Twelve months of film – January: The Cat Returns
Twelve months of film – January: The Cat Returns

Twelve months of film – January: The Cat Returns

First film in this project was shot in a span of just two days (even though it’s a monthly film), but the developing process robbed me of at least a month of my life in terms of stress and annoyance, so it all balances out.

In the beginning, there was a cat. Or, at least, a cat-like 35mm film. Kiki Pan 320 by CameraFilmPhoto. A b/w film with strong contrast and a lot of grain, in a wonderful cat-inspired packaging and canister. For this lover of cats and high contrast, Kiki Pan sounded like the dream. And it mostly was..until the loading the film onto the development reel part came.

The initial process of film development is fairly simple and quick. If the film is cooperating. Which Kiki Pan did not. Neither did the reel. Nor my virtually non-existent patience. That extremely annoying stumbling block happened only once before, while I was loading the Rollei Infrared onto the developing reel. This particular incident lasted for at least 30 minutes, during which I lived through all five stages of grief, with anger being the one that lasted the longest. With Kiki Pan, one of the problems was that the film was bent and distorted in few places (a manufacturing defect if I ever saw one), which made the loading onto the reel extremely difficult at times. The other problem was, because of the bents, it got stuck while exiting the canister and I, always the patient one, resonated that this must be the end of the film. And of course it wasn’t, which I discovered with horror after cutting it from the canister. Ok, fine. Take a second reel, load the remainder of the film…only for it to happen again. This time it was the last picture on the film, so the damage was not as bad, but the whole ordeal was severe enough for me to channel Scarlet O’Hara and proclaim that I’ll never load another film onto the reel ever again.

All in all, I now have a debilitating fear of development reels, two pictures cut in half, and a fun little story for my therapist.

With the negatives (pun kinda intended) out of the way, the smart thing would be to focus on the good stuff. So, let’s.

I’m generally not a big fan of over-editing, believing that analog photos need to look analog, which is a well known debate in the photo community, as well as in my own household. For me, editing needs to be minimal, and all of the particular’s films features need to be visible. But of course, to each his or hers own. As I stated before, Kiki Pan is marketed as a film with strong contrast and a lot of grain, and that it certainly is. And I don’t say this lightly – there are no glorious grays on that film. None whatsoever. It’s beautifully and truly a black and white film, and it would be a shame to tone that down.

I shot it with Olympus OM10 and an Olympus Zuiko 50mm f1.8 lens (pictured here). Because the day when I shot most of the film was sunny and very bright due to snow, almost all of the pictures were taken at 1/1000 and f/11, with just a few taken at 1/500 or 1/250 and f/8. OM10 handled everything perfectly, as it always does, and any and all unfocused and/or weirdly framed photos are exclusively my fault.

And now, for a special treat, the results of my development reel related trauma:

the “be impatient and cut the film in the middle of loading it onto a reel” photo
the “be so annoyed with life, the universe, and everything that you cut the film before the last frame is out of the canister” photo

Next month’s film is a color one, so if anything goes wrong, it finally won’t be my fault, as it will be developed by professionals with much more patience, and without as much cursing (I hope).

Take care, and I’ll be seeing you in February.