I almost threw these away, because I wasn’t satisfied with what came out.
And then, at the last moment, I fished the film out of the garbage and scanned the negatives anyway.
This is a testament to never giving up, and trying to get something out of nothing.
What you see on the left is an attempt to photograph the Blue Ridge Falls in North Hudson, N.Y. I loaded Kodak Gold 200 Instamatic film into some 616 backing paper, and then installed the film into my AGFA Chief 616 box camera. Figured I’d get at nice ultrawide shot, and then once it’s developed I can turn it into something artistic and whatnot.
I took the film shots as part of that “5/15/15” day (taking pictures on May 15, 2015, a palindromic date) and hoped for the best. I mean, we are talking about 25-year-old Instamatic film, it had a shelf life equivalent to a Boyz II Men career.
I took a few shots with this film – I mean, it wasn’t as spectacular as my infrared or digital photos that were also taken that same day, but hey I might make something work out of this little project. Nice.
Okay, photos taken – I only get maybe eight shots in this roll, possibly less. Time for me to drive to another location.
Oh look, now I’m in Lake George. I’m at the Magic Forest amusement park, and I can get a nice photo of the world’s tallest Uncle Sam statue. I can capture it in Instamatic glory, and then turn this into something that might be competition-worthy.
Nice. I’ve got this lined up perfectly. All right Uncle Sam, prepare to be photographed.
Click. Click. Got this.
And you’re probably wondering… “Hey Chuck, I see a small little Santa Claus in that picture, there’s only what looks like half of an Uncle Sam statue there.”
And there’s only half of the Blue Ridge Falls in the picture to the left.
There were two rolls of film crammed in that camera.
Two packs of Instamatic film.
What you’re seeing is the “left” roll, the roll that actually developed properly.
The “right” roll? The one that has the other half of the Uncle Sam statue? The one that has the remaining bend of Blue Ridge Falls?
Yeah, that film didn’t develop at all. I have a totally blank Instamatic roll for my efforts.
Nertz. Crumbs. Nose boogers.
With the exception of a few shots from the past, I’ve had lots of trouble trying to make this Instamatic splitfilm project work. The film’s not fresh and didn’t develop at all. I loaded the film in the camera incorrectly. I made a mistake and had the film developed in the wrong chemicals. I swear, there must be a Kodak plant worker named Murphy that’s handled all my film on this project.
But you should know me by now. You should know that even if I stumble and fall six times… I’ll get up and try a seventh time.
And even in my most frustrated, complicated moments… in my most dire endeavors… in those moments where my back is to the wall and the demons and the griefers and the angries are coming towards me…
I won’t give up.
It took several tries over the span of a couple of months to get The AGFA Bridge Over Ansco Lake to work. And that was the first piece of mine to take silk at both the New York State Fair and at Altamont.
I tried several different sports subjects until I created The Three-Two Pitch, and that little artwork snagged love at the Big E and at Gallery Photographica in San Francisco last year.
Yes, experimentation is one thing. Thomas Edison tried 99 different experiments until the 100th one produced an incandescent light bulb.
And as for me, I’m on the right track. I know it. I can feel it like I can feel a breeze on my face.
Believe me. Somewhere down the road – in the next few days or the next few weeks or the next few months – I’ll get that Instamatic photo that will give me the “hokey smokes, did I take that picture” moment.
I have to. I’m so close now. I can’t give up.
And these half-shots that I did achieve, they’re just stations on the climb.
Because the summit isn’t far away.
And I need to keep climbing.