¡Adiós 2014! ¡Más Film en 2015!

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This print  is from a 4X5 negative I accidentally exposed twice from two different locations 1/2 mile apart from each other. The two images registered quite well (image is a photo of the action print).

 

A lot happened in 2014, but the most significant for my photography was finishing my darkroom, and going back to developing film and printing the negatives. While doing a photo a day for this blog still demands a lot of time with digital cameras and processing, I’m rediscovering the challenges and excitement of film again: loading sheet film holders in the darkroom,  taking a bunch of equipment out into the field, setting up the camera, taking multiple readings off a handheld light meter and then deciding on a good f/stop / shutter speed combination for the situation, composing the scene upside-down and turned left to right, setting the f/stop and shutter speed as per the light meter readings, cocking the shutter, inserting the sheet film holder into the camera, pulling the dark slide, tripping the shutter, turning the dark slide so the black label shows, inserting the dark slide back into the sheet film holder and removing the sheet film holder from the camera — one negative exposed.

Back in the darkroom there’s mixing chemistry and developing the negatives by hand in trays (about 30 minutes total). There can be a fair amount of manipulation when developing negatives depending on the developer used, temperature of the developer and time in the solution. No matter the process I choose for developing the negatives, once I’ve finished running the negatives through the fixer solution and turn on the light, it’s a magical moment to hold up a negative to the light and see an image on it.

Once the negatives dry, they can be printed. For photographers who have never worked in a darkroom and think that what is on the negative gets printed full-frame, without manipulation, think again. There is almost always  some cropping of the image, and then there is often a lot of manipulation in the printing process starting with the exposure and f/stop combo, dodging, burning and somethings using contrast filters on the enlarger; then there is the type of developer used, time in the solution and use of toners in the final processing to get the print to come out the way I want it to.

In many ways film is more exacting that digital, but at the same time film can be quite forgiving. The lead photograph is a good example. It was bitter cold and windy when I took the photo. I forgot to turn the dark slide to the black label indicating the negative had been exposed, because I moved a 1/2 mile to the north and by chance grabbed the same film holder and took a second exposure on the same negative. I noticed I seemed to be missing a photograph from the series of photos I had taken that morning after I developed the negatives, and finally realized what had happen from the ghost of the jetty on the lower left side of the print and the tree limbs in the upper right. Even though I was a 1/2 mile north for the second exposure, the Sandias and clouds registered close enough that they don’t look there were two exposures from two different locations. However, if you know the two areas, you can see some dark bushes that don’t belong in the foreground, the Rio Grande mixes in with the green houses and bosque in the middle ground, there are some double images of the Sandias on the left and right side of the print, and the white haze above the clouds are ghosts of the clouds from he second exposure.. Otherwise, the scene looks normal — another magical moment and mystery with film.

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Plowed corn field in Corrales with the Sandias in the back ground. Photo of a print from a 4X5 negative.

 

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Light beams on the east side of the Sandias. Photo of a print from a 6X7 cm negative.

 

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Eagle on the Rio Grande

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I went out for a walk along the Rio Grande just before sundown. A Bald Eagle was flying home along the far bank of the river, almost out of reach of my 70-200 mm zoom lens at 200 mm. The Sandhill Cranes were flying in for the night looking like bombers in formation as they flew overhead. As I made my way back home through the bosque, a lone crow sat on top of a branch watching the last bit of pink before it faded into the gray dusk.

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The Butler

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I think this holiday season has gone to the cats. Tesla was the butler for the party at Lane’s house last night. He donned his bowtie and made sure we were well taken care of with plenty of kitty antics.

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My First Day of Winter Break

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Rebuilt desk. I built the white desktop to replace the portion of the oak desktop above that I cut down and refaced before reinstalling it at standing height.

While I assume most of our staff were out having a great time on the first day of winter break (we close the office for the week between Christmas and New Year’s), I rebuilt the desk in Andy’s office so I could make it standing height (lead photo).

Old buildings are full of surprises. Two weeks ago, a wet spot developed under Andy’s desk. At first he thought someone had spilled water on the carpet at the holiday party, but when the wet spot grew and soaked the carpet under his desk, it was obviously not a spill.

I pulled everything on the floor out of the office, pulled out the desk I had built-in the office several years ago, and pulled up the carpet to expose the slab. The building owners had the slab torn up and they found an uncapped floor drain under the slab that had backed up and the water eventually worked its way up through the slab and soaked the carpet. They capped the drain, replaced the wet dirt with dry fill, poured new concrete, and replaced the pad under the carpet. We left the carpet to dry for a week, got it cleaned, and then I spent yesterday rebuilding the desk so it could be raised to standing height.

I have now raised six desks at the office to standing height, as staff members want to vary between sitting on a stool or drafting chair and standing while they work. Since I had built-in most of the desks at the office between 2004 and 2008, raising the desks requires taking the desktops out, raising the frames, and reinstalling the desktops. The “L” shaped desktops are relativity easy, but the “U” shaped desktops require a certain amount of rebuilding before they can be raised to standing height (in a former life I was a cabinet and furniture maker and I also worked in construction). The last two photos show the two “U” shaped desks I raised a couple of months ago.  These two were complex projects because of the shape of the desks, and the height differences between the staff members who occupy them.

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Two “U” shaped desktops I modified and raised to standing height. My desk is at the back of the room. My desktop wraps around and turns into Bruce’s desktop — we sit with our backs to each other. Our desk is made up of 44 feet of oak desktop held up by five walls, and there is only one point between the two ends of the desk where there is support between the frame and the floor. Raising our desk to standing height will be a major project, so I’m thinking about alternatives for raising our workstations to standing height.

 

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Panorama showing the differences in the heights of the desktops.

 

 

A Furry & Feathery Merry Christmas

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Spunk helping Laurie wrap presents.

 

I photographed all the animals Christmas Eve, trying to get them to have a “Merry Christmas” look about them. The birds and Spunk were more than willing participants, Diné was okay with it as long as she didn’t have to get off the heater vent under the bed, but Rosencrantz and Guldenstern took quite a bit of coaxing. Blue, the Boa, opted out because she is getting ready to shed — she has milky-blue eyes and she’s a bit cranky — it’s best to leave a 7 foot long boa constrictor alone when she doesn’t want to be photographed.

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Beaker is still looking great after 22 years.

 

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Guildenstern thinking about making a mad dash to get away from the pesky camera.

 

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Søren was more than happy to get in some time in front of the camera.

 

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Rosencrantz was like “You bothering me boy!”

 

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Diné wouldn’t budge from the heater vent under the bed.