Finishing off the roll

There is nothing quite like the need to finish off a roll of film to inspire you to go out and take pictures.

Someone, somewhere once decided that 35mm photography should be shot in multiples of 12 at all times. I used to consider 36 shots on a roll to be a chore, it would take me ages to finish a roll and quite often the last few frames would just be whatever I saw on my way to the darkroom on a Thursday afternoon. Even with 24exp rolls (and ignoring the vast financial inefficiency of them over 36exp) I still felt that the last few unused frames were holding me hostage from the 18 or 20 previous frames I was desperate to get at.

I couldn’t waste them as that was, well, a waste. So instead I would find some time to go and do something meaningful or experimental with them. This lead to good things. I played with different filters and lenses, long exposure, motion blur, all the things that I wouldn’t want to waste good film on. Anything that worked usually justified a whole roll of further experimenting.

Then came medium format.

My Bronica ETRSi 645 format camera shoots 15 frames on a roll of 120 format film. For me, now, this is a good thing as I have limited shooting time (with several months of zero daylight outside of normal working hours to look forward to right now). I usually manage to get a whole roll in the can on any given subject.

Last week I, for whatever reason, I had five frames left, so experiment I did.

With The Eternal Night drawing in it’s now easy to get a bit of night time long exposure shooting in before tea time, so I affixed Bronica to Manfrotto and headed down to the bridges. I don’t have a suitable cable release for the Bronica so I was limited to 8 seconds as the longest electronic shutter mode, but the film was only ISO 125 so my handheld lightmeter suggested f5.6 to f8 would be about right. Fortune favoring the ill-prepared this time.


These are the results. Five frames taken of three different view points giving me a couple of decent results. The first being my classic Forth Rail Bridge view, made possible by the 50 Jigawatts of illumination being blasted into space.


The second shot is a bit more subtle and manages to silhouette the bridge against the clouds behind it which are reflecting the light from Dumfirmline. The foreground is a bit overcooked from the street lighting to the road behind me, but at least it stops the areas just being black.

I think I’ll file these under ‘it worked’ and no doubt try some more with a fresh roll. The truth is that without the need to finish a roll off I probably wouldn’t have bothered. They need to make a memory card that locks itself unless you have an exact multiple of 12 images on it. Now that I would buy.


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