Fits and Starts and California Dreaming
The film counter lets you know how many frames have advanced, so photographers can keep track of how many pictures are left on the roll. It’s very useful, but ultimately doesn’t affect how the pictures themselves come out. I decided that the broken film counter was a minor enough flaw that I could live with it—I’d just have to keep count.
In my last post about my Start, I mentioned that the camera had completely jammed over the summer. Without much warning, it apparently started working again in the fall and I took it to shoot around Istanbul. When the film stopped advancing again, I figured that the roll was finally finished.
There was a bit of an issue with this– the film, apparently, had disconnected from the spool, so I couldn’t wind it in with the camera or manually in the dark; I brought it to my lab and they transferred it out of the camera for me. I was surprised to see that the roll of Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 400 I was shooting was only 24 frames and not 36; I’d forgotten in the months that the camera had spent jammed and unused.
When I got the film back, a mystery was solved.
All the pictures on the roll were from California. Not one from Istanbul.
This means that when the camera was “jammed” over the summer, it wasn’t jammed at all—the roll was finished.
This is the second time I’ve made this mistake. I haven’t been counting my frames. In my defense, the camera does legitimately jam frequently, and in order to unjam it, I take a few frames blind—and those count, of course, but mentally I never mark them, since I can’t see what I’m shooting. Also, the camera often feels like it’s still advancing the frames when the roll is finished and I don’t understand how that’s possible—camera friends, if you have any theories, I would love to hear them. I am glad that one of the major problems with the camera has turned out to be something so simple.
It is worth using this camera for the results it gives. This light-leaky roll of color film somehow perfectly captured the feel of my sun-drenched California summer, a summer of Linda Perhacs and lavender ice cream cones and palm trees and pink skies. I embrace the imperfections of film, because my photographs look like my nostalgia, the color of memories. I’ll stick with the Start when the results are such a goddamn dream.