I shot film back in 2004, so it shouldn’t be difficult to jump back in. At least that’s what I told myself when I found 12 rolls of 30-year expired film last year. I ended up shooting those expired rolls and feeling pretty cocky.

I hadn’t had them developed yet but a friend had sent me a fresh roll of Cinestill 800T. Since getting the desire to shoot film again, I’d been hooked on the colors and tones within the images I’d seen captured on this particular film stock, and I had just the places in mind for my roll.

So, with my new-to-me Minolta SRT-202, and a Focal 28mm f/2.8, I set out on the perfect rainy night, stopping at different locations around town and painstakingly setting up precisely composed frames. I carefully metered exposures with my phone, and gently pressed the shutter release cable from a safe distance away from my tripod-mounted camera.

As the night neared it’s close I settled on what I wanted my final frame to be and proceeded to set up on location. *Click*. A sigh of relief. The last frame exposed, the beautiful roll full of all my hard work was suddenly complete.

I wound the lever one more time.

“Surprise, a bonus frame!” I thought to myself.

*Click* awesome. “What a great night.”

The shutter advanced again. “That’s odd, did I miss count of my frames somewhere?”

*CLICK* Another advancement…

Slow panic started to creep up my throat. I hastily fired off another shot, and another, and another, with no care for exposure or composition before finally coming to the conclusion that something was awfully and irreparably wrong. I slowly wound the film back into the canister, attempting to gauge how many frames I’d taken but after only a few turns I felt the film completely slide back into the canister.

I felt physically ill.

I’d spent the entire evening shooting…nothing. The only conclusion I could come to was that I hadn’t loaded the film properly and in my haste for adventure, the film never caught on the sprockets and I’d shot 36 frames of nothingness without ever realizing the spool knob never rotated during film advancements.

A week later, after my panic had subsided, I had my local lab retrieve the film lead from the spool and I set out once more, on a dry evening, and recreated some of the shots from my previous imaginary shoot, with a little less care, a little less enthusiasm, and a bit more caution.

These are five of THOSE very real frames which I’ve come to love. This time, ACTUALLY taken, with my Nikkormat FTN and Nikkor-S 35mm F/2.8.

~ Michael

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Michael Reynolds

Michael Reynolds, a photographer and multi-medium artist based out of central VA, is a professional wedding and portrait photographer. When he's not snapping away at people, you can find him either closed...

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10 Comments

 

  1. Hey, sorry for the ultra late response, I hadn’t been getting notifications for this. To answer your question, I shot them all with a tripod. I’m trying to get used to shooting with a tripod and stopped down vs my typical digital setup of wide open run and gun haha. So, for the most part these were all around F8, mounted on the tripod, shutter release cable, and what felt like a ridiculous amount of setup and waiting.

  2. Did you shoot the second round handheld or still with a tripod? Very nice work!
    I only tried handheld at night with a 50mm f1.4 but wouldn’t mind shooting my 30mm f2.8
    Cheers

  3. Moody shots, nice work. Cinestill is one of my favourite film stocks, there’s nothing like it. Glad that Round #2 worked out for you!

  4. Michael , aaaaahhhhh… that scar never leaves you but it makes you .. I had the same experience at electric picnic years ago with a SRT101 and not one but two rolls of expired Fuji pro 400h , devastated but I learned an important lesson….

    Great story….
    Brendan

    1. I’d have been devastated! I’m glad I opted for the retrieve and reshoot vs paying for development to find I ruined it for sure. Film prices haven’t been kind to me. 😅 I’m glad I’m not alone in this heartache, but I definitely check the rewind knob for every roll now to make sure it’s advancing 😂.

    2. I’d have been devastated! I’m glad I opted for the retrieve and reshoot vs paying for development to find I ruined it for sure. Film prices haven’t been kind to me. 😅 I’m glad I’m not alone in this heartache, but I definitely check the rewind knob for every roll now to make sure it’s advancing 😂.