Fun with Bulk Loading (and broken cameras)

When bulk-loading film with small, daylight-type bulkloaders, you’re likely to have some film wastage, especially if you don’t your bulk loading in a darkroom (or sweaty dark bag). This can make for some fun color washes, sure, but it stops being fun after awhile, especially when you lose 6-8 frames at the beginning of every roll. And then there’s the last frame: you’re always going to lose that due to the taping-on that’s usually done in the light. And then there are the manufacturing defects (or whatever) that sometimes show up. And then there’s the issue of broken cameras…

So many issues, and good times, all.

Compare/Contrast these two, for example. On the left, a streaking taillights from about frame 6; on the right, frame 7, after the light fogging was mostly gone.

I think the one on the left got an extra 15 seconds or so of exposure, but the great color comes from the light that sneaked in through the little felt baffle sometime between when it was bulk loaded and when it was shot.

And then there’s the last frame. In the Bobinquick-style loaders, anyway, and if you’re loading into used cassettes by taping onto the little tongue of film you left hanging out of it expressly for that purpose, you tape in daylight, then close the lid and start loading. So you’re always going to lose that last frame. Sometimes this is kinda nice, but still…

And then there are the manufacturing defects…  These aren’t specific to bulk loading: I get them regularly, especially in consumer stocks from that Japanese company that doesn’t want to make film any more.

And then, there’s all the fun you can have with broken cameras… In this particular case, well, it’s a long story.

I wanted a rangefinder, and so I bought a Sears 35 rf (the $30, Sears-branded clone of the $100—if you can find one—Ricoh 500 RF). When it arrived, the meter didn’t appear to be functional and the rangefinder was all out of whack, so, after installing new sticky felt seals, I disassembled the lens assembly and rangefinder assembly, and messed around until I got it all fixed. (At time of writing, the camera works flawlessly, though the shutter speed dial no longer clicks and so sometimes it slips… not an issue if you’re paying attention.)

While messing around, at a time when I thought I had it all working, before the shutter speed dial got de-clicked, and moments before I got really frustrated, threw the camera across the room, and ordered up a fancy Ricoh 500 ME (more on that later, maybe), I loaded up a roll and started testing, only to find that the shutter leaves had fallen off… Party!

Sure, you can get some fun results/effects that way, but sometimes you just want it to work, and it’d be nice if you could choose when to have things like this happen…

Alas.

At least I’m all out of color stock to bulk load (for now) and the only color film I’ve seen is that remjet-backed stuff and I hate cleaning remjet, but it might actually solve my light fogging issues, so, anyway, it’s not something I have to worry about now, and I can focus on getting purposefully (or accidentally) strange and wonderful results, rather than having them foisted on my by external factors.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.