Last week I had to drop off some film at the lab. Now that’s a phrase I haven’t used in a long time! Sometimes I really miss the days where every shoot was anticipation until the film came back. These days, clients want to see what they have in hours, not a day. As a result, the only time I run film through my old wonderful cameras is with my personal work.
A couple of weeks ago I was cleaning out the back of one of my camera cupboards and what did I find? Five exposed rolls of Ilford B&W 120 mystery film! Mystery because of some of the cryptic clues written on the outside of a few of the rolls. Ashley. Kimono.
Hmmm. Some of these could be four, maybe five years old. At least I was storing them in a cool, dry place.
Gamma called me on Friday, saying my film was ready for pickup. Finally, the answer to what shoots were these rolls from? Of course, I only had the film processed, so after heading back from Gamma (now conveniently located about a half a mile from my West Loop studio, I might add), it was back to the studio to scan the negatives before I could truly see what I had.
Depending on you point of view, that’s either the beauty of film, or the annoying part of film: It really is a process until you know what you have. It can take hours to scan a roll of medium format film. One frame at a time. Again though, part of the beauty of it, every 10 minutes or so, another surprise.
Oh yeaaaaaaaah! I remember that!
One of the rolls was from a more recent couple of shoots that I threw in the processing mix with the mystery rolls. It was partially shot last December, images of Anastasia that I posted on my Billy Sheahan Photography site, the other day. And apparently, I had waited six months to finish off that roll, which is what I did with Jordan in her Los Angeles Dodgers baseball cap during the crazy town Lollapalooza weekend a month ago.
Ashley turned out to be Ashley Klich and a shoot from 2008, who coincidentally is the makeup artist I just did the Anthony shoot with a little over a week ago. That’s a little creepy weird. In a good way.
The remaining rolls were from a 2007 shoot I did with my dear friend Melissa. We had draped my studio in yards and yards of white silk-like fabric to photograph her in a sublime Kimono she had custom-made for her while she was in Kuala Lumpur a few years earlier. I had photographed her with my 1968 Hasselblad 500C medium format camera, but the last film roll was not medium format. It was 35mm. What was this?
It turns out I had apparently decided to shoot a few stereo 3D frames of Melissa with my vintage 1954 Kodak Stereo Camera. That’s actually the camera model name. The Kodak Stereo Camera. It has two lenses on the front, the distance between them being exactly the distance between eyes on an adult face. It exposes two frames at the same time on a roll of 35mm film. And when you get the film back, every third frame on the roll is the second of the pair of left eye/right eye images.
We were shooting in fairly low light and that 35mm roll was ISO 3200. So it is graaaainy! But that kinda adds to the 1954 vintage-ness of the image. No fake Instagram filters here, gentle readers. This is the real thing!
Let me tell you how to view the images in 3D, without any 3D glasses. It’s a bit of a trick to learn, but it’s possible for most people. Position your face about twice as far away as the width of both images, depending on what kind of screen you’re looking at. It seems to be easier on larger screens.
Stare at the two images below and cross your eyes a bit until you begin to see three images instead of two. Concentrate on the middle image as it starts to line up between the outer two. If you practice for a few seconds at a time, you should be able to see the 3D image in between.
I should caution you not to try to do the cross-eyed 3D trick for more than 20 seconds at a time, or you’ll get a bad headache. Give your eyes a rest and come back later and try it again if you can’t get it the first time! Good luck!