In the world of film photography. There is a term called “the first of the roll”. It serves as the name of, you guessed it. The first shot on a roll of film.
Now, what makes this so special is that. When you load a film roll into a film camera. You have to actuate the shutter and advance the film a few times to situate the roll in the camera before any images are captured. In some instances, this first shot of each roll may not be fully on a section of the film which can be exposed. Leaving a bit of the image blank. Or. You can get a buildup of the gelatin emulsion and silver halide of that end of the roll. Causing not all of the image to be exposed onto the film.
Sometimes, a bit of the scene that was being captured shows up through the buildup. However. The best ones are where you can’t see anything. Take this image for instance. Brenden made the tip up to the Auburn Auction park for the 2017 Fall Collector Car auction and brought his Pentax K1000 and a roll of Ilford Hp5 to shoot with. (Because everything looks better in black and white)
He loaded up the roll and focused his lens on this Mustang. Then pressed the shutter. What came out of the developing tank when I finished processing it was nothing short of spectacular.
With only half of the frame exposed, you only get half of the story that this particular moment had to tell. The dappled, evening sunlight shining from behind the car is all but cut off. Save for some reflections of chrome, glistening paint, and the odd beam slightly illuminating the front quarter panel.
Now, this may seem sort of corny, but this is why I love this image so much. By having only half of the image, it leaves a little bit to be desired. I want to see the rest of the scene, but this is all that we get. So do we imagine what the rest of the car and the pickup truck looked like? Or do we take it as it is and move on? Only Brenden got to see this exact moment. So only he knows what it looked like.
I prefer to take the image as it is. While film already has personality in spades. By only giving you half of the image. Somehow it makes it even better.
However. By trying to imagine what it actually looked like in that moment in time can bring some enjoyment as well. Trying to fill in the gap that the analog world has left us. The body lines, chrome trim, badges, windows, mirrors, etc. All left up to your mind to make a reality.
I know most of you reading this must think I’m some sort of a lunatic….and you may be right. I do own a rotary powered Mazda after all.
It’s things like this that make film so enjoyable for me. I like a bit of a challenge. I enjoy the obstacles that shooting analog brings to the table. It makes you think. It makes you work for the end result. Not just hit a button and immediately see the results on a screen, and re shoot if you aren’t satisfied.
Sometimes, with film. Even if you’re satisfied with the composition of an image when you hit the shutter. It still may not turn out exactly as you intended, but can still be enjoyed nonetheless.