This weekend I set out to play with a Nikonos underwater camera. For those of you unfamiliar, it takes 35mm film, is a big heavy hunk of a camera, and non-disposable. It is manual focus, and not by sight but by estimated distance (ex. 1 ft., 5 ft., etc). The shoot itself was harder than both I, and my model were expecting. For one, it was hard to stay anchored underwater for any amount of time without coming back up to the surface and without actually swimming. 2, we weren't using diving tanks, so our air supply was limited. There were also a few other obstacles along the way, including a huge issue that happened to the film post-shoot (more on that after the pictures).
Now that you've seen the images, I'll tell you my film ordeal that I've been dealing with all weekend. I took my three rolls of film to be developed on Saturday after the shoot. When I went to pick them up, the photo lab had developed the film but not scanned them in. As soon as I walked back in, I was greeted with "dude, your film is messed up". All three rolls were completely bright green (which scans/prints as bright red, see below). I could not understand it. My images were all on the film, it was not the same as light-leak patterns, so that couldn't be it. The film was not expired, so that couldn't be it. I didn't get the film wet, so it couldn't be a chlorine issue, I don't think. I came home puzzled, asked a few photo colleagues their thoughts, and nobody had a clue. I have never seen film look like this. I did some research, and could also not find any information as to what the problem could be....
... So, I shot another test roll in the bathtub, got it developed (at a different lab), and the roll came out perfectly fine. The only thing I can think it could be is bad chemistry. The technician at lab #2 also said it was most likely bad chemistry and processing. It's extremely frustrating to spend hours on a shoot, have the film properly exposed, and the images themselves physically turn up on the film, but to have a lab basically destroy three rolls of film for a shoot that can't be easily redone. With digital being so widely used now for both pro and non-pro, I understand that labs don't have as many rolls of film to process on a regular basis, but this is something so unacceptable to me. If you're going to continue processing film, you have got to stay on top of the chemicals- keeping them fresh, used the correct amount of times before they are dumped, and mixed properly.
Luckily, some of the colors were still available through the red, and some color correcting could be done. However, the images are very grainy, and much more difficult to work with. I did what I could... I had to shift my own perspective on them. If I think of them as more of an "underwater dream" type of series, I'm much happier with the end result. If I look at them for the way I had intended them to come out, which was crisp and clear, then they're a big fail. Either way, I believe in sharing the good and the bad. The successes and the failures. It's a way to learn, for myself and hopefully for you as well. So, I'll take it with a grain of salt, or a bag of sand, and like them for what they are, and what I could salvage from a big huge red mess.