Found film: Kodak Vericolor II from a Miranda Sensorex

10th anniversary sign
A man painting a “10th Anniversary, 1974-1984, Thank You” sign on the side of a low building. (Photographer unknown)

I recently found a roll of Kodak Vericolor II color negative film in a Miranda Sensorex I bought at a thrift store, and had the film developed.

This isn’t the first time I’ve found film in a camera I’ve acquired. It’s not even the first time I’ve had said film processed. But this is the first time I’ve gotten anything out of it.

I have a small stash of films I’ve found in other cameras that are going to have to be sent to Film Rescue International or someone similar. Or stand developed in highly dilute HC-110 in hopes of at least getting some black and white results. I haven’t decided. They are all either Process E-4 (slide process, predecessor to the current E-6) or C-22 (color negative process, predecessor to current C-41), and can’t be developed normally.

10th anniversary sign candid
A more candid shot of the man painting the 10th Anniversary sign. (Photographer unknown)

But this is the first time I’ve found a roll of simple C-41 color film I could just drop off at a lab.

I always check cameras I’m inspecting by turning the rewind crank or knob, feeling for resistance that would indicate film, before opening the back. This time I found some, so I rewound it before I looked inside. Of course, I assumed from the start that someone else had probably opened it before me. Maybe several someones. Nevertheless, I decided it was worth $3.95 to find out if there was anything salvageable on the film.

Well, there really wasn’t. The original owner only appears to have shot about a dozen frames on the 24-exposure roll. It’s so badly fogged it’s very hard to make anything out at all. There could be some age and heat in the mix, but I think it’s mostly just that the camera was opened up. In fact, I was nearly convinced the negatives were blank until I put them up against my light box and found one frame that stood out.

The photo that saved the roll
The photo that saved the roll. No idea what it is of, or where it was taken. Estimated to have been taken in 1984. (Photographer unknown)

In total, I was able to make out and scan six frames from the ancient roll. All six were near the beginning of the roll, so I suspect they were rolled up tightly on the take-up spool when the back was opened previously.

I believe the photographs were taken in 1984, but I don’t have any geographical frames of reference. You can see the “10th anniversary” banner being painted which indicates a business in operation from 1974-1984. And you can also see in one photograph that gasoline was $1.12 a gallon, which fits with the historic pricing in 1983-1985. Behind the gas prices you can just make out the “Food Store” sign, and above it, an original Taco Bell logo sign. That logo was officially discontinued in 1980, but as many stores were franchises, it makes sense that the signs might not have been changed if they were in good shape.

$1.12 for gas
Just $1.12 for gasoline, and a Taco Bell sign with a logo that was replaced in 1980. All of these photos appear to have been made at about the same time. (Photographer unknown)

The shot that saved the roll from the bin is the brightest, but I haven’t got a clue what it’s of. Trees on the left and some kind of guard station or ticket booth; a large house in the back right, and some other tents or roofs in the distance to the left of center. Not a clue. I did all I could to rescue some color and detail in Photoshop after scanning the extremely-dense negatives, but it was all I could do to keep the blue from hurting your eyes. Very little other color remained, as you can see.

The Taco Bell sign is one obvious example, and you can see some red on the gas station sign, around what likely says “Self Serve” — a common sight in Colorado, although self-serve has been common everywhere in the United States since the early 1970s (except Oregon and New Jersey, where it is still illegal). Self-serve hasn’t been widely advertised on newly installed signs around here for at least a decade, though.

The signs on the small building in the center of the brightest photo, above, appear to be yellow. I can’t make out any writing on them, though. The roof of the building with the sign being painted on it, and the paint, may be red, but those may be artifacts of the fogging, too.

If you look at the candid shot of the painter (above, second one down) and then the one of the filling station sign, I believe the garage (to the right, and to the left, respectively) with what appears to be split-log siding is the same building, meaning it could be the filling station that is celebrating its 10th anniversary. The Taco Bell “Food Store” may be part of the station, as well, although I couldn’t find any places in Colorado where a Taco Bell and gas station occupy buildings anything like this using Google Maps’ satellite view.

Same as the brightest one
Appears to be another frame of the park entrance or whatever is shown in the brightest photo above, but is much more fogged and almost unrecognizable. (Photographer unknown)

I examined the Miranda camera and its badly decaying (as in, it’s gone now) ever-ready case for any identifying marks and found nothing. There were some badly damaged Miranda lenses in the showcase with the camera that I decided not to buy, but they held no clues to their former owner’s identity, either. They were unusable (badly scratched, and one was even missing parts), had been marked separately, and were grossly overpriced.

The camera was purchased in Denver, but the ever-ready case had a slight smell of mildew. Not that it can’t happen in Colorado, but the dry air does make it possible that something mildewed may have gotten that way elsewhere before coming to The West. In spite of the damage to the spare lenses, the camera body and the attached 50mm lens are in very good condition and required only light cleaning before the camera could be tested (review coming soon).

If anyone can shed any light on these, please add a comment below! Here’s one last frame from the roll:

Cards in front of building
Mid-1970s to early-1980s automobiles parked and driving in front of a large unidentified building that could be an office or warehouse space. (Photographer unknown)
  • I’m always excited to find film in a camera. I seriously, seriously need to develop your discipline of checking for winding tension before opening the camera, though! Because I’ve fogged a few rolls upon blithely opening cameras. :-(

    Film Rescue might have eked better definition out of your film, but it costs a lot. For C41, I’m more likely just to send it to my normal processor, myself.

    My most exciting found film situation was with my Kodak Brownie Hawkeye: a roll of Verichrome Pan chronicling some of a family’s Niagara Falls vacation, circa late 1960s. https://blog.jimgrey.net/2011/06/27/kodak-brownie-hawkeye-flash-model/

    My mom also gave me the point-and-shoot she used in the early 90s, having forgotten there was film inside. I finished that roll and processed it and got some photos of kids when they were younger and dogs when they were still alive. That was lovely.

    • Yeah, I didn’t think film rescue was worth it. If I can’t get something from normal, $4, processing, I’ll live without the results. :P

      Looks like you got much better results from yours, though — very nice! It’s one of the wonderful things about film, isn’t it, that an image can be capture and lay there, hidden, for who knows how long, and take you back in time when it appears.