12 months of film – February, part 1: One flew over the cuckoo’s bulb
12 months of film – February, part 1: One flew over the cuckoo’s bulb

12 months of film – February, part 1: One flew over the cuckoo’s bulb

You know that old saying “if you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans”? WELL…

I’ve always considered myself a smartish person. Not the cream of the crop, but at least somewhat smarter than, say, a dolphin or a border collie. And people around me tend to agree, except for that one college professor…and a guy from the camera store that developed last month’s film (there’s a bigger conversation needing to be had here, and it should include discussions about sexism and the ways photography is being gatekept by, mostly middle-aged, men as a “male hobby“). But after this particular fuck up on my end, which I’ll elaborate in a moment, I’m not sure that even a border collie would manage to mangle this up as good and as thorough as I did, so there’s a chance I’ve been deluding myself with that whole “I am kinda smart” shtick.

But let’s start from the top. February setup was supposed to be Olympus OM10 with Lomography Turquoise. And it was… right until it wasn’t. Or, more accurately, until the film was developed and it turned out a blithering fiasco. And this is the part where my lack of technical knowledge came to bite me in the rear end. The thing is, I knew something was wrong with the camera while I was shooting Turquoise. The shutter speed on almost every frame lasted until I released the shutter button. There was no difference between 1/1000 and 1/30 speed, and most times I was thinking I’ve must imagined that because I had virtually no idea that the bulb mode even existed.

Bulb mode is simply a shutter speed option that you can select in Manual mode on your camera. It allows your shutter speed to be any length you choose: one second, one minute, 17 minutes, or anything else.

The key with bulb mode is that your camera’s shutter stays open for as long as you hold down the shutter release button. The limit on your Bulb exposure depends on the camera – sometimes 30 minutes, sometimes as long as you like (or until your battery dies).


Now, bear with me. On Olympus OM10, the mode is located on the same dial as the film speed, and the mode switch is just below it, between the dial and the film advance lever. Cool. Now, as bulb mode is not something that’s often used while shooting, as it requires a particular set of circumstances–low light conditions or a film that requires speed that’s below the minimum (in this case, below 1/30), which, in addition, requires the tripod (this is beginning to feel like a running joke by now)–its unfortunate positioning is not a big problem. Unless you don’t know it’s there while changing ISO multiple times during the shooting. You know, as one tends to do with Lomography Lomochrome films, which are 100-400 ISO, ie. changeable. Next month’s film is Lomo Turquoise (again), in hopes that this time photos will be at least passable, so I won’t get into too much detail now, but–Lomo Turquoise, like other Lomo’s experimental films, has an ISO ranging from 100 to 400, where ISO100 will give the subtlest and ISO400 the strongest color change/effect. So changing ISO depending on conditions or shooting the same frame with different settings just to see the difference is a given, right? Right. With that settled, here’s a picture of the ISO/mode dial on OM10.

Dial, with the mode switch

Here, ISO is changed by lightly lifting the outer rim of the dial and rotating it to the desired value. The problem is that the mode switch is quite unfortunately positioned right where your finger is, and if you’re not careful (or if you’re me), there’s a high chance you’ll turn it by accident as well, without even noticing. If you know it’s there, you can just change it back to Auto. But if you don’t, like I didn’t, you’ll just go on your merry way and destroy every photo from then on. Which is of course exactly what I did.

So, overall there are three good photos (there’s no need to tell you they’re in the second row, right, as it’s pretty obvious), and thirty three bad ones, ranging from bad to awful. So bad that I didn’t even bother to edit them and try to get at least something out.

To make matters worse, of course, this isn’t the first film I managed to destroy this way. I just didn’t know it at the time. Meet Lomography Redscale, a beautiful experimental film, with rich red and orange tones and ISO ranging from 100 to 400, and the first two photos on it:

And now meet that same film, after I unknowingly and stupidly switched to bulb mode:

There’s still no blog post of mine here that doesn’t contain at least one bad decision or a major fuck up on my part, but I guess that’s the beauty of the learning journey. And I’m thankful that my ego isn’t fragile enough to consider this a failure or something to be ashamed of. To be frank, it did result in quite a lot of swearing and dramatic monologues about my complete inability to do anything right, while furiously marching up and down my living room, but I do that if I overcook the rice or inadvertently shove my cat, so…¯\_(ツ)_/¯

To wrap this word vomit up after I developed Turquoise and became aware that it’s unsalvageable, there were still 10 days left ’till the end of February, so I did what I always do–decide to try again. This time with a different camera (Zenit 12XP) and a different film (Agfa Vista+ 200). But I’ll leave that for part two of 12 months of film: February.

Until then, take care, and I’ll be seeing you soon.