It's been a frustrating week. Back last weekend I was doing some tests to zero in on exactly how I want to make digital prints of the theater pictures (Epson Hot Press Natural paper with a neutral setting of the Advanced Black and White driver looks promising) when a heat wave rolled in and stopped everything. It isn't just hot, the humidity is sub-tropical. There's no way the modest air conditioning we have in our old house can begin to reach proper heat/humidity operating conditions for the printer. Also, Tuesday a package of Fixxons® Waterproof Silk Screen Positive Film—which I found superior to Pictorico® OHP film in earlier tests—arrived, but I don't dare unseal the package at 78° Rh. I'd been hoping to make a final round of digital-negative-Pt/Pd-tests, but it's also impossible to get the darkroom where I do the platinum printing down to the necessary heat and humidity levels. Even if I could output a negative I can't make finals. It's meaningless to do "tests" without proper operating conditions.
This digital capture of the Tower theater was one of the pictures I worked with before the monsoon rolled in. Looking at the test print yesterday, I realized that before last year's travels, if I'd come across this print my reaction to the sky would be to think someone had gone way overboard on post processing. Skies "don't look like that." Well, they never do back east where I've always lived. But in fact this, and even more so the print, is a really accurate portrayal of what the back-lit clouds above the vast Texas high plateau actually looked like in mid-morning on June 4. The sky was an extremely pale blue, but in places the clouds were were so thin the blue showed right through them. The clouds overhead were much heavier. The whole scene was both delicate and storm-threatening at the same time.
No aggressive processing is needed, either. I'd used -.66 exposure compensation to make sure there was no clipping of the cloud values. This left the gravel field a little too dark, as expected, easily fixed in ACR with the Exposure slider. To get the sense of the transparent clouds near the horizon transiting to the heavier tone at the top of the frame, a combination of some pull back of blue in the grayscale mix combined with minor pulls of the White and Highlight sliders back in the Basic panel made a convincing result.
It may not be easy to see in the online display, but the stuff near the center of the frame, left of the screen, is a tank farm. I'll have to review the pictures to get a count, but a remarkable number of theaters I visited were directly adjacent to, or even surrounded by, oil or gas tank farms. But it really isn't that surprising. The fastest way to put a drive-in theater out of business is for the land it's on to rise in value, or become a desirable location for a WalMart. An undesirable location—like next to a tank farm—can keep property values and taxes low enough for a drive-in operation to thrive.