Newsletter - 2001 Archive

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Beware of Senility

'Arold (Bridge)


I have been taking Pacific Popular (Pac Pop) pictures for some years now. It is a good excuse not to have to ride round Vancouver. Albeit, it also means missing the pleasant bits round UBC, on Lulu Island and around Steveston. One would think that by now I would have the routine down pat.

To me, it has always seemed best to use transparency film. It is much easier to get prints from slides than vice-versa. But Eric's aim to get an illustrated result brochure produced ASAP required negative film for prints.

In 1999 I bought a heavyweight tripod and another camera. My original basic Olympus OM-1 is a fine camera. But the auto-exposure control on the OM-2 has some benefits under certain conditions and I enjoy using it. In 1999 I set up to use both at once, one for slides, one for prints. One on the tripod and operated by a cable release in my left hand and the other at my eye and operated by my right hand. At a glance the two cameras are almost identical. The big difference is that the OM-1 has a chrome top while the OM-2 has a black enamel top. So, there is no reason to get the two cameras mixed up. But I did.

A week or more before the April 8 date of the Pac Pop 2001 I bought two 36-exposure rolls of 400ASA negative film, one for each camera. I normally use 200 ASA, but anticipating dull weather I went for the faster film. The week preceding the event was a miserable one for me, harbouring a nasty cold as I was, and I had a complete week off the bike. So it was the evening immediately before the event before I got round to installing the films in the cameras.

Mistake #1: I put a film in the OM-2 and then checked the light meter. It didn't work, and it was far too late to go get new batteries. Annoyed with myself, I put the camera in the changing bag and removed the film, intending to transfer it to the other camera. Although not taking slides this year, there is a benefit in having the two cameras to save changing lens all the time, 28 mm on one, 85 mm ont' other. But I just had to make do with the OM-1, more basic and therefore less prone to these difficulties.

Got down to Riley Park about 07:30 and was pleasantly surprised by the conditions. As the crowds assembled so I wandered around looking for faces. That 85-mm f2 lens is a beautiful portrait lens as well as ideal for action shots. Going by what I saw in the view finder I got some excellent faces captured, some posed others not. Eventually, about 09:00, the assembled hordes were being threatened by Bull Horn Bates and they were off.

I made my way to SW Marine and parked in the viewpoint overlooking the Fraser. With pink blossom on the trees and yellow broom on the ground the space between was a good spot to pan the fast moving riders on their way east. A chain gang was forming in the viewpoint parking area and when they took off a quiet "Hi" from Keith Fraser revealed his presence there.

A few minutes later the avant garde of the event came steaming through. It was a situation that called for a motor wind, I couldn't wind on fast enough to get everyone. After about 10 or 15 minutes I checked the counter, I was coming to the end of my film. "36" appeared and I gently wound to see if that was the end. It wasn't. When I got to about 39 I knew something was wrong. The film wasn't winding on! I sat in the truck and opened up the camera. Too true it wasn't winding on, but not for the usual reason. The film wasn't in there! I realised at that point I had taken the film out the OM-2 AND put it back in the OM-2. Once I had a film in the camera I got some pretty good pictures. But, all those beautiful happy smiling faces at Riley Park had become the victims of stupidity. Or is it senility?