The Little Cold Box Of Hope

on January 17, 2019

The heading image is a box of film. To be more specific, it is a box containing a plastic canister with a pop-off lid. Inside the canister is a metal cartridge with a plastic spool in the centre. Around the plastic spool is wound a perforated roll of plastic film, 35mm wide. it's about a yard long give or take a few inches.

On one side of the plastic strip is a tough emulsion with a number of layers of light-sensitive material - three colours that react differently to light that falls upon them - however briefly.

The cartridge is shaped to go inside a " 35mm " film camera. his might be made by Leica, Canon, Nikokn, Zeiss Ikon, Kodak, Mercury, Argus, or any number of makers. strip of plastic film inside the cartridge is engaged by a set of sprockets and rollers in the camera and drawn past an aperture 24mm x 36mm in the dark. At the appropriate time, a shutter exposes this aperture to light with an upside-down image focused upon it. If you are very good and very lucky it makes a latent image on that Strip.

Well, you make 36 of these latent images and then rewind the film - still in the dark - back into the metal cassette. You take it to a laboratory to have to developed and in a day or so...or a week or so... you return to pick up 36 little transparent pictures of whatever it was you saw. SOme labs will make you a paper print or scan the pictures onto a disc. Some just hand you the roll.

If that's the case you can hold the strip up to the sun and peer at it - or put the pictures in little 2-inch square cardboard frames and then shine a light through them onto the wall - or scan the image into your computer screen and look at it on the screen.

It is an immense amount of trouble, and - by the looks of it - expense, for 36 pictures. So where does the hope come in?

a. When your computer or phone or hard drive dies ( and they ALL do ) you have no more pictures. Except the 36 that are sitting dry and safe in the cardboard shoebox in the hall closet.

b. Your images are yours. They cannot escape out into the internet to tease you unless you send them out there deliberately. You own the transparency.

c. It doesn't matter if you have lost the charger for your Leica IIIf.

d. You only have 36 shots - so you will make them count.

e. You can have slide nights in the heat of summer in the lounge room showing your trip to Fiji. Turn the air conditioning off to save expense while the slide projector is on.

f. The old camera you found in the closet works. As it has for the last 50 years.

g. The other photographers at the camera club will have to spend about $8000 to $ 13,000 to gain digital ascendancy in the Kewl Stakes. You can do it with a Nikon you bought at Cash Converters for a hundred bucks.. You get to use a light meter and take incident readings. This will stop a studio, wedding, or buffalo charge in its tracks.

h. You can use filters again.

i. There are no firmware updates and no new versions of the software. There is no software.

Oh, BTW - the box of hope is cold so that your hopes will not be dashed by colour results that have been baking in a supermarket check-out line. If you are going to be professional, buy professional film from people who refrigerate it properly. This is not old stuff - it is fresh and ready.