If you noticed there is a gap in posts, you might be wondering what happened. That’s both a complicated answer and a very simple one. First, I got lazy. Then I let my chemicals expire. Then I started trying (unsuccessfully) to be a watchmaker. Then, through the constant encouragement from a buddy in Ohio, I got back on the horse. I packed up my Bronica, and drove to Cincinnati to repeat the failures I had in Niagra Falls. It was worth it, though. It gave me that boost I needed. I honestly think that boost was as much hanging out with another photographer as it was putting the camera in my hands again. Even if only two rolls came out and only one photo from one roll was a keeper, it was worth the trip!
I’m not going to let the failures of botched camera control hamper me. When the first rolls came out blank I was initially pretty shocked, but not so much disappointed. Again, the time hanging out with someone else that shares the same passion for film photography is therapeutic. However, I immediately started replaying things in my head to figure out what exactly happened that caused a seemingly catastrophic failure in the camera. I mulled it over and started searching for new lenses, thinking the leaf shutter on the Seiko 50mm was jammed. Then I looked at just buying an entirely different Bronica kit. I even looked at other medium format cameras out of frustration. Then it hit me. I had trouble loading most of the rolls, and I began to wonder if I had simply had a failure of the six inches behind the camera. My curiosity and my lack of desire to drop large on another camera had me loading up some film for a test roll.
The Bronica is fine. In fact, it’s probably more reliable than me. It’s certainly more consistent with it’s images than I am with my loading of the film. This shot above of my l’il buddy was on Ilford HP5 pushed to 1600 and developed in Rodinal 1:100 for an hour with no agitation. I was beginning to feel better about the camera and because I’m tired of l’il buddy mean-muggin’ for the camera, loaded more rolls to build my muscle memory back up with proper film loading.
I swear I can’t make this stuff up. If it wasn’t for the sheer cost of driving / flying back to NY I’d go retake my Niagra photos. I stopped at St. Ann Catholic Church in Bartlett. They have a really nice courtyard and statutes so I put the Bronica through its paces again. Perfection.
In the midst of all this testing I ran out of HP5. No sweat, I have Ektar 100, EktaChrome E100, Lomography 400, Portra 160, and even some Velvia laying around here somewhere, so I decided to load Ektar 100 in and take advantage of the fall foliage here in Tennessee.
It’s a great feeling getting out of the house with the Bronica and coming back with film to develop. It’s also been way too long away from a camera. In the immortal words of John Wick, people keep asking if I’m back and I haven’t really had an answer, but yeah, I’m thinking I’m back.