Friday, July 18, 2008


The last batch of negatives I had developed was really disappointing—and I’ll admit now that this was all me, having nothing to do with the place I have the film developed. Of the five rolls I sent in, only one came back with decent (read: properly exposed) images on it. No surprise that this roll was shot with the Nikon n50—as long as I pay attention to what the camera tells me about shutter speed and aperture, the images look okay. Don’t get me wrong, I love shooting film but the waiting part (i.e., having the film sent out to be developed and waiting for it to be sent back) is hard. Over the past year, I’ve gotten used to the immediate feedback you get from shooting digital—I can see what’s working, what’s not and adjust my behavior (and the camera’s shutter speed and aperture) accordingly. The lessons are immediate and so seem to stick.

When the box of negatives arrived, I looked first at the rolls of 120 I ran through the Holga and the Diana. I wasn’t expecting much as I had kind of suspected that I was keeping the shutter open for too long. Seeing the negatives confirmed that. Feeling far more hopeful, I looked at the two rolls of 35mm I ran through the Holga. I had been feeling optimistic at this point because the modification part seemed to go well and that had been my biggest concern. But then I notice that almost every negative was green—not entirely green but most were mostly green. While this seemed to signal a slight improvement over the last batch of negatives (I could actually see what I had photographed), I’m thinking the green is definitely not a good thing. I scan the first couple of images and come to see that green means red. And then I start trying to figure out where and why things went so horribly wrong. So I’m thinking it’s mainly about my yellow tape mistake which—in turn—has to do with my being too cheap and too impatient to send away for the black gaffer’s tape like my copy of Plastic Cameras recommended Holga owners do. Not wanting to use duct tape inside the camera (i.e., to keep the batteries for the flash in place, to buffer the areas over which the 35mm film is pulled, to mask the red window on the back of the camera), and not having any gaffer’s tape to hand, I decide to use the yellow tape I recently purchased at a teacher’s store. No bueno.

At this point, I'm angry at myself for being so stupid (and cheap)--though I'm still not sure that the yellow tape was/is the whole problem or only problem that I'm having here--and I was just going to file away that batch of negatives, revamp the holga (using black electrical tape this time) and try again. I decided instead to see what, if anything, photoshop could help me do to salvage any of these images. With the help of the channel mixer and gradient map, I was able to come up with images I could live with:

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