Lately, I found myself in the urge of shooting my trusty old Minolta SRT MC-II. While firing away some shots, to see if the shutter sounds reasonable at different speeds, I came to realise that I must have loaded some film into it at some point. Also I could not remember what film I loaded and when. Did I already take some shots with it? I just didn’t remember.

Frustration hit hard. Since I don’t have a darkroom available I waited for the evening and had a peak into the camera with my headlamp in red mode. At least now I knew that there was Portra 160 in it. I was feeling creative at the time so I decided to rewind my film back into the cartridge and start over again. If there were any previous shots they would turn out as double exposures (which was fine with me). After this incident I started taking roll notes, to prevent me from making this mistake again. I read a nice article about them on Wesley Verhoeve’s newsletter which I would highly recommend reading.

After that first struggle I went out on various strolls in my neighbourhood, usually right after bringing my child to childcare, so I could have some nice morning light. Currently, I am living in Dresden Neustadt which is a very photogenic part of Dresden with a huge diversity. Most of Dresden’s bars and pubs are located in this area, not to mention all the record stores, small retail stores, etc. It is a very vibrant area with all sorts of people and if you happen to visit Dresden, this should be on your tick list.

Still it was quite a bit of a struggle working with this kind of slow film in January but with some nice sunny mornings most photos turned out quite reasonable. Usually, I’d default towards 400-speed films, only this time – in winter – I went for 160 ASA. I am not really sure what happened here.

To my surprise some of the photos had a red tint to them, but in the end only 1 frame was completely unusable, and 5 had some more or less prominent tint around the edges of the frame. My naive approach of using a headlamp with a red LED did not satisfy at all, I guess a real safelight uses a different wavelength than my head lamp does. Funnily enough though, there were no double exposures whatsoever on my roll of film.

~ Konrad

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About the author

Konrad Kiesel

I am an amateur photographer with a joy for the outdoors. Usually my photography revolves around hiking and climbing but with 2 kids now, spare time is very limited so I am expanding my photographic horizon with photowalks around my neighbourhood.


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  1. There is no safe light for film. Film must stay in complete darkness until it is completely processed. Safe lights are for printing b&w in a darkroom

  2. Hi Konrad,

    nice shots of Dresden Neustadt! My brother lives in Radebeul and I visit him from time to time and enjoy being in Dresden! As to that film-in-camera-or-not issue, I have experienced that myself, since I have built a collection of SLRs and sometimes I forget which one has film in it… To make sure there are as few accidents as possible I quite simply rotate the rewind knob a little and if I feel some resistance, there’s film in the camera. I am gentle to make sure nothing gets under unnecessary tension and I never had any issues using this method. Of course, you don’t get fancy double exposures that way 😉

    Enjoy shooting!

  3. I most negtive films are sensitive to red light. Only paper is not so. But I may be wrong, of course.
    Take care
    Martin in Austria

  4. red safe-light only works on black and white film, NOT for color negative film.
    Lucky you that it only gave you this stylistic tint…
    good shots nevertheless.

    1. There is no light safe for any film. It must be processed in complete darkness. Safe lights are for printing b&w

        1. Ok kodalith film maybe but this is not your typical everyday film. A beginning shooter probably would not use this film or even know how or what for. I’ve shot hundreds of rolls of this for the making of diazo slides. Of course this was before the use of PowerPoint.

  5. Oh my, you are very lucky! There is NO safelight for color film or regular B&W film!! These must be used in complete darkness! Red and amber safelights are used in a darkroom with B&W PRINT PAPER; Red is used for Ortho or X-ray film. They are all quite dim, and generally kept at least 4’ from your paper or film. Oh la la!