THE LOST PORTRAITS
Everyone knows that there is no such thing as too many cameras (or, that’s what us photographers tell ourselves at least), which is why in early April I decided to treat myself to my very first twin lens reflex camera - the Ricohmatic 225.
For anyone interested, here is a little bit of information about the model, and the camera type:
The ‘Richomatic 225’ is a 6x6 TLR (Twin Lens Reflex) camera made by Ricoh, and was produced in Japan from 1959. This camera has the option to use medium format film, and 35mm.
A TLR is a camera with two lenses, both with the same focal length, one of these lenses is the ‘taking lens’ - the lens that takes the picture - whilst the other is used as the viewfinder.
I came across the Ricohmatic 225 on eBay, and I actually found it accidentally. I was looking at other various Twins Lens Reflex cameras when I came across the listing for the camera at a bargain price of £65.00. It was the cheapest price I had seen for any TLR type so obviously, like it would any photographer looking for a vintage camera, it peaked my interest. I checked out the post and there was roughly ten minutes left so I had to decide fast and act quick if I was going to win this camera… I thoroughly read the description, twice over if not more before I made a final decision, as buying a vintage camera or any camera second hand for that matter is an extremely daunting process, especially from the like of sites like eBay. I nervously watched the time countdown and at the last few seconds made a bid of £67.00 … which of course, won me the camera!
Payment was made, and the excitement begun as now I just had to wait for the camera to be dispatched, and then arrive in the mail. The important part of the camera listing for the purpose of this blog, is however, the listing description:
‘Richomatic 225 Twin Lens Reflex Camera and Leather Case. Loft find with exposed film in it (included)! I took the camera to the local shop as the light meter dial seemed wobbly. He said it all worked fine except the light meter dial that needed attention but that didn’t affect the ability to use the camera. The focus and shutter etc all move smoothly and it is very clean[…].’
The most important part of the description for today being: ‘Loft find with exposed film in it (included)!’
This alone INSTANTLY intrigued me before deciding to bid. I have always had an interest in photographic archives and old family photos, or the documentaries on old and forgotten film rolls that have been left undeveloped. Who took these? Who does it belong it too? And who are the people in the photos (if any)? And are they still with us? ; These are all the questions that flood my mind in situations like this, and the idea of receiving an expired, and exposed roll of film was no different.
Having won the bidding of the camera on Wednesday, April 10th I received it in the post on the Saturday. By this point, I was so excited to receive the camera that I had totally forgot about the exposed film that was meant to come with it… remembering half a week later. Luckily I always keep packaging until I have fully tested something and know that I am 100% happy with the purchase. I was cleaning up my workspace when I remembered about the film roll that was meant to arrive with the camera, and this made me panic and slightly confused as I thought ‘But I didn’t see it when I opened the package the first day it arrived?’ Of course, the situation here is that, if you are not looking for something and your mind is elsewhere, you are quite unlikely to find or notice said thing in the first place (I guess).
I thoroughly checked the small brown box once more, and there it was, wrapped in the bubble wrap, an old, and expired roll of 120 colour film.
The roll itself was called ‘Boots Colourprint 120’ which took a process of C22. I hadn’t heard of the C22 process until I saw it on this very roll of film, this intrigued me but I decided to put the roll away safely until I returned to Derby in a weeks time, where I could process the film after some thorough research.
Unfortunately, due to a University deadline and just general life getting in the way, it was at least another week and a half before I finally had the chance to sit down and research the C22 process.
What I learnt: C22 is an obsolete process for developing colour films, that was superseded by C-41 in 1972. Although C-41 supersedes C22, any C22 films if developed in C-41 chemicals have a high chance of being ruined - odd colour shifts, shredding of the emulsion. Any C22 films that are found today un-developed, are best to be put through the process of black and white film, creating a black and white negative image rather than a colour one as the chemicals are much safer compared to today’s C-41 process.
So that is just what I did, before that though I did a little bit research to see if I could find anyone that had done the process before, and gave more details like processing and developing times. Thanks to this article/blog, I found just the information I needed to feel confident (confident enough) in the process.
That same day I headed to the darkroom. And following the helpful information giving in the article mentioned above I developed the roll of film just as I normally would in the Developer and Stop chemicals, but gave it more time in the Fix just like Alex Bishop-Thorpe had done as he noted in the piece.
Time used: Developer (13 mins @ 20 degrees celcius), Stop (30 secs), and Fix (15 minutes [10 minutes extra]).
Honestly, nothing gives me more anxiety than developing a roll of film… and developing an expired roll? Well, I cannot even explain nor fathom how excited I was, whilst absolutely sweating with nerves.
Luckily, the negatives came out just fine.
After the development process, wash, and dry, it was time to scan the negatives into digital copies which would then be converted into black and white.
I must note here that the images are not perfect. I am not at all certain how old the roll of film was before I developed it literally last week, it had however, been exposed so long the negatives, even once dried, just curled up. I have attempted to research into Boots Colourprint 120, but unfortunately to no avail, I had no luck.
But yes, the negative scans are not perfect. I could have spent hours trying to get them looking much better but on old images like these, I decided it best to keep them as they are before too much of the ‘original’ image fades and becomes something else.
So, what exactly did the exposed film consist of? Exactly what I hoped for, PEOPLE!
Eleven (only eight of these being visually decent) glorious scans of what seems to be a happy (unknown) family of two parents with their two children. Along with some solo shots of a female, and then some solo shots of the possible siblings.
As you might have gathered, the obvious purpose of this blog post is to share these scans with you all, so that is exactly what I am going to do below. I am only going to share the decent quality images due to three of them being deemed absolutely pointless to share.