This Beautiful Image Was a Complete Accident

Film spool image from Gavin

Photo by Gavin Johnstone. Used with permission.

“This happened to be a bulk loaded roll of HP5+ that was in my camera when I left for Nepal in April of 2014. I shot the roll with out issue however when I reached the last frame and went to wind (not knowing it was indeed the last frame) I accidentally tore the scotch tape that held the film to the spool.” That’s what photo enthusiast Gavin Johnstone told Reddit when he shared this photo of his. Mr. Johnstone is an analog film and digital shooter that has been very experimental over the past years, and when this problem happened, he took it as a happy accident. Indeed, it’s a beautiful photo along with very clever framing.

“I shoot mostly for myself, usually capturing images that depict the beauty of the pacific northwest. I love the wilderness, adventure and portraiture and combining the three of them together.”

More of Gavin’s story is after the jump.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

When we asked Gavin how all this happened, he told the Phoblographer:

“You know, I have asked that question myself, and I am not totally sure. One of the fun things about film! The film had been pulled out of the bulk loaded canister, I recovered it, coiled it up on its self and put it in a light proof plastic film canister (the ones 35mm metal film canisters come in). The only thought I have is that the film over the duration of the next three weeks of being tossed around my backpack was not coiled evenly on itself. What I mean by this is that the sprocket holes were not all aligned, rather offset upon itself, kinda like a pyramid or maybe even just expanded vertically to fill to entire height of the container.

When I had to open it in the airport, the light exposed the film again (fogging most of it that was hit by direct light) but I suspect because the film was coiled on its self the strength of the light was reduced as it went through the layers of film. This created a rather neat accidental exposure, burning in the sprockets on images that did not become completely fogged. In the end the majority of the roll was completely fogged and ruined. I was able to recover seven images, the majority of them having these bizarre exposures on them.”

Still though, happy accidents are sometimes the best.


Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.