Springtime with COVID

Despite COVID I am lucky enough to live in a house where I can walk around.  Imagine being homeless or living in a small apartment where just getting to the front door is another chance to get COVID from a neighbor.  Anyway here are a few flowers that are in the front of the house.







Rabies and the Plague

With the onset of COVID lock down I decided to read about other infectious diseases - don’t ask me why.  I’m reading other things as well.  I’ve always been fascinated with Rabies - it is after all primarily a neurological disease.  I’ve never seen a case.  WE did recently have a sick Raccoon in our yard.  The animal control people didn’t think it had rabies but this was probably the impetus to read about it.


Then I thought The Plague by Albert Camus would be an appropriate next book.  It is more relevant to our current situation with COVID.  Here are some quotes from the book:


“The doctor remembered the plague at Constantinople that, according to Procopius, caused ten thousand deaths in a single day. Ten thousand dead made about five times the audience in a biggish cinema. Yes, that was how it should be done. You should collect the people at the exits of five picture-houses, you should lead them to a city square and make them die in heaps if you wanted to get a clear notion of what it means. Then at least you could add some familiar faces to the anonymous” 


 Still, that could stop, or be stopped. It was only a matter of lucidly recognizing what had to be recognized; of dispelling extraneous shadows and doing what needed to be done. Then the plague would come to an end, because it was unthinkable, or, rather, because one thought of it on misleading lines. If, as was most likely, it died out, all would be well. If not, one would know it anyhow for what it was and what steps should be taken for coping with and finally overcoming it.”


 “They went on doing business, arranged for journeys, and formed views. How should they have given a thought to anything like plague, which rules out any future, cancels journeys, silences the exchange of views. They fancied themselves free, and no one will ever be free so long as there are pestilences.” 


 According to religion, the first half of a man’s life is an upgrade; the second goes downhill. On the descending days he has no claim, they may be snatched from him at any moment; thus he can do nothing with them and the best thing, precisely, is to do nothing with them.”


 “It was done through official channels, and half-heartedly. What they’re short on is imagination. Officialdom can never cope with something really catastrophic. And the remedial measures they think up are hardly adequate for a common cold. If we let them carry on like this they’ll soon be dead, and so shall we.” 


 The evil that is in the world always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence, if they lack understanding. On the whole, men are more good than bad; that, however, isn’t the real point. But they are more or less ignorant, and it is this that we call vice or virtue; the most incorrigible vice being that of an ignorance that fancies it knows everything and therefore claims for itself the right to kill. The soul of the murderer is blind; and there can be no true goodness nor true love without the utmost clear-sightedness.” 


  


Back to Scanning

I have had this multi year project of scanning all my negatives from 1996 when rejoined the world of photography.  My Dad died that year and with inheritance I bought a Leica M6.  He had taught me about photography so I was a good way to honor his memory.  In the meantime I accumulated at least 600 rolls of negatives that needed scanning.  The COVID quarantine seems like a good time to get back to it.  I’m somewhere near roll 438.  Anyway here are a few that I liked.


Prairie Madness about to go on Sale

Have sent out about a dozen postcards to friends and family advertising the book.  It’s gone thru two edits with Vicki and both were rough but I think in the end the book came out better.  As is sometimes done, I’m including a printed photo from the book if folks buy from me- they get an autographed copy of the book as well.  Considering the costs, it’s not a money maker at all but just something that I wanted to do.  The proceeds after expenses will be split between the Southern Plains Land Trust and American Prairie Reserve.  


Bergger Pancro 400

Finally getting to use some of the film that I’ve stockpiled for the last 4 years.  This time it was the French film Bergger Pancro 400.  I didn’t review the film before I shot it.  I find that it’s helpful to make up my own mind first.  Shot it @ 400 and developed it in HC110B 9 min. as per Massive Development Chart.  Well guess what - I found it to be less contrasty than I normally like- this is exactly what the reviews talk about.  They also say that this can be helped by pushing it to 800 or 1600 and develop it normally.  Makes sense.


COVID made me do this

This COVID lockdown has caused lots of changes - I used to scour YouTube for fun videos - dogs adopting opossums for their friends,  etc.  This lock down has somehow turned dark…….


This first video is about exploding a dead whale on the beaches of Oregon in 1970 and how they went from one large sticking mass to multiple dispersed pieces of sticking whale.  This video was said to represent the mishandling of the Corona Virus outbreak.  Not sure the analogy is there but it’s too late, I’ve already seen the video.

The next video is about a naive girl from Kansas who gets seduced by a ner-do-well who buys an underground missile silo in rural Kansas and opens up THE largest LSD lab in the world.  



Godzilla on Lockdown

Godzilla is on lockdown like everyone else, though come to think of it , Godzilla has never been infected by any of the nasty things circulating in this world.  I mean he is a tough SOB so that fits.  Anyway he ventured out to our garden the other day - even met Duke which went well


Stirling Moss RIP

Sir Stirling Craufurd Moss, OBE (17 September 1929 – 12 April 2020) was a British Formula One racing driver. An inductee into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, he won 212 of the 529 races he entered across several categories of competition and has been described as “the greatest driver never to win the World Championship”. In a seven-year span between 1955 and 1961 Moss finished as championship runner-up four times and in third place the other three times.


What Have I really Accomplished

What have I really accomplished during this time of COVID quarantine?  

- Finished ‘Collosus’ about the building of the Hover Dam.  A big book but well worth the read

- Reading ‘Rabid’ , a historical look at Rabies - cuz’ Rabies is far worse, scarier than COVID

- Will be reading ‘The Plague’ by Camus just because

- Learned that Pat Metheny, Joni Mitchell and Jaco Pastorius once played in concert together - I did not see that comming

- Learned that Levon Helm and Robbie Robertson hated each other because RR owed Helm lots of money for record and recording credits and apparently never paid him.  Not good Mr. R!

- Pat Metheny is only 9 days older than me! Both of us are Leo’s .  He has talent and I don’t.  I will always be appreciative that Al, my brother introduced me to PM.

- Have shot with some unusual film this quarantine - Astrum 100 from the Ukraine, Rollei InfraRed 400, Berger 400 film ( yet to be developed).

-Entered two photo contests

- Hiked with Vicki - some of the treks were pretty steep and then I reflect on where I was about a year ago after heart surgery and I’m blown away by were I am.  Like the old joke ’ My doctor told me to walk 5 miles and day….after two weeks I was 70 miles from home!!’

-Spent 3 days trying to get an obviously sick raccoon to leave our premises and learned that Wheat Ridge Animal Control are fuckin’ worthless

-Put together a playlist should I end up on a ventilator with COVID only to find out from my brother-in-law Gary that there is a song called Ventilator Blues

-Really geeky stuff like remotely controlling my small Raspberry Pi computer from the Mac.  This is for the eventual weather station for the backyard.


National Siblings Day

So I stumbled on two things today that relate to each other.  The first was I was cleaning out a photography bin when I ran across some old negatives from Dad - they were mostly pictures of us kids when we were little.  Then I was informed by the internets that today was National Siblings Day so I had to quickly scan and get these photos out to my siblings, my kids , etc


Rollei InfraRed 400

The trip we took yesterday included shooting 120 Rollei InfraRed 400.  I used to shoot Kodak High Speed IR in BW and even shot the Aerochrome version years ago.  Neither one of these products are available.  Reading the forums it appeared that only the Rollei version was what I’d be looking for.  A rangefinder is the only way to shoot this stuff because you need to use a virtually opaque R72 IR filter.  Can’t really do that with an SLR.  Fortunately I have the Bronica RF 645.  There were some exposing mishaps ( all my fault) but basically shot it using the sunny 16 rule with ISO of 12.  Which gave F/4 @ 1/250 second.  Developed in HC110B for 8.75 minutes.  There was a fair amount of fogging on the edges.  Will have to really load this almost in the dark.


Pawnee National Grasslands - well almost

Our goal was to drive up I-76 East and go to Pawnee National Grasslands and take pictures.  We took both Porsches to give them exercise which they need on a regular basis.  We got within 30 minutes of the place when we ran out of pavement - we don’t take the P cars on gravel roads.  Turn around we did but we did have a nice time driving.  Nothing in the COVID prohibitions mentions NOT driving and when you live in the west , your places of recreation require you to drive.  I brought my mask and alcohol wipes in case they were needed.  The shot of the gas station in Orchid, Colorado was from my Pixel 3 phone.  I was also shooting 645 Infrared.  Will post those photos if any come out.  We stopped at the big dairy farm in Roggen, Colorado for the Porsche picture.  This is the facility that Tim Baker runs.


Long Branch by Wild Turkey

After the day I’ve had - I decided to open up the Long Branch Bourbon.  Produced by Wild Turkey in consultation with Matthew Macconaghey.  Done with Mesquite wood - Has a different than ‘normal’ bourbon taste and at 86 proof it’s not hard to drink ( not gulp please)


Ventilator Playlist

I know this is morbid but with COVID controlling our lives it felt appropriate to put together a playlist.  Not just any playlist but one that would surely rouse me out of my coma if I were to be on a ventilator.  I will send this to my sister who is a former ICU nurse - she will surely get it.  No her name is not Shirley!


#1 with a Bullet. September by Earth Wind and Fire - two versions take your pick

#2 Cantaloop - a Jazz standard done by many.  This version is a hip-hop version.  The video really makes this song sweet!

#3 - Good Vibrations - Beach Boy Classic but done by others - this version selected because of the audio

#4 When the Levee Breaks - Led Zeppelin.  Remember the saying ” If you don’t have Zeppelin on your playlist - you don’t have a Playlist!!”

#5 This Girl by the KUNGS - the high energy will needed to get me out of the coma I’m in

#6 Hotline Bling by The Hamiltones - these guys ooze soul - this was shot in their dressing rooms for God’s sake

#7 Ghost Chickens in the Sky - a parody of Ghost Riders in the Sky - absolutely hilarious

#8 This Thing Called Love by Dwight Yoakim - originally written by Freddie Mercury as a tribute to Elvis - I think both would be ecstatic about this version

#9 Prodigal Son - just cuz it’s Ry Cooder

#10 and if I don’t make it……… I Shall Be Released - Bob Dylan and The Band

Oh yeah if I never end up on a ventilator just consider this my top 10 Videos !    - The Management




Astrum 100

I somehow found this Ukrainian film to buy and wanted to share my initial response.  I was expecting it to suck actually.  When I first poured out the developer ( HC110B for 9.5 min.) the water was orange!  I’m thinking this was gonna be a cluster!  Boy was I wrong.  The negatives are easy to scan and the results are quite good.  Might be even as good as the recently re-released Acros II for a lot less money ($11.99 vs. $4.99 a roll).  Take a look:


Toshio Shibata - Photographer

Since my trip to Japan I’ve become interested in all things Japanese.  I recently bought a book by Toshio Shibata called Gas Stations 1983 & 1986. It’s a limited edition (500) of some very nice photos of gas stations at nite.  



I love this book because it’s small and so the photographer/editor/publisher have to make their statement with less ‘real estate’.  When I’m traveling and shopping for photo books it’s a real help if I can find something enticing in a small package - this certainly fills the bill.


Here’s what the publisher had to say


In the early 1980s, returning to Japan from a few years of traveling and living in Europe, Toshio Shibata began photographing night scenes of roadside Japan. Shibata has said of the experience of the road at night: “While driving on a highway at night in Europe I often experienced an imperceptible momentary sensation of transcending place, yet not knowing where I was. It seemed as if I could have been in Japan, or even in the United States. I felt that the scene was non-specific, but rather a kind of generic or archetypal common scene, universal image and part of a global world-view.”

Gas stations – especially in the dead of night – look more or less the same everywhere they are to be found. Yet their generic look can also provoke feelings of melancholy, even romance. 


Well known for his large-scale photographs of large-scale civil engineering in rural places, both in Japan and in the West, Toshio Shibata here presents the view with a book of seven jewel-like images of Japanese gas stations at night, beautifully reproduced and accompanied by a silver gelatin photograph, hand printed by the artist himself. 


“Toshio Shibata occupies a distinct place in landscape photography: His pictures don’t idealize pristine wilderness nor do they moralize about the damaging imprint humans leave upon the natural world. Shibata studies places of contact — where we have altered the earth — and finds reflection, wonder, awe.

Beauty, in his work, is inclusive, and purity is a matter of compositional elegance rather than rarefied subject matter.” — Leah Ollman, Los Angeles Times

Gas Stations: 1982 & 1986 is limited to 500 numbered copies, each including a 5x7 inch original print that has been signed by the artist.


Photographing Gas Stations is not new. 


 Ed Ruscha had his Twenty Six Gas Stations which was not a success when it first came out.  It is now almost impossible to obtain a copy


Twentysix Gasoline Stations is the first artist’s book by the American pop artist Ed Ruscha. Published in April 1963 on his own imprint National Excelsior Press, it is often considered to be the first modern artist’s book, and has become famous as a precursor and a major influence on the emerging artist’s book culture, especially in America. The book delivers exactly what its title promises, reproducing 26 photographs of gasoline stations next to captions indicating their brand and location. From the first service station, ‘Bob’s Service’ in Los Angeles where Ruscha lived, the book follows a journey back to Oklahoma City where he had grown up and where his mother still lived. The last image is of a Fina gasoline station in Groom, Texas, which Ruscha has suggested should be seen as the beginning of the return journey, ‘like a coda’. Originally printed in a numbered edition of 400, a second edition of 500 was published in 1967 and a third of 3000 in 1969. Neither of these later editions was numbered. It has been suggested that these reprints were a deliberate attempt to flood the market in order to maintain the book’s status as a cheap, mass-produced commodity. The book originally sold for $3.50.


LomoChrome Metropolis and Rollei Cross Bird

For this last camping trip for awhile I shot with different film - color print, color slide, BW.  One of the rolls was LomoChrome’s new Metropolis film.  It’s look changes depending on whether it’s shot at ISO 100 to 400.  Can be done mid roll.  I just got the results and they are interesting.  Here they are without any manipulation .

I’m not sure what I think about this new film.  Certainly gives a new look without any post processing.  The next film is Rollei CrossBird which is E6 slide film cross processed in C41 chemistry.  I don’t really like the look all that much but you wouldn’t know this until you tried it right?

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