The Roll that wasn’t

I picked up a used voigtlander 75mm lens for my Bessa R shortly before a business trip to Europe.  What a great chance to test it out I thought. I loaded up a roll of my favourite film (Neopan 400) and started snapping.  I took pictures in the various airports, then more in a some quaint little villages in the french alps.  I was enjoying the focal length immensely.

I continued to take shots, even switched lenses a few times for my 35mm and even the 15mm (which is hard to get used to after shooting with a 75mm!).  Then it happened… I took shot number 36 on the roll and started to rewind. To my horror the film rewound with about two turns of the crank.  The film hadn’t caught on to the spool and non of my shots had been recorded.  It was pretty tragic, loosing all those potential “incredible” shots. Although judging by past performance, I usually only get 5-10 “great” shots on a roll, so add to this a new lens and that number could have been significantly lower.  But that’s all beside the point, I enjoy taking pictures, and while I’m sad to have lost those shots on that roll, I enjoyed taking every single one of those pictures, regardless of them working or not.  For me photography is about the process, and while I do enjoy my shots turning out really well, I’ve come to expect this not to happen for many of them, and so I have learnt to enjoy taking the pictures as much as seeing the results.

I realized afterwards that my many months of Xpan usage led me to be lazy with my film loading. The Xpan loads automatically, and I forgot the voigtlander wouldn’t (it is a manual camera).  On a happier note, I found a great camera store in Southern Germany that had a great selection of film with good prices. Picked up some Agfa APX400 which I’m looking forward to try.

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One thought on “The Roll that wasn’t

  1. Thanks for sharing your Roll that wasn’t story If you shoot film long enough (as you have and myself also (over 35 yrs)) – you will have a roll that wasn’t story. I assume you didn’t “feel” the film advancing or see evidence of the film spool turning as you were shooting the roll that wasn’t. This happened to me, too, though I fortunately discovered this after a handful of (blank) frames that were shot. Another example are rolls that get lost. For me this was back in the mid-1980s – trip to Yosemite- a roll of Kodachrome slides from the trip sent in the mails to Kodak for developing. I never received the processed slides back. Gone forever (perhaps some lucky person received them). Regarding your philosophical stance – unless it’s for a client or a paid/promised job I agree that photography is the process – or more accurately, the experience of being in the moment.

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