Wednesday, May 06, 2020

9,445 Days

In which your trusty orator makes a rediscovery, learns something new, waxes lyrical and generally farts about with tubs of quite hot water . . . .

Remember when you were young and your Mum said:

"Herman, stop picking that . . it'll only get worse!"

Well, rather like that pickable deliciousness that is a full-blown boyhood scab, so I've had something on my mind which I kept going at and going at.

This is it:


Unloved, but tantalising, stored in, oooh, let me see, a West facing cupboard in a camera bag, next to a hot water tank which took said cupboard up to about a Zillion Degrees C in the Summer. Then sitting about in drawers, rolling around, untubbed. Then forgotten about and in an Edwardian coal scuttle (honest . . no coal though) for oodles of years, and then found again, tubbed, and cold stored. Then taken out of that and stored in my darkroom when my film started to take up too much useful space in the fridge . . . in other words, it was hardly BOX FRESH.
It had been exposed approximately 9,445 days (give or take a week) before I actually got around to processing it. None of this 'film should be developed soon after exposure' nonsense for me!
If you're trying to do the arithmetic, 9,445 days roughly translates to 25 years, 10 months and 10 days . . . quite a length of time in the human span of things.

So why the tardiness in processing?
Well, the camera that this was in was a little red thing simply called PANORAMA.
It had been given away free with some women's magazine along with the roll of film. The film FOTORAMA, has, I believe nothing to do with Fuji's film of the same name.
Put two and two together and you have a simple panoramic camera.
It was given to us by my wife's Gran, who had no use for Panoramic photographs.
Now, at the time, all our C41 snaps were from the Olympus MjU which we tended to get processed by either TruPrint or DoublePrint (I know).
Both companies offered a Panoramic Developing Service, but tbh, it was about 4 times the cost of a normal roll of film, so whilst the idea of having these amazing Panoramic snaps was quite exciting, in reality, there was no way we could afford to even think about getting the film processed.
Which begs the question, why on earth did we take it with us?

There's an amendum to this - a few years later and before all that World Pinhole Day stuff, I turned it into a panoramic pinhole, removing the simple miniscus lens and shutter and getting the tinfoil out. I used the camera for a roll or two of HP5 . . results were okay-ish, but ultimately the camera was put into storage  . . somewhere . . possibly the bin.

So, fast forward a mere 18 years, and I thought, you know I've got this growing collection of C41 film that should be processed (6 rolls) but I really can't afford to send it off . . so, I bought a Tetenal C41 kit.
And thus, entropy got to work and it sat and sat and sat for years, until lockdown happened and I found that not being able to get out meant I could do small jobs quicker, and so consequently, the big thoughts of getting the C41 rolling came into my head.

Maybe you're a monochrome person, used to processing at home, but colour has daunted you.
Well, I was the same and you know what, it needn't be daunting at all, in fact it really is rather simple.  
Sure temperature consistency is important, but it is relatively easy to do if you are a methodical worker and if you are prepared, have a thermometer you can rely on and don't mind farting around with bowls of hot water. 
To be honest the very worst part of it for me was the mess that the Stabiliser left on the film - it was like all your experience of Photoflo Nightmares, trebled, necessitating using a soft microfibre cloth soaked in Stab run down the surface of the dry film! 
That worked pretty well, and I wouldn't have known it, had I not had to do a similar thing with lighter fluid to get rid of Photoflo gunkiness.
The other nightmare, is the curviness of the film, which still, despite having been sat on by a ton of books, exhibits a terrible curve which has made my scans sort of shite.
But aside from that.
Anyway, I'll detail all in a further FB - suffice to say that I now want to go forward with colour, and might, gasp, even try some colour printing.

Back to 9,445 Days.
I have to admit I had little hope for the film - I've read plenty about colour casts and fogging. And yes, whilst I did have those they weren't really as bad as I was expecting.
To be brutally frank, given how it had been stored, I actually thought there'd be nothing on the film except nothingness!
But no, there we are, me and the missus.
The hillsidey frames were taken a week or so before our wedding and are at the Devil's Beef Tub - a famous place that has gone down in history as the hideout Border Rievers coralled cattle after raids across the border into Northumbria and Cumbria.
John Buchan put it plainly in words:

In April and May I never felt lonely, for the birds were cheerful companions. But, when the summer quiet fell on them I used to have fits of panic in the silence and solitude, The worst places for this were the glens where there was no heather, but only mosses and bent and turf, for heather, especially when charred in patches by moor-burn, was to me a half-human thing. Greenness, utter, absolute greenness, has all my life seemed to me uncanny, and the places which in me memory are infested with a certain awe, are the green places. 
Take the Devil’s Beef Tub, the green pit in the hills on the road from Tweed to the head of Annan, Rudyard Kipling once told me that, far  as he had wandered, and much as he had seen, this uncanny hollow seemed more than any other spot to be consecrated to The Old Gods. 
The haunted chasm in Kubla Khan was "down the green hill". 
There was a song popular on the Border called 'The Wild Glen Sae Green'. 
It was in such green “hopes” as we called them, that sometimes I came to the edge of fear. 
If there were sheep in sight I was never afraid. But if there were no sheep about and a shoulder of hill shut out the world, I became conscious that I was alone in an enclosed place without the company of bird or beast. 
Then the terror of solitude laid hold of me, and I fled incontinent until I reached a herd’s cottage. 

“A month before the month of May, 
And the spring comes slowly up this way.”

That sums it up nicely to me - I've been going there since I was small, and I've still never stood on the floor of it. From a height it really is the most incredible place, and sometimes, Autumnal mornings, near the top, to see mist rising up to meet the crest and the sky and then slowly rolling back down like a defeated wave, well,  it is one of the more incredible sights in nature.

Anyway, enough poetical musing.
What do ya want from yer FB?
Junky old film; time; washing up bowls full of hot water . . that's what you want, and this is what it'll gertcha!

These are pretty much straight scans - I've had to tweak Highlights, Shadows, Contrast and Black Point a bit, but on the whole it was small - I think they'd be sharper if the film weren't so curvy. The changes in colour are pretty much courtesy of the film, but I rather like them.

A week later and Woosh, we were married and off to Florence. 
I've no idea what it is like now, but then it was touristy but not too touristy. 
And it was hot, damn hot to this pale Scotsman. We were lucky in having a hotel with a small terrace, just 'round the corner from the mini-Duomo and it was wonderful.
Camera-wise it was pretty much Olympus MjU all the way, except of course for the wonder of PANORAMA!
So, here's goes - as above there's been a bit of tickling with the images, but not too much. I had to crop a couple slightly, but again nothing major.

Now I know they're not going to win any prizes - they're an artless bunch taken by a young man who wasn't even trying at all; however I think that what surprises me about this whole thing, is, erm, the surprise.
25+ years between exposure and processing.
Those long gone moments in time, exist.
Had these been digital files they'd have been chimped over and discarded at point of capture, they would have ceased to be as completely as the moment itself.
And I guess that's what I love about traditional photography, because in amongst the chemicals and chemistry, the mechanics and beauty, something profound and extraordinary has happened.
Time has ceased to move on and for perpetuity (or as long as the physical artefact remains) then here in curvy bits of polyester is your life.
In our case, long after our wedding album has been filed away and long after we've laughed and reminisced about the MjU photos which are filed away in albums too, time has come and surprised us with these.
I actually (and maybe because I am getting older and am more of a softy now than I ever was . . . and I always was) find the whole thing quite profound - here we are at the start, and we're still here.
The writer Carol Shields had a word for it - Happenstance.
To me there's something wonderful about this - it's like digging up a time capsule and not finding decay, but life itself.

Cheers To Surprises And Discoveries

And that's it - like I say, more colour stuff coming, though most of it is pretty dire and mostly affected by an expiring MjU, but there's a couple of things done with a 30's Elmar and also some new stuff with the 24mm Nikkor, so it isn't all nonsense.

TTFN - go on, go and tell someone you love them.