Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Lost Rolls

I just finished preparing for a show that opens Labor Day weekend, so my studio is even more of a mess than it usually is, with piles of matte board, foam core, and glass strewn about the area. As I fumbled through the mess, attempting to get things back to some semblance of order, I uncover a small brown cardboard box. Not remembering there being a cardboard box in this particular area of my desk, I open it with some trepidation, not having any idea what I would find.

Well what to my wondering eyes should appear? Thirty undeveloped rolls of film, from times not so near.

I sorted through the canisters and rolls to find quite a variety of materials.

  • 2 rolls of 120 T-Max
  • 1 roll of 120 Agfapan 400
  • 18 rolls of 35mm Agfapan 400
  • 7 rolls of 35mm Agfapan 100
  • 2 rolls of 35mm Agfapan 25!
I ran my fingers through the film like I had struck gold. I picked them up and dropped them back into the box one at a time, just letting them roll off the edge of my fingers....plunk....clank....bonk.... I thought about what could be on the rolls, but I really had no idea. I couldn't even begin to imagine, so when I grabbed a couple rolls to head to the darkroom to process them, it was kind of like finding a bunch of lottery tickets. The anticipation of what I was going to find in the silver emulsion was coursing adrenalin through my body.

I plunged my hands into the darkness of the changing back and peeled open the canisters with my fingers. I wound the acetate onto the spools and closed up the canister. I pre-wet the film while I mixed up my Marathon, all the while with images of past photos flashing through my head. I knew this had to be personal film, as I never would have let film from a job go missing.

The six minutes of developing seemed to last an eternity. Out with the Marathon and in with the stop bath. Another minute goes by. Out with the stop bath and in with the fixer. Five more minutes. Out with the fixer and wash. I'm dying to look inside now and see what I have, but somehow I manage not to open the canister. Out with the water and in with the fixer remover......wash it again and in with the photo-flo. When I pour out the last of that, I can't help but peel off six inches of film to see what I have. I see a couple shots of El Castillo at Chichen Itza in Mexico.

"Cool" I say as I give the spools a quick rinse before throwing them in the dryer. "Must be more Mexico stuff." I don't even bother to look at the other roll. I know it's been processed properly, so whatever is there will still be there after it's dry.

The "ping" of the dryer timer let me know that the negatives were ready. I removed the stainless steel reels from the dryer tube and took them over to the counter. I pulled the film from the grooves and started cutting them into strips of six so I could scan them into the computer. I did a double take as i saw what was actually on the roll. After the first couple frames of El Castillo, the rest of the film was from the day my last son was born (four and a half years ago). Not only was it from the first day of his life, it was actually from the first hour. Most of the roll his eyes aren't even open yet, but they do ease open a little bit towards the end of the roll.

I had struck gold after all.


Scott Bulger Photography


Scott Bulger Photography


Scott Bulger Photography




I guess I'm going to have to develop those other twenty eight rolls soon.

24 comments:

Peter said...

struck gold indeed1 how amazing!

i could feel your excitement at waiting to find out what was on the film, you don't get that kind of build-up with digital!

Dawn L said...

That's awesome Scott!

I wanted to skip ahead to see what you had found...but I resisted :)

I too have many many rolls of film that need to be developed.

woolies said...

wow, how cool! LOOK at your son, and what awesome pics!

so what were they doing in a cardboard box? And what's on the rest of the rolls???

pollyhyper said...

Wow, Scott, you seriously almost made me cry! Happy tears. What a wonderful "gift" to yourself.

Also, you've made me miss shooting/processing film (vs. digital).

Grasshopper said...

Congrats on striking gold! What a great find. I still have about 36 rolls of film to get developed from when I was still using film. They got pushed to the back burner when I found digital. I wonder what I could find. All family and friend stuff I am sure.

Great write Scott! Not only are you an awesome photographer, teacher and friend. You got mad writing skills. Yo go Master PO!!!

Donna said...

What a wonderful discovery!

Sue said...

What beautiful photos! What a wonderful discovery... Also, I loved your written description, will show it to my darkroom students!

CancunCanuck said...

Wow, what a find! Thar's gold in them thar rolls!

Looking forward to the big reveal of the other rolls, I'm on the edge of my seat, teehee.

Robin@creations-anew.com said...

What a wonderful surprise.....can't wait to hear what is on the other rolls.
RObin
http://www.creations-anew.com

Karen Casey-Smith said...

How completely wonderful! I'm so happy for you. :)

KIM said...

HOW SWEET IS THAT????????? Thank you for sharing that! He's still the little munch!

Judi FitzPatrick said...

What a fabulous find - he was such a sweet looking baby! Hope the other rolls are just as good.
Peace, Judi

Alison Du Bois said...

How sweet, he's beautiful!! I could almost smell the darkroom as I was reading. I hope you find many more treasures:)

Walk in the Woods said...

You remind me of things that I miss in using film . . . like the darkroom . . . and surprises!

whimsicalpam said...

Thanks for bringing a smile to this groggy face:)

kiddlebug said...

That is beautiful. What a great treasure you've found.

LadyK said...

Gold Indeed! :)

The shots you took of your baby boy are just beautiful!

Tia said...

oh what a wonderful find. I guess sometimes it is good to clean. hehe

Best wishes with the upcoming show.

Crash said...

What a wonderful find, Scott. I felt like a child at Christmas while reading your story. I hope you'll share your discoveries from the next 28 rolls. :)

Waterrose said...

Oh my....what a treasure! We have a box of undeveloped film from as early as the mid 70s...hubby took tons of pictures and never got around to developing them. One of these days!

annewebb said...

I used to spend hours in the dark room when I was in school. Developing your own pictures could be compared to firing a kiln load of pottery. You have an idea of what the final result will be, but you never know for sure until the kiln is cool and you finally open the door.
What a wonderful find, Scott. :)

Anne

Sue said...

Oh how cool is that. That is the one nice thing these days about digital you don't misplace film.. can't wait to hear what else was on those many rolls of yours....

Sus said...

Thanks for the smile you've put on my face today Scott! Your son has been blessed as well.

wendyhumphreys said...

What a precious surprise! Breathtaking! I can't imagine how
you felt seeing them for the first
time!