I finally did another B&W film some days ago; it had been sitting in my fridge looking at me for far too long. I hadn’t touched my vat, chemicals and spools in almost three years, either, film and developer sitting there with an expiration date years before even then.

Who says great photographs can’t come from “expired” consumables?

It was after the Spotters Weekend was over, which is where I had spent the majority of the roll. I had just a couple left to round off the complete thirty-six plus the one or two extras at the end and couldn’t think of what to shoot last to get done with it. I took a couple of selfies and prepared my developing gear.

I was sitting there in my bathroom, all sources of light blocked, tools “arranged” in front of me – or, if you prefer honest descriptions, lying around in a way I had to feel around for them every time I needed to switch one. I started by trying to, as you would, unwind the film onto the spool which would be used as its case to neatly bathe it into the developer, but I just couldn’t get the roll to fit in right. Something jammed, the film wouldn’t be picked up by the lever and it wouldn’t unwind. I must have been struggling there blind for what must have been more than 45 minutes for something that in the hands of someone who “knows what they’re doing” wouldn’t take more than 5 at most.

By that time, I could feel that I had almost ruined the edge of the film and the last pictures of the roll by all the bending and creasing I had submitted it to. I knew that force wouldn’t cut it (I could fit some pun here if I tried hard enough), but I was getting a tiny bit desperate.

I considered bailing: turning on the bathroom light and instantly burning the pictures white with light forever. At least that way I would escape that limbo between art and frustration, sitting there in the darkness getting nowhere.

If you’re waiting for some dramatic turn of events, there wasn’t one, but indeed it was a turn that saved me. I just tried twisting half the spool while holding it vertically instead of horizontally, and that somehow did the trick. Relieved, I winded the film into the spool, placed it into the tank, turned on the lights and proceeded with development.

A few hours later, this turned out to be the last shot of the roll.


I’ll admit I’m quite happy with how I look in this picture, but what I love are the chaotic, random little blemishes that pepper it from my mishandling it. Together they make for quite a unique selfie, and a selfie it is alright, clumsy self-inflicted marks and all. It just wouldn’t be the same if it had come out “perfect”. In  fact, the way it’s come out (just look at the right of my head, the contour of the… what is that anyway?) I think it is superior* in every way apart from visual fidelity I suppose.

At the very least it’s a happy accident. In chaos we trust – which is just The Flow dressed up in its cool black suede suit.

Some more highlights from that roll, in case you’re interested.

*Film photography is, in my mind at least, being slowly relegated to what painting and drawing turned into after film photography itself was invented: an art form formerly used for picture perfection now rendered obsolete by some newer technology – in this case digital photography. You could say that painting was liberated and all kinds of artistic breakthroughs were had only after photography was invented and artists didn’t have to portray their subjects in any kind of technically immaculate way anymore – that would be the photographer’s job from then on. Similarly, free from the requirement that it should mainly display things “the way they really are” – we have phones and mirrorless cameras now for that – film photography can now be safely re-examined as a separate medium with its own specific physical limitations and artistic advantages. Like painting.



December B&W Film

A month and a half or so ago I bought two T-Max 400 black & white photography films, one for myself and one for Daphne. The idea was to use them together and develop them together as well. We did exactly that three days before I left for Sofia. I had the dumb idea to use the ergaleiaki to record the process in the darkness of my bathroom in Nea Smyrni, which ended up very very very dimly illuminating the whole affair with its red little recording confirmation LED. We knew we had made a mistake but we didn’t turn back. Thankfully it didn’t ruin the rolls.

We used T-Max developer which had expired a year or so before. Tip: don’t trust expiration dates – neither for developer nor for food. Use common sense.

All in all I’m very satisfied with this roll and so decided to upload pretty much all of it. Enjoy. Thanks go to my trusty OM2-n (40 years and still going – can you say that about your DSLR?), my scanner and of course Rapsooneli.

Rapsooneli: I invite you to upload your own roll and then we can share our creations online like some sort of artist duo! :O EDIT: She did. She went ahead and did it. Isn’t she just awesome?

Picture order randomised. If you refresh the page it will change. Go on, try it.

The first photographs ever taken

Stumbled upon (literally, not via StumbeUpon!) it while looking for a place to develop a b/w film in Athens…


The picture below is reputed to be the world’s first photograph.  It was taken in 1826 and was developed by French photographer Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. He called this process “heliography” or sun drawing and the entire process took eight hours.



Before the Autochrome process was perfected in France, this photograph of a landscape in Southern France was taken. No, it is not hand-tinted. This is a color-photograph. (Note: It was published in a Time/Life Book entitled “Color” in 1972, “courtesey of George Eastman House, Paulus Lesser.”) You are looking at the birth of color photography seven years after the American Civil War. 130 years ago this view of Angouleme, France, was created by a “subtractive” method. This is the basis for all color photography, even today. It was taken by Louis Ducos du Hauron who proposed the method in 1869. It was not until the 1930’s that this method was perfected for commercial use.





This is one of the, if not the, oldest known photograph of a human being in existence. It depends on how one defines photograph, but this was taken by Louis Jacques-Mande Daguerre in 1838. (The fellow the daguerreotype was named after.) This is a photo of the Boulevard du Temple in Paris. This is a busy street and there was tons of traffic, but since the exposure was so long, about 15-20 minutes, none of the moving figures can be seen. The only people visible are a guy getting his boots polished and the bootblack. Who was this nameless gentleman or the bootblack? No one knows. I’m sure they never imagined that they had been immortalized, albeit anonymously, by a clever scientist testing his newly discovered method of preserving moments in time.

It was a different world then. The only motorized transportation was the railroad, and even it was in its infancy. Horses and sailing ships were still the primary means of getting around, the typical person probably never travelled more than 50 miles from where they were born. The first Atlantic steamship service started this year though, so the future was on the way. The telegraph had been invented, but the first commercial telegraph operations were a year away. There were commercial semaphore telegraphs operating, so it was possible to send a message over some distance for a price.

The first accurate measurement of the distance to a nearby star was calculated in 1838, the intellectuals were beginning to grasp just how big the universe really was. Though the discovery that there were other galaxies besides our own was still decades away. The first mass produced clocks were flooding markets in England and America, for the first time commoners could have a clock in their homes. Though it would be some decades before time zone was invented, clocks were set to local noon. They were the PCs of their day no doubt. What we would call a modern bicycle was still a year away, the bicycles of the era were propelled by pushing the ground with one’s feet. Gads.

Napoleon was still on everyone’s minds no doubt, the way Hitler is now the demon du jour, having been defeated less than three decades before. Slavery had been abolished in most of the civilized world, with the exception of the USA. In England Queen Victoria’s reign began the year before. I’m sure no one guessed she would reign until 1901, 63 years, the longest reign of any British Monarch. I doubt she or anyone guessed at the changes that would take place in her lifetime. And neither Germany nor Italy existed yet yet, both were a dozen or more smaller independent nations.

Here is a map of Europe in 1815. It would have looked the same in 1838 if I am not mistaken. America was a lot smaller then too, and Texas was an independent nation. In any event, nothing particularly profound about this post. I am just trying to share my love of history in general and old photographs in particular. (I’ve linked to this before, but here again is a lovely site about the history of photography.) Every age thinks it is at the end of history, and at the time, they were.

Puts some perspective into digital photography… Do you think people in 2180 will find anything interesting that exists today in my flickr profile? I wonder if and how today’s technology will be compatible with the mediums of the future…

Big thank you to my sources (in order) and to (CTRL+C)+(CTRL+V):


1st photo

2nd photo

3rd photo <- Doug’s Darkworld