Wednesday, August 15, 2018

what's up

I've spent the last week making cyanotype contact prints from old medium format negatives.

I'm using pre-coated cyanotype paper from a couple little packets I picked up in museum gift shops that are usually promoted as a craft project for children.  The paper is kind of flimsy, but it makes pretty good images with a couple of minutes exposure on a sunny day.  The paper is only sensitive to ultraviolet light, so the sandwich of cardboard backing, paper, negative and plastic cover sheet can be handled and prepared in subdued room light.

I like the small prints, and they don't take up much room in a small house with limited wall and shelf space.  I've also enjoyed the process of finding small frames for the prints at local thrift stores.  I have tried toning a few prints with green tea to yield a brownish image, but need to work at that a bit more to get the proper contrast.

I last made cyanotypes about twelve years ago.  I coated watercolor paper using a two-component cyanotype kit.  I was able to make large prints through the use of digital inter-negatives printed on Pictorico overhead transparency material.  That whole process gave me a lot of control in making prints, but it requires a good digital printer which I no longer have.  Contact printing requires relatively little space and equipment, and I'll probably pursue it further, possibly with other alternative media.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Lowrider Meetup

On Saturday morning, the street in front of the Albuquerque Museum was filled with Lowrider art.  I took along my Olumpus XA to record the event.

We followed up the car show with lunch at a Wells Park community event where I was able to finish off the 36-exposure roll of ColorPlus 200, and  Cate got her face painted.

My color film gets processed with the Unicolor C-41 kit from Freestyle and then it goes into my digital darkroom.

I had to replace the router yesterday after a close-by lightning strike.  Most of the rest of the hardware and software is close to fifteen years old.  The Dell 690 running Windows XP was purchased ten years ago, having been retired from a long career in government service.  The Epson 2450 flatbed scanner works with Silverfast SE and Photoshop cs2.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Finding A Story

An advantage of a small and very light-weight film camera like the Vivitar Ultra-Wide is that you can easily carry it in a pocket everywhere.  So, if a photo opportunity appears, you are nearly always ready for it provided it fits into parameters offered by a fixed speed and aperture.  The thing is, though, that I often end up with a collection of disparate shots with little relation to each other and it can be difficult to tie them together for a blog post without some common thread.

Of course, there is always the commonality of the camera used, but I've put about fifty rolls through the little Vivitar and probably don't have a lot left to say about it.  It turns out with this roll shot over the course of a couple weeks that there was another common thread -- all the shots had something to do with Margaret's dog, Roxie.  For instance, I got the shot above of an alleyscape in the late afternoon when I was walking the dog around the block.

With a dog as active as Roxie, a walk around the block is pretty inadequate, so she gets to go to a local dog park about five times a week.  She spends much of her time there trying to provoke the other dogs into chasing her.  In between chases she cools off in this little plastic wading pool.  You can tell she is a little irritated here that the water is not deep enough for a proper soaking followed by a good roll in the dirt.  Or, perhaps she is just chagrined by the egregious grammatical error in the sign on the fence.

Margaret commented during our last visit to the dog park on the often observed similarity in appearance between dogs and their owners.  That similarity was particularly in evidence during an earlier visit when I saw a fellow seated in this red chair with his Jack Russell Terrier sitting (uncharacteristically) quietly next to him.

Both the terrier and the fellow had milky blue eyes.  What was really extraordinary, though, was the guy's outfit: a dark three-piece suit and a boater, a flat-top straw hat with a red, white and blue hat band.  The dog's collar had a matching pattern.  I smiled at the pair and snapped a picture with no self-consciousness on my part, as anyone so attired was clearly looking for attention.  Neither the man or the dog acknowledged my presence, so Roxie and I walked on.  I was a little surprised that Roxie payed no attention to the man and his dog.  It was not until I developed the film the next day that I realized that both were ghosts.

These were just some empty chairs in the dog park.

Monday, July 16, 2018

El Vado Motel

On Sunday we rode our bikes about a mile west to Zendo Coffee, part of the newly restored El Vado Motel.

Built in 1937, the motel was closed when we came to Albuquerque ten years ago.  A developer nearly bulldozed the place, but the City took over the property and then contributed 3 million to its restoration which was recently completed.

In addition to the motel rooms, the multi-use development also features a number of small restaurants, shop spaces, meeting rooms, a taproom and a large patio with a fountain.  The restoration apparently stuck pretty closely to the original Spanish Pueblo Revival style, though the white stucco and blue trim buildings combined with the intense summer sun makes the place resemble a transplanted bit of Santorini without the views.

The outdoor seating in the big patio has some potential, but the shade umbrellas are mostly ineffective in the morning and afternoon hours when the place is most likely to be used.  Unless some more substantial shade structures are installed the patio is likely to be more decorative than useful.

The motel is adjacent to the golf course and just across the street from the Botanic Garden.  There is a lot of development going on in the area which is rapidly transforming the character of the place in mostly welcome ways.

Central Avenue carries a lot of traffic past the motel because of the bridge across the Rio Grande just down the street.  Whether the currently stalled rapid transit project will contribute anything to ameliorating the rush-hour traffic jams is still an unknown.

Meanwhile, we are looking forward to more morning coffee opportunities, trying out the new eateries and the taproom, and hoping for the best.

Saturday, July 14, 2018