Brendan Gara Photography

P.P.P.P.P.P

“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.

 

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2 comments

    • 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!

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