The Frustration of Analog Photography (part 1, of many)

I preface this blog post with the caveat that this is being written immediately after a rather frustrating experience.


This weekend we spent a lovely time away (yes, that good old British bank holiday away) and so I loaded up a couple of cameras with different films. In to the Olympus, I loaded Provia 400F, in case the weather really did stay cloudy and rainy all weekend, and into the Zorki (which, at the moment, is the only other 35mm camera that seeming functions with both a calibrated rangefinder and shutter) I popped a roll of Ektachrome 100VS (both emulsions no longer available, but the E100VS being the one that I was most looking forward to seeing the results from).


I decided to meter the 400F at ISO 320, having gotten good results previously at that ISO. The E100VS I only have the one roll of, and not sure about the storage (refrigerated, frozen or just left in someone's drawer somewhere) I metered it at ISO 64 (so not quite a full stop lower).


For those who don't know old Soviet rangefinders, the Zorki 5 is a Leica copy (as is the Fed 4, with the Kiev 4 being a Contax copy). This particular model follows the bottom-loading method of loading. I had already previously run a roll through and knew the necessary trimming needed to the leader to lengthen it so that it would catch and feed properly onto the takeup spool, having already tested with a roll of Agfa CT Precisa 100 I ruined in the Lomo LC-A by thinking I was shooting auto, with a variable shutter and aperture, when in fact I was shooting at f/2.8 with a fixed 1/60s shutter speed. D'oh!


So there I am, happily shooting away while we were away, oblivious to the fact that the leader actually hadn't caught properly and so when I was winding and shooting (and the winding mechanism is naturally grinding in this particular example of the camera, so I wasn't suspicious of that) I was actually shooting onto the leader, and the sprocket holes hadn't caught onto the sprocket, and when I went to rewind, I managed to snap the leader off the film, and wind the rest of the film back into cassette.


Initially I thought I'd managed to shoot the whole film, and what had happened was what usually happens, in that the sprocket holes at the end of the film get ruined cause I wind too hard and so the camera winds, cocks, and fires as if the next frame had been shot, giving some ridiculous last frames when developed. So I thought, "damn, I must have snapped the film clean off the cassette and wound it out of the cassette," so I took the whole job up to the darkest room in the house, opened her up and expected to have to unspool the film from the takeup spool, and store it in a black case, sending it off with a big note saying "UNPROTECTED FILM, OPEN ONLY IN TOTAL DARKNESS" attached to that particular reel.


In fact, the damn thing had never advanced past the leader, as mentioned, so not only did I not get any shots, but also when the leader snapped, I continued winding briefly without realising, and the whole film returned inside the cassette. When I used my tried and tested "lick a piece of leader or developed film on the emulsion side, and shove it in the end of the cassette, and pull out quickly" to retrieve the end of the film, nada. The damn thing wouldn't come out.


So, double failure - no shots, and a wasted film - of which as I mentioned I only had one example. I was really looking forward to seeing how saturated E100VS was.


Still, I finally got to open up a 35mm cassette and see how it looks inside. It's pretty boring, I have to say.

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