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Found Film #7

Posted 2011.10.22 16.18 in Hobbies, Photography

Recently I picked up another new camera toy. Well new is a relative term – this time it was a 1935 Kodak Bantam. With the Anastigmat f/6.3 lens and the rigid viewfinder, this was the premium model. Whoever was the original purchaser, they went with the higher-end model, instead of the base unit with its slower f/12 lens and the collapsing finder.

The Kodak Bantam is an incredibly cute camera – you just don’t get a feel for its cuteness from the pictures. When it’s folded up, it’s tiny! Even when open, it’s miniscule.

And best of all, my Bantam came with a Special Surprise inside!

Yeah! A roll of exposed film!

Except – oh no! When I was removing the film from the camera, I committed a terrible mistake… the roll slipped out of my grip and tried to escape, while the backing paper was hung-up on something in the camera, and the whole roll started to unspool! I caught it but the last few inches of film were light-struck. Dangit!

Luckily, it turns out only the last one and a half frames were blasted. Here’s a look at the rest of them:

Technical stuff: The Bantam uses 828 roll film, which is the same width as 35mm but has no perforations. Without perfs, the negatives are 30% larger than a standard 35mm image, at 40mm x 28mm. As nifty as it sounds, Kodak stopped selling 828 cameras in the 50’s, and discontinued the film in the 80’s.

The roll in my Bantam was Kodak Verichrome Pan, with which I have dealt before. I used almost the same process as last time, but extended the development time to compensate for the colder temperature. Pre-soak for 10 minutes, developed for 11:30 in T-Max 1:4 and then fixed for 10:30.

Found Film #5

Posted 2011.09.15 23.34 in Hobbies, Photography

I recently acquired another camera (no, really!) via that auction site, and was pleasantly surprised to find it arrived pre-loaded with a roll of film. The counter was on 8, so as long as nobody had opened the film door along the way, there was a good chance it had usable images.

This is my fifth roll of found film. After complaining that I was never lucky enough to find any, suddenly it’s everywhere!

I went ahead and shot off the rest of the roll (kitty pictures mostly) just to get to the end, then rewound it and gave it a bath in colour chemistry. The roll was a store brand ISO 200, 24 exposure colour negatives. The brand was “PhotoLab.ca” and interestingly, it was marked as pre-paid processing. I don’t know if there are any PhotoLab stores around me, and if there are, if they still process film, and if they do, if they’d honour my found roll. And anyways, it’s way more fun to soup it at home.

As always, there is some suspense up till the moment you open the tank and look in for that first glimpse. There were images! The film was good!

It appears to be part of someone’s holiday snaps – either the start of the trip, or the end. I’m going to go ahead and say it’s probably from the end of the trip. I’m pretty confident of this, for two reasons.

First, when you snap a half dozen shots that include going to the airport, and then (presumably) being picked up at the other end, then you leave the rest of the roll in the camera unused, that sounds to me like someone went home and put things away. If they had just started out on the trip, they’d have used up the rest of the film, right?

Second, the person I bought the camera from was not local – the camera had to travel some distance to arrive on my doorstep… but the picture in the Taxi, and the pictures at the airport, were taken surprisingly close to me – in and around Toronto International Airport.

Anyhow, enough talking, and on to some images!

Film was souped in my (very old and tired) C-41 kit for about 24 minutes, at 68 degrees F.

Found Film #3

Posted 2011.08.14 9.17 in Hobbies, Photography

In my travels last week, I happened upon some ‘junker’ cameras in a local thrift store. These were modern P&S dime-a-dozen types that I’d normally not give a second glance to. What did catch my eye though, was that one of them had a roll of film in it.

For a couple dollars, I thought what the heck – I bought the camera, to have a go at the film. Getting it home, I quickly figured out why the camera had been abandoned. The lens zooming mechanism was jammed, so when the camera was turned ‘on’ the lens would try to move to the active position, but would lock up then the little LCD screen would show “E” for error.

I fiddled with it for a bit, determined that it was ‘dead’ in this state, so put it in the darkbag. In there, I opened the back, and going by feel, I removed the 35mm can and then carefully pulled the exposed film off the take-up spool, and rewound it back into the cannister.

Still going by feel, I could tell that there wasn’t a lot of film on the take-up spool – the camera had jammed early in the roll. Not a good sign – that meant there wouldn’t be many pictures, if there were any at all.

Of course, it was also a possibility that someone had opened the back and ruined all the film, so regardless of how many frames were taken, there was a good chance all of them would be ruined anyhow. So, nothing to do but keep on going.

Processing was a snap and when it was done, I could see as I was hanging the film to dry that there were only a couple images at the very start of the roll. It looked like there may have been four or five frames taken before the camera failed. Unfortunately, someone had indeed opened the back, which flashed out a few inches of film from the fourth frame back. The first three frames survived, although with some discolouration from the back being opened.

As with previous found films, it’s fun to see what you find, and then a mystery to try and figure out what is going on. Obviously this one is much more current, probably within the last 5 or 10 years, so there isn’t an historic feel to it. Though it’s an interesting note that they had at least two film cameras with them – the one these pictures came from, and the one visible in two of the three pictures.

Anyhow, it really is a bit of an adventure, going through the process with the found film, seeing if you get images or not, and if you do, trying to guess what the people are up to.

The camera itself was kaput and not worth fixing – though I did get a good CR123A lithium camera battery out of it – new, those cost more than I paid for the camera. The film was Kodak Max 400, souped for 20 minutes in (stale, exhausted) C-41 chemistry at room temperature (78° F).

Found Film #2

Posted 2011.07.16 20.45 in Hobbies, Photography

A few days ago I blobbed about some “found film” that I had acquired, and included images recovered from the first roll. That roll was Kodak Verichrome Pan in 620 format. I shared some of the images in a thread at Photo.net where the consensus was that the film was probably exposed towards the end of the 1950’s or the early 1960’s.

That the images were in relatively good shape and relatively easy for me to develop and scan after about 50 years is quite the testament to Verichrome Pan’s aging qualities!

Along with the roll of VP I had received a second, unidentified roll. The label indicated only that it was a Panchromatic film and was ASA 100. This roll was also in the 620 format, and as it came with the VP, the suggestion was that I should process it the same way that I had done the first. Sound advice, and I agreed with it fully.

After loading the film into my developing tank, I had a look at the backing paper, hoping that the lead end might indicate who made it or what it was. No such luck, however. As a teacher of mine used to say, Whoever made it wasn’t proud enough to put their name on it.

I followed the same process as before, and when the moment came, I opened the developing tank and had a look at the film… Aww… Well you can’t win every time. The film looked completely opaque, as if it had not even been developed. Still, I continued on with the final processing stages – rinsing, then using a surfactant* and finally hanging the negs to dry.

When I hung the strip up, I realized I could faintly make out some horizontal lines. A closer look revealed they were the gaps between the frames – spaced about 9cm apart. Perhaps there was hope for this film after all… I left it to finish drying, before inspecting the film carefully using a very bright light. I could just make out some ghostly images!

Thanks to several past failed experiments, I have some good familiarity with my scanner (Epson V500 Photo) and I know how to squeeze out whatever images are possible. That, with some adjustments in Gimp, enabled me to recover the following six images from this old roll:

When a 620 roll is shot in 6×9 format, there are 8 exposures on the roll. I was able to get image data out of 6 of them. With a very bright light I am just able to make out an image on Frame 2, but could not coax anything out of that frame with my scanner. Frame 8 appears completely dark, but I don’t think it was light-flashed. It’s just that the fog-to-image ratio is too high to get anything out of it.

Obviously, the entire roll suffered from light-leaks or similar fogging at both edges of the reel. It also appears that the image quality degrades more towards the end of the roll – presumably the outer part of the roll suffered more exposure to elements such as heat etc. over the years. Finally, there are a lot of digital artifacts in the images; this was unavoidable due to the need to push the scans quite hard in order to reveal the imagery.

Looking at the pictures themselves, it looks like a collection of family snapshots. Everyone is dressed up so perhaps it was the day of a special event. Looking at the faces, I see some smiles, some stress, and the younger boy appears bored. Sounds like a special event to me, hehe. The women must have been important to the photographer as there are several shots of them, in different groupings. And I am particularily intrigued by the “H” on the door in the fourth image. What does that stand for?

All in all, I’m pleased and excited to have been able to recover images again, and although this roll proved much more difficult, it was a challenge, and it was rewarding.

These are the two films – the Verichrome Pan on the left and today’s unknown roll on the right. Reviewing the information provided by the person I got the film from, these came from two different cameras and so they almost certainly had nothing to do with each other. Probably different families, different times, different places.

* Usually one uses Photo Flo or Hypoclear or a similar product. When I got back into film a couple years ago, my local shop had no such things, so I’ve been using a drop of Jet-Dry from the dishwasher. It isn’t ideal as it does foam a bit, but my empirical testing has shown that I get better results with it than I do without it.

Found Film

Posted 2011.07.13 18.20 in Hobbies, Photography

I’ve read about this in the past – someone buys an old camera and finds a roll of film still in it. Or you find some film in the attic. Or at the back of a drawer in some old furniture.¬†However you come by it, the common traits are that the film is exposed or partially-exposed, you don’t know when or by whom.

While I’ve acquired a number of old cameras, I’ve never been lucky enough to score any found film. It seems exciting to me – what shots might be there, how long ago were they taken, what happened to the people in them, or the person that took them… Not to mention, why were they never processed, how did the roll get forgotten or lost…

There’s also a bit of voyerism I think too – it could be a brief window into someone else’s life. Literally, a snapshot from a moment in time that a stranger thought was important enough to capture on film.

So I finally got my hands on a couple rolls of found film. Still haven’t had any lucky surprises in old cameras, but other people have those sort of surprises and aren’t interested in trying to process it. The rolls are both black & white 620 roll film. The 620 format was around from 1932 to 1995. It’s basically the same film size as 120 format, but wound onto a smaller spool.

The first roll was labeled as Kodak Verichrome Pan. I did some research to get a feel for how to process it, then I went ahead and winged it. Here are the results:

The first frame was partially blown out which may have happened when the film was loaded in the camera. The fourth frame was completely blown out / overexposed. At the end of the roll, it looks like someone opened the back of the camera while the film was still in it as frames 11 and 12 were blown out, and frame 10 was half-blown.¬†However, I was able to get 7 complete images and 2 partials — not bad for my first experience.

So who are these people? Where were these shots taken? When was this? No idea. But it was fun to develop and exciting to remove the film from the tank and see there were images on there!

I have a second roll of found film, that I’ll process in a few days or so.

Edited to add: Developing details – Presoaked for 10 minutes then developed for 10:30 in T-Max 4:1 at about 77 degrees F.