Never Load Film The Wrong Way !

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This shot comes from my most recent trip to the Phoenix Park, a day that began quite early on a very beautiful winters morning with some perfect low lying winter sunshine. I set out with a very definite plan in my head, something that I very rarely do and something that I don’t think I will ever do again. I normally just head to the park and start shooting whatever catches my attention. On this particular morning I was determined to finally capture the Wellington Monument on film, I have tried on many occasions but have never really been happy with the results. The lighting was perfect and it was far too early in the day for the usual collection of cider drinking men to find their favourite spot on the massive plinth of the structure. So I had this gigantic monument all to myself. Two hours later I sat down at the very picturesque Tea Rooms for a spot of lunch, a very satisfied individual I should add, and proceeded to empty my camera of a superbly exposed roll of film. My lunch was ordered and I decided to sit outside in the freezing cold but at least the sun was still beaming down on me. As I waited I decided to empty the camera and reload it with a fresh roll of film just so I would be all ready for round two in the afternoon.

At this point I should apologise to the two ladies sitting at the next bench with their two young children for the burst of expletives that came rushing out of my mouth when I noticed what I had actually done with the camera. As soon as I opened the back of the camera I noticed the film looked a little bit different to what I normally expect to see. It took a few seconds to figure out why it looked black on the outside instead of the usual orange I am used to. I had actually managed to load the film into the camera the wrong way around and so had spent the entire morning shooting on the protective backing paper that comes supplied with 120mm film. In short, there wasn’t a single photograph on the roll of film and to add insult to injury the entire roll of film was now completely destroyed. The last time I felt this kind of sick feeling in the pit of my stomach was the night before I was start my leaving cert exams in school, when it finally dawned on me that I really should have studied a little bit more [or even a little bit].

The only solution was to load the camera again, making sure to do it the right way this time and retrace all my steps from the previous few hours. As soon as I finished my lunch I went back to every single location but at this stage the beautiful low lying winter sun had risen in the sky and made shooting the monument virtually impossible. I feel I am destined never to get a good shot of this imposing structure but hopefully I will pluck up the courage to go back and have another go. It’s almost like a personal duel between the two of us now and I think there is only ever going to be one winner, so if you are reading this Mr Wellington Monument, I will be back to get you sometime in the future.

Taken on a Zenza Bronica SQ-A 120mm film camera using Ilford Xp2 Super
Printed by my very own hands in a darkroom

(Comments and opinions are greatly appreciated, please feel free to let me know what you think)


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5 thoughts on “Never Load Film The Wrong Way !

    • Thanks so much Jimi, I see we both share a love of all things analog / film. It really has become a new passion for me all over again, having switched over to digital many years ago I am now enjoying photography so much more again having rediscovered film.
      Really enjoying reading your blog too.


  1. Well Dave, this is all part of the FUN. I just had a vaguely similar experience. I am out foreign at the moment and the days are very bright so I am using pretty fast film, 50 or 100 ISo. I also wanted some shots of the night life here so instead of finishing out a roll just to up the Iso for the first time in about 6 months I had reason to use my digital. Two different nights and two different memory cards have failed on me…. At least with the film shots I will not be disappointed until I get home..

    • I can think of worse things that could have happened.
      Thankfully I will still in the park when I noticed and I could retrace my steps. I’m sure it will never happend again to me. One of those scenarios when you do something once and never again. I sincerely hope so anyway.
      Thanks for dropping by my blog, I appreciate it.

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