19:52 The images that weren’t there

This has not been a good week for me: I shot two films this week but neither of them came out.

Film 1 was in an Agfa Optima Sensor – I took some lovely photos with it last weekend on a sunny afternoon  in Greenwich Park with some friends and their young children:


 4-month old Samuel on his father’s shoulders with a lovely smile on both their faces


The Bank Holiday crowds enjoying Greenwich Park

and so on…

I had no idea the camera wasn’t working – the exposure light in the viewfinder was working, the shutter was making the right sound, the film was advancing properly. It was only when I pulled the film out of the developing tank (HP5+, Prescysol EF, 8.5mins @24degC) and I found a completely blank roll that I was aware that there was a fault.

In fact, the fault was mine. I compared it to my other Agfa Optima and I realised the shutter was not opening – and that I had not replaced the batteries that the camera came with when I picked it up from eBay for about £5 a few weeks ago. Lesson learned.

My second film this week also failed.

I’ve been having a bit of a thing about pinhole cameras recently – having had  my Harman Titan 5×4 for a couple of years now I recently bought an Ondu 6×6 (much more portable) and couldn’t resist this Vermeer 35mm panoramic format pinhole.

24x72mm panoramic pinhole camera

Vermeer 24x72mm panoramic pinhole camera

Yesterday I went for lunch with a group of friends back to The Sportsman pub at Seasalter on the north Kent coast. It was a blustery day with intermittent sunshine and showers, producing a lovely sky. The pub is by the sea wall so I went for a pre-lunch walk on the beach with my Vermeer and a tripod and took several shots:

 The shingle beach at low tide

 The big east coast skies, looking towards Whitstable

Weathered groynes

Beds of rushes waving in the wind

The beach huts

and others….

I took several shots but didn’t finish the film, it kept on winding on after each exposure. It’s my first film with this camera and I hadn’t made a record of how many shots I’d taken but was anticipating reaching the end of the roll shortly.

As I hadn’t finished the film I took some more experimental photos in my garden after I got home, where the late evening sunshine was looking good on the spring plants and flowers:

The back of the house in late Springtime

Evening sunlight on foxgloves

But a funny thing was happening: I had a never-ending film. It kept winding on.

My fears were confirmed when I opened the back of the camera.

As there is no re-wind on these cameras, the exposed film is wound into an empty film canister. The leader of the new film is attached by tape to the remnant of the old film in the empty canister. At least it should have been…. I thought I had attached it carefully (and I was careful) but the tape hadn’t stuck, the old film and the new film were not attached, so all I was doing was winding the remnant 1-2cm length of the old film round and round the empty canister rather than pulling the new film along.

Again, all down to user error rather than any fault of the camera.

How very annoying and disappointing – those north sea skies would have been most appropriate to be photographed with a Vermeer.

8 thoughts on “19:52 The images that weren’t there

  1. That Vermeer is a very handsome camera. I’m sorry for your frustrations. I hate when stuff like that happens. I’ve recently be suffering through expired film that I should really just toss out. My stubborness continues.


  2. Failures are just learning experiences. At least that is what I was telling myself this week when I discovered only half my roll advanced in the Holga 35mm I picked up for $1.99. Sadly, we can never go back and retake what we have lost. This is why we do film? Or is it?
    I have the Vermeer 6×17 anamorphic 120mm film camera and it is a learning experience too. Just put my 3rd roll through it and hoping for better results this time.
    Glad you posted. Makes us all think


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