Thursday, January 30, 2020

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

I recently found this little chapel on the north side of Albuquerque along with a small cemetery across the street.  It seemed a good subject for my Brownie Hawkeye Flash.

     Muestra de muerte, 
     espíritu de vida,
     aquí cuerpo yace,
     con su alma ida.
         - Nasario García

I see I am a bit out of practice with my box brownie.  You really can't get closer than eight feet with the unmodified camera.  With the No.13 close-up attachment the minimum distance is down to 3.5 feet.  I tried a yellow filter on a couple shots, but that gave me a bit too much contrast for the Acros which I processed in Rodinal 1:50.  Still, the effort seemed a useful exercise.  I think I'll go back with my BHF that has the lens flipped, and maybe try some fp4.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

The Bosque in Winter

The cottonwood forest beside the river seems to be in a state of sleep this time of year.

Shooting the Hikari 2002 is a nice way to make use of my Pentax-M lenses.  The roll of Tri-X was developed in LegacyPro L110 at 1:31 dilution for 6.5 minutes at 20C.  I might give the next roll another thirty seconds, but I thought the L110 nicely handled the grain in this instance.  Semi-stand development would likely reduce the contrast a bit.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Prints on a Wall

I haven't made many photographs lately.  I have several excuses/explanations, but I'll focus on just one here.  I have been preoccupied with organizing a series of exhibits for our New Mexico Film Photographers group which meets monthly in Albuquerque.

Our first exhibit was last September at the Juan Tabo branch library on the City's east side up against the foothills of the Sandia Mountains.  It was a show designed to be inclusive with no restrictions regarding subjects or framing styles.  That turned out to be challenging as all the pictures had to be suspended from wires or pasted on the wall.  We hung a couple dozen prints from nine photographers.  It ended up looking pretty good and it was a useful learning experience for everyone, including the photographers and the library staff.  We had a brief opening ceremony and then adjourned to a nearby pub to celebrate.

A friend and Margaret at Juan Tabo
Documenting the event with the Olympus 35rc
Celebrating at the pub
(photos from Margaret's cellphone)
I was contacted recently by the director of the Los Griegos branch library on the other side of town who asked if we might like to do a show there.  I was not initially enthralled with doing another exhibit so soon, but got more enthusiastic about the idea after visiting the site and thinking about the possibilities.  The Art Wall has a good hanging system and good lighting.  There is a table for printed material and a glass display case.  We agreed on doing an exhibit in March with prints from the Albuquerque group.  While we were at it I also scheduled another show for September at the same location.

The Wall
I have proposed that the group take advantage of lessons learned from the first exhibit.  We will require that all prints have standard mats and frames with wire hangers which should make hanging a snap.  The March exhibit will be entitled "Film is Back!" with a focus on the What and How of current day film photography.  Instead of a poster on the wall we will have info handouts and 4x6 prints for people to take home -- the idea being to better engage visitors with the information about the group and the work of the participating photographers.  I am also going to display a number of my old cameras in the available glass case.

For the September exhibit I am hoping to cast a wider net to bring in some work from film photographers from around the State of New Mexico.  The title for that show will be "Boxes, Toys and Pinholes; Art from Simple Cameras". 

So that is the plan so far.  Prior to this I have hung only a few prints at home and I have entered one print in one exhibit since we moved to Albuquerque ten years ago.

Thursday, January 09, 2020


I dug around in my refrigerator film drawer and turned up a roll of 120 Arista.Edu Ultra 400.  I decided to use it in my Mamiyaflex II which last shot about nine months ago.   I drove to the National Hispanic Cultural Center.  None of the buildings were open, so I walked around the grounds and made a few exposures.  Then I took a long walk along the river.  These are the three pictures I liked best from the day.

The Arista film did not give me quite the contrast and tonal range that I expect from Tri-X or TMAX on this occasion, but I think it is still pretty good, and the price is right.  I think that a little experimentation with developers and dilutions would produce results very close to the higher priced films.

The Sekor f3.5/7.5cm lens gives quite nice results.  The viewfinder is a little dim compared to my contemporary Kodak Reflex II.  It is an interesting example of early post-war Japanese technology which preceded a big leap into Mamiya's revolutionary C-line of twin lens reflex cameras.

Monday, January 06, 2020

Chaco, 2005

Chaco Canyon in northwest New Mexico is an extraordinary place; it contains the distilled remains of an entire civilization which ceased to exist about 700 years ago. There are many obvious reasons and rewards for visiting Chaco.

One of the things I find interesting and enjoyable about Chaco is the opportunity it provides to play with the idea of Time. The pictures and words which follow this page are partly about that idea. My intent with them is, first, to show a small sample of what exisits on the ground at the canyon in regard to natural features and cultural remains. The other part is to convey a state of mind that the place creates for me and, I am sure, for many others as well.

My proposition is that our conceptualization of Time and Space is a cultural construct which has developed and evolved over time. We do not live our lives by the rules of physicists, astronomers or mathematicians, but rather by patterns of thought that have been instilled by tradition. Because of the time that has elapsed since Chaco flourished and the great differences in how we go about our daily lives compared to that time in the past, I think there can be little doubt that the Chacoan ideas of Time and Space and the place of those people in it were very different from our own.

In assembling the following text and images I have tried to put together pieces of the past and the present side by side to illuminate some of the differences between the distant past and the present. I do not pretend to understand the essence of the Chacoan concept of Time, but I hope that the contrasts between the magnificent cultural remains and the banalities of present-day life portrayed will at least hint at the possibilities.

* * *

We turned south just before Nageezi.  The pavement ran out five miles down the road.  Shortly afterward, I spotted a couple walking along through the afternoon haze.  I stopped to give them a ride.  She was Navajo, a weaver of rugs.  He was Pawnee, a teller of stories.  They had gone out to the highway to report the theft of the carburetor from their truck and were on their way back home - a dozen miles down the road toward Chaco.  Margaret climbed into the back of the RV to open the door for them, and told them to buckle their seatbelts.  He responded, somewhat disdainfully, that we were on Navajo land.  They lived, he said, in a home without TV or electricity, and they liked it that way.  We left them off at a fork in the road five miles from Chaco.

A battle scene of mounted warriors with lances, pitted against foot soldiers armed with bows.

The petroglyph was incised about 25 feet up on the canyon wall sometime after the early 16th Century when horses were introduced to the Southwest by the Spanish. By the time this battle was recorded, the Anasazi builders of Chaco had already been gone for centuries.
    The Navajo and Apache probably first reached the area of Chaco around the time when the first Spanish conquistadores were beginning to explore the area. All were equally war-like and unlikely to have been welcomed by the indigenous Pueblo peoples and other native groups. Later, the region would be subjected to raids by fierce, well-mounted Plains tribes such as the Commanche.

* * *

The sun announces

The longest day for each year

At Fajada Butte. 

Fajada Butte rises up out of the Chacra Mesa about a mile south of the Una Vida great house. 

Near the top of the butte is an archaeoastronomical feature known as the "Sun Dagger". The Anasazi carved a spiral there on a rock face on which shafts of sunlight appear at midday to mark the solstices and equinoxes.

* * *

Windows to windows,

Doorways to infinity :

A world of mirrors.

Pueblo Bonito is the largest of the Anasazi great houses. 

The multi-story complex was built in stages over a 300-year period beginning in about the year 850 A.D. Windows and doorways are frequently aligned in a way that emphasizes a receding perspective similar to what one sees in opposing mirror surfaces. 
    Without roofs and surface plastering, the buildings appear much different from when they were in use a thousand years ago. While the structure is revealed in a way that would not have been apparent to Chacoans, the effects of lighting and ceremonial associations can only be guessed at.

* * *

One path sets the choice :

Up to Pueblo Alto, or

Down to Kin Kletso ?

Agility and stamina are required to negotiate the trail between the great house of Kin Kletso in the canyon bottom to that of Pueblo Alto high on the mesa above. 

Topography is a preeminent shaper of world view for people who do all their traveling on foot. The Anasazi, however, did have an awareness of a world extending far from Chaco Canyon. 
    This trail starts in a crack in the canyon wall, then leads to a thirty-foot-wide roadway which extended many miles to the north. It was just one of many such roads radiating out of Chaco Canyon. Precious ceremonial objects and raw materials traveled to Chaco from deep in the interior of what is now Mexico, and from as far west as the Pacific coast. Religious and political traditions traveled over the same pathways.

* * *

Tlaloc, the Rain God,

Sometimes dons strange disguise

To walk among us.

This representation of the Rain God is distinctly ornate with its spiral eyes and lace-like decoration.

Square-headed, goggle-eyed figures are carved on rock surfaces all along the upper Rio Grande and near-by watersheds.  The origins of the figure can be traced to Central America, but little can be deduced from Anasazi-era representations other than the fact that it was of great importance.

* * *

Low doorways expose

The neck of the enemy

At Chetro Ketl.

No great house doorway permits upright entry other than to a single person with the stature of a small child. 

Was this enforced obeisance for the faithful, a defensive measure, or did it serve some other symbolic or ceremonial purpose?  There seems no way to be certain now.

* * *

We hiked out along the Peñasco Blanco trail.  The wash was full of fast-moving, muddy water.  Margaret tried a crossing near to where an arroyo ran into the wash, but she felt the ground move under her and she was sure it was quicksand.  I took off my boots and tried a narrow spot further downstream.  The bottom was firm, and I was across in a few steps.  I got my boots back on and took just a few steps before I saw a sherd of black and white pottery that had been uncovered by the rains of the past week.  There was another a few feet down the slope toward the wash, and beside that a small arrowhead of the type that would have been used for birds or rabbits.

* * *

Beneath an overhang,

A record of a supernova –

The swallows don't care.

The massive explosion of a star created the Crab Nebula in the year 1054.

This red painted pictograph may portray the cataclysmic stellar event in the Taurus constellation, but gives no hint as to how it was interpreted by Anasazi astronomers.

* * *

Tsé biyahnii’a’ah
The traditional Navajo name for Pueblo Bonito takes note of the ingenuity of Chacoan engineers in protecting the great house from the collapse of a large portion of the canyon wall for a millenium. 

The Navajo built no monumental structures like the great houses. However, they lived close to the earth, and perhaps that gave them the perspective to recognize the clever way the Chacoans were able to stabilize a thirty-thousand ton mass of rock that was a threat to the great house site from the beginning. Or, maybe the Navajo name is a translation of the name the Anasazi gave to the place in whatever language they spoke.
    While the great house at Pueblo Bonito ultimately had no defense against time and gravity, one has to wonder if the 1941 collapse of Threatening Rock onto the structure might not have been delayed another thousand years were it not for excavations and restoration efforts begun in the early Twentieth Century.

* * *

Our rented RV at the Chaco Canyon campground, 2005.

I have been thinking about Chaco lately.  I have a several books lined up to read including a couple by Stephen Lekson.  I'm hoping to visit the site in the Spring.  The words and pictures in this post originally appeared on my website in 2005.  I decided to see if I could repost the material in a form that would work on the blogger platform.  I think it does work ok, and it preserves something of value to me.

Friday, January 03, 2020

Konica C35 Automatic

A friend gave me this nice little Konica C35 rangefinder.  She said she used it for about fifteen years and then put it aside for the next  fifteen or twenty.  The lens is a Hexanon 2.8/38mm.  The camera closely resembles the contemporary Olympus 35RC, but the C35 has total auto-exposure; it picks the aperture and shutter speed and shows you its choice in the viewfinder.  I put a 1.4v battery in the camera and it seemed to be working fine.

I loaded some Fuji 200 color in the camera and took a quick stroll through Old Town Albuquerque to test the idea that the compact and quiet Konica would be a good candidate for doing street photography.  I mostly just set the focus to 3 meters and counted on the depth of focus in good light and the auto-exposure capability to get things right.  That worked pretty well, though a faster film would have been a better choice for making quick hip shots.

The Konica C35 turned in a pretty good performance.  My processing was considerably less satisfying.  This was the thirteenth roll through a batch of Cinestill C-41 and it looks like I should have stopped at the suggested eight roll limit.  The negatives showed a lot of reddish staining between frames which I am guessing was caused by depleted blix.  So, I'm likely to return to using Unicolor C-41 if I can find some.

I'm not sure how much more use I'll get from the Konica.  I like the greater manual control provided by the similar Olympus 35RC.  The Minolta seems like it would be an excellent choice for someone just starting out with film photography.  For a better view of the capabilities of the little C35 Automatic take a look at what Jim Grey did with his.