Monday, December 22, 2014

Hudson, New York

"High above the river, on the west side of Front Street, is Promenade Hill. Designed by the Proprietors in 1785 as a public space, it still provides a bird’s-eye view of the site where Henry Hudson first dropped anchor in September 1609. According to Historic Hudson, the Promenade is one of the earliest examples in the U.S. of a park area established for the viewing of scenic vistas. In addition to its spectacular view, the Promenade is also known as the home of St. Winifred, at 12-foot bronze statue by the sculptor George E. Bissell, commissioned by and donated to the city by General William De Peyster in 1896." (LINK)

Not only was the light wintry on the day before the winter Solstice, it was bone-chillingly cold. A few degrees below freezing with high humidity seems much more uncomfortable than colder, dryer conditions. But the view is quite something here.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Winter Light

Washington, Connecticut

Current work with 7x17" film.

Warren, Connecticut

Litchfield, Connecticut

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Blue Tarp

Washington, Connecticut

I went out this afternoon hoping to find some interesting "winter light" subjects to shoot in b&w using some really old 7x17" film. I need to do a few test developments to see how well I can handle the age-fogging of the material and then find a good project to use the remaining boxes.

So, of course, I come upon this. At least I did have my tiny bag with a digital camera and three lenses along for the ride.

Available—School & Convent

Waterbury, Connecticut

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Printing again this Morning

Woodbury, Connecticut

Just about perfect lab conditions for the current incarnation of Arches Platine and palladium prints.

Another California desert theater, this one at Twenty-nine Palms.

At the 99W in Oregon, there was nowhere to park my car without getting it into the picture, except at a Burger King lot up the highway. Also almost no room at the shoulder of the road to set up an 8x10 camera, so I shot digital capture, which holds up remarkably well in a 10" palladium print.

After I'd done several large format shots at this theater in Milton-Freewater, Oregon, I was leaving when this wonderful storm sky came racing in from the west. I grabbed a digital camera and shot it, then it was gone before I could even get out the tripod.


New Milford, Connecticut

Naugatuck, Connecticut

Torrington, Connecticut

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Snaps from This Morning's Printing

Woodbury, Connecticut

Marking out the coating area on a sheet. I recall that back when I coated with tubes all the time, I just marked the two ends with a short line, but as I relearn the hand-skill with different materials I find seeing the whole area is helpful.

Not too bad. Platine with mandatory Tween in the solution doesn't seem to care whether you use a glass or acrylic tube. Other papers do.

The Tru-Vu, Delta, Colorado, in the first clearing bath.

The Basin Drive-in, Mount Pleasant, Utah, getting its initial five minute warm water rinse.

Two minutes to go washing the print of The Silver Moon Drive-in, Lakeland, Florida, while a panorama sheet is getting dried with room temperature/humidity air in my old film dryer.

The Jesup, Georgia, theater, into the first clearing bath.

Finishing. After my mandatory walk, spent the afternoon scanning several other 7x17 negatives and outputting digital negatives to print tomorrow.

If anyone is interested, the snaps were made with a Lumix GX7 and 17mm f/1.8 Olympus lens, at ISO 3200, under the compact flouo lamps I've installed in the room, which do not produce enough UV to cause any fogging problems, as standard tubes do.

Rank Hath Its Privilege

Hudson, New York

Makes me think that the next time I'm nearby, I should count up how many city offices rate their own special parking place in the municipal lot.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Printing: Film, Through Digital, to Palladium

Some snaps from the darkroom. This week I've been working with pictures from my American Drive-in Theater project. As mentioned here a couple days ago, some of my 7x17 panoramic shots with expansive western skies benefit greatly from some corrective work in Photoshop/ACR. Yesterday, I made palladium prints from digital negatives, a bit larger than the originals.

Woodbury, Connecticut

I've found that Arches Platine, currently the most reliable paper available for Pt/Pd printing, won't work correctly without using the additive Tween20 in the solution. The combination, however, refuses to accept a perfectly even brush coating. The problem is subtle and doesn't show in most pictures, but 17.5" of perfectly clear California desert sky will show up the tiniest imperfections. So, for the first time in ten years or more, I've switched back to coating the paper with glass tubes or acrylic rods. This presents other problems because Tween makes the solution so runny that it's difficult to keep track of, I'm basically having to learn to coat with a tube all over again.

Prepared sheet and negative placed in the vacuum frame, waiting for the pressure to come up.

Starting the six minute exposure with the vac frame flipped up against the 20x24" UV exposure unit.

The Skyline Drive-in,  Barstow, California, in the first clearing bath.

The Comanche, Buena Vista, Colorado, and the Skyline, draining after final wash, before transfer to drying screens.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Someone is Watching

Waterbury, Connecticut

Surveillance cameras aren't just becoming ubiquitous, they're often ostentatious. People sometimes put burglar alarm warning stickers on their houses or cars, without actually having an alarm system, as a deterrent. When security cameras could be inconspicuous, but instead are made glaringly obvious, similar thinking may be at work. Never mind the revolution, everything is being televised.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Working with Scans of Panoramic Negatives

Barstow, California

These are three pivotal pictures from the West and Southwest sections of my American Drive-in Theater project. All done with my 7x17-inch Korona camera with my standard 305mm G-Claron lens. I've had a lot of trouble getting scans of these negatives to do what I want. There's considerable illumination falloff with this lens on this format (vignette) which usually isn't a problem with New England woodland scenes or moody, stormy landscapes. But the enormous skies filled with clean pure light that you see out west made a whole different situation, with the falloff definitely not contributing to the pictures. This was compounded by the fact that, despite the drought, there were usually a few faint wisps of cloud, and because of the drought in the summer of 2012, there were always some pale patches of smoke-haze from the wildfires raging everywhere around. These slight tonal variations interacted badly with the darkening of the picture corners. (Do click on one of pictures to get the larger, isolated view of the pictures.)

Abilene, Texas

Fixing the problem in Photoshop proved annoying, because the effect varied depending on lens aperture and various camera adjustments, making a routine fix impossible. Then I thought about the elliptical gradient tool in Adobe Camera Raw. You can custom shape the ellipse in real time using vector-drawing handles, drawing it custom for each image in just a few seconds. You can change the feather, specify the effect inside or outside the ellipse, and for the effect you have nearly the whole suite of ACR tonal adjustment tools.

Globe, Arizona

So, the procedure is to scan the negative in two sections, orient and merge the two files in Photoshop, then throw the switch to make TIFF files open in ACR instead of PS. Open the file into ACR and fix the falloff along with other basic tonal adjustments, then save the result as a .psd file. Then open the .psd directly into PS to take care of the inevitable dust cleanup (worst part of scanning), then use a Curves adjustment layer and a burn&dodge layer if needed to do the final tonal tweaking. At last, the results I've been looking for from these negatives.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014


Naugatuck, Connecticut

Something like fifty years ago, when I was a teenager, a grown-up who knew I was intensely interested in photography asked to look at some of my pictures. One of my 8x10 b&w prints showed giant "high tension line" towers marching off into the distance through the hundred-yard wide alleyway cleared in the forest near the Passaic River for their passage. The grown-up pointed out that this might be a really nice landscape picture if I had only figured out a way to keep the powerlines from showing.

A dozen or so years later, someone who knew I was working as a freelance photographer was excited to tell me about a book of photographs she had seen recently. The photographer had traveled all over the country—this would have been around the 1970s—and was able to find ways to make landscape photographs—without retouching!!!— that showed no evidence of human presence. No phone lines, no roads, no railroad tracks, just like it was two hundred years ago. I politely refrained from asking why anyone would want to do that, not to mention that the pictures certainly couldn't look anything like two hundred years ago. I still find the landscape, as interfered with by humans, endlessly fascinating.