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A Wibbly-Wobbly, Timey Wimey Roll of Tri-X

In which our hero attempts to travel through space and time to recapture a thing of the past. Or, finding an old mystery roll of film that's set in a camera for a decade, half shot, and wondering what's on it.

Maybe I’ve been watching too much Doctor Who lately… But, I feel like I’ve traveled in time.

I’d put down film almost a decade ago and apparently I’d shot half a roll of film with the old analogue camera (see above) I was using at the time. Getting back into analogue I found the old camera and rather than just rewinding the roll and exposing what was on it, I decided to shoot the rest of the roll first.

Well, it was a mystery roll. What I remembered of myself 10 years ago was:
1. I had no idea how this camera worked. I just kind of turned dials and threw film in. I mean… I grasped the concept of advance and shoot, but that was the lot of it.

2. I only shot two types of film at the time. Either 200 or 400. It was a 50/50 shot for the rest of the roll. So, I chose 200 and went with it.

Still unsure of how the metering system worked, I treated it like my Diana Mini, setting the shutter speed to 1/60 and f-stops 8 and 11 depending on the light. This procedure is a whole other story all together.

After shooting, I rewound it and cracked the back open and lo and behold it was Tri-x 400. Rather than make my first attempt at self developing with this mystery roll, I chose to send it off.

It took three days to get it back and the anticipation was killing me. I couldn’t remember what I’d been shooting last, I was afraid none of it would come out, and all in all I hate surprises.

But, I was very pleased with the roll when I did get it back. After looking at the first few cuts of negative on my scanner’s preview function I remembered exactly where and when the photos were taken: When I was still living at my parent’s house and was going to college I would take country roads home and there were long stretches of pretty tree lines and single stands of these bent, old looking trees. The last 4 images are from the small cemetery just outside the small town where I grew up.

Here it is in all it’s glory, the past:

There’s a very textural feel to the images that I can’t explain an origin for. I could take a few wild guesses:

1. The film aged as it was exposed to the air for so long.
2. In my blind youth, I set some sort of magical combination of film speed, shutter speed, and aperture to create this vintage look. I’m leaning more toward the former. The latter just sounds silly. However, it worked.

I’m really glad to have these pictures of the past. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget the mundane things we’ve done. Somehow, this is like reclaiming something lost.

I’ve recently acquired another 8 rolls of Tri-X that are almost as old as this roll. The trick is finding a camera I can let sit for a decade.

written by rrohe

3 comments

  1. herbert-4

    herbert-4

    Good, sturdy camera from 1960's... stop down metering... SR44 battery... meter on with film wind lever and off with button on top of it. Find .pdf of instructions on www.butkus.org Enjoy.

    about 3 years ago · report as spam
  2. trw

    trw

    Great article!

    almost 3 years ago · report as spam
  3. phantomphoenixphotos

    phantomphoenixphotos

    Great story, great article!

    over 2 years ago · report as spam