The dune grasses on Lake Michigan go to seed in the fall. One variety shoots a tall wispy stalk of delicate seeds several feet above the grasses; another produces these thicker stalks, which are soft and sturdy and remind me a bit of a cat tail (but not the plant called cattail, or bullrush–I mean an actual cat’s tail). The grasses turn from a verdant green in summer to a rather striking golden straw color in the winter.
In the spring, the green shoots of new grasses poke their way up through the golden carpet. This carpet of old and new grasses just layers on top of itself, helping to stabilize the dune. It’s miraculous, I think.
I took this photo last winter on a short hike across the dune near the Little Sable Point Lighthouse with my Minolta SRT-102.
Last weekend my friend Jane and I went to Findlay, Ohio to participate in the Film Photography Project‘s “walking workshop” with about 100 or so other people, who were about 95% men. That last bit is neither here nor there, but I did find it a little surprising and somewhat noteworthy. Do men have more free time for pursuits like camera collecting and film photography? Are women just not as interested in workshops? I don’t know these things. But, Jane and I enjoyed the workshops, the freebies, the FPP store, the FPP podcast crew, wandering around town during the car show, and the venue (the Jones Mansion).
We each bought $10 plastic point and shoot cameras with ridiculous telescoping lenses. I bought a $10 t-shirt (can’t have enough t-shirts) and a roll of T-Max 3200 ISO film. I won a Minolta Hi-Matic G. I’ve never had so many men say “I like your dress” (it’s my favorite dress right now, a print of old-style cameras)–the best comment being “I don’t wear dresses often, but I’d wear that one.” I mean, c’mon! What’s not to love here?
I shot a roll of color film a few weeks ago on the west side of Michigan, mostly flowers (both wild and planted) with the idea of re-shooting for a whole roll of double exposures. Since there was a car show going on in downtown Findlay during the workshop, I ended up shooting some cars and alleys and streetscapes over the flowers on that roll. I have some other film ready and a few rolls to finish up before I send the re-shot roll for developing, but I’m excited to see what I get.
Anyway, here are some images from the test rolls from those two cameras I mentioned a few weeks back, the camera given to me by a neighbor (that Minolta Maxxum 300si) and the goodwill camera (a Minolta Freedom Zoom 90). The goodwill camera is huge and clunky and the zoom pretty much broke at the end of the test roll. The Maxxum’s longer lens might be really useful and although overall I probably won’t use this camera too often, I’m going to keep it around. The Freedom shot a 1989 expired roll of Ektachrome (cross processed) and I didn’t expect much from that, but got a few shots I kind of liked. The Maxxum had a roll of Fuji 800 ISO film in it and who knows how old it was or how it was stored. So, experiments.
I don’t really know what I can say here. I’m in love.
I know when I first started to shoot film I was so excited by not knowing what I was going to get when my film was developed. I have a little more experience now, so I pretty much do know what I’m going to get, but I’m still chasing the fun of the mystery, which is why I’m drawn to expired films, film soups, new (to me) old cameras. A guarantee of not knowing what you’ll get, and so you’ll definitely get a surprise (good or bad).
In prep for a film secret Santa exchange last Christmas, I chopped up some fresh ginger, squeezed the juice out of a lemon, and boiled the ginger and lemon with some water for, oh, I don’t know, a while. Then I let the concoction cool and dropped two rolls of film into it to soak for, oh, I don’t know, another while. Then I took them out and rinsed them and dropped them into a baggie with rice to dry for a few weeks, and then I mailed one to my secret Santa recipient in California and kept the other for myself.
I’m still kind of bad about noting things and I kind of thought I would remember which roll I soaked, but of course I didn’t. So I forgot all about it until I put this roll in my Minolta SRT-102 a few weeks ago and it was just a little crispy feeling when I tried to advance the first few frames and a lightbulb went off in my brain and ta-da! I remembered about that film I soaked over the winter.
I’m not the only one that needs it to rain every now and then, am I? I mean, not for days and days on end… that’s too much. But after a stretch of summery sun and warmth a bit of rain just feels like a necessary break. A permission to be a little blue, or introspective. It’s a little like crying after going a really long time without. I don’t know–it feels good to me.
It’s raining right now on a late Thursday afternoon. I heard thunder growling for about an hour before the rain started, and some interesting clouds formed over the lake. Nothing dramatic, just a gentle release. The dog is especially tired today and has been snoring either on the couch or under my feet at the dining room table (my cottage office). I could curl up and nap, too, if not for work. These are the kind of days I’d skip college classes and spend the day in bed reading and drinking tea. I miss those days.
I made a pact with myself that I wouldn’t buy any cameras in 2018. I’m not really sure why I made such a foolish bargain now, and maybe I should have clarified. Like, no cameras over $20 or something more sane. In any case, I went to a local good will shop last week and took a $6.95 chance on a clean-looking, fully automatic, clunker of a late 1980’s plastic point and shoot. I also picked up a Cokin A series filter holder and three filters–one of which is a double exposure “splitter” that I was pretty excited to find. I took the clunker on a beach walk with a roll of heavily expired slide film from the same era as the camera. Who knows if anything will come of that roll, but it was fun. I tried the splitter two nights ago and again, who knows what will come of it. I’m not organized enough to plan decent doubles when I’m out; I’m just shooting and enjoying things most of the time lately.
I also put feelers out to neighbors via an online community about taking old cameras off their hands, and someone offered up an SLR. I met a complete stranger in the parking lot of the local market who handed me a bag with a Minolta Maxxum 300si, two lenses, a roll of unused film in the camera and a second roll in the bag. He was nice, just happy to get rid of something he didn’t use that was taking up space. It’s also a fully automatic thing and I promised I’d use it and then donate it if it didn’t become part of my regular rotation. The funny thing is it happens to take the same battery as the good will clunker, so I didn’t have to wait to test it out. I wanted to ask some background but he seemed in a rush, so, I’ll make up stories about where the camera has been and what it has seen.
I had five rolls of film developed a few weeks ago–two were Lomography Lomochrome Purple. One of these I’ve been carrying around for over a year, so it’s an older formula, and the other was a “new” formula. I don’t think I can judge how the two formulas differ, because I am absolutely terrible about storing film properly and the older roll went with me to Peru last May (but did not get used) and has been in and out of camera bags and hot and cold cars and basically has not been treated the way an $11.90 roll of film should be treated. But the “old” formula images look a little overexposed, a cooler purple. The “new” formula images seem a bit more saturated, a warmer purple. Conditions, light, subjects all play a roll, of course.
Enough writing on a rainy afternoon, and I have to get back to work. Here are some purple film photos, in no particular order. You can see more in this flickr album, if you want.
This is going to sound terrible. But, I never gave Texas much thought. I’m way up here in Michigan, and Texas feels a world away; a gigantic state with guns and trucks and carnivores and women with big hair and the kinds of things and people I figured I wouldn’t mix all that well with. I know better, really I do.
But we drove down to Texas a few weeks ago with a carload of stuff and helped move our grown human into a really amazing apartment, and outside of all the work that entailed we ate some pretty amazing meals (Austin knows how to do vegetarian and vegan) and I spent a morning walking on the multi-use paths along the Colorado River/Lady Bird Lake taking pictures. I only brought one camera (my favorite 35mm, the Minolta SRT-102) and finished a roll of Kodak ColorPlus that was half-used and a roll of Fuji Superia, both ISO 200. I already can’t wait to go back; there’s so much more to explore.
Austin, I’m sorry I pre-judged–we’re gonna get along just fine. And, Texas, I don’t know how much I’ll dabble in you beyond Austin, but I promise to keep an open mind.
I’m still finding my way with flickr; still not sure how I feel about it. But you can see more of my photos from Austin here.
Two weeks ago I stepped into the Pacific Ocean. I wasn’t prepared for a dip, but I might have done it. I mean, unless a beach is snow-covered and there are ice floats in the water, a Midwesterner worth her salt is at least going in up to her ankles. Maybe even knees, if she’s wearing the right clothes and isn’t going out to dinner with co-workers right after.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
old stone, Buttermilk Falls, Kodak ColorPlus 200, Minolta SRT 102
mushroom, Buttermilk Falls, Kodak ColorPlus 200, Minolta SRT 102
the falls, Buttermilk Falls, Kodak ColorPlus 200, Minolta SRT 102
rocky steps, Buttermilk Falls, Kodak ColorPlus 200, Minolta SRT 102
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.
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.
sunset on Lake Michigan, Bronica SQ-A, Lomography 100
sunset and Queen Anne’s lace, Bronica SQ-A, Lomography 100
sunset on Lake Michigan, Bronica SQ-A, Lomography 100
And more gorgeousness.
roadside sunflowers, Bronica SQ-A, Lomography 100
apple orchard in west Michigan, Bronica SQ-A, Lomography 100
roadside sunflowers, Bronica SQ-A, Lomography 100
And then the not so gorgeous:
Lake Michigan, Bronica SQ-A, Lomography redscale
Lake Michigan, Bronica SQ-A, Lomography redscale
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.
west Michigan blueberries, Minolta SRT 102, Kodak ColorPlus
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.
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.