The Writings

Adventures in Film, Rolls No. Two and Three

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As much as I despise clichés, I would title my second chapter of my imaginary "You Live, You Learn". Or perhaps "That Which Does Not Kill You Makes You Stronger". Maybe even "Sometimes, There's Just Nothing You Can Do About It". In this chapter, I would write about how, just when I thought things were going very well, it can all come to a screeching halt, leaving you in a puddle of your own tears and self-doubt. This would not be hyperbole by any stretch of the imagination.

The last time I used my Canon AE-1, I embarked on my first photographic journey into film by throwing myself into possibly the worst conditions one could imagine to test drive your camera: a concert in a poorly-lit venue. I mean, why not? If I'm going to figure out what the hell I'm doing, I'm going to Houdini this shit and find a way to get out of whatever predicament I found myself in. Life is too short to spend reading manuals to figure things out, and in order to practice what I preach, I needed to shoot to really learn what I'm doing.

At the end of the day, it turned out quite well. My images were a bit grainy and noisy, which required a some finagling in Lightroom. Hey, I didn't say that by throwing myself into the fray, I wouldn't need the assistance of training wheels! Learning my lesson, I was eager to continue shooting, so I loaded up some Ilford HP5 and prepared myself for war. I was so eager, in fact, that the day I dropped off my first roll of film, I gussied up my camera for a quick walk around Washington, DC, to try out black and white photography.

After my walk, I had a few exposures left and, determined to see what I had shot from earlier, I brought my film camera along to the Mission South concert at the Black Cat, as well as more color film, just in case I wanted to continue shooting.

And then, it happened. Things went horribly wrong.

My roll of film finished, so I went to rewind the film and... the handle broke. GASP! What was I to do?! I quickly realized it simply came unscrewed from the top, so I just had to screw the lever back in. Ok, crisis: averted. That is, until I went to resume rewinding the film. The film refused. It just didn't want to go back to its home. I tinkered with this for a second until it felt like it had rewound, but I couldn't tell if it had. Thanks to the darkness of the Black Cat, I attempted to quickly check the back of my camera - for a split second - as if I was the Flash running a marathon. I noticed it wasn't done, so I continued to rewind until it was finished. Crisis: averted. Again.

That is, until I took it in to get developed. The local photography shop's machine that develops black and white film was broken at the time I took my roll in, so I had the joy of waiting nearly three weeks to see if everything was okay. It wasn't. I only managed the following four photos; the rest were completely blank.

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Yup. That's it. Four exposures. The day of street photos I took? Gone. Vanished. Nothing but blank negatives. My guess is that checking on whether or not the film was rewound completely ruined them, as you can tell by the light streaks in some of these images. Drat.

My third roll also saw better days. I continued my obsession with pitting myself against the worst conditions possible, this time being the Black Cat. Perhaps for the sake of the challenge, perhaps because I simply could, or perhaps because I was unaware of what I had taken (or lack thereof) with the previous roll when I shot there, something possessed me to do it. The lighting was infinitely worse - I'm still having a hard time trying to figure out what that venue's obsession is with red lights - and made for a muddled, contrasty mess of photos because, like I do on my DSLR, I couldn't lower the temperature. Perhaps I'm a masochist. Yeah, that might be more like it. I'm a glutton for photographic pain.

Therefore, I took the liberty to convert a lot of them to black and white. If you saw the originals, you'd be thanking me for doing that. Furthermore, I just can't get the focusing to work in my favor in the darkness of a concert venue. Because there is no autofocus, or, what I use, the red dot that lights up when you actually get your subject into focus, I was left to guess. This didn't leave me with a lot of usable images, but I'm going to describe them as "artistic interpretation" anyway. So... enjoy!

Olivia and The Mates

Olivia and The Mates

Olivia and The Mates

Olivia and The Mates

Ty Segall

Ty Segall

Mission South

Mission South

Mission South

Mission South

Mission South

Mission South

The images are meh. They're mostly out of focus, none of my drummer pics came out, and the rest were entirely too dark. The conclusion? The Black Cat is just too damn dark to photograph anything tangible. I've been told to try Ilford Delta 3200 for such conditions, which I just might. The only thing that is holding me back is that I absolutely loathe grain. Hate it. Cannot stand it. Can't do it. Maybe I should get over these feelings and give it a try. Stay tuned.

Coming up next: DSLR results from these shows. Stay tuned for that, too!

Until next time,

- Patrick