Developing situation

I’ve been accumulating B&W film for a few months, waiting to get enough so I could justify mixing up all the chemicals and use them up at once.  The film keeps well in a cool, dark place (like the basement) but the chemicals have varying shelf-lives once they are mixed.  My goal is to time mixing up chemicals sufficient to process all the film I’ve exposed and have little chemicals left over.

Going through my several rolls of 120 film I was processing a couple of rolls a night, really just grabbing the exposed rolls out of the basket I’d thrown them in.  The wrappers on the film tell the brand, type, speed but apparently not adequately enough when I’m moving along at a good pace.  I grabbed a roll of Ektar (color negative) film the other day and blithely ran it through the B&W developing process.  I knew something was wrong when I was dumping the developer out of the tank and it was orange!  Not an expected color from B&W film.  Went ahead with the process to see what I’d get.

Color negative film has a brownish-orange mask on the film so my strip looked pretty dark when I finished.  There were images on it, though, so when I scanned them I cranked the back light intensity up to full to get enough illumination for the scanner to pick up details.  i was concerned it would be washed out but actually it wasn’t.  The scanner did a good job of eliminating the mask and pulling out the details.  Here’s an example:

Ektar 100, B&W processing

For comparison, below is a similar image using TMax (B&W negative) film, shot around the same hour of the same day, processed the same as the image above. I’m using Xtol developer at full strength followed by the usual stop bath, fixer, hypo and flow agent, processing at 65F both because that’s the temperature of the basement where the chemicals are held and I feel the longer development time maximizes the resolution.

TMax 100, B&W processing

It seems the TMax 100 is ever so slightly warmer in tone, otherwise the details and grain are very similar as is the dynamic range.

I don’t think I’ll be doing all my color negative film through B&W processing but it’s good to know images aren’t lost if I screw up and grab the wrong film.

What you see is…what?

Speed makes all the difference

So they say seeing is believing.  But seeing what?  We want to believe the nature of reality is that it is perceiveable, that we can look out and see what is really there.  But what is really there?

The one dimension we think is unseeable is time.  The other three make themselves obvious with any three dimensional object, but time is perceived as the now, a unitary thing.  We can’t “see” the past or future, we simply see NOW.

Unless we have a camera.  Two shots above, one taken at 1/8th of a second, the other at 1/640th of a second.  Both of the same subject, within a minute of each other, both a NOW.

Which is the real fountain?  Photography enables us to “see” different versions by freezing time at a moment (or very short duration) and examine what’s happening.  I stared at this fountain for a bit and neither of these images was apparent to me – I saw something in between.  Yet here’s proof of a reality imperceptible to me.  So it must exist.

What else is going on around us that seeing doesn’t reveal?

What lies below

This is one of the highest suspension bridges in the world, Royal Gorge Bridge across the Arkansas River in Colorado.

It’s over 1000 feet from the bridge to the river below.  And what do you put at the bottom of a gorge like this?

A train, of course.  I wanted the motion to show through but also wanted the viewer to be able to read the train name.  Can you feel the wind rushing by?

It’s an interesting geography.  There’s this mountain ridge that has been eroded into a gorge spectacularly deep and narrow.  Yet a few miles in either direction of the bridge the land is relatively flat, as if the mountains just popped up in the middle of a prairie.  The river simply refused to budge so as the mountains rose upward the river cut into them and kept its bed at the same level.

Looking at a topo map of the area and it seems explorers literally had to climb a mountain ridge in order to peer down into the gorge, which is about the same level as the plains they climbed up from.  The West has some really strange landscapes.

And an interesting sense of humor.  Remember the bridge is over 1000 feet above the water?

Sometimes abstract just makes sense


I forget sometimes not all photographs have to be of “something” in order to be interesting.  Shapes alone can intrigue the viewer, revealing positive as well as negative space.  The unusual begs a longer glance, a lingering view to bring context and realization.  Repeating patterns, small and large, offer a sense of rhythm, implying an underlying order and meaning.  Do we look to understand or simply to wonder?

Frank Lloyd Wright church

We are fans of the organic architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, the way his designs fit and compliment the setting where they are constructed.  Although known for his design of residences and offices, Wright did design several churches.  One of the more interesting designs is near Milwaukee and we were fortunate this past weekend to have the opportunity to tour and hear about it..


This is the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, one of the last designs Wright created before his death.  Although a seemingly odd look for a church, it is faithful to Orthodox symbols – the dome and cross.


The floor of the church is in the shape of a cross.  From the back this image looks to the altar, the vertical section.  From side to side in the image is the horizontal of the cross.  Covering this is the dome.


Wright enjoyed playing with shape to create spaces that draw your eyes from small spaces to larger ones.  Sitting in the lower part of the church you feel intimate.  Coming to the upper part you get the full sense of the space under the dome.  The upper area can seat twice the number of people as the lower, but you don’t realize that until you take the spiral stairs to the upper area.  The light pipes just under the edge of the dome spread the outside light across the ceiling, creating a vista that gives a sense of expansive sky.


Typical of Wright designed buildings, all details were carefully created by him to fit into the overall sense of place.  These light fixtures in the lower level mimic the cross design in an inverted dome.


In the arches supporting the dome, open spaces intended to bring in outside light, there are stained glass representations of religious figures.

We’ve visited several of Wright’s buildings around the country, including his two residences in Wisconsin and Arizona.  The most interesting thing about walking through a Wright structure is the modern and yet timeless aspects of it, regardless of its age.  This church was completed in 1961, a fairly new building of this type.  Yet it could have been erected last week and in another 50 years will probably still feel that way.

It’s great to see genius manifested.