Fails from the darkroom

My post from two days ago struck a chord with… me, and prompted me to do a bit more scanning of some of the negatives and slides I have.

Class 141 railbus departing Horsforth Rail Station (1987 - Zenit TTL SLR).

Class 141 railbus departing Horsforth Rail Station, 1987 (Zenit TTL SLR).

Back in the day I would use my dad’s Olympus Pen EE 35mm half-frame camera to practise, before they bought me a 126 (which I could never find film for). Being a half-frame camera meant you got 72 shots from a roll of 36… which also meant one roll of film could cover years of birthdays and other family gathering. Sadly that camera seems to have been ‘misplaced’ by mother’s late second husband, whom we don’t talk about. Ever.

I bought my own Zenit TTL SLR in about 1981, preferring transparencies over negatives which didn’t help with the sharing of photos much. I managed to break that at TASC in early 1987, I think, while trying to do a headless self-portrait; stop down, long exposure, move your head about quickly so it doesn’t register. I know.

Me and Rosie (Going Down Ball, 1990 - 110 camera).

Me and Rosie, Going Down Ball, 1990 (110 camera).

I picked up a 110 in time for the Going Down Ball in 1989 which lasted until, I think 1994 when I bought an Olympus mju 35mm. That served me well, and I still miss it; holidays nationally and overseas, weddings, birthday parties (except my own 30th, even though I’d bought fresh film), leaving dos (including my own) and any other reason why ‘man with camera’ would be required. At some point I replaced it with a mju II Zoom, of which I remember little.

I do remember taking it or the mju to Egypt in 2002, as cover for the new APS camera I’d bought. All I remember of my APS foray is that the first one didn’t work and the second only lasted two rolls of film before I saw the light and went digital, a decision made easier by realising I’d need images of and for Cadets for their web site and to get to the local paper. A Casio Exilim EX-S2 in 2002; EX-Z4 in 2004; EX-Z55 also in 2004 and finally an EX-H15 in 2010 (they don’t make Exilims for sale in the UK any more). Then Charmaine’s Nikon D90 SLR in 2014 as a ‘big beast’ for special occasions.

I counted up the number of digital images I’ve taken: almost 5,000 on the Exilims alone, and over 800 on the D90 even though I rarely dig it out. I’ve no idea how many I’ve taken in my various iPods and iPads in the last few years.

That’s because digital allows us to do two things that we’d find difficult with film: take lots of shots without worrying about running out of film; and deleting things as we go along. And it’s the best way to get things on to eBay.

There’s a definite convenience to digital, especially when it comes to tracking down certain photos from certain times, but I do miss 35mm. You were a lot more careful what you photographed because you only had 36 shots at most to play with. And, perhaps paradoxically, they’re easier to share, if you’re all in the same place. I guess we’ve all done the thing of passing a pack of photographs round a table, meaning all you could be looking at a different one at any one time – whereas these days you have to email them over or pass your digital device round, one image at a time.

All my digital images are stored on an SD card (my laptop not having enough disk space) and backed up regularly to a NAS drive. The transparencies have all been scanned in, including those from my mum, using a ‘proper’ Optiflex 7600i scanner. The 110 and APS negatives (you can safely crack open an APS case to get to the negatives to put into the scanner) are ready and waiting.

And the 35mm negatives? Just waiting to be sorted. Ironically, three strips of photos are missing… ones from those nights at the Firehouse. Luckily I still have the prints of the ones I wanted. Maybe digital is the way forward after all?

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