Monday, January 08, 2018

pictures


i went looking for a particular picture in my box full of an old era of images. actual physical pictures. and many with 35 mm negatives. the box weighs 30 pounds. on top are large photos. some old family pictures. many are b&w prints i made when i had a darkroom. i bought film in bulk. it went into a dispenser which would put film into the light tight little canisters which fit into a camera. some of you may remember film cameras. take a picture and move a little crank to advance the film one frame, ready for another exposure.
robin's modern digital camera and my old slr film camera

i would load the camera and go take pictures of anything that caught my eye, using up  a full roll. after developing the film i would make contact prints. strips of film laid flat on photo paper and exposed to light and the developed into visible prints. often i would look at a frame and wonder why i took that shot. what was in there that i found interesting? so i began to understand how to get the object of interest to stand out in the final picture. an angle of shooting. consideration of depth of focus. lighting.

contact sheet. himself center in the bottom row



detail of the capitola trestle. might be upside down.

after i got some kinda handle on getting what i wanted in pics of things i started on people. i had a medium telephoto lens that let me get nice face shots from 7 to 10 feet away. in a setting with several people i would take out the camera and play with it a bit until it was no longer an item of attention. then i would take pictures of friends and family with the intent of finding the relaxed beauty of each and giving each the result. not so much a smiling face as a truly relaxed face. it was a private thing for each person. most were happy enough with their picture to share it. most said that the picture was not how they pictured themselves. most would say of a picture of someone else “that’s such a good picture of you.”

an old friend. all the way from high school til now

anyway… i got tired of pictures after going through just the top layer in the box. now there are all the small prints from commercial developers, many in their envelope with film strips. may take me a while to search till i find the one i want. and each is an invitation for some kind of side trip of memory.

oh, i'll go back to looking for what i want.  did a bit just now. there are a lot to look through. it's a picture of homemade campers at my house in fortuna gathered for a marvelous thanksgiving celebration sometime in the early 1970's.

28 comments:

  1. funny, i was looking through physical photos in exactly the same way this morning. there are a lot, boxes and boxes of trips down memory lane. i used to take photos much as you did but now i just use my phone.

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  2. it was the most fun when i could develop and print pictures the same day i took them. i once took a picture of a friend on opening day of his smoothie shop and had it printed and framed and hanging in the shop by noon.

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  3. A contact sheet is something you don't see anymore. And I have that same Canon. I still like to shoot film now and then. I'm looking forward to seeing more of your photos.

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  4. i dug the camera bag out of storage. there was film in it. i dropped it off to be developed. also an unused roll of fuji film. i might use it. no darkroom now. no developing film.

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  5. Oh, the golden days! My dad had a darkroom in the garage; and he branched out to do big blow-up prints after a while. We all grew up as shop helpers. My kids made contact prints (of their hands, leaves, etc.) that he developed right away.

    Back when I did yearbook in college, one of my friends was head of photography -- I think he still has binders of contact prints and negatives from all those gazillion photos. (I was more about cutting and pasting those photos into a pleasing design, back when that required an xacto knife, a square rule, and rubber cement.)

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    1. ah. the smell of developer and fixer.

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  6. Hope to see more of your black and white photos. That sure looks like Allen Ginsberg at the top of the stack of photos. Would love to see the photos from the Thanksgiving gathering in Fortuna. I like the way you described making portraits of friends. I have a place I keep my old photos dating back to the 1970s, along with little Kodak slide boxes and my old cameras. There is still one store here in Bellingham that will develop film. I didn't buy a digital camera until I bought my Powerbook G4, which was my first laptop. That was in 2004. So many changes since 1970!

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  7. well done. it is indeed gonzo that was in grace cathedral in sf. i remember only one picture of that thanksgiving, tho there may be more. most of my b and w are really boring. i was learning.

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  8. Looks like you have quite the treasure trove to peruse through, Roger! I love contact sheets. Something rather magical about them. Looking forward to seeing the homemade campers!

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  9. perhaps i should not have mentioned the campers. now i really have to thru a ton of photos

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  10. On her Flickr site my daughter has more than 50,000 digital photos. I remember flipping through dozens of old school photo albums looking for a particular print. I can't imagine how her children and grandchildren will ever find their way through her vast collection someday.

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    1. we have burned thousands of pictures on cds. they will be trash someday, as will my box of pics. too much for anyone to sort thru

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    2. But the beautiful thing about storing pictures online (at Flickr, for example) is that you can tag the photos and search them easily. All my photos are tagged and I can usually pinpoint the one I want (out of 27,000) relatively quickly. Much easier than searching through a box!

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  11. Funny I have a few boxes full of old file I need to go through and scan up

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    1. i wish for you the energy to do so

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  12. Ah, those uncertain days when we never really knew what we had captured till it was developed. Instant gratification of today takes a lot of the mystery and suspense out of photography. I'm not complaining though.

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  13. at least i had a very short wait when i had a darkroom. the problem now is too many images. how many of us just save it all without editing out junk? i certainly do. just save it all.

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  14. We came the same route through photography

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  15. I rolled my own and did my own processing back in the day. I still have my Nikon FM, and my father's old F2AS (I think that's it), he bought back in about 1977. I eventually switched to slides, which I thought were great to view in projection, but slides are such a pain to look at that I almost never did it. I have probably thousands of slides my father took, and most of them are going to end up in the trash; we'll save the ones with family, but there are simply too many of the landscape shots to try to save them.

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    1. there are a lot of slides in my photo box. many will remain unseen. somewhere in my family's vacation house there are thousands of my grandmother's vacation slides.

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  16. I LOVE looking through old boxes of prints and negatives. I don't miss using film at all -- it was such a pain and polluting to boot -- but there's something satisfying about pulling an old picture out of obscurity and giving it new life online!

    I think that picture of the trestle IS upside down. It looks like there are two people sitting on one of those girders. That's how I'm seeing it, anyway!

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    1. right you are about the trestle pic. it does require a very expensive digital camera to match the quality of film. i don't have one.

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    2. https://www.keh.com/shop/fuji-x-t10-silver-digital-camera-body-16-3-m-p-674469.html?m=Grouped&prod_id=1038929&aid=1038929&rmatt=tsid:1014300|cid:133532157|agid:5559489940|tid:pla-1101128279197|crid:{creative}|nw:o|rnd:{random}|dvc:c|adp:{adposition}&msclkid=155ab16bd32610068c59eb333dc3aa73&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=PLA%20-%20General&utm_term=1101128279197&utm_content=Cameras

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  17. My dad was the family and community photographer. Most of the negatives and photos he had collected were tossed by my stepmother after his death -- a lot of things I'd rather someone had gone through. I have a few classics that were printed and passed on, but ...

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  18. I don't miss the days of film at all. It was a lot of work and so much to go through to see what you took. I resisted digital for so long, but once I made the move, well, never going back!! I, too, had a Nikon FM, as well as my dad's very old Voitlander. I actually still have the Voit. With many lenses. I may use it to plant succulents in.

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  19. i haven't used film for years.

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