The Happy Accidents.

Film guide set to 6×4.5cm instead of 6x6cm. Drunk. (Holga, Kodak Portra 400)

Serendipity, the pleasant surprises, happen a lot in film photography because there is so much that can go wrong – knocking a dial here, forgetting to change setting there. My favourite is forgetting to change the film speed, I regularly shoot film at the totally wrong ISO. Most film cameras have a little slot on the back where you can slide-in a piece of the film packaging to remind you what emulsion you’re shooting, but I usually forget to do that.

Changed film, still forgot to change film guide. More drunk. (Holga, Fuji Acros 100)

So, I’ll wait until I’ve shot 15 or 20 rolls of film, that can take a day or up to two weeks, before I send them off for processing. The developed films return in a big fat brown package. I always do a quick preview in the kitchen, because that’s where the dustbin is, I hold the sheets of negatives up to the window and decide what’s coming down to the basement with me. The only victims that end-up in the bin are the sheets of celluloid that are completely blank, the ones that are so vastly over or under exposed as to render them useless. These are the negatives that are totally black, or completely see-through. For each one that goes into the bin I mutter “well that was a waste of eight pound…”

I think that for every 30 usable rolls, I’ll get 1 or 2 ‘wasters’, the rest, as long as there is some form of image on the negative, are usable. And this is what I love about film – the mystery of your ‘mistakes’ that don’t reveal themselves for days, sometimes weeks after they’re made. This never happens when you’re shooting digital, with technology where it is, it’s actually almost impossible to screw-up. The likes of Canon and Nikon have invested a huge amount of time and money into insuring that you can’t take a bad photo, this is why the back of your average digital camera looks like the control panel of The Starship Enterprise.

All the images here are made using a Holga GCFN camera, which is more prone to causing mistakes than most other film cameras…

Camera fired, accidentally, after loading. (Holga, Kodak Portra 400)

10 comments

  1. Yes, I agree too! It sounds kinda silly, but this unpredictability is, for me anyway, a big and wonderful part of the creative process. Digital doesn’t do that magic at all…
    Thanks for sharing! Btw, Holga is a mysterious wonder, I love mine too! =)

  2. Happy Accidents indeed! :) I agree to every word you wrote in this post, especially about Nikon and Canon ensuring no bad image is taken. I know film is not more superior than digital, but I agree with LightHouseBlues, film is magical!

  3. Susie

    It’s such fun to throw the rulebook out the window sometimes – no rule of thirds, no looking through the viewfinder – just point and shoot at random! Amazing what you can capture… Thanks for sharing these – and specific details of the applicable inebriation levels too – most illuminating! ;o)

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