Friday, 15 July 2016

30 years on 1 film

A few weeks ago my mum handed me two old cameras that she'd found lurking around in a drawer somewhere - both cheapo plastic affairs from the '70s.  One was a Kodak 126 and the other a Haminex 110.  Nothing remotely special about either of them - except that both still had films in them.

So I snapped off the last couple of pics to finish the films and sent them off to AG Photolab.  They arrived back the other day.

I wasn't sure what to expect, due to the age of the film and what have you.  The 110 film was in poor shape, due to the film advancing mechanism not working properly.  It looks like it never worked, as there wasn't one decent snap in the whole film.  I recognised no-one from the blurry, double-exposed frames, so nothing to report there.

The negs from the 126 film, on the other hand, were more than acceptable.  OK a slight colour cast, but nothing that couldn't be fixed with a quick scan and a 'Auto Color' button on Photoshop.

What we have are a bunch of fairly typical family shots from way back.  I reckon my mum must have been the user of the camera - she says I bought it to her sometime in the 70s.  That's the sort of thing mums remember, I guess.  Anyway, at the start of the roll are some shots of Bath, where I studied from '81 to '85.  I didn't have the car until the last year I was there, so I reckon this film dates to 1984, possibly '85.

On the left we have Kensington Place, Bath, along London Road where I lived for the last year of my studies.  That's my old silver VW parked up there.  The house on the right must have caught my mum's eye - nice looking veranda and a period Morris Minor outside.

Then there are a couple of shots of mum's patio, back home in The Liberties.  One of these has my grandfather in it.

The greenhouse in the background is long gone - blown down several times over the years by our winter storms and rebuilt when there was still people around to do that sort of work.   The pond has survived though and was home to a couple of goldfish until very recently.  Grandpa would have been in his eighties in the this shot on the right.

There's a half-decent shot of Grandpa and me, out fishing.  Fishing was my Grandfather's passion and in his day he would have been away for all of Saturday walking up and down a river bank trying to entice a salmon onto his hook.  It didn't happen that often, I seem to recall, although it was a very enjoyable day. It looks like we're having a bit of laugh while trying to get the line sorted out here:

That was when I actually had hair to get blown about in the wind...

And finally we have one of Missy, taken a few weeks ago.  I didn't have high hopes for anything here, so just told her to stand there in the early summer sunshine:

So there we are - one film, 30+ years old and shots that span four generations of our family.  Colours are pretty good methinks and OK some of the shots could be sharper but overall I was pretty impressed.

I guess the moral of the story is that out-of-date film shouldn't really be too much of a issue for most of us.  And there's probably another moral somewhere in there too, given that these were taken on a 1970s plastic camera with a plastic lens, no focus control and only two light settings (sunny or overcast).  Made in England, it says on the front.


  1. What a time capsule! How fortunate you are to have received this. I wish I could have a lost roll of film with photos of my grandfather!

    1. Thanks Jim - it was a real 'barn find' for sure. I was really happy that something - anything - came out recognisable. At the end I just thought 'What a wonderful story' - if you had said in 1984 - 'By the way, this film will languish in this plastic camera for over 30 years and then you will take a photograph of your daughter with it'...well, of course, that would have been really crazy. So it goes, as Mr Vonnegut wrote.

  2. It's simply fantastic, and a great story all the way through, Michael. What a luck that your mother knew what to do with those cameras! I have got a couple of old cameras handed over with film still inside as well, but nothing from close family members I'm afraid.
    Imagine in 30 years someone finds an old pixelsnapper in some drawer and pulls out the old memory card... I say no more!

    1. Thank you Roy - and yes, imagine some 30 year old Ultra SD card, or whatever. No chance.

      And get those films finished my friend - let's see what they give. Something interesting I'm sure, even though it may not have seemed so a few years ago.