Roll #9: Righty-Tighty, Lefty-Loosey

Updated: Feb 20, 2020

Anybody who took wood shop in middle school is familiar with the phrase “righty-tighty, lefty-loosey.” This phrase was probably barked in your ear by an overzealous teacher as you struggled with a manual screwdriver. The same teacher who likely spent the better part of class tackling personal projects in their “man-cave” while using a wide assortment of power-tools. Where am I going with this? Well, this tighten/loosen catchphrase can apply to anything with threads, including a Patterson Tank. Something I would learn while developing this roll. More on this later.

February weather in Maryland is an interesting thing. Katy Perry’s “Hot N Cold” pretty much summarizes the situation but you’ll probably have an urge to shove pencils in your ears after listening, so just read what I have to say: One day it can be pleasant, clear skies, mid-60s, the next you’re climbing into your doomsday shelter to escape the icy Mid-Atlantic winds. On the day that comprised Roll #9, things were closer to the freezing side of the weather scale…nonetheless, the desire for brick oven pizza was strong and NEEDED to be addressed. Having searched high and low for good pizza in Baltimore, I had found it in Isabella’s Brick Oven, located of course, in Little Italy. In order to justify this excursion, a stop at the Walter’s Art Museum was added to the agenda AND to fully take advantage of this outing, I loaded a roll of TMAX 100 into a newly acquired Canon Z115.

Since this roll would serve as a test for the Z115, there wasn’t a whole lot of thought behind the pictures (this will become a theme). If something caught my eye, I snapped the picture. I had 36 frames to get through and I wasn’t about to let this roll drag into another weekend. The layout of the Walter’s is bizarre. Simply put, it is a maze of exhibits and corridors. Whoever planned the museum is either crazy or a genius. Maybe both. Whether by design or coincidence, the museum ingests the patron, pulling them deeper into a labyrinth of rare paintings and artifacts, making sure whoever enters, has a difficult time finding their way back out. As we weaved in and out of rooms, I snapped pictures, attracted mostly to interesting architectural components of the museum, specifically the spiral staircase which hangs off the front of the museum. A staircase which really doesn’t seem to belong. It’s as if my 12-year-old self was playing SIMS and after building a very classic, tasteful museum, decided to throw in a futuristic mixed-media staircase because I was bored and had too much fake money. Despite my complaints, this staircase produced one of my favorite pictures from the roll.

As we move from the museum to the pizza, we find ourselves in Little Italy, a neighborhood filled with old churches, bocce ball courts, old men with their pants pulled up to their nipples, and several failing Italian restaurants. In contrast to the failing restaurants, we have the thriving Isabella’s Brick Oven. A haven for the hungry. An award-winning institution for pizza pies. I could go on for hours about the pizza, but that’s probably not why you’re here, so back to the pictures. While waiting for my pizza, I cruised the streets of Little Italy, looking for the odd, interesting, and outlandish, but, coming up empty, wasted a few frames on the mundane. Churches, telephone poles, man briskly walking dog. Still, I came up short. 12 frames short. Despite my desire to call it a roll and develop, my frugal soul said, “Just go out tomorrow.” So, I did.

This brings us to Annapolis, where I finished off the roll on a mixture of vespas, snazzily dressed persons walking, and old boats. As I snapped frame 36 and the roll began to rewind, a sense of peace passed over me. The long-awaited laboring whir of the rewind was music to my ears. Upon returning home, I would be able to develop. The wait, albeit only 24 hours, had ended. This peace or calm, however, came to an abrupt stop as I began the development process.

Film loaded and developer ready, I set my tank on the edge of the sink. RIGHT ON THE EDGE. As I reached over to grab my developer, the tank, which hadn’t been tightened properly, toppled into the sink. Upon impact, the funnel, which shields the film from light, popped off, exposing my film to the four obnoxiously bright lightbulbs above my bathroom sink. In a hurry, I picked up the reels and shoved them back into the tank…reminiscent of the scene in every war film where a soldier tries in vain to shove their guts back into their abdomen. All was lost.

That was my initial thought, however, I continued developing, hoping for the best. While there was some damage as a result of my carelessness, most frames came out unscathed. Is this a miracle roll? Is this a testament to 100 speed films poor light sensitivity? Were the film gods smiling upon me? We’ll never know, so just check out the pictures.

Camera: Canon Z115

Film: Kodak TMAX 100

When: February 2019

Where: Baltimore & Annapolis, MD

Building viewed from low perspective

Congested light post

Patterns in fire escapes

Walter's Art Museum stairs

Calm waters in Annapolis


Old wooden boat

light leak man walking

Light leak at Bromo-Seltzer Tower in Baltimore, Maryland

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