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A Tale of Two Disasters

johnriley1uk

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A Tale of Two Disasters

16 May 2020 9:51AM   Views : 706 Unique : 506

It was the best of times and certainly also the worst of times. Let me take you back to the golden year of 1972, when I had no idea what I was doing as a photographer and just struggling to start off using my brand new Zenit B, at this moment with a Soligor 100mm f/2.8 preset lens. I also had no idea what to expect as I set off on my journey from Salford to Sheffield to see Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons at the Sheffield Fiesta club. They had already wowed me a year earlier at the Odeon in Manchester and nothing was going to get in the way of me seeing them again. But this isn't the point to this tale and I'll just mention in passing that I met Frankie for the first time after that show and I must put in a special word about the amazingly friendly bass player Joe Long who was always ready to chat and has always been a firm favourite with the fans.

Now to the worst of times. Clutching my roll of black and white film I was ready to package it up and send it off for processing. I would make my own prints but had not started to process films yet. I couldn't find a film canister anywhere, so I was persuaded it would be fine to just pop it in the padded envelope and so off it went. Needless to say, the post office were determined to spoil things and they managed to flatten the package and so the film was damaged by light. The processing house opened films in low lighting so something could be salvaged, but it was not off to a good start. Some images were not too bad, I could do with improving technique and my guesses on exposure were a bit out, but not too bad.

So they served me well and I shared out lots of prints over the years. Then came digital, so a good opportunity to pull out those negatives and see what could be done in Photoshop. Oh dear.....no prizes for guessing which package of negatives had been on the receiving end of a small water leak and which negatives were glued to the paper sleeves and covered in mould. With a heavy sigh, I did my best and did manage to extract some interesting images from the disaster, which I decided in a tongue-in-cheek moment to bill as special effects......

The moral of this cautionary tale is follow your gut feeling and don't be persuaded to go against it without good reason and also store things that seem to have no current use with due care, because one day things will come around and they might be priceless. I hope you have a strong constitution but I'm going to show you some of the damage now, plus some salvaged images and, best of the bunch, copies from prints that I made at the time.

This one survived intact
22471_1589618489.jpg


Ouch, not a hope here
22471_1589618528.jpg


"Special Effect"?
22471_1589618568.jpg


Joe Long salvaged, sort of....
22471_1589618632.jpg


Demitri Callas and Frankie Valli
22471_1589618662.jpg


"Don't Think Twice" from a print
22471_1589618712.jpg


Frankie Valli, from a print
22471_1589618750.jpg


Clay Jordan, new Photoshop attempt
22471_1589618771.jpg


Frankie in full voice, new Photoshop attempt
22471_1589618796.jpg


It's a pity that we can't now have the same intimate setting as the Sheffield Fiesta but with today's digital cameras. It would have been so easy and so much better.

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