more Mendocino, this time on film

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somewhere in the sky
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surfers and fog

I imagine we’re not meant to live as if on vacation every day. But, what if we were? Could we stand that much sunshine? Could we stand the gorgeousness? So much of it? Would it hurt too much to live like that, or make us too soft, or too happy?

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my friend Kelly, contemplating the view

I don’t know. I tell people that here in Michigan the winters make our summers so much sweeter. Not that I mind the winters. Because maybe we have to do penance with the dark days, or the miserably cold days, to really appreciate the warm and sunny days. But I wonder if maybe we’ve got to see and taste and touch beauty every single day. Maybe it makes us better. I’m willing to bet it does.

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our cabin in the woods
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prayer flags and path
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garden

In any case, I took film to the lab today and they had it developed and uploaded before I even got home. Just when I’ve become more patient with the whole process, they go and make it instant! I shot one and a half rolls of Kodak ColorPlus film on my trusty Minolta SRT 102 in California two weeks ago, and this is the one. The half roll isn’t finished yet and that is what is making me feel so unsettled and thinking about just how much beauty we are entitled to in our everyday life. Perhaps it’s all in the way we frame things. Beauty is everywhere, after all.

I think some days we just don’t feel like looking at it. But it kind of smacks you across the face in California.

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Mendocino

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And here’s another thing. The fires are still burning. We left Sunday morning, and the fires broke out in wine country that night and they are continuing today. It sounds trite to say my heart breaks for California. But oh how it does. Such beauty, such loss.

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September on film

This week has been chaos. A drive back to the city, major work project and deadlines, trying to think about what I need to pack for California this coming week, and planning around this weekend, which is jam-packed.

Both kids were under our roof last night–a rare treat–and now everyone is off to their events for the day and I can sit and breathe for just a moment and look at the photos that I had processed this week.

When we were in Pittsburgh for my cousin’s wedding at the start of this month I found out there was a small waterfall less than a mile from the hotel where we stayed. This is Buttermilk Falls, also known as Homewood Falls. It’s a very short hike through a quarry where there are some rocky cliffs that maybe one shouldn’t traverse after overindulging at a wedding the night before, but the light was lovely here and worth a few unsteady moments.

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Jenny’s puppies, Kodak ColorPlus 200, Minolta SRT 102
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my (not) puppy, Kodak ColorPlus 200, Minolta SRT 102

That Bronica SQ-A I’m testing produced one beautiful roll and one awful roll this month, after a first disappointing roll. I still don’t quite know what to make of it… is the awful roll a product of a processing mistake or a camera error? Maybe I need to stick to standard films for testing–the first bad roll was an expired film, and this recent bad one was a redscale film. One roll I didn’t even send for processing because it only advanced sporadically, and I didn’t notice it wasn’t advancing while I was shooting. I need more time with the camera to make sure. I don’t want to keep comparing it to my son’s Mamiya because it has both its own quirks and its own charm. But so far I’ve had three bad rolls to one good… is it me, or is it the camera? I guess I’d like more consistent results before I purchase it. I can’t afford to waste so much film.

Aren’t these gorgeous, though? They look lush and velvety. They make me love 120 film.

And more gorgeousness.

And then the not so gorgeous:

Seriously, I’d love some clues as to what happened here. Can the paper backing stick to 120 film? Is this what might have happened? And redscale shouldn’t come out purple, right? The whole roll looks like this. Purple and muddled. I’m at a loss.

But back to the Minolta and that Kodak ColorPlus. It’s a 200 speed film, it can be found very cheap (last bunch I got ended up being $2.60/roll), and I really quite like it for an everyday 35mm film. So there you go.

Maybe I’ve mentioned this before on this blog, but I’ve been picking blueberries at this particular farm my entire life. My kids have been picking blueberries here their entire lives. The family that owns this farm has put it up for sale and I tell you, if I could manage to buy and run a blueberry farm, I’d do it in a heartbeat because I think I’m going to be around for a while, and my kids are going to be around longer, and I’d love for us all to continue blueberry picking at this very farm. But since it’s probably not a good idea for me to add blueberry farm owner to my plate, someone else is going to have to do it. Anyone interested? I’ll be your best customer.

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dill flower and sky at Cherry Point Market, Minolta SRT 102, Kodak ColorPlus
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color and shadow at Fox Barn, Minolta SRT 102, Kodak ColorPlus
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sign at Fox Barn, Minolta SRT 102, Kodak ColorPlus

So, summer is over. October begins tomorrow, and I’ll be back in the city more now. And that’s okay. My house is a disorganized disaster and I’ve got lots to do to sort it out. And I missed Detroit this summer; like any city recognizing a resurgence, it’s changing rapidly. A new stadium, new businesses. A drive west on Woodward last night made me feel like I’ve been away longer than I have. Slow down a little, Detroit. Let me catch up.

last year, this year

I’m trying not to compare. But, last year at this time I was on a wild mission with films and cameras and taking pictures. It’s not that I’m uninspired this year… it’s maybe that I want to avoid taking the same pictures over and over. In some cases, anyway.

Another digital sunset, anyone?

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Last year I just felt more confident in my art. I knew how to use all the cameras I had and I wasn’t planning on adding any more. But then, of course, I did. And it might have shaken my confidence a bit. This is good, though. Comfort is a stifling position to be in.

I’m still trialing (is that a word?) a medium format camera and I hope its owner isn’t getting too annoyed at the time I’m taking with it. The first roll was disappointing but there are so many factors that could have contributed. Another roll didn’t advance correctly. Two did advance correctly, however, and those will be off to the lab on Monday and I will hopefully have an answer for the camera’s owner by the end of the week.

And another lesson, the pinhole camera I got midsummer. I really don’t know what I’m doing, and after these results from a first roll through it, I’m even more intimidated by it. But I need to get over that and give it another go. I learn by feeling my way through something, and I’m not going to figure this thing out unless I keep trying.

So after a bit of a hiatus, the digital camera has been in rotation a little more this summer. I’ve still got plenty of love for it.

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In just over a week I’ll be in California for a short vacation, and I am nearly certain the Minolta SRT 102 is the camera I’ll take with me, because it’s my favorite and it may be the most reliable camera in my arsenal at the moment, and I’d rather shoot film thoughtfully than take a million digital images (which is what I would do, even if I decided to shoot digital thoughtfully) and tax myself with the time of going through them all.

So that’s where I am. About to go to California and see some areas I’ve never seen, forest and shore and redwoods. Testing a camera and getting over being intimidated by another camera. Waiting for some film to come back, 120 and 35 mm. I’m a bit in limbo and that’s all okay.

When the tall ships come in

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neighborhood church at sunrise, Kodak Gold 200

I’m not on the beach. I piss and moan about this a bit, and when I’m not on the beach and I’m in the city, I think about all the things I’m missing on the beach. The fact that cherry season is well over, for instance. And that the corn grew tall in my absence. Have the peaches come in yet? And, how many sunsets on the lake have I missed? Have I missed the best one of the season?

Sigh. Shame on me.

Yesterday evening I walked my city for miles. I walked on blocks and streets I either haven’t been on in a few years or simply haven’t appreciated. I like this city, with its modest older houses and orderly city blocks, lovingly tended gardens and lawns. There are sidewalks here. I said hello to people sitting on porches (and they said hello back). I watched a squall come in and the sky turn into a fireball in the west where the sun prepared to set. Granted, there were houses and trees and power lines in the way of an open-sky view, but it was still shockingly beautiful. And, when the sky dropped tremendous raindrops and I took cover under a corner tree for a few minutes, but still got soaked anyway, I had an attitude adjustment. I’m so lucky I can spend time on Michigan’s west side gazing at the lake. I’m so, so lucky. And I’m lucky to have a roof over my head here on the east side of the state, in a living, breathing, working neighborhood just outside of Detroit.

But anyway, the ships.

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There is an organization, the Columbus Foundation, that sails two ships, replicas of Columbus’s Niña and Pinta, floating museums as homage not so much to Columbus’s voyage but to the type of ship he sailed. They sail most of the year and make stops around the U.S. and through the Great Lakes system, and one such stop happens to be right down the street from me in a neighborhood park on the Detroit River. While freighters regularly go by here, and they are beautiful to watch, there is something different about seeing these two beauties docked here for several days.

I got up early one morning to catch the ships in the sunrise with some friends and brought my trusty Minolta SRT 102, which had some shots left on a roll of Kodak Gold, a cheap 200 speed film that I’ve decided I like quite a bit.

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I shot a roll of black and white 120 film that morning on a camera I’m testing and may buy (ahem, don’t judge), but I’d like to hand develop that and I haven’t gotten to it yet. And, the first roll of expired color film I ran through it has me scratching my head a bit as the results are, well, weird. But that’s for another post.

I miss you, Mamiya

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fog on inland lake, Mamiya 645 1000s and Kodak Ektar 100

Last winter when I was taking a black and white film photography class, my son lent me his Mamiya 645 1000s camera, a behemoth of a thing (compared to any 35mm camera I have), with a sturdy feel and the most satisfying shutter-click sound. It intimidated the hell out of me with its 120 film and its battery fussiness and well, just the sheer size of it.

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abandoned farm outbuildings, Mamiya 645 1000s
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rusted, Mamiya 645 1000s

It eats batteries like crazy (as in, put in the battery, take a picture, take the battery out–or else you drain the battery mid-roll) and it’s hard to maneuver. The shutter is easy to accidentally misfire (I had at least one, often more, accidental or blank shot on every roll). I swore at it while using it, but always apologized immediately because it’s hard not to be charmed by its quirks, really, and the detail in the negatives of 120 film is enough of a bonus here.

In any case, I mostly happily shot maybe 8 or so rolls of black and white film with it during my class and got comfortable working with 120 film, and in doing so, I really fell hard for the camera. I joked about stealing it from my son, but that would mean a lifetime of lies (“no, really, that was shot on 35mm film, I swear”), and a few weeks ago I very sadly handed it back to him. I was even pouty about it for a few days. I know I can borrow it any time, but it’s not the same as having it in my possession, loaded with film and at the ready.

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dead end, Mamiya 645 1000s
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country road, Mamiya 645 1000s

Knowing I would have to give it back to him, I ran a couple of rolls of color film through it to kick myself in the gut one last time see how it handled color. And, it’s as beautiful as I expected.

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rye, Mamiya 645 1000s
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reddest sunset, Mamiya 645 1000s

Sigh.

I miss you, Mamiya. I hope my kid takes care of you like I did (minus the swearing at you–I still feel bad about that). Even if I end up with my very own camera of your genre and we don’t hang out again, know that you were my first medium format love.

Jenny’s barn

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goat, cat, barn, light

We went to Jenny’s farm for eggs and wandered into the barn to see the goats and I got sidetracked by the light coming in the open door where the goats (and the cat) wander in and out. This was also the day that we loved up the baby goat (a bottle baby–his mama died shortly after he was born) and he was sucking sweetly on my thumb until his little teeth started to grind in and I had to pluck him off, which I felt terrible about (and I apologized to him profusely). My thumb bled, a bit on my camera even, but I didn’t care one bit because that baby goat was the sweetest thing ever.

Film, 35mm Kodak Gold 200, and I think the camera was the Minolta X-700. But I can’t remember for sure, even though it was just a few weeks ago. Which is a great case right there for carrying (and then actually using) a photo notebook. Sounds good in theory, but I don’t think it’ll ever happen.

mead-soaked summer

I don’t think I can limit myself to a photographic style until I try everything. I soaked a roll of expired film for about half a day in some sparkling mead. Then I rinsed it, soaked it in water for about another half a day, and then let it sit around to dry for oh, I don’t know, maybe three weeks.

And then I loaded it into my Minolta X-700 and…

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milkweed flowers at the edge of a wheat field

Dreamy stuff. Soft colors, smeary lines.

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Bella, asparagus field

I asked the lab first if they could develop this–I know soaked films can mess with chemicals and I didn’t want to screw up anyone else’s film (or my other six rolls they were developing). I’m starting to really love my local lab.

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More Lomo purple

I spent some time with Lomography Lomochrome Purple film last fall and, well, we had a thing together. I loved the color shifts with the Midwest foliage and golden light. I tried it again this spring with 120 film in the Holga, and my results were decidedly pink (was it the different lab? the camera? who knows). It’s rated from 100-400 ISO, and in 35mm form I mostly shot it at 400 speed, which I thought resulted in some really gorgeous, deep, rich purples.

I decided to try shooting it at 100 speed this time.

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fern in forest, Lomography Lomochrome Purple, Minolta SRT 102

Hmmmm. I don’t know how I feel about it. I mean, I like my results, but I missed the purple.

So much more subtle than my previous runs with this film.

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Yellows are a lovely pink, but the greens didn’t get as purple as I expected based on past rolls. The greens just stayed mostly green, really. And things that were not green got a greenish cast, like the wheat field and the wood on this shed and the fence posts.

But still, full of fun surprises. The green frizzy stuff (I don’t have a clue what this is) in Barbara’s garden looked just plain old green when I shot it from one angle in full sun, but from the side–purple explosion. I’ve done no editing to these scans, which were done by the lab, so I don’t know. The light? The lab color corrected? It’ll remain a mystery (I like film mysteries anyway).

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And sunset colors are tinged a bit more purple, but plenty of greens and turquoise here as well…

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my kid, his girl, Lomography Lomochrome Purple, Minolta SRT 102

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I have one more roll in my stash, but of course I’ll buy more. I’m a little nuts about it. It’s pricey, but so worth it.

Lima, the final installment

I shot 8 rolls of film in and not too far outside of Lima, Peru, last month when I spent a week with my daughter there. Last week I sent away the roll of film I managed to muck up several ways to be developed by people who know what to do with mucked up rolls. I mucked this up by:

  • Forgetting to set the correct ISO on my camera when loading the film.
  • Completely forgetting what kind of film I had in my camera.
  • Forgetting that the roll had 24 exposures and not 36.
  • Thinking that my camera was stuck when it wouldn’t advance past 24, and so rewinding it a bit a ton (what was I thinking?) before I realized I was probably shooting over stuff.
  • Don’t judge me. I was on vacation. Again, I blame the pisco.

So with all that I wondered what I was going to get. The film is Fuji Superia 400, which I kind of like, but since I shot it at 200 I asked the lab to pull it one stop. The colors on the single-exposed shots are somewhat flat, but I like them. The multiple exposed stuff looks colorful but kind of washed out, too–but, you know, multiple exposures and all. I wish I could say I planned some of these images since I like how they turned out so much, but alas, no such thing. And, these are the lab’s scans. I look forward to scanning them in other ways and putting different frames together. And now I know I want to double-shoot a roll of film. Totally on purpose, though.

This roll was partly from a tour stop at the Hacienda San Jose in Chincha, which was a brief stop on our way to Paracas.

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yard at Hacienda San Jose in Chincha, Peru
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old garden wall, Hacienda San Jose
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flowers and porch arches
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flowers in hacienda yard
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hacienda garden wall in Chincha, plus boats and beach in Paracas
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hacienda chapel stairs and Paracas boat and beach
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hacienda chapel and Paracas boats
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Paracas beach and boats at sunset, town, and hibiscus flower
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Paracas wanderings
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Paracas boats and harbor
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Paracas, evening sunset and morning harbor

I love how some of the multiple exposed shots end up looking like I ran a roll through a half frame camera and then shot it again through a normal SLR (which gives me an idea…).

June filmy weirdness

Film just continues to amaze and surprise and confound me. Someday I’d like to develop all my film on my own. But until I can commit to the time/effort/hearbreak of that, I’m using two labs to process and scan my color film.

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poppy and collapsing farmhouse, Minolta SRT 102
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poppy sunset, Holga

I haven’t used black and white film since my class ended in early May, but when I do get back to that (and I’ve got some nice films to use up, but summer feels like color to me) I’m planning to get supplies and process that myself now that I feel comfortable with it.

But color film developing feels a little out of my wheelhouse at the moment.

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June rye in detail, Minolta SRT 102
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June rye field, Minolta SRT 102
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early season orchard, Minolta SRT 102

I sent four rolls to one lab and two to another this week. The four rolls got processed and scanned and I uploaded them yesterday, with some oddities and surprises, like that purple yumminess I wrote about yesterday. I know I had one roll of expired film so I expected some odd colors, but a lack of decent focus on almost half from this (only 12 exposure) roll makes me think a) I was drinking and shooting, or b) I really need to see my eye doc, or c) something is wrong with my Minolta X-700 (it did give me a bit of trouble in Peru, so there’s that).

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Lake Michigan, expired film, lousy focus, Minolta X-700
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Little Sable Point lighthouse, expired film, Minolta X-700

Aside from that, I noticed an odd dot pattern on some other scans, usually in blue sky or where there was a lack of other pattern in the image. This is in some of the images on both 35mm film and 120 film, from different cameras. The lab can’t account for this oddity. I don’t know what to make of it, but whatever. I mean, I’m horrible with film storage (hot, cold, lugged around in bags left in cars, etc.), so maybe I’ve done something to it. If I wanted perfection, I’ve probably picked up the wrong passion.

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Minolta SRT 102, patterned sky

It’s odd that it’s on some images but not others. Who knows? I’m okay with the mystery.