While staying in Breckenridge with friends in the fall, I woke up in the middle of the night and was instantly awestruck by the stars. Before I knew it, I’m in the car with my gear and heading up Boreas Pass…at 3 a.m. I took this with my Leica M3 and Hektor 13.5 cm lens on Fuji 64T film. Exposure time is approximately 40 minutes.
My kids are often the subject of my photographs. They’re pretty good sports about it. Most of the time. I’ve found that the best time to photograph them is when they are thoroughly engaged in what they’re doing and they don’t much care that I’ve got a big glass eye aimed at them. Such was the case one afternoon in May. Over about the span of a week they were really enjoying playing with their matchbox cars on the stairs. They’d park them along the steps and in between the railing balusters. I decided to put a 50mm on and sit with them while they played and snapped a few shots. I even managed a couple of “posed” shots. There’s a window in the stairwell and the afternoon sun was blasting through. The fabric blinds we have in the window diffused it quite nicely, providing great light.
The other night I had the opportunity to head out to the plains to the east of Denver to the parents’ home and land of my co-worker, Tori. She had been telling me about all of the “old stuff” that her dad has collected over the years…tractors, cars, boats, bathtubs and whatnot. Her parents, Betty and Al, couldn’t have been nicer and more welcoming to let a guy snoop around their stuff with his camera. An odd request, but one that the Labs family setup and let me carry out without question or hesitation. I am so grateful for the opportunity and had a wonderful time photographing Al’s old stuff. It happened to be the first day of summer and it couldn’t have been a nicer evening.
After the sun went down, they graciously invited me to partake in tacos with them, over which the Labs shared some stories about the area and the items Al had collected. I’m convinced that Al could tell you exactly where he got all of his collectibles and the history about each item. And he has a lot of stuff.
For instance, this old Farmall M tractor, according to Al, was the third of its kind to ever be purchased in the state of Colorado.
Additionally (Al, I apologize for not remembering the gentleman’s name), an original owner of this tractor drove it while towing a combine from the area to the east of Denver to west Texas in one day along two-lane highways in the 1940’s. Quite a journey to take, let alone on a tractor! Quite a sight, too, I imagine.
This is one of many old tractors Al has proudly displayed on his land, and their slice of the Colorado land is quite spectacular in its own right. Unobstructed views in every direction. And quiet. Peacefully quiet.
Al also has several ’57 Chevy’s. One is for parts. The other we pushed onto a trailer, as it was getting upholstered the next day. This one is in the process of becoming a hot rod. I hope to see it when it’s done! And the third is their cruisin’ Chevy. It’s white. It’s a convertible. It’s wonderfully imperfect and full of character. I got to drive it, well, at least to move it to where I wanted it. Al told me not to run into anything.
Don’t hit anything. And if I do, I’ll dig a hole in the ground right here and crawl into it.
I didn’t hit anything. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have gotten tacos. And that would have been really unfortunate.
I took quite a number of photos and will continue to post more as I get through them. I haven’t had the color film processed as of yet, but following are some images I took with my Canon AT-1 and Kodak Plus-X 125 black and white film.
I hope you enjoy these as much as I enjoyed taking them. Thank you so much, Betty and Al, for your generosity, for letting me snoop around your land and for the tacos!
I shot the images below with a Canon AT-1, 50mm f1.4 on Kodak Plus-X 125.
These pots live on a shelf above our fireplace and television. I’ve always liked them for their smooth shapes and thought it’d be fun to photograph them in some way. I decided simple was the way to go. Their smooth texture is contrasted nicely against the rough finish of a concrete wall and distressed plank. Shot on Efke 25 black and white film, developed in Kodak TMax developer.
I took off in the car one snowy Sunday afternoon to take some photos of the worsening snowstorm. I took advantage of the near-whiteout conditions to capture the contrast of these trees. Shot on Kodak TMax 400 with Canon 620. January 2011.
I’m pretty much back on the film train. I haven’t seen one frame of film that I’ve taken the last couple of weeks, but I am loving my new, old Canon EOS 620. I bought it from keh.com for a whopping $30. I wonder what this tank fetched in its day. $500? $1000? But it has found a new home and an absolutely giddy owner. What’s great about this is that I can use all of the lenses for my Canon digital system on this guy. I’m a hybrid shooter and loving it.
Well, since I boarded this film train I’ve been doing a lot of reading. Learned a lot recently, but picked up on something just in the knick of time. I learned that even though Kodak has ceased production of its legendary Kodachrome film, there is still Kodachrome to be purchased on ebay. So I did. I bought 4 rolls of Kodachrome 64. According to the seller, it’s about 4 years old and has lived in a freezer since they purchased it. Fantastic. I’ll take it off of your hands. I also learned that dwaynesphoto.com is the one, the only, the last remaining Kodachrome processor anywhere. In the world anywhere. Shooters have until December 30, 2010 to get their exposed rolls to Dwayne’s and then after that, it’s done. No more Kodachrome. No more Kodachrome processing. A legend takes its place high upon a darkroom shelf, proudly reminiscing its 75+ year run. Think of it. 2011 will be the first year in over 75 years that Kodakchrome will not be a viable medium for photography. Photography has only been a medium, a technology, an art for about 150 years, and of that 150 years, photography has only been accessible to the general population for less than 100 years. Can film be canonized, much like literature is? If so, Kodachrome has earned its place in the film canon.
I’ll be honest…and feel free to laugh at this point. I’ve never shot a roll…not even a frame…of Kodachrome…well, my grandfather might have let me snap a few frames with his camera when I was a kid, but I have never intently used Kodachrome. But I have to now. I have my grandfather’s slides, the majority of which are Kodachromes. Some from as long ago as the 1940s. They’re beautiful. Rich colors, inky shadows and muted highlights. Most of the slides are of my mom and my uncle as kids, some of their childhood home, my aunt and uncle’s wedding, my parent’s college graduation. Many more are of my grandparents’ travels, some are of people I am not familiar with and some are just slices of life. It is my desire to not only shoot Kodachrome, but to have Kodachrome slides of my sons. My wife. And not to be narcissistic, me. My house. Our cars. My wife’s family, my parents and sister. My dogs. My Mac. My Canon 40D. My grandfather’s Leica M3. A flower. A leaf. A sunset/sunrise. The building in which I work. My living room and a bookshelf. A shoe. A pencil. Why all of this random stuff?
Because chances are I’ll never have the opportunity to photograph with Kodachrome again. Just as a journey is coming to a close, a journey is beginning for me, one that will be documented in Kodachrome.
I bought film today.I’ll say it again. I bought film today. I bought a roll of Tri-X 400 and a roll of E100G chromes.I bought film today.
It has been at least 7 years since I have bought film, and at that, it was a bulk roll of Tri-X 400. It was on a photo excursion in the Holy Cross Wilderness with a good friend that I last shot film. It was on this trip that I realized the convenience and versatility of digital photography. And the importance of having plenty of battery power. I haven’t shot a frame of film since.
About a year and a half ago, my uncle kindly handed down to me my grandfather’s Leica M3. It’s a beautiful dinosaur. A relic from an era rapidly vanishing…but seeing a resurgence I hear. And hope. The M3 has sat on my desk. On top of my bookshelf. It has rested in my hands, the subject of my wondrous gaze. This is a camera. This is the essence of photography. There isn’t a single solitary “auto” anything on it. Who remembers the phrase “motor drive,” or “film advance”? The M3 has a double stroke manual advance. The Leitz 13.5cm lens has…drum roll…an aperture ring. There aren’t halves or thirds of stops. There are stops. 4.5. 5.6. 8. 11. 16. 22. 32. It doesn’t have a meter. It has no brains. The photographer is the meter. The photographer is the brains of the operation. This is just a beautiful tool that makes no apologies and no room for error. It beckons and dares you to take a frame.
Do it. If you can.
Well, I bought film today. Under no pretense that I think I’m worthy of using this finely crafted contraption of metal and glass. Just with the excitement of shooting film…chromes, no less. And re-inserting myself into the process. This will be a project I embark upon methodically and enthusiastically.
I just wish it had an LCD so I can chimp my images.
Look for posts of results from my time with my grandfather’s M3 in a few weeks. Hey! It’s FILM!