After accidentally erasing my first attempt of processing black & white film which you can read here, I loaded the same type back into the camera and went photographing immediately after work the following day.
With the shots lost, there was one that could be replicated easily; an outlying column of sandstone rock at Reddells beach that has been engraved with names and initials over time. I've seen similar engraving on the walls of remote caves in Cambodia, the insides of which were emblazoned with the names of hundreds of tourists. Cedar Falls outside of Brisbane is a small waterfall and bush walking area where people have sprayed tags over the rock-face. I've even seen a small fishing boat that had sunk in the shallow, clear waters off the dive island of Ko Tao in Thailand, that was totally covered and tagged by people that had dived there.
I'm pretty unforgiving when it comes to mindless tags and vandalism. To me, it's about as imaginative as a dog pissing on a lamppost. I was speaking to a friend about this recently and she was less scathing. She said if she saw the initials of a couple in a tree, than that added a story. A mystery. It conjured up a narrative about who they were, when they met, did they eventually get married etc? And in cases like that I get it. The photos and examples above feel different though,
And yet, I do have experience of this. When I was about five or six I wrote '"Steven's Garage" (minus the apostrophe presumably) in green marker pen on the garage wall of my parent's home in big, scrawling, childlike writing. Dad had been out and I wanted to surprise him on his return. He pulled up in the drive way and as he stepped out the car I proudly showed him my addition to the pebble dashed, exterior wall. He was surprised alright and instead of the kindly praise that I was expecting, I got an absolute bollocking for it
Also when I was at secondary school, I would occasionally engrave the names of my favorite bands into the wooden desk tops during class which were already covered. However one day I tagged the wrong desk. Mrs White, who had thick glasses, a soft voice and short wispy hair kept me after class one day, where she had found my latest additions. Strategically it was a flawed decision on my part because these were new tables, plastic coated with a mock grain underneath and pristine. She worked out it was my work because a) we all had designated seats for the whole year and b) there had been no other class in that room since we were last in there, so she didn't exactly need a qualification in criminology to deduce, correctly, that I was the culprit. At the time I couldn't' believe she traced it back so quickly and before my lame attempts at denial were over, I had a cloth and spray firmly placed in my hands.
So I have history of it. In this context we're talking about the natural environment where people, adults, have engraved their names into rocks that can't be wiped away. I get we all want to leave our mark etc but really?
So I went to retake the photograph with these ideas in mind. I knew my first composition from the original film had good lines, contrast and balance. However I couldn't replicate it from memory so I had to approach the rock like I was seeing it for the first time. After a couple of exposure errors I had to retake two more but as I was packing up I saw what looked like a misalignment between the camera and the film back which you can see in the short clip below.
This unnerved me because I didn't want to invest too much time and effort into this film only to realise that the shots were compromised by light leaks. And I wasn't exactly looking for much of an excuse to finish this one to get another chance to develop at home once again. So I quickly shot the whole film that evening, rushing through in the falling light. The shots included a couple of abstracts at the base of the engraved rock and a couple of the theropod prints in the reef that were visible due to the low and outgoing tide. Dinosaurs walked here, their marks still visible 135million years.
By and large very happy with my first successful attempt at developing film at home. Stunning detail, tones and feel with this film.
And no light leaks.