Unfinished and disorganized notes on photography

how my pictures 'go', with incidental 2-bit philosophy and advice
as well as
luxurious commentary and trusims to acquaint the ill-advised
various topics of photographic interest and curiosity.
lavishly illustrated (that is, on the photo pages)

See here for actual photos,
here for more chaotic thoughts on cameras, lenses, film, and scanners, et al.

This page is sort of like a photo-(b)log, in that I just add stuff now and then - as usual, not so much for any 'readers', but to keep track of my photo activities.

First off, I'm not going to refer to my photos as 'images', as the style these days, as if that makes them (and me) somehow fancier - and as if the old word is obsolete since there's so much newfangled gadgetry involved now that the future demands new words. Gong! Photograph is still the word. Pictures is also a word. Marketing demands a constant supply of new words, in order to propagate the myth of constant 'improvement' where none exists.

Photo scene to computer screen:
The photos are the end result from my film photography, some digi-photography, darkroom film and print processing, film scanning, a little flatbed scanning, and even some digi-image processing.

I don't like to take more than 5 or 10 or 15 minutes in photoshop before I decide it's enough or too much; often at this point I figure I might've gone too far based on time alone and revert and start over. Usually I'll cut myself off sooner and call it enough. Usually it's only minimal adjustment stuff after scanning, and a very little more zappification in photoshop or whatever, but don't like to do that for too long - often I'll move settings back halfway from whatever I've changed since I'm afraid of the photo getting to look really weird without my noticing (which is also the style these days). Anyway, most have very minimal post-processing; mostly dust/scratch fix, some contrast, curve, and/or minor color cast changes, etc. Some stuff I just ignore since it's unimportant for the quality of a website. In printing I take a lot more care, but still don't change too much. There are no artificial compositions here, nothing 'airbrushed' out, nothing 'montaged', etc. Cropping is minimal to none (since I try to compose on the shoot and like to think of the result as somewhat final).

About 2/3 of the film I processed myself (some I had others do, incl. all the Kodachrome and most C-41).

So, these photos are 'mine' for better or worse - maybe not perfect, and many are far from finished. Anyway, I like them well enough like that.

Where I find ideas:
I've been 'into' photography for about 30 years now, since I took a photography class in 7th grade. Despite learning a few things on my own, I still rely a lot on seeing what other people have done to help me along.

My favorite photographers include Eliot Porter [1], Ansel Adams (really a genius - photographer, writer, conservationist - and good at all), the Blacklocks; especially Nadine [1], RG Ketchum, Galen Rowell, Ernst Haas, Bruce Davidson, Vasily Peskov [ 1 2 ], George Tice, Charles Steinhacker, Wayland Drew, Gisele Lamoureux, Masahisa Fukase [1 2], recently noticed some early 70s John Chang McCurdy that I'd somehow overlooked for too long. There are others, too.

There are some less famous 'contemporary' landscape photographers I like too; Steve Brimm [1] for one.

There are/were a few 'giants' of photography who have made great work, and from those I have my favo(u)rite photographers (and always learning about more).

But even looking through the flicker website, or nearly any newspaper, I see there are so many great photographs that there is an unlimited yet expanding supply. So as with literature or music, one of the few benefits of living in the future is that there is an overabundance of good art in the 'reference collection', and tomorrow there will be more.

I like other visual arts too (paintings, illustrations, graphic design, etc.), and that also makes me think about how a photo will (or could) look. In particular, I'm a fan of some of the Canadian landscape painters: the Group of seven/Tom Thomson et al. and what I refer to as 'mid 20th century natural history illustrators', including but not limited to Francis Lee Jaques, Charles Schaefer, Bob Hines, Henry B. Kane, Les Kouba, and others.

So some of my favorite photographs are the result of something I 'saw' (or 'felt') at the moment, or unschemed experimentation, while others are from me thinking of how some aspect of a photo maybe resembles what I've seen in another person's photo that I liked. Of course the result won't be the 'same' in any way recognizable, but something has been learned. Thus I think people ought to try more of this subtle copycatting in photography to make more original photographs. Trying to actually reproduce as much as possible an existing photograph would be even more educational (if less expressive), and a hell of a lot more work. I haven't tried it.

I'm not sure if there's a term for it, but the things I photograph I consider to be, usually, intrinsically attractive or interesting in themselves (sometimes under-appreciated), and my goal in making the picture is to present the beauty, not create or 'interpret' it into some caricature that doesn't fit. Nature is beautiful, and that's a lot of what I shoot - but a picture isn't nature, and some decisions have to be made regarding how the abstraction of photography will be exploited to tell something about the subject in a language different from the original.

I find some places to be entirely conducive to photography, while others have almost the opposite effect. I can always shoot until exhausted at Lake Superior or on the Steese Highway in Alaska, but in the two years I lived in Idaho I did almost no photography there, despite the Palouse being among the world's most photographically distinctive landscapes. I find this the same with natural landscapes or other subjects. Maybe this has something to do with the theory that my old witch-doctor friend Nadezhda Gogina (maybe it's better nowadays to call here a 'shaman', or 'traditional medicine practitioner', who knows?) told me in Siberia years ago - that the Earth sends out different waves in different areas, and that these waves affect different people to different degrees. That's why people don't act the same in Paris as in Moscow or Irkutsk (theories on how Russians were superior or inferior to the rest of the world's people were very popular in those days).

Where I find anti-ideas:

Opposed to the great heritage and legacy of photography and to the abundance of good and interesting new photography easily found, there is an even-expanding slew of bad photographers trying to get noticed nowadays, and this appears to be increasing. I'm not talking about head-cut off (or sprouting radio towers) snapshots here, unfortunately. I'm talking about a corruption of photography! The belief that pointing a camera (or whatever) at something and then telling a computer to apply some blackbox 'treatment' (to 'fix', change, or exaggerate the original) equals photographic communication, documentation, art, whatever. There are zillions of the over 'made' photos, and its getting harder to see anything resembling subtlety or nuance in photography, especially of course on the web (and there is nothing subtle on the web, I admit it).

Another problem is with people fitting easily into whatever their 'group' sees as the True Path. So in 'landscape photography' (the internet version) too often the only possibility has to have a super-wide-angle lens with everything super-sharp, in crazy exaggerated colors, and with oh-so-dramatic clouds occupying the upper third of the photo... For reference, here's a fast picture search. I admit I like wide angle lenses to a degree, and have made some photos that as I look back fall uncomfortably close to this flogged dead horse of a perspective, but things are getting out of hand.

You'll see in the search results that this is often zapped up into ridiculously over saturated or manipulated colors or other perversions of reality - rather like the tammy baker of photographs. But, like commercial television religion, maybe their formula works for their purpose.

Even worse, that disastrous fad of 'hdr' (photoshopping areas of a scene together with entirely different exposures to pretend that everything could be exposed similarly at the same instant in the same frame, and thus not needing to even know or care about exposure even if it looks like shit). I'm not sure if this fad is yet another techno-obsession, a misapplication of the belief that a photograph must artificially mimic the same range of tones that the human eye perceives, or if people are just dazzled by weirdness. But all those weird cloudy skies and bright foregrounds (usually with very visible seams between as if you couldn't tell) give me the same sort of seasickness (or is it shellshockness?) as 'computer animation'. I think the 'red barn with clouds' is the hallmark (pun intended) of this neurosis. Of course the 'ultimate' hdr photo would look like a gray card since every tiny piece would be exposed at the 'right' level, and I agree that'd be an improvement. I guess it's more of the combination of computer-worship, bizarre internet mass behavior, and tolerance of the absurd that seems to drive so much of contemporary 'civilization'!

Isn't it weird that the easier something seems to do, the worse the result is? And editors even (lax, in my opinion) are starting to use really bad photos in books! Yesteryear's quality is being replaced by compression artifacts and visible pixelization, crooked horizons, and freakish photoshopping in addition to the old standbys of mis-registration and seams through the middle of pages/heads.

And I guess that 'fine art' photography is more interested in the new and shocking, or at least the novel medium, these days more than the apparently outmoded concepts of somewhat understandable communication or expression. Not entirely of course, but there does seem to be almost a disdain of 'old' methods and art as if that has been made irrelevant in our modern wonderful world and anyone who still appreciates the way things were done in the last century is a slow-witted, culturally unsophisticated, primitive luddite! You can't see this, but I'm raising my hand...

Other shooting details:
These days I usually meter externally (Sekonic L-508, would be lost without it, I guess), usually use a tripod (sometimes monopod, sometimes set the camera down on something, rarely handhold), and use as few filters as possible, though often a polarizer for color or a red or yellow filter for b/w on clear-sky days. I tend to 'use' a UV filter on nice lenses sometimes, too.

See a little more about my camera collection, film prefs, and so forth here

On the look of photographs:

Most of my photography is analog (film); I used to say all of it, but back in summer 2009 I decided, rather abruptly, that I might buy a digital camera and learn something about it so, if possibility arises, I make some money with it (the fast turnaround vs. film being an advantage there). That camera was stolen in late 2011 (see below), so now it's all film again.

But mostly I shoot film - it does what I like, I understand it well, the physics and chemistry involved keep it tied somewhat to the scale of the world I can relate to and to the actual scene and time of the photograph (every slide I look at from 1992 Minsk, for example, was actually there with me in my camera at that time, so long ago), and the long turnaround between shoot and photo forces one (me) to understand (pre-visualize, to use Ansel Adams' term) what I want as the final output and thus understand how to get to that, starting with a decent exposure.

Contrast this to digital, where there is often a reliance on shooting lots and lotsandlots & then looking at them immediately to see if any happened to 'work'. Of course there's a lot to be said for having the fast feedback, to see what you're doing right or wrong and how that affects your photos, and digital cameras can provide that. But I'm not alone in noting that the less automatic the camera, the better the per-shot photo result. Me, I shoot fewer photos per time unit with a 35mm camera than with my d700, and fewer still with my 6x7 medium format, yet the quality is better - per photo and often per time spent. Having to prepare the camera for the shot, as with my Mamiya RB67, gives a sequence of steps, some time, and a deliberation that causes me to think about other aspects of the shot as well. Now I'm getting into view camera photography, and one of the things that's most appealing about that is the further decrease in speed and convenience and - I hope - the commensurate increase in photographic thinking and picture quality.

I also vastly prefer how film looks! And something else: The thing I like about film, that I have always liked about film, is that every film is different, and every emulsion of even the same films is different, and film changes as it ages (or is stored imperfectly). And then when it comes to processing, every chemical batch is different, each processing step varies a little bit, each reuse of chemistry changes things a little, etc., etc. Then the film is processed and, unless you happen to own an underground gypsum mine with atmospheric control to 'preserve' the film, it still changes over time.

I think I mention elsewhere here my beloved 1980s-expired Ektachrome 64 I had a few years ago. In case not, here are some clips from stuff I've written here and there on that and other expired films. If I edited this down to a paragraph it's probably make the point better, but that's your job:

[here we go]: Ektachrome EPR64 that expired in 1981 & 1984... May sound odd, and don't look for it on B&H, but I bought a bunch of this a year or so ago [ca. 2007] from a guy who apparently had a photographer relative who didn't rotate the film stock in his freezer... got two batches of 35mm, one that expired in June'81, another that expired in March '84. They'd been frozen right along (decades!). Also got a few rolls of 120 that expired in '94, which I haven't used enough of yet to see the color extent.
I'm shooting it as ASA80. The palette is great - especially the browns and other 'early spring' colors. The blues are also great, and purples. Maybe I can get some scanned and posted at some point. I've been using expired film since I was a student in the early '90s, and this is by far the most fantastic and unusual emulsion I've found. Nothing unrealistic or color shifted or weird, just different and beautiful. Almost magic, really. I won't use it for everything (not so good for the interior Alaska winter scenes of white, gray, and gray-green), but looking forward to spring colors in the Upper Peninsula (bike trip in May) to use some more!

[more on expired film; this time Vericolor-III, mostly]:
I got some that expired in '81 and some that expired in '84; frozen since then (except while being mailed to me). I shot it as 80 and got great results - very very nice browns, purples, blues pretty good too especially medium blues; whites, grays, not as handsome (but not magenta or anything weird, just not amazing), greens OK if there are browns and blues/purples to balance the scene, but a little grayish or dark. In other words: great spring colors film, but i don't use it in winter in Alaska so much where the colors are gray, white, dark gray-green (spruce trees in winter), etc.
So the film has changed; not into something bad or unrealistic looking, but to something that looks incredible for some types of light, and not so perfect for others (like all film). My advice would be to test the various films under different conditions (lighting, colors, speeds, etc.), maybe get a test patch and shoot it to compare to the results, and then decide if you like the results, and for what types of shooting. If some colors don't look as good as others, think of situations where you could take advantage of the colors that look good. Of course if it's too far off then there might not be much to use it for except 'weird' shots (night? high color shots? abstracts).

[more]: On expired Vericolor-3: there was a photo I saw a few years ago on the web somewhere that I thought showed it well; maybe photonet, that I can't relocate (though I saved the thread somewhere - one advantage of having an internyet-free home is that I download the articles after work to read on the weekend and refer to later, so it's saved in the 'Vericolor' folder in my komputer photo archives). The photo was of a weathered old building (roadhouse maybe?) in the desert. Soft colors. I'll try'n remember to look that up at home and reference it here later.
Anyway, the little of this film I've shot had a similar low-contrast, muted color look (probably some fogging also which adds a little to this effect I think), but I haven't scanned any of that. At first I was disappointed that the contrast was low (looking at the negative exposures of the Kodak color chart and some other tests), then I thought about where I could use it...
What I saw a couple weeks ago that I thought might work well: late winter here in Fairbanks Alaska; the sun still low but up until after 6pm now; a hazy sky thus soft light; sky a very pale light blue; late in day scene with a big metal industrial building (that tan color they often are) in a large work-yard, snow everywhere including roof of building; many tracks of forklifts, cranes, transports, etc, in snow of foreground - well-defined because of low sun; several yellow and black cranes casting shadows on the building; one or two gray flatbed transport trailers; in foreground all these silver ~1m diameter curvy conduit pipes of some sort resting on their wooden plinths. So low-contrast, softly-lit pastel scene, no bright colors, few dark areas (thus the snow cover helps), wide spaces and lenses (50mm and 65mm on RB67). Don't know if it'll look as fun when developed as I had describing it, but we hope! I shot a roll or two and will do one or two more of this and similar industrial areas.

As for expired film, I love it. It's become a big fad on the web nowadays (unfortunately driving prices on eb in last few years to insane levels), but I've been shooting expired for 20+ years, mostly because it (was) cheaper. Wow, I remember getting recently-expired 100' rolls of Fujichrome (more rarely, Ektachrome) from freestyle for $20... Dang. To me using expired - and thus usually 'mellowed' - emulsions adds another dimension to the 'diversity' of palettes that film already gives (compared to digi, where it will always look the same until circuit death). I usually don't go for film that's too 'wrecked', but stuff with some color 'mellowing. Such expired but not destroyed films are usually more 'different' from their in-date versions than one in-date film is from another. So it's like getting rare 'limited edition' emulsions. I miss Kodachrome, but I maybe miss my 1985 EPR-64 with its particular storage history and conditions more.

Somewhere else here [whatever website I might've posted this on] I might've mentioned my favorite expired (or any) film ever: mid-80s-expired EPR64... best browns and purples ever, with overall good palette and no color shift. Perfect for spring forest scenes (or fall) - all those brown leaves! All this looks a lot more realistic and compares favorably to the color I 'see' in nature as opposed to the hyper-colors of modern digi and even Fujichrome - not to mention the godawful HDR craze... As I looked on the web trying to find that first photo I mentioned (the desert scene) without success, I did see a lot of expired Vericolor shots. Though most were of the 'extreme damage' type that, while interesting and surely fun and surprising, isn't what I'm hoping for (unless this film has gone sour since last shot a few years back). I have about 9 rolls of 120 left!

[again, more]:
I would guess that the expired Vericolor that [a person] mentions (mine too) would have changed palette enough that using it as standard portrait film might not be good (unless a weird 'look' is needed), but for still life, architecture, landscape or whatever where we're more used to seeing a diversity of color it's great. One bit of advice, which I follow usually only partially (because it takes me so long to develop my film and then scan), is to shoot a couple-few early frames on different lighting conditions of a Kodak or other color chart, that way you can compare how far off different colors are, and decide what looks best for whatever use. I think most of the people (at least on the web) shooting expired film these days are into the 'damaged' or really weird' look, which is OK and exciting too, but I really like film that's not that far gone, just 'mellowed'. Maybe the difference in liking wine or cheese that's aged nicely compared to that which has turned into vinegar or a fuzzy glob of glop... (though far-out expired film with really weird colors I think are far more enjoyable than mouldy cheese - see [ (link) ] for just one instance).

[still more on the general topic]:
I consider my early '80s EPR64 to be one of the greatest film 'finds' ever, and will miss being able to use it in leafy spring deciduous woods when I have shot the last roll (I have about 8-10 left I think). People can go on an on about Kodachrome, or Portra, or ektar, or HP5 (I do), because of their great colors or grain or lack of grain for whatever use and the amazing palette unlike anything else, but how many people out there have gotten to use my 'secret EPR64 emulsion'?
Have also shot a fair amount of KR64 from same source, expiry 1984, 1986, 1987 - also good, but i don't see a palette change so much from the original in those (of course Kodachrome's great as is). I also have some Vericolor III, same source, but haven't used it much except to verify that it's still +- good; haven't printed or scanned anything to tell further.

[and on developing very long-ago-exposed film]:
I just test developed one roll of Soviet 'Svema' 64 B/W film for a friend last night; he shot it in '94 and it's been in closets of fridges ever since... Developed normally in HC110 and it came out apparently normal (maybe very slightly lowered contrast, but the film wasn't very high contrast to begin with); entirely adequate. I have about another 20 rolls of his vintage '92-'94 to develop yet ... time capsules!

[end section on waxing on old films]

So film varies or - shall we say - is 'organic', and gives constant variation so that no two photos will ever be exactly alike! On the other hand, a digicam is pretty much going to give you the exact same answer to any question you'd ever ask it until its circuitry fails. I dread the future when everybody will have to shoot digicams and the only differences in palette is from photoshop zapping!

So the thing I like about film is its endless variety - like wine, maybe. I've certainly run my share of post-dated film, film processed years after the shoot, exhausted chemistry, etc. and it's this variety that I love almost as much as the composition and looking for things to shoot at the other end of the process. Nothing matches seeing the results of film after processing, though, and so that 'moment' ought to be appreciated for what it is, not how fast it can be judged, emailed, and deleted. When I shoot a film I know approximately what to expect (HP5 vs. FP4, for instance, or Kodachrome 64 from Ektachrome 64), and how to approach shooting, etc. related to that difference, but there's some nuances that only reveal themselves later and are thus a little like magic.

On the ergonomics and culture of cameras:
And there's the hardware itself. I prefer to use mechanical or electromechanical cameras from the late 1950s to the early 1980s ( a few earlier, a few later), since they are made to function and last... Back when the primitive idea of pride of work still existed, when a company wanted it's reputation to be based on the quality, usability, and persistence of things they produced, vs. the 'lifestyle image' the ad men push onto consumers nowadays. Quality, not quantity. Functionality and performance, not false 'innovation' and 'specifications' as measured by computers and dodgy bullshit indicators. To put it in an old-fashioned way, manly cameras, not the girly toys sold today.

Cameras you could hammer a nail with, or that could get shot or dragged through the mud and still perform, like the Nikon F (look that up). Cameras that didn't crash or need 'upgrades' or run out of battery power when you need them. Metal and glass, not telephones and twitter (' the fuck?)

Thoughts on post-processing:
If you look at the internet photography enthusiast sites and the consumer photography magazines (and all of the ads of course) you'd get the idea that you must spend hours and hours in photoshop (only the latest sub-version of course) focused on every minute setting and technique or you aren't a photographer. That's bullshit of course, and any good concept of perfection is a moving target anyway. Ansel Adams knew what he was doing every step of the way but I'll bet he wouldn't have been so obsessed by computer program settings the way people seem to be these days!

I'm afraid that people've been hoodwinked into believing that "in order for anything to appear to be the real thing, it has to be an exaggeration of that thing, since as we all know everything in the future is better and better"... this is yet another manifestation of the overwhelming force of advertising psychology on society and individuals!

In other words, there has to be some limit on the idea that a photograph is something technology does for us.

I'm all for photoshop, especially for useful stuff like correcting for dust, scratches, and the like and doing minimal changes, but these days there are a lot of freaky, unrealistic looking photos around, with the weirdest of colors - OK if you're trying to make something that doesn't portray 'reality' (notice the quotations; of course photography is always an abstraction of reality), I suppose, but not my style.

Most of the photos here have very minimal post-processing. I don't do much - mostly dust/scratch fix, some contrast or minor color temperature changes, etc. Cropping is minimal to none (since I try to compose on the shoot of course), though despite great effort and many years of trying, I still shoot far too many landscapes with a ~5 degree tilt! Very few of the pictures here have more tweaking than that, many have less. Occasionally to get the pix onto the website hastily, I used only Irfanview. Some flaws might be that I don't pay much attention to sharpening or smoothing (scanning tends to accentuate graininess) to get the web page displays to look so smooth.

I'm apt to spend a fair amount of time on darkroom work, though, but that's a lot more intuitive and connected to something I'm doing, not the blackboxing of photoshop!

Then there's the technical limitations on my end - scanner quality, condition of the originals (I regret to say that some of my film suffered from being stored in an uncontrolled facility for several years after I went to Alaska in 2002 because I couldn't afford otherwise), time willing to spend, and knowledge of scanning and photoshop (which is reasonable)!

And one more point - you're looking at these on the computer screen, and that makes perfection even more futile... there are all sorts of variables on your end (monitor and adjustments and how old or broken it is, room light, computer settings, size...) that weigh far heavier on how these look to you that much of what I can do on my end.

* * * *

Recent activity (as of late spring 2016).

Have been in a slow photo-mode for last several years, punctuated by manic bolts of photo madness. I shot about 55 rolls of 35mm autumn 2015 on a Upper Peninsula bicycle tour, and a few dozen more on a UP a year earlier; other than that I've just taken a camera or two on fieldwork in the bush and of course casual shooting around my house and garden. Hoping to do a lot of shooting summer 2016, though, now that my car's a little more reliable (and I have another 5l of e-6 chemistry to use up this fall before I probably leave Alaska for good again).

I developed about 55 rolls of E6, another similar number of C41, and some black/white film April and May 2016 in the UAF lab - this brings my backlog of shot film - for a rare moment in time - to zero. In particular I finally got around to developing some of the transparency film marketed as 'Rollei CR200' that I'd finally shot last fall... after reading a lot about it and the 'yellow' tendency with this film that I figured I'd wait until the right 'palette' for this color was presented (which didn't seem to 'fit' interior Alaska where I live).

I haven't got any scanned yet, but in my cursory look at the film after development I was super-pleased with the greens, golds, yellows, and browns. The best ones were in a autumn color mixed yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis)-white cedar (Thuja occidentalis)-balsam fir (Abies balsamea) forest near my land in Keweenaw County, Michigan on the shore of Lake Superior (I have a little camp there!). The greens of the forest moss; fir; and white-cedar leaves and the yellow of the birch leaves and some senescent understory plants, the silver and gold of the birch bark (live and rotting on forest floor) and the browns and grays of the leaf litter, all in soft overcast light seems to be the 'proper habitat' of this film! It also seems that this film should never, ever (probably) have any sky in it. Rumor is that it's reformatted Agfa aerographic film with reduced sensitivity to the blues of atmospheric haze - which is great for aerial photography to reduce haze, but also ugly in landscape photography when it takes out everything that makes a blue sky beautiful.

So definitely the weirdest palette of any slide film I've used since my favorite Orwo UT21 & UT18 (East German) films of the early 90s that I used to buy cheap and shoot freely when living in the xUSSR then. (and the 'best' with the '70s oranges, greens, and browns). I think CR200 would also be good for photographing a 1970s interior with orange, brown, or green shag carpet, loud flowery curtains, brown paneling, orange or yellow bakelite ashtrays, 1970s heavy glassware, Schlitz cans, etc... getting nostalgic just typing this. Damn it would've been cool to shoot some cinema on this... This film seems to be now either gone, very old and maybe unreliable, or changed to something else (fuji maybe) and so the 4-6 rolls I have left in my film freezer will probably be my last.

In autumn 2013 I also developed about 150 rolls of E6 & C41, maybe more, again in the UAF lab. The same fall I also took an inkjet photo printing class at UAF (see here for a little about that).

In summer 2015 I took a class on 'historical/handmade methods' at UAF, including a lot of cyanotype and Van Dyke Brown printing, some contact printing/re-contact collage stuff, albumen printing, etc. among others. I managed to develop some good methods for getting tones out of cyanotypes so dove into that most of all, and also did some experimental 'toning' of cyanotype prints using Labrador-tea (Ledum spp.), which pleased the teacher. This built on a few cyanotype and Van Dyke Brown workshops I'd taken in the previous few years. Have been meaning to post some of those here - including a series of cyanotype photos of my Cats (who are orange and thus the opposite of cyan), the mentioned cyanotypes toned in Labrador-tea (of Lake Superior), and the quite spooky collage bit (with watercolored tints)...

On photo-gadgetry, in last few years have gotten a Nikon F5 which is great and now my favorite Nikon F camera, a few more nice Nikkor lenses incl. the 85/1.8, replaced the lenses stolen in 2011 incl. the 50/1.4 Nikkor S, 105/2.5, etc. 'Came upon' an F2 also... I've got some other Nikon stuff on the way as I type, incl. bellows, some lenses, film duplicator, etc. Also bought a D800 which I use sparingly, and a Plustek Opticfilm 120 medium-format film scanner which I haven't gotten around to using yet... I bought a film freezer a couple years back also; now my several hundred rolls of ageing films can rest comfortably at a perpetual -10f!

[older notes on same:]

I was doing a lot of film scanning last winter (2010-2011), and resolved to get my photo pages further in order - whatever that means. I did scan and add tons of pictures in early 2011, and have been looking through files of old scanned stuff and adding some of it too.

I didn't do much shooting from when I left Alaska fall 2010 except a brief explosion of activity one week in fall 2010 when I was back at Lake Superior (I shot my last Kodachrome roll there on thanksgiving day). I did shoot a bunch when I was back in the UP - including my last rolls of Kodachrome - on thanksgiving 2010, at Vermillion.

Then, finally, I got back to the Upper Peninsula and Lake Superior (and Huron and Michigan) in May 2012. I managed to shoot about 60 rolls, including what I thought'd be my last Ektachrome in 35mm, but since then I've gotten some rolls of EPN100 (expiry 2001; frozen) and a 400' roll of Ektachrome 100 5285 motion picture film that I'll load to 35mm camera rolls, so I might plan some fall shooting back in the UP with same. Plus, I didn't even touch the ~60 rolls of 120 and my Mamiya RB67 I'd brought along - not to mention only shooting one roll of b/w on the entire trip...

As for Idaho and the Palouse and the NW, I'm still not feeling too inspired to shoot... something may change that, hopefully (like maybe doing some fall shooting along the Clearwater River or of course getting back to the Lake Superior country or Alaska), but for now I'm waiting until it seems right.

In summer and fall 2011 I was 'shooting my cat' around the yard and house, and taking some bicycle photos, that's about it!

Then to make matters worse, in Fall 2011 some asshole broke into my home and stole all my best Nikon lenses, my $3000 D700 digicam, my light meter, several Nikon film bodies, etc., etc. That ended the easy days for sure. The local sheriff deputies revealed themselves to be inept at best and thugs more likely, as I found in the after-the-fact dealings.

So in future any new stuff will have to come from film, which goes pretty slow for me. The archives still have a lot to add, though... And I've got trillions of frames already shot on film to scan.

The only stuff added here between 2002 and 2009 was some "documentation" (thus not great) photos you'll see in the Eureka section, taken with my ridiculous camera-phone and my great Olympus XA on print film, developed and scanned at the store. I believe you'll be able to tell between the two.

So the newer stuff (now, in 2013, old) - lots of Alaska, the Upper Peninsula, more Baikal and Superior, weird USSR stuff (including plenty of slides shot on the great old East German Orwochrom UT18 and UT21!), loads of Crimea photos, some super-macros with my Yashica Dental-Eye camera, pictures from bike trips, maybe even eventually some of the fabulous 'acquired' slides from people I never met.

First things first, though. Lots to add besides the stuff from ca. 2002 and then all the stuff I've added 2010-2011. The archives are full, as they say...

In May of 2012, finally, I managed the time, money, and possibility to get back to the Upper Peninsula, after a year and a half away. Me and my cat Mr. Q took a month camping and driving trip around the UP. Lots of photography. Shot the last rolls of my Ektachrome (at the time; since I later got a bit more of that discontinued film), and lots of Ektar 100, even some other films. Mostly 35mm - I brought the 6x7, but it's amazing how little time there is in a month to set up a medium format camera and shoot! So used the Contax G1 mostly.

On the way back to Idaho, I saw some extraordinary evening light coming down Highway 12 from Lolo Pass. Since I'd been driving constantly from the UP in the previous 3 days, and had to be back at work the next morning (I like to maximize my vacation-time efficiency) I didn't stop and shoot, but it was the first tome that I really felt as though I could do the sort of photography that I do (whatever that means) in Idaho, even if only a little bit. Though I at that time 'planned' to get back and do some photography there I was too busy and broke all summer, and when I went that way again I was towing a trailer full of whatever I could carry (books, records, photography stuff, and old hi-fi equipment, mostly) and a van full of cats (both of them) I didn't stop either - I was on the start of another 1800 mile trip to the UP and then a 3500 mile trip to Alaska.

As I type this (April 2013) those rolls remain frozen and undeveloped. The latent image is putting it very mildly!

I have to add this (May 2013):

Planned Vermillion shoot Thanksgiving 2012.
4 gallons chemistry to Alaska.
photo class UAF.
Shooting my snowshoe trail, industrial area.
Sinar P.
Summer 2013.

What the above seems to mean (as I refine it December 2013 and a little more even later) is that I wanted to remind myself to add some details... So here they are now:

Vermillion: I planned to go out to Vermillion and my UP land on Thanksgiving 2013, while in the UP between Idaho and Alaska. This would've been a nice balance to the 2010 trip I made just after getting to Idaho (fast trip to MI to get stuff). Unfortunately, I didn't make it. The weather was fine, mid-50s F the day before when I was unloading all the stuff I'd carried from Idaho to store (mostly books, 1980s bicycles, 1970s hi-fi and records, and miscellaneous camera and household stuff). A real Indian summer day, but that night winter arrived full blast (as it tends to do in the UP) with a foot or two of snow, low visibility, wind, huge Lake Superior waves, etc. So I missed it, because driving out the 10 miles on the unplowed forest road would be impossible until spring. It's nice to know that even though I don't get there often, Lake Superior at any time can still veto my rare visits.
Chemistry: I brought 4 gallons of liquid color film chemistry with me when I returned to Alaska in 2012, because nobody in the US will ship them to Alaska, and I wanted to have some to last a while.
Photo class: Another benefit of return to Fairbanks is to take more photo classes in journalism and art at UAF, and use their darkroom! 1st semester (January-May) 2013 I took the 'advanced photo course, which entailed a lot of shooting (35mm, 6x7, & 4x5) and even more darkroom time!
Shooting my snowshoe trail: a lot of this shooting I did while snowshoeing where I live(d at the time) near the "peat ponds" of Goldstream - I'd go out my door put on the snowshoes, and head off into the peatlands and spruce and birch forests down my trails with a camera or two (esp. my RB67)... bliss!
industrial area: I also shot a lot in an industrial area along Phi lips Field Road in Fbx - lots of interesting machinery, pipes, debris, etc. there. I'd pass this way to and from work every day, so had plenty of chance to see things of note, different light, various stages of snow and melt, etc.
Sinar P: After shooting with a nice Linhof 'Color' 4x5 view camera, I decided I ought finally to get into view cameras. One of the few benefits of living in the future (very few, and sad) is that like most cameras, and especially so for formerly super-expensive studio view cameras, is that they go for a song nowadays. So for ~$500 I bought a Sinar P2 camera, several lenses, accessories, a case. etc. - what would've been ~$5000 of stuff 20 years ago. And (I later note), like many view camera beginners these days, I was dazzled by the 'everything' of the Sinar P but then after the fact find it so large that I haven't taken it out much (yet)... I'd've better started with a nice Linhof 'Color' like the one I borrowed from UAF... Another drawback is living in Alaska and not having water, a darkroom (or even any 'rooms' in my house, and the impossibility of getting stuff shipped to AK makes using LF a lot more difficult than good old 35mm (or 120) - which I can load in the field, store easily, and develop in my infrequent darkroom use at UAF, etc. I hope that in the future I'll be able to shoot 4x5 before film goes away (or becomes super-expensive, which seems to also be happening). In any event, this'll probably have to be when back down to the Lake Superior country 'for good'.
Summer: this must've referred to the Van Dyke Brown workshop I took, or maybe some shooting I did - can't remember now which is whi I should've typed it in earlier!

Update xmas 2013:
So, summer 2013 I did almost no photography because of fieldwork. I did do some shooting around my house and willow-birch thickets now and then between field trips, mostly with the DEIII.

edition: 2016.04.05 | © robert liebermann
url: http://rjl.us/photo/fotonotes.htm
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