Oliff’s life

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Taking photographs in the 1960s and 70s was always a precarious and touch-and-go process for the amateur ‘snapper’, in that one never knew what the results of one’s efforts might be until one collected said pictures from the chemists a week later.

A roll of film would have to be loaded into a camera in a semi-darkened room, ensuring as little damage as possible to the unexposed reel. I was always excited at seeing the 12 or 24 pictures, yet often disappointed when one would find only nine or 17 in the packet. The non-developed gems were usually as a result of the processor’s unilateral decision not to print poor quality or blank negatives. Occasionally the odd picture would slip through the net: the one that showed a better view of my thumb rather than the intended family pose. This was the generally accepted norm; after all, the experts knew better, right? Wrong! Let me qualify. I have never been an expert photographer and, like most, I simply wanted to capture a moment in time. My aim was not to get the right exposure or that “perfect” text-book frameable shot. One saving grace was that the developers would return all of the negatives with the printed pictures, though, to be fair, I never looked at them, leaving them in the packet, never to see the light of day again. Then, lo and behold, the digital age arrived and last week I bought a negative and slide converter from an internet auction site. I began to slowly feed the clean, untouched, fingerprint-free negatives into my newly acquired digital scanner. As one generation of technology shook hands with another, the long- lost pictures began to appear on my computer screen. Suddenly, before my eyes, the many original undeveloped ‘catastrophes’ revealed themselves for the first time. My deemed failures have become successes (with the aid of additional touch-up software), bringing to life so many lost, now found, happy memories.