I woke up one morning back in October with an idea to get a 126 camera and shoot some square 35mm images. I bought the Agfamatic 200 Sensor and a Fakmatic adapter, and then bought some long expired 126 film in hopes of getting better results from reclaimed cartridges.

The first to arrive was a 20 shot roll of Kodachrome X, expired in 1975. I reclaimed the film and spooled it into some 120 backing paper, shot it at EI 8 in the Yashica-Mat 124, and developed it in Ilfotec HC, 1:31 for 9.5 minutes, as I had with my earlier attempt with Kodachrome, and hoped for the best…

Well…

First problem, or issue, or bother: it seems that 126 film had frame markings on the film itself. The black bars above appear regularly, forming 20 rough squares. Had I known, and known where they would appear in any given image, I might be able to do something interesting with them, but alas…

Second problem, well, I was a bit hasty in spooling it into the (Lomography Metropolis) backing paper, I guess, because it went crooked straight away and then blurry, as happened when I shot 35mm film spooled into 127 backing paper. I suspect this is because, well it’s hard to explain for me, but rolling the film up in the paper somehow results in the film sort of sliding along the length of the paper: with every turn around the spool, the paper has farther to go than the film, sorta, and so if you tape the start point down first and roll after, then film will bow out slightly, thereby causing blur in or near the center of the image. Michael Raso notes this in the FPP walkthrough on reloading 35mm into 127 spools.

So the lovely landscapes I hoped for just dissolved.

As scans of these became visible, my heart sank, and it’s as if all of 2020, the national dumpster fire of politics and government response to the pandemic, all my own navel gazing, born of the endless social distancing, the contactless pick-up, never really connecting, even momentarily, with anyone outside of my darling wife and her family, the feeling of low-grade suffocation, just came to a head.

It really isn’t all that bad, really, I guess. I started to list all my photography woes, but that wouldn’t help anything. And I shot Kodachrome that expired 45 years ago, developed it as black & white, AND GOT IMAGES. Sure, there’s no greatness here. Sure, I made mistake. But still. There are images there! Go me!

Anyway. Suffice to say that I’ve had precious few wins, photographically speaking, in the last half of 2020, and this, well, not utter failure—not in developing, which went well (and I even managed to get all the remjet off!); not, really, in scanning; not even, really, in outcome—but still, just felt like the mustard on the shit sandwich that was 2020…

And then I shot some 1982 expired Focal Color 126 film, spooled into the same Lomo Metropolis backing paper, and you’ll just have to stay tuned for that…

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  1. Hey James. I instantly knew this was you when I saw the image! Happy New Year. Hope all is well with you and yours BTW I still use your image for my photo sites…it is my favorite

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