As a film photographer, there's nothing quite like the thrill of capturing a beautiful image on film. And that's exactly what I felt when I returned home from my 5-week trip to Gran Canaria, where I had shot 2 rolls of Portra 400 and one of Kodak Gold, using a Pentax PZ-1.
But what should have been a joyful experience turned into a nightmare when I attempted to develop the film myself. The day I returned home was not a working day, but since I have access to a C-41 processing machine, I decided to take matters into my own hands. And that's where things went wrong.
I had followed some of the steps correctly, such as running the cleaning tapes through the machine. However, I made a crucial mistake: I did not wait for the cleaning tapes to come out on the other side, as it is recommended (25 minutes). Instead, I immediately loaded my film into the machine.
A few minutes later, I started hearing strange noises coming from the machine. Suddenly, I realized that one of the cleaning tapes had fallen off the leader and was blocking the entire process. I panicked and quickly turned off the lights (it was night), turned off the machine, and opened it. Unfortunately, by this point, small amounts of light are constantly hitting my film.
In an attempt to fix the problem, I removed the film from the machine and tried to find the stuck cleaning tape. However, in the process, I accidentally touched and rubbed the film against the machine, and even had to cut the third roll to remove it.
When I finally managed to get the film out and develop it, I was relieved to see that most of the images were still intact. But some of the photos had strange red-ish casts, and a few had strong chemical and physical defects such as scratches. Despite these imperfections, I couldn't help but appreciate the unique and unexpected results that the developing accident had produced.
This experience has taught me a valuable lesson: always follow the procedures when developing film. But it has also reminded me that sometimes, accidents can lead to unexpected and beautiful results.