For a decade I have been itching to again visit Paris. Francophone popular culture has been a part of my life since childhood originating in the French and Belgian comics I raptly devoured. They were in Swedish translation, but when as a child I was told by my mother that she knew French from school, I came to realize that I through this language I could tap in to hidden worlds that lay beyond the few Swedish editions of Spirou and Sibylline.
The access to the francophone world has given me a wider appreciation of culture and politics in a Sweden otherwise heavily steeped in North American culture and news reporting.
Visiting France again a decade since last time excited me of course. Last time I came with my then newfound love. This time I brought my ten-year-old daughter – the fruition of that love.
The two of us have since her early years kept a piggy-bank in the shape of a decorated wooden box where odd coins and some serious bills have been deposited. The presence of this symbol has kept the conversation about our trip and everything francophone going for ten years now.
We left for Paris in early September 2023. The date was planned since spring and only when the time for departure approached did we realize that the heat-wave France has been enduring this summer was still present. So we left the Swedish early autumn weather of 15° C to arrive in a city sweltering in 27-32° C. It did work fine. We could always leave – not so the weary Parisians.
After a week’s stay, seeing the sights and then some, we came home. After a couple of weeks I decided to develop the 2.5 rolls of Fomapan 100 that I’d exposed. I’d used my Olympus Pen-F mostly, with a 70 mm (equiv. to a 105) and a 40 (≈60), both adapted lenses.
I pushed the film to 400 ASA for more contrast (I love the Washi S and A films though not the low ASA). Following the instructions for the new-to-me Pyro 510 developer the films were more or less stand developed for some 35 minutes, with short intermittent agitation.
When scanning the films I discovered my mistake. There was streaking from the perforation resulting in dark blots on the photos. The stand development was a bad idea. I also saw that in this case a staining developer like the 510 may not be ideal for pushing. Because sometimes large areas just turned out the same grey tone, making it difficult to edit.
After some rueful time I decided to make something nice out of the damaged photos. I didn’t want to just discard them as rubbish. So I decided to add colour and texture to the best ones.
I invested (€3) in a collection of watercolor background files in different colours and textures and got to work merging them with my photos. The results are perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea. I’m new to this type of collage work in digital photo editing but I think many of the photos have become beautiful pieces, which is not bad given the circumstances. I am relieved.
In retrospect I think that I should have scanned the negatives as bigger files. Them being half-frame, scanning at 2400 dpi would have been better suited for showing them on a computer screen.
My wish with sharing this is that if you have photos that are difficult to save you may be inspired to take them in a different direction than originally intended rather than forgetting about them.
Thanks for reading!
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