Brendan Gara Photography


“Proper planning produces picture perfect postcards” or in reality “proper planning prevents piss poor performance”.  Both are apt descriptions of the last few days.

The other day I went out for a wander, and before setting off I flicked through the available cameras on the shelf.  The Mamiya 7 called out to me, so tucking a roll or two of Portra and Trix in my pocket out I went.  It was going to be touch and go with the weather- a break in the incessant rain and wind, and I was getting stir- crazy inside.  Unfortunately after about 20 minutes the heavens opened up and I ended up standing under an old shelter for an age.

When the rain passed I cut my losses and headed back having shot most of a roll of tri X on rain.  As I walked down past the harbour, the sun broke through, and both the harbour and Verity (the Damian Hirst statue) were framed by a brilliant rainbow.  Bastard timing, as I ran down to get a better vantage, shot off the remaining tri-X into my hand, wound on and juggled a roll of Portra into the clumsy camera.  Looking up to catch the picture perfect shot of Ilfracombe harbour, famous statue and sunshine, I just had time to watch the rainbow fade away into the ether.

Roll on a week and I decided to walk up to the “big” superstore a mile and half out of town up a hill.  I go there occasionally, not for shopping as such, but it’s the only place that sells the brand of Irish whisky I like, so in a way I liken it to penance: an uphill slog for a spiritual reward.   I’ve started to tuck my leica into my jacket along with a roll of colour and a roll of tri-x (it’s not exactly documenting a pilgrimage, but it’s a start).

I had Tri-X loaded in the camera as that’s my default setting.  About ten minutes up the hill I turned back to look at the harbour, and there it was again: rainbow, harbour, verity.  Again, black and white in the camera.  Luckily I hadn’t shot any of the roll off so I thought “why not just rewind it and I can extract the film leader when I get home, and I can still use the roll”- so I did, then quickly loaded up with the colour Portra and shot off a few frames of the picture postcard scene.  Result.

When I got home I extracted the leader and put the film on the table.  About an hour later all hell kicks off outside, with a huge flock of gulls wheeling, circling and swooping right in front of our place, only feet away.  I grabbed my camera and shot away, using up the remaining Portra.  Seeing the potential of the action I grabbed the roll of Tri-X on the table and loaded it.  Shooting all 36 frames of close in, full on, bird mayhem, the viewfinder filled with screaming silhouetted gulls.   At frame 38 on the counter I got worried.  At frame 40 I started to panic.  The rewind knob wasn’t turning, and the film wasn’t giving any kind of tension.  Running into the bathroom, I shut the door, threw a towel across the gap at the bottom of the door and took the bottom off the camera.  The film had become detached from the canister: my clumsy attempts to extract the leader must have loosened it enough to become detached under the tension of fast winding.   Never happened before.

I’d like to say I was dexterous enough to extract the exposed film from the camera, wind it back into the canister, or a developing reel.  I just hope that the picture perfect postcard shot of the harbour is worth it.

Addendum:  I was just looking at the news online and reading a report about a 4.1 earthquake in the Bristol Channel at about 13:25 today.  This was pretty much the same time the gulls were going mental.  I do remember feeling the floor bang and wobble, but assumed it was somebody downstairs slamming the front door!

Addendum and then one:  That’s pissed me off even more than I was already- to think the next time the gulls go off like that could be aeons, or if not, were in for a tsunami or something similar.




    • It happens a lot, but generally I’m not that interested in “postcard” pictures, so I don’t worry about it. For some reason that time it really bugged me, hence my “uncharacteristic” behaviour today!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: