Mild-Life Crises: Wednesday’s Whacky Workshop, a Tutorial


How to Make Sprocket Hole Images (the old-fashioned way)


Putting the Wrong Film in the Right Camera


Putting the Right Film in the Wrong Camera

In case you were curious how images like the one’s in this post and this post were made….

You start with a camera that was intended to carry and expose 120 film (preferably one you’re not too worried about harming in the process…). You can also use a camera made to take 220 film, but I haven’t tried this….yet.

Enter, the Seagul 4A, a Chinese knockoff of the German-made Rolleiflex TLR (Twin Lens Reflex — one lens for viewing and framing, the other for exposing the film) introduced in the late 60’s and believed to still be in production. As you can see mine went around the block a few thousand times before I even got it. I got mine off eBay for about $70….I think….it’s been about twenty years….

If you’re not familiar with different types of film, 120 film, as can be seen here, is quite a bit larger than 35mm film and in this camera creates a square, 56x56mm image, 12 per roll,

Here is how the 120 film is normally loaded….

Opening the camera back (luckily for me, they kindly added an “O” and a “C”….)

First the empty spindle (from the previously shot roll of 120 film) has to be moved to the “take-up postion”

Next, the 120 (the “Right Film”) is loaded…

The tab on the end of the roll is inserted into a slot in the take-up spindle (which can be seen in a couple of the images in the previous set) and then wound on just a bit with the film-crank on the side of the camera (just to make sure it’s caught) before closing the back (I forgot to get a shot of this bit….)

When the roll is done, the film is removed from the take-up position. It has now been rolled up onto the spindle that was moved from the lower position which is now empty and ready to begin the cycle all over again….only THIS time……


The process for loading the 35mm film (the “Wrong Film”, still in its canister) is pretty similar with just a few adjustments….

Adjustment #1–the 35mm canister isn’t held in place like the 120 roll by the spindle-pin (I really don’t know if that’s what all these parts are called….I’m just making those bits up as I go…) SO Mr. Opposable Thumb is put to work. This can be a bit tricky as the film, having been wound up for a while (in this case quite a while–about 15-20 years), is trying rather persistently to roll back up.

Adjustment #2–the hack/mod-freak photographer’s second secret weapon (after electrical tape): Little Circles Cut Out Of Corrugated Cardboard. This holds the canister in place and helps to keep the film (Hopefully!) centered behind the lens during shooting. The film is then wound onto the take-up spindle as before, although this time with a bit more fiddling, a bit more cursing, and possibly some of the aforementioned electrical tape…or just plain scotch tape.

Adjustment #3–kind of hard to get a picture of this bit, but the 35mm canister doesn’t really fit into the camera…so you kind of have to step/sit/lean on it to get it to close tightly. And even then….I’m waiting for the day that a roll comes back with light leaks on it…or completely ruined from the back not closing all the way…but….so far, so good….

And….Adjustment #4…….

….As can plainly be seen in the above photo, the camera has to be opened and the film wound back into the film canister in complete darkness. The 120 has a nifty paper backing which allows the photographer to forgo the dark room and change film whenever and where-ever they like, but 35mm wasn’t really made for this sort of thing, so….

And there you have it….

One roll of very expired Kodak 100, color print film, hopefully with groovy sprocket holes and film-edge markings….provided the film is still any good….and provided I exposed it correctly (the Seagull 4A has no light meter) and provided the camera hasn’t sprung any light leaks and provided I can find somewhere to get it developed….anyone got any recommendations for a good through-the-mail developer who will do specialty processing?

Up against the lens

My lens is not ten inches but two but 
my wife tells me size doesn't matter,
size isn't every thing and I know that 
is just what wives of men with small lenses
say to make them feel better, to help them
feel better about themselves when they 
find it so hard to find anything to feel and 
I do know that size really doesn't matter
and besides, two inches is plenty big 
enough for me to hide behind as long 
as I keep it between me and the world.

It's not the tool you use but the trade you
craft, the craft you trade, the crafty trade-
offs you make in your life, the choices you 
make or don't make, the drafty voices that 
whisper to you through your pillow at night.

And yes, being a man, I will look at your cleav-
ing words--at where the words have split your 
chest in two--and I will stare, there, where they 
expose your heart and yes, I will try to capture 
that, in images, with words of my own, with pixels 
and phonemes and why not?  It's precisely what 
I do every time I look in the mirror and stare at the 
face that stares back.  
                                    There is nothing else for it.

These words try to describe some thing or state
that can not be described and this lens, this shutter,
will try to capture what can not be captured.
Moment upon moment upon pixelated moment
the sensors get bigger and more sensitive and 
the noise increases and the interference increases 
and the pieces, the particles and the pixels shrink 
and split and collide and spin off into incomprehensibility.

This world is and always was and always will be 
shattered by our sight.  Our very presence splinters 
the present into shards of light while we remain 
in the dark, while we wield words and glass with 
equal equanimity and impotence, like torches, 
like flashlights in a vacuum, poised on the edge 
as we are, staring into the only abyss we know,
the only place we can call home, the only hole
we can possibly hide in, and hide we must
or be shattered as well by our own splintering
vision.  Words, pixels, grains of silver or molecules 
of mercury-laced pigment licked from fingers all 
make us slowly mad as we suck the life from all
these little tasted bits and bytes, as we long to 
hold it all together--on the canvas, on the page,
on the screen--together with whatever is left
of any sanity the world has left to loan us. 

And is that all it comes down to?  A yes or 
a no?  A universally remote on or off, click 
or don't click and miss the moment either way?

We will miss the moment any way we can.  We
strive for new and interesting ways to miss 
the moment, anything to avoid staring that 
simple on/off switch in the face, one hand fighting 
to flip it up while the other tries to turn it around
into something (anything!) more, some other 
question that we might actually want to answer,  
some problem infinitely more complicated and 
therefore easier for us to grapple with, one more
substantial, one that we can talk ourselves around 
and around to anywhere but the truth of our
ignorance, the only truth we'll ever know 
in a world reduced to words on a plate.