked out on me twice.) If I’ll be outdoors, I could go all artsy and bring my Holga, or even my Argoflex. For the most part, though, if I want to be sure my photos come out looking primo, I just take my Nikon.

At any rate, I was testing out my Imperial Flash Mark XII last summer. I got this camera for six bucks or so at the local antique mall. It’s great, because the camera body is that fantastic 1950s mint green color. It’s not so great because it uses discontinued film, and the respooled variety (120 film spooled onto a 620 reel) isn’t compatible with the film advance on this particular camera. So, I opted to experiment with sprocket photography.

What is sprocket photography? Glad you asked. Basically, it’s using 35mm film in a medium format camera. The normal film you would use in a medium format camera is larger than 35mm, so you end up exposing the *entire* piece of film, including the area around the sprocket holes, where the film is usually caught up and wound in the camera.

Basically, I had this funkily-exposed roll of film sitting around in my house, waiting for me to send it to the specialty place to get developed and printed.

Then I took my Olympus XA to the drum corps show. I thought I had the rolls properly separated — the test roll was on the microwave stand, closest to the roll of duct tape, and the drum corps show roll was further away. (I know, I should have labeled them… lesson learned.)

Finally, in late February, I sent in the test roll to get developed. At some point, however, the rolls must have gotten switched around, because the proof sheet I got back was of drum corps. D’oh!

(That’s exactly why I sent the test roll first, though, and didn’t send them both out at the same time. I’d rather pay more for two rolls of film and actually get the test roll properly developed than accidentally send my test roll to Snapfish and have the negatives cut and scanned into something totally unusable and unsalvageable.)

I ended up paying twice what I needed to pay to get my drum corps roll developed. Ah, well. And the cameraphone pic was easily the best one on the roll. The others were just typical shots-from-the-stands, despite our 50-yard-line seats.

As for the test roll… I’m up for a redo. I’m sending them out this weekend, and here’s hoping they turn out.

Update, 10:20pm: I really, *really* like my drum corps cameraphone pic. It makes me want to matte and frame up a few of my photos in matching mattes and frames and display them in our home. I could frame up a bunch in matching frames, and rotate them out as I come up with better ones. I could find square frames — 8″ x 8″ maybe — so that I could put any orientation of photos in them.

It would be classy. I should do it. I should go to Michael’s during the week and look around, so that I don’t bore Aaron to tears this weekend with wherever I want to go to find the appropriate frames and mattes. I wonder where I can find inexpensive, square, black picture frames? And still be OK to go back later and get more identical ones as necessary?

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