The Last Roll of Film

Back in February of 2007, Humboldt County experienced a rare snowstorm that in some areas made it down to sea level. That day I had a meeting up in Crescent City and while driving up 101 through Arcata I noticed patches of snow right down to the beach.

I finished up my meeting and made it back to Ferndale around 6, and by then the sky had cleared. I thought it would be a great opportunity to take some shots at night up on Bear River Ridge.

Since at the time only digital camera I had was my Kodak SLR which produces very noisy images from long exposures, I decided to shoot a roll of 120 film I still had. It happened to be 400 asa Portra, a film usually used for portraits as it doesn’t produce the saturated colors that something like Velvia would. Still it’s what I had on hand so I loaded it into the Pentax 645.

Lori and I then began the drive on up to Bear River Ridge. I was planning on taking several pictures in different locations, and so I didn’t immediately head to my favorite spot up there, Kinman Pond. I probably should have.

I calculated (ok, guessed) that I would need a 15 minute exposure. With the clear sky I was hoping to get some star trails in the sky. I set up for the first shot, opened up the shutter, and then climbed back in the truck to get warm. About 8 minutes into the exposure, I was dismayed to see clouds rolling in. Then about 13 minutes into the exposure it started snowing again. Not wanting to be one of these people who get stuck in the snow out in the boonies, we decided it was best to cut it short and head back down.

For four years that roll of 120 has sat in my Pentax 645. Every once in awhile I would think about getting it out to finish the roll of film, only to find the batteries had died. So I would put it on my list to get new batteries and a few weeks later I would actually remember to put them in. Then I would wait for another opportunity, at which point I would pull it out, only to find the batteries had gone dead again.

Finally, last weekend, I got new batteries and immediately took it down to the Avenue of the Giants and finished the roll. Then yesterday, I drove up to Eureka to drop the film off, and today drove back up again to pick up the developed roll. No wonder I switched to digital early on. Who wants to spend 2 hours driving just to see your pictures?

I still need to scan the entire roll of 15 pictures, but here is the first image from the roll, taken on that snowy night on February 27, 2007.