Improvise, Adapt, Over…eh…develop?

I’ve spent the last ten days nearly in a comatose state with the minor exception of a post-holiday dinner with friends from church and a trip to the zoo. The latter being somewhat of a letdown on the photography front. I managed to learn a few things about myself and my abilities, and I’m ever-so-happy to share these insights with you, the reader.

The Sun is Smarter Than Me

“C’mon, if we get to the zoo by 3pm we’ll have the perfect setup for golden-hour photos” I told the family as I rushed them into the car. It was a brisk day, 48-50F and mostly sunny. Unfortunately two things killed my aspirations: a waning winter sun and a Zoo in a bowl. Well, the zoo may not be in a bowl, but it’s so shaded (apparently only in winter) that even in sunlight it’s mostly shadows. I don’t get it. Every time I’ve gone to the zoo in the summertime I have to wear a welder’s mask to and shoot with a 40-stop ND filter to be able to not overexpose the shots. This day, however, proved I can be wrong.

Not only was I wrong about the lighting, but I left my new Sekonic Studio II light meter at home, so I had to rely on my Lightmeter app. It’s a good app, don’t get me wrong, I just wished I’d have remembered my actual light meter . Had I done this and brought faster film (I shot with Fujifilm CN200) I would have been able to make some interesting film photography. Unfortunately, I this day would prove better with my phone camera than my Leica, and certainly not the best day to test out pushing color film to develop in Rodinal. Yes, I did just say that.

Fujifilm 200 Color , developed in Adox Rodinal 44:1 for 9 minutes with 4 inversions every 30 seconds.

Fujifilm 200 Color , developed in Adox Rodinal 44:1 for 9 minutes with 4 inversions every 30 seconds.

The three shots I was able to save actually weren’t too bad. I took a guess at the chemical measurement, but I’m satisfied I’ve got a new recipe. I know, 44:1 is weird, it was my bad math. I did 9ml rodinal to 400ml water. I also found out that my fridge keeps the water in the dispenser at 20C , so this is really convenient for BW developing.

I Am a Horrible Dad

In the process of wrangling the kids together for the zoo, my youngest decided he wanted to take a film camera with him. I found his Canon Sureshot, but noooOOooo, he wanted “a real camera you have to focus, dad.” So I handed him the Sears KSX Super, my late Uncle Erle’s old camera, and off we went. You’re thinking “He didn’t check to see if there was film,” but I did. Well, I looked at the film counter and it was at 15. I had let him use it once before on a trip to the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, so I knew there was film in it.

Once at the zoo, I set him up for f/5.6 and 1/125 at ISO 200 and let him have fun “focusing” the KSX. I checked again a while later and he was at 30 so I told him he had 6 shots left. Eight shots later I raised an eyebrow and asked to see the camera. I honestly should have kept my mouth shut. “There are no rolls of film with 38 shots on them,” are words that I should have not said out loud. The look on his face of soul-crushing realization was almost enough to make me cry. When I cracked the back on the camera and he saw there was no film, it was enough to make him cry. “Next time we go out, I want a digital camera, dad!”

The realization that your dad has epic failed you and forgot to put film in your camera

All wasn’t really a total loss, though. We finally got out of the house and into what was left of the sunshine and cured a bit of our cabin fever .

I’m Too Distracted by Gear

I let my G.A.S. get the best of me this year. I sold — and repurchased — my Canon 7 and my Leica M3. I picked up a Summicron 50/2 , a Canon 50/1.8 , a Canon 28/2.8 a couple FSU cameras, a light meter, 300 ft of bulk film, 100 rolls of film, several developer kits, 3 leather kits for cameras, a film squeegee, and other items I totally did not need.

And now I’m distracted. I got my Bronica working again, so I wasn’t interested in shooting the Leica. I got new leather on the Leica, then dropped it. I bought 40 rolls of Fuji color 200 during winter, and well I’m just sick of it all.

Tree Fog – Zenza Bronica , Lomography 400.
Fruit – Fujifilm Provia 100 in E6 on the Bronica

I am going to use my Bronica more often now, but I’ve also decided to throw my X100T in the bag again and use it for a while. I’ve got a couple of ideas for projects and enough film and cameras to do reviews and finish up my Camera Gallery, so I’m going to enjoy the instant satisfaction of digital for a bit. The Leica is getting the bulk of the black and white film and I’ll use it here and there when I feel like taking it for a walk, but I’ve been feeling a tad discouraged with film lately, mostly due to my ineptitude and lack of attention span, so the “didge” is going to be the go-to camera for a while.


Stop – Zenza Bronica , Lomography 400.

Final Thoughts

2018 is going out with a bang, and 2019 is rushing in. I’ve got a few new ideas, a 52 week challenge I’m participating in, and a ton of content for my humble blog. I hope everybody sticks around to see this site mature and evolve!

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1 Comment

  1. Sam Warner

    Always a great read Chris! Happy New Year buddy!!

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