Here we go again. Chuck’s trying something funky with his film cameras.
It’s a sunny Sunday, and I’m up at the Saratoga thoroughbred track. The goal is to expand on the photographic technique I employed in my photo Pride of the Palace.
You know, the kind of stuff I do that makes pictures like the one right here.
So my next plan in evolving this imagery is to attempt some sports photography. I had a roll of Fuji Superia ISO 1600 35mm film, so I re-rolled that in 120 (actually, 620) backing paper. I also had some ISO 100 black and white film, so I put that in the camera bag.
The plan. Saratoga has three tracks – two inner turf tracks, and an outer dirt track. Kodak Red doesn’t have telephoto capabilities, so I’m looking at shooting only the dirt track races. That’s races 1, 4, 6 and 8, according to the racing form.
I got to the track in plenty of time for the first race. Set up along the rail for a 45-degree shot as the horses charge down the stretch. I’ve got a lot of things in frame – the digital scoreboard, the American flag, all of that.
Okay. Let’s put the black and white film in first. And as I loaded the camera … all of a sudden, my fingers slipped – and the entire roll of film unfurled and crashed down to the ground.
That audible “Son of a bitch” you just heard was me watching a roll of film suddenly go to waste. Well, no crying over spilt film. In a situation like that, you can really only do one thing. Save the 620 spool and toss the exposed film in the dumpster. And I didn’t have any additional backup 620 black and white film to use.
Oh well. I can pull eight shots out of this roll of the Fuji Superia film, maybe I can do some funky Dutch angles with it.
Mind you, any film at 1600 ISO is already super-sensitive to light, and right now I’ve got blazing hot sunshine on the track. I’ve got to stop down the f-stop to Kodak Red’s smallest aperture – f/32. Shutter speed? The fastest I can get out of Kodak Red – 1/400 of a second. I can’t stop the camera down any lower; I can’t make the shutter speed move any quicker. That’s all I have, folks. It’s all up to the camera gods from here.
First race. Picked a winner in Shaker Shack, with Jose Ortiz in the saddle.
I actually did well for the first three races – hit the Daily Double and the Pick 3, so I was up a few dollars. Didn’t do well in the fourth race, the horse I picked finished dead last, while another horse, Easy to Bless, took the wire.
I made it to the sixth race. At this point, even with frequent breaks into the clubhouse for cold drinks, I could feel my core body temperature increasing. I’m only shooting one more race. I can’t take any more of the sun and heat. And I even stopped betting – mostly because all the gains I made in the first two races got wiped out in races 4 and 5.
Anyways, of the seven horses that participated in this race, there was one horse – a two-year-old filly named Dream Lith, racing as horse number 8 – that went off at nearly 36-1.
And you know what?
The damn horse won. She paid $75 on a $2 winning ticket. Then again, when your daddy is Kentucky Derby winner Medaglia d’Oro, there’s some breeding stock there.
And I snapped that horse’s picture.
Okay. Let’s get out of here before I melt like Frosty in a greenhouse.
I already had one film failure, I didn’t dare take a chance of pulling out this super-sensitive film in total daylight. No. I waited until I got home, went into my darkroom (which also doubles as my bathroom), extracted the film, and snapped it quickly into a black, light-tight container.
And I sent it off to McGreevy Pro Lab for development.
Thursday. Film’s ready. Picked it up. There are images on the negatives. This is good.
Scanned in my results … and …
The idea is there. But … the horses have too much motion blur on them. And the right side of the track seems to have a darker cast on it.
Let’s try the fourth race.
Not bad. I should have waited a half a second to press that shutter button, though. And the flag’s not really flying at full speed.
Maybe the first race has a good shot in it. Let’s see.
Yikes. Light leaks all over the place. There’s more leaks here than in a set of reusable diapers. Ugh.
But … it does look like I’m on the right track with this. It’s just not going to work for any high-speed action, though. There’s only so much speed you can coax out of a 1940’s-era camera. That, plus blazing sun, plus everything else …
This was a test, if nothing else. It’ll work, for sure … but there’s no way I would enter any of these images in competition. They’re just not good enough.
Next time, for sure.