Friday, September 12, 2014

a couple more

These are two more from the same roll of home-processed C-41 as the previous post.  The bike shot is a little different from what I intended in the composition because of some frame overlap.  Nothing wrong with the Mercury; I just need to remember to keep my fingers away from the rewind knob.

Albuquerque is a good place for bicycling; mostly flat and some good bike lanes and paths around the city.  As a commercial enterprise, however, bike rental is a tricky business.  This bike shop used to be located not far from me on Mountain which is a good place to ride, but doesn't get much tourist traffic.  The current Old Town location has plenty of tourists, but the surrounding streets have some intimidating traffic congestion.  I'm thinking they need to get more creative in regard to making the rentals available in hotels and similar places, and maybe provide some pick-up and delivery as well.

Albuquerque's car culture provides a lot of photo ops.  It seems to be waning a bit lately, though.  Not as many weekend car shows to go to as I recall from recent years.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

DIY Color

I finally got around to trying some color film processing at home.  I used the Unicolor C-41 kit in the smallest one liter size which I got from Freestyle.

There is only one place left in Albuquerque that processes color on site, and it is clear across town from me.  They charge six bucks for processing a roll of color.  The Unicolor kit is $24 including shipping and will do a dozen rolls.  Using Fuji 200, my total finished cost for a roll of color is about $4.50 each.

Color processing is not much different from b&w, though maintaining a high constant temperature and pouring the chemicals in and out of the containers requires a bit more care.  

While I did not have a lot of confidence while working through the process for the first time, I found the scan results to be very similar to what I was getting from the commercial processor in terms of color, grain and tonal values.

I decided to produce my first color results using my Mercury II camera.  It has a consistently reliable shutter, and gives me about 44 half-frame images on a roll of 24-frame Fuji.

La Crêpe Michel is the best place to eat in Old Town Albuquerque.  We stopped in there earlier in the week.  Started off with a good bottle of white and some escargot in a cream sauce.  It only got better from there.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

A swim and a walk

Margaret said she wanted to swim in a lake for her birthday, so we drove to Santa Rosa and pitched our tent beside the big reservoir there.

There were a few other campers at the State Park, but she was the only one in the water.

Back home, I took my usual morning walk and finished off the strip of Tri-X in the Flash Bantam.  I'm exposing it at 200 ASA and developing in Tmax developer at 1:9 dilution.

The Mercedes is nearly always parked in the corner lot east of the Plaza Vieja.  I'm guessing there is a connection to the Rattlesnake Museum which is just around the corner.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Labor Day Ride

We enjoyed a morning ride on the motorcycle along Albuquerque's west side to the Double Eagle II airfield.  The terminal there has a great little restaurant on the second floor with a view of the field, the nearby volcanoes and, in the distance, the Sandia Mountains.

The Bombing Range Cafe, the airport and several thousand surrounding acres are located on the former site of a practice site for training bombardiers during WWII.  For me, the cafe evoked memories of a similar coffee shop on the lake end of Renton Field south of Seattle where my family often started float plane fishing expeditions in the '50s.

On the way back we stopped briefly to enjoy a flight experience on a smaller scale at the Maloof Air Park.  There were some great flying models on display and we got to watch some expertly flown, including a quiet and fast ducted fan electric model that was really impressive.

The camera of the day was my little Kodak Flash Bantam, loaded with a strip of 35mm Tri-X.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Day Trip

We took a Sunday drive along the Rio Guadalupe in the Santa Fe National Forest north of Albuquerque.

The narrow road originally was built for a railroad to haul logs down to the the big mill that was located near where we live.  The Gilman tunnels had to be cut to allow passage through the narrowest part of the canyon.

The fast-flowing stream joins the Jemez River about ten miles south of Jemez Springs.

About a hundred yards north of the tunnel we found this rock climber testing her skills on the sheer face of the canyon.

There were some pitons and carabiners in place on the wall.  She looped her rope through them as she ascended.  Her partner belayed her from below and was able to stop a fall about half way up.

I was generally pleased with the performance of the Contessa 35 with its Tessar lens.  The rangefinder is very accurate, but the tinted finder is a little dim in low light.

When I got home I took the top off the camera and cleaned the optics.  That didn't improve the brightness much, but opening up the camera did give me the chance to appreciate the extraordinary quality of the workmanship that Zeiss put into this compact 35.  By following Mike Elek's fine instructions I was also able to get the lightmeter working.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Fast Forward

I recently came across some references to a lavishly produced book entitled The Story of Kodak by Douglas Collins.  When I looked up the book at Amazon I found that it had been published in 1990 and -- much to my surprise -- a "very good" used copy could be had for less than a dollar.  Even with the added four dollars for shipping, I would still be out only about five bucks to own a copy.

The author, Collins, writes resonably well and he tells some pretty good stories about the founding and development of Kodak throughout the Twentieth Century.  As is clear in the Acknowledgments, however, his primary sources were Kodak publicity people and the book is quite clearly an officially-sanctioned history of the company.

Given that caveat, there are some interesting things to be found in Collins' account and I learned quite a lot about some of the major players in the company's history including the founder, George Eastman, the company's first research director, Kenneth Mees, and the pair of musician/scientists who invented Kodachrome,  Leopold Godowsky, Jr. and Leopold Mannes.  The real value of the book, though, is to be found in the final chapter in which Collins becomes the mouthpiece for the delusional vision of the company's directors about The Future of Photography that would quickly bring the giant of the photo world to its knees.

Collins briefly quotes the opposed opinions of an academic and a professional photographer about the likelihood of electronic imaging replacing the use of film in photography.  He then says:
"Between these two positions lies the question of whether Kodak should aggressively enter the business of electronic image making.  Simply put, will video render silver-halide photography a quaint, antique way of making pictures?  Kodak analysts think not.  By all accounts film remains and will continue to remain the preferred medium for picture taking...

...One Kodak executive has speculated that electronic imaging is currently about where the video-cassette recording industry was ten years ago, and that it will take at least that long for its impact to be felt.
     For amateurs then, despite the imminent arrival of electronics, the chemically produced photograph is still the established and favored way to make visual records.  The same is true of televised news, the demand for silver-halide pictures shows no signs of decreasing...

...The world may be linked by electronic images, but the act of sitting in a darkened theater and watching events unfold on the silver screen seems to special to be replaced by more private forms of entertainment."

All that seems to be an amazing lack of foresight for a company that had nearly limitless resources of information and expertise.  Certainly, much of the failure to come at all close to predicting the near future can be attributed to inertia and self-delusion.  I suspect, however, that what was of more importance was financial skulduggery and the push for short-term personal gain by upper management -- the same kind of forces that drove the general recessionary crash of 2008.  Collins' account, of course, sheds no light on those crucial internal events in the company's Rochester headquarters.

So, there is another book to be written about how it all came apart at Kodak.  Perhaps more importantly there is also a book which might be written about the company's real accomplishments and the people who made them happen beyond the few top dogs Collins talks about.  What is most interesting about his cast of characters is the omission of so many really important ones including the scientists, engineers and designers directly responsible for so much of the innovation in photographic imagery during the recently-concluded Century.  For instance, Rudolf Kingslake, the great Kodak lens designer, does not even rate a listing in Collins' lengthy index.

The Wikipedia page about Eastman Kodak fills in a few of the gaps in the Collins narative and Google searches on names including Rudolf Kingslake, Arthur H. Crapsey, Jr., and Miller R. Hutchison, Jr. will turn up useful nuggets.