The Great Train Trip of 1999

I am a subscriber to Frames, the magazine and one of their frequent contributors is W. Scott Olsen who teaches at Concordia College in Moorehead, MN.  His recent contribution was about doing photography from a moving train ( sometimes it’s stopped because…. just because).  This reminded me of a trip that my family took in 1999 from Syracuse to Santa Fe.  We then traveled by car up to Colorado Springs.  We came home by train out of the old Union Station in Denver.

Rocky Mountain Land Library

Sunday we attended the Friend, Family event outside of Fairplay, Colorado for the Rocky Mountain Land Library.  It was awesome.  The mission is to preserve books about the West - books are stored in their Globeville ( Denver) warehouse and then brought up to the Buffalo Peaks Ranch for use in various ways.  The goal will hopefully to be a lending library for Park County.  Other ideas that are percolating would be a Residential Library where people  could come in stay for a week or so and read to their heart’s content.

Jeff and Anne Lee are the organizers of the Land Library and both are  fun people to talk to.  They arranged with the Park County Creative Alliance to host this event.  There were artists present to teach, music, and even a group of enactors showing what ranch life was like.

Instagram Blockers

Scammers for a fee can ban anyone you want and can for a larger fee get banned accounts back on line.  This is not good for those of us that think of IG as a stable platform.  It is NOT.  What it is , is a free platform owned and operated by Facebook and if this isn’t enough to get you thinking then nothing will.  I don’t as of yet know of an alternative.  I have over 2000 posts on IG.  If it went away tomorrow or I had to cancel IG and FB I would still be alive and doing photography.  That being said IG is a source of motivation, inspiration and entertainment.  

Photobooks v. Instagram

I came across this video about the special nature of photo books.  This combined with some ominous news about Instagram if your a creative photographer.  The bosses at Facebook who run Instagram are saying that this platform will no longer be about photographs but rather commerce and video.  I don’t know what will happen to IG - I participate pretty much everyday.  Will I be sad if it stops being a place to see great photography?  Yes, of course but these “free’ platforms carry the risk of them going broke, going away or going for the money ( yours mostly).  

This is where the photo book comes in, a tool to preserve your creativity, pass down to future generations and not subject to some moron at Facebook.  

MAKE a Photo book is the theme!

Idiots of Shame

These two losers voted against House Bill HR 2497 to establish Camp Amache in Southern Colorado as a unit of the National Park Service.  This camp located outside of Granada, Colorado was site of a WWII Japanese Internment camp.  

The full bill reads as follows:

Amache National Historic Site Act

This bill establishes the Amache National Historic Site in Colorado as a unit of the National Park System to preserve, protect, and interpret for the benefit of present and future generations resources associated with the incarceration of civilians of Japanese ancestry during World War II at Amache, also known as the Granada Relocation Center, and the military service of incarcerees at the Granada Relocation Center.

The National Historic Site shall not be established until the date on which the Department of the Interior determines that a sufficient quantity of land or interests in land has been acquired to constitute a manageable park unit.

After Interior makes such a determination, it shall publish in the Federal Register notice of the establishment of the historic site. 

Interior may acquire by donation, purchase, or exchange any land or interests in land located within the boundary of the Camp Amache National Historic Landmark.

Any acquired lands or interests in land shall be included within the boundary of the historic site. 

Interior must prepare a general management plan for the historic site. 

Interior may enter into agreements with 

  • public or private entities to establish and operate facilities outside of the exterior boundary of the historic site for administration, visitor services, and curation of personal property; and
  • other public or private entities to carry out this bill.

Great thoughts on Photography had this on their website today and is an absolutely fantastic video editorial about what is really important in this age - Alex Kilbee argues that it’s NOT the number of Instagram likes.  He wants us to go back to the first days of our photography experience and rekindle that joy and passion.  His brilliant example is that of Vivian Maier who is arguably one of the best photographers of the 20th century.  And yet were it not a fluke of discovery no one would have known about her.  She absolutely had no desire to show her work despite it’s absolute brilliance.  Did this make her less of a photographer?  I think not and that’s the whole point.

The Black Hills and Badlands

This June our Colorado Airstream Club held a one week rally in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  We stayed just outside of Custer City but inside of the Custer State Park.  The park is really quite nice and a testament to how much this means to the taxpayers of SD.  Admission was only $20 for the week.

The week was packed with all sorts of activities in addition to socializing with our friends from the club.  The highlight for me was reading ” Buffalo for the Broken Heart” by Dan O’Brien and then going to his Bison ranch and meeting with him and getting a tour.  He drove us in his bust ass suburban with the windows taken out and painted like a zebra.  We got to experience the wind, the smell of the bison.  You felt one with the plains.

Dan in the middle

Badlands - Considering all that this park has to offer, you might be wondering — what’s so bad about the Badlands? The Lakota people dubbed this region “mako sica,” or “bad lands,” long ago because its rocky terrain, lack of water and extreme temperatures made it difficult to traverse.

Some of us rented electric bikes - these are pedal assist meaning nothing happens unless you actually start pedaling.  It is not a ‘free’ ride but one that extends how far you can go with your endurance.  We did this on the George Mickelson Trail which goes from Deadwood to Edgemont, SD a distance of 109 miles.  I only did 14 miles roundtrip.

The above video is 10 min. long and likely boring to many.  But for those that want to know what the trail was like, have at it.

Below are just some Misc. shots

Oveido Arts

As part of our tours out of Santa Fe we stopped into Oveido Arts to meet with Marco Oveido the artist.  He is still doing bronze sculptures the traditional way.   His studio is also home to many animals including some burros from Brazil.  He also has done some interesting photography.  Vicki came away with a bronze bird and I with one of his photographs as seen below.

Caffenol Developer

I’ve known about developing film with instant coffee but have never tried it.  I’ve gotten a scale and the ingredients and gave it a trial - I was very impressed.  Instant coffee, vitamin C and Washing Soda and that’s it.  I used it on ISO 400 film = some places suggest using ISO 100 but as I said it does work.

Dinosaur Ridge

This was my hike this morning.  A nice 1.0 mile hike with some elevation gain.  Dinosaur Ridge is only 20 min. from the house and is the site of some interesting geological formations with remains of dinosaurs.  This includes one of only 12 sites with Raptor prints.  I also learned and saw a rock concretion.  All in a days hike.

10,000 Steps yesterday

Currently my walking goal is 4000 steps per day but yesterday I did 10,000.  I did it by getting up early and going to the Lafayette Cars and Coffee

Next was doing my Walkathon to support prairie preservation.  June 5th is national prairie day and Southern Plains Land Trust was doing a fund raiser for people to walk the prairie with sponsors.  I was able to walk 2.0 miles at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Preserve.  This is a reclaimed chemical weapon arsenal.  No Bison were seen as it was 81F and I’m sure they were hanging out in the shade off in the distance.

By the time this was all done I’d put in 10,000 steps and raised about $127  for SPLT - not a bad day at all.

My Little Ukrainian Lens

I recently bought a 1954 Leica IIIf red dial which is the Leica that my Dad had when he taught me photography.   I had a hankering to get back into a really basic setup.  This is the camera that my father had when he taught me photography.  It is a rangefinder which means you don’t actually see what the lens sees.  And in fact the LTM ( Leica Thread Mount) Leica has a separate viewfinder from the split screen rangefinder focusing.  The modern Leica M cameras including the digital ones combine the viewfinder with the rangefinder.

The LTM is off getting a CLA ( cleaning, lube and adjustment).  In the meantime I had very few lenses that are LTM - a crappy Russian lens that I had once took apart just to get it to work - no sure that it focuses correctly.  The other was a more modern Cosina 21/4.

This lead me to ETSY to find some Ukrainian LTM which are ridiculously cheap - like $38 cheap

This link will describe more about this specific lens.  While I await the return of the IIIf I can mount this lens on my Fuji X-T2 with adapters.  Here are some of the photos

Not really bad all things considered.  Given that sharpness is over-rated1

And the Award for…..

THE most messed up self developed roll of film goes to……..Ernie Nitka

In 53 years of developing film this IS the most messed up job I can remember!  This is Ilford XP2 developed in Cinestill’s C41 two bath kit.  This roll fell prey to misalignment of the film sprockets, a bunch of strings from the changing bag in the developing tank!  Some of the ‘artistic’ features I’m not able to explain.

I am happy to report that I just developed some Cinestill 800T that came out fine.  

Summer Internship

The Wyndham Hotel chain is offering a Summer Internship for 2 weeks.  You have to submit your itinerary and one photo.The goal is to get some free photos of their properties ( specifically Day’s Inn ). The winner who completes the assignment gets $10,000 and $3000 in per diem.  I came up with a brilliant idea though Vicki didn’t think so.  You be the judge

The plan: visit 11 Days Inn Hotels along route 66. Starting in Tucumcari New

Mexico and ending in Santa Monica California. On the route will be an

experienced film photographer and iPhone videographer assisted by an Art

Director and experienced tourism guru. We know how to have fun!

Stand Developement

Geek time - With Stand Development the film is left to “stand” in very diluted developer for an extended period of time, usually 1 hour or more, with little or no agitation.

There are several reasons to use stand development. It is noted for its perceived sharpness and supposedly relative simplicity. It also gives a compensating effect with your negatives if the film is a high contrast film or shot in high contrast light.

The compensating effect is the developer exhausting itself in areas which require greater development while remaining active in less-exposed areas, which has the effect of boosting shadow detail while preserving bright highlights. Remember, it will not make light where there isn’t light. Stand development is also largely insensitive to variations in exposure and allows for the development of films rated at different speeds to be processed in the same batch. Think about it, you can run a roll of Kodak Tri-X and Ilford FP4 at the same time in the same tank! Found an old roll of film? Just develop it with the stand method, no need to try and find a time for processing or guessing how old it is to compensate with developing times.

The most common developer used with B/W stand developing is Rodinal.  It is by far the slowest, easiest, cheapest, and laziest method of developing black and white film, and it’s perfect for stand developing. It is rumored and written that you do not even have to measure temperature (but this is not true).

I’ve started to do stand development and so far have been pleased with the results.  As the excerpt from FPP notes it requires very little developer, timing is about an hour but is not super critical.  I always thought it would be a drag to wait the hour but instead I found lots of things to do for that hour.  The images are sepia toned only because I scanned them in as RGB - I could have easily desaturated them to pure B and W but instead left this way.

First Spring Thunderstorm

ON the way home from doing errands this morning I saw this to the west and north.

Not a great view but it did show a shelf cloud at the bottom of the stack of cumulus clouds.  This is usually a harbinger of a line of strong thunderstorms.

Here are the maps - top one is from the Storm Prediction Center on Convectivity. The bottom one is a screen grab of the radar shot.

Point and Shoot Cameras

I was trying out a point and shoot camera that I was given about 2 years ago.  An Olympus Epic Zoom - It fired up right away but I wanted to run a roll of film thru before I committed to taking it on a trip.  This one has a pop up flash and a 35-70 zoom.  I have several relatively inexpensive point and shoot film cameras.  I also have a very much wounded Nikon 35Ti which can go for as much as $1000 on the used market.  This one isn’t going anywhere cause the unique set of dials atop the camera no longer work.  It still works in ‘Program’ mode.  Anyway here are some of the picture shot on Kentmere 400 in Rodinal ( a bit more grain than I would like to see)

Cinestill 800T

This is one of those experiments that work out = I have many that haven’t.  I found a roll of Cinestill 800 T - several years outdated.  It is supposed to be shot under tungsten light or shot daylight with a warming filter.  I took a chance and shot it at box speed and no filter - mostly because the point and shoot I was using doesn’t take filters.  I did rely on The Darkroom in California to develop.  I already had too many variables!  I was very happy with the way things turned out.

That Knock of the Door at Midnight

We were unceremoniously awoken at mid nite last nite by a loud knocking at our front door.  This is NEVER good.  Vicki’s first inclination is to open the door which is the WORST thing you should do.  Find out who they are first, ask to see ID if you have a window.  

In our case they said they were from Xcel and needed to get into our backyard.  I still suggested to see ID but before I could Vicki darted outside - where we saw one of those HUGE Utility trucks in front which I thought was proof enough that they were legitimate.

Turns out that the recent heavy wet snow caused a tree limb to fall on the power line going to our neighbors.

Plastic Camera Fun

I am on a mission to see some of my photography equipment that I don’t use.  This includes three plastic cameras:  Holga 120, Holga135 and Lubitel 120.  Much to my surprise I found a partially shot 120 roll in the Holga.  I shot the rest of the roll and then developed it.  I ended up selling all three for $20 on Ebay.  It was afterwards that I scanned the negatives and wondered if I should have held the Holga back from the sale?

The person who bought the three cameras said he was into unusual photography so he should be happy.

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