“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.