I love shooting old film just to see what I will get. It’s a bit of a crap shoot when you don’t know how the film has been stored. Will the photos turn out? Or won’t they? These were shot in Banff, Alberta almost 2 years ago on a roll of Fuji Super G Plus 100 film that I found for sale online.
I shot these tractors last winter in a farmer’s field just north of Calgary.
These views of Paris were shot from the top of the Arc de Triomphe during the summer of 2015.
These were shot during my trip to Vietnam. We spent the night on a boat in beautiful Halong Bay.
I belong to a number of different camera clubs on Meetup and one of the clubs held a photo walk at Spruce Meadows. These were taken in the summer of 2016.
I shot these back in Autumn, 2016 at the International Balloon Festival in High River, Alberta. Hot air balloons only fly at dawn, so I had to drive out to High River early that morning to catch the action. There were very few spectators and I was able to set up my tripod in a great spot. It seems like the balloons take forever to inflate, but once they launch they shoot up into the sky quick. I had to be fast with my framing and focusing if I wanted to snap a photo.
Last year I took a trip to Vietnam. I had an absolutely amazing time. These photos are from an encounter I had with some locals on the streets of Hoi An.
As I was walking along the river, I spotted two women with baskets of fruit hanging from their shoulders and snapped a quick photo. I had hoped to go unnoticed, but then they spotted me as I snapped one more. It was at this point that one of the women came up to me, placed her hat on my head, gave me her baskets of fruit and tried to take my camera! She gestured that I should stand next to her friend so that she could take my photo. I tried to say no thank you but unfortunately I don’t speak Vietnamese and she didn’t speak English.
Now, the Canonet QL17 is a rangefinder with manual focusing and I guessed that she wouldn’t have a clue how to focus it, so I simply set the focus to infinity and hoped for the best. I gave her the camera and stood next to her friend. At first she was surprised that there was no digital screen on the back of my camera, but then she found the viewfinder and brought the camera to her eye. She snapped a photo. Then she tried to snap another, but the shutter wouldn’t fire. She was quite confused and I was unable to communicate to her that she needed to advance the film manually before taking the next shot. Unable to get my camera to work, she handed it to a random man walking by (the man in the third photo). At this point, I started to worry that I wouldn’t get my camera back! Fortunately, the man was much more camera savvy and managed to advance the film before snapping the fourth photo. He then handed the camera back to the woman who gave it back to me. But they weren’t done.
The women then proceeded to sell me some fruit! Again, I tried to say no thank you, but they were persistent and I figured if they were kind enough to snap my photo, then I could at least buy some fruit from them. They overcharged me for the fruit (150,000 Vietnamese Dong–about $8), but after some protesting on my part, I decided to just pay what they were asking. After all, it wasn’t about the fruit. For $8, I had a fun little cultural exchange. And got some photos.
These photos are from one of the few rolls of film to have survived my recent postal film fiasco. I shot these at YMCA Camp Chief Hector while I was out on a morning hike. I used Kodak Elite Chrome 100 film that I had cross-processed at The Darkroom. I love how some of the shots have a warm redscale look to them while the others have more of a cool blue tone. I remember varying the exposure between shots, but I didn’t take notes and my Rebel 2000 does not record metadata so I doubt I could reproduce the settings I used that morning.
My worst nightmare just came true. Eight rolls of exposed film have gone missing. They are lost in the mail, possibly forever. This is the challenge of shooting film: once it leaves your hands, it’s out of your control. You just have to trust that it will all work out. And while most of the time it does, there will be the occasional screw-up.
Three weeks ago, I packaged and mailed 11 rolls of film to The Darkroom just as I always do. I tracked its delivery online and the day it was due to arrive, USPS stopped updating the tracking number. This is odd, I thought, but I still had faith. Then I get an email from The Darkroom asking me if I was planning to send them the remaining 8 rolls from my order separately. What do you mean? I asked. There should have been 11 rolls. Apparently, only 3 rolls made it. The other 8 had somehow never arrived. It seems that my package must have been damaged in transit (or, God forbid, someone stole my film!) and only part of my shipment made it through. Ironically enough, the 3 rolls that made it were all slide film.
Then, just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, I discover that my second shipment of film has gone astray! I sent another 11 rolls of film to The Darkroom a week after the first package and tracking this shipment on USPS has revealed a problem. For some reason, USPS has forwarded my second package to God knows where and have claimed that I had made an error in the address. Not bloody likely! I used the shipping label printed directly from The Darkroom’s website. There was no error on my part. So now I have no idea if the second package will make it to The Darkroom or if I’ve lost another 11 rolls. Sigh. Once is bad luck, twice is incompetence!
Out of sheer frustration, I called Canada Post and filed two complaints—one an insurance claim for the lost film and the other an investigation into the whereabouts of my second package. I’m still waiting for an answer. I have lost all faith in Canada Post (and USPS) and don’t expect any kind of resolution on their behalf. Even if they pay out on the insurance claim, my photos are lost forever.
However, there is one silver lining in all this. Throughout this entire ordeal, The Darkroom has been amazing! They have answered all my questions and even offered to speak with USPS on my behalf. They have a great relationship with their local post office and will let me know if the missing 8 rolls ever turn up (it’s happened before where loose rolls have made their way back to The Darkroom after getting lost). And they will speak with the postmaster to look into the whereabouts of my second package. Hopefully, it will be found and rerouted to The Darkroom.
So what have I learned from all this?
First, package your film so that it is as strong and damage-proof as you can make it. This will also deter anyone from tampering with your package. And make sure that both the destination and return addresses are big and bold so that there is no confusion.
Second, I will no longer trust Canada Post and USPS to deliver my film safely. I will send my packaged film through FedEx from now on. They may or may not be any better, but I can’t risk another issue with the mail.
Third, The Darkroom rocks! Their customer service is second to none. They have exceeded all my expectations in helping me to resolve a problem that did not originate with them. I can’t say this enough: They do a quality job from start to finish and have never disappointed me. I will always send my film to them.
The photo above is not the film I lost, although a roll of Fuji Sensia was among the missing. It’s just a photo of some expired film I purchased six months ago.