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Last week in view camera land. . . . .

Speaking of large format photography, last week I finally managed to get out with my Kodak 33a View Camera. The heat had been keeping me from hauling around anything larger than a Holga, but it was my birthday and for whatever reason I decided that large-formatting was exactly what I wanted to do. I didn’t want to go far for it, but fortunately in my town you don’t have to go very far to find the kind of place I like to photograph with a big camera.

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This water is part of Brushy Creek, just across Chisholm Trail from the landmark that my town is named after, the round rock itself. If you’re interested, you can read more about it here. As I’m writing this, it occurs to me that I grew up in a town that had an important Chisholm Trail crossing as well, none other than the Waco Suspension Bridge . You always end up exactly where you’re meant to be.

Two more views of Brushy Creek at Chisholm Trail, which highlight the slight technical difficulty I had that day (unbeknownst to me at the time of course). My view camera has seen some miles, prior to my owning it, and the lens board doesn’t always fit in as well as it should. Either I managed to photograph ghosts, or there was a light leak. While I was fairly disappointed, I decided not to worry about it and embrace the wisps of sun that crept in.

The Round Rock

The Round Rock

Podcast!!

The gents who do the Large Format Photography Podcast were kind enough to invite me for a chat lately. Check out the result here ! And be sure to check out Simon and Andrew’s work online. You can find all their social media, etc links in the podcast link. It was a pleasure speaking with them - but then again, is it ever a difficulty for me to shoot the breeze about photography? Of course not! In honor of this momentous occasion (I certainly never thought I’d be on a podcast) I’ve updated my website to include some of my large format photography work. I don’t know why it was missing before. . . . . . I guess there’s only SO much room on a site and I seem to have my fingers in so many photographic pies that it’s a challenge to remember to share slices of all of them. So, enjoy : )

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PS I had my view camera out this week in Round Rock, battling the heat but thankfully no wind that day. Because what else would a photography-crazed girl do on her 43rd birthday besides haul a big old wooden camera around? Results soonish, when it’s cool enough to work in the darkroom. . . .

Polaroid Originals Beta Film

Recently I got an email from Polaroid Originals saying that they had some beta film available for purchase. . . . I’ve secretly always hoped to be the kind of photographer who gets to help test new films, and ok I had to pay for the privilege and no doubt in this case I’m just one of hundreds, but the prospect was beguiling enough for me to immediately say yes. I do love using my One Step 2, after all.

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The black & white film was sold out already, so I snapped up some of the color. It’s still summer and anyway we have no shortage of sunny days in Texas year round. This pack was the first I exposed; I took it with me on a solo trip to the water park, since I knew I wouldn’t be holding anyone up by photographing and also there are bright colors aplenty there.

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This first image was a preview of what was to come: it seemed strongly blue, and also very contrasty. I wasn’t sure if it was just me, but a fellow photographer sent me a message saying that the pack he used was fairly purple, and I noticed when I sent in feedback that the film was indeed geared toward blue.

The black protective card from that pack of film said “Wish you were Here.” It took me a long time to realize that these little sayings were supposed to be creative prompts; it’s a nice touch and I’m glad I’ve saved them all. . . . . I should write them down. . . . . This one in particular was appropriate since I was very much wishing other members of my family were with me that day, enjoying the water.

The final photo in the pack I made at home, trying it out on something green and in a completely different lighting situation. The light that comes in my kitchen window makes me happy, especially when it hits the ivy in the morning. This photo doesn’t really show it in all its glory, but it works to my eyes as its own thing.

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More beta examples to come eventually!

Cyano-party!

Last week I filled my home with a group of super talented local artists and we made cyanotypes! World Cyanotype Day is coming up; every year as the last Saturday in September approaches I feel the urge to get people together somehow to make them. In previous years I have tried hosting a formal workshop, but I’ve thrown in the towel with all that business so I decided to spread the blue happiness by having a little art party instead.

The piece cooking closest to the camera is a test I made as a demo

The piece cooking closest to the camera is a test I made as a demo

I absolutely love sharing the process with people, and am pleased to say that the day was a total success all around! It gives me so much joy to see people’s reactions the first time they see the print in the wash.

Jennifer & Maria

Jennifer & Maria

Tracie photographing Katherine

Tracie photographing Katherine

The women who attended are artists in a variety of mediums, from painting and collage to photography, textiles, ceramics, mixed media, mandalas, and more! I knew their cyanotypes would be amazing; it was super exciting for me to see how everyone worked with the process to express their own individual vision and style. That’s one of the beautiful things about cyanotypes: they are really only limited by your imagination.

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Since my goal - besides just introducing the technique to people - was to encourage people to participate in World Cyanotype Day, we used cotton fabric from Blueprints on Fabric for all of the artwork that day. I find that to be the perfect way to get started with this process, since development times are longer than paper, since it can be left in the wash for a good long while, and since the material is very robust. Goodness knows I have plenty of trays for this kind of thing, and the back yard was a grateful participant.

I had one larger piece of fabric left from last year’s cyanotype making bonanza, so we used that to make a group piece. I didn’t do the best job of cutting it (details aren’t always my strong point) but it can be trimmed up for display. . . .

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Several pieces from that day, including the group piece, will be on display next month at A Smith Gallery, where you can celebrate World Cyanotype Day! Check them out and check out the WCD website for all the details.

Into the West 2019: Post-trip work

I exposed a lot of film during the 18 days (and 3786 miles) we were on the road this summer. Living moment to moment, I didn’t really think about any of the photographs beyond the second in which I made them, so the amount that added up took me by surprise, first when I realized I was running low on black & white film, and again when I arrived home and took stock.

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Die-hard film and darkroom types know that the real work begins after you finish the roll. Next comes developing, scanning, and (eventually, if you’re like me) printing, before you can really call it done. This pretty much means my “work” will never be finished, because I probably have a billion years’ worth of printing to do. But I think the world will go on just fine without all those prints in existence. My favorite part of the entire process is being out with my camera; it’s the looking and seeing that I love. I have to admit, though, that it’s extremely exciting seeing the results.

I’ve been diligently beavering away at the black & white, mostly developing them in mega-sessions of 10-14 rolls in a day. I had a handful to develop from a trip made just before the long stretch on the road, too. Earlier this week (yay!) I processed the last few rolls; although I think there are still some languishing in cameras half-finished, I’m still breathing a sigh of relief. High 5, self!

The black & white exposed film from the trip

The black & white exposed film from the trip

I have to admit that it was a huge thrill every single time I pulled a freshly fixed roll out of the tank. At first glance, I’m super pleased with all of the results, which means that I am up to my eyeballs in new work to spot clean - since I’ve also managed to scan all but the last 10 rolls. NEXT comes multiple trips to the lab to get the color done, but that can wait until I feel like dealing with Austin traffic in the late-summer heat (which could be a while).

None of this work has any destination, or any significance except to the two of us who were traveling. Looking at the negatives brings back waves of memories steeped in happiness! Year two of DIY summer “residencies” in which I am beholden to no one, where we come home with lives enriched by new and meaningful experiences. Here are a few photographs I selected at random. No doubt after I’ve sorted through them all and had some time to think I will share more, with writing. There are many stories to tell, but maybe the photographs can speak for me in the meantime.

All photographs Kodak Tri-X . I used a Canon T2, Hasselblad 500 CM, Ondu 6x6, Widelux, and Noblex to make the above. All were made in Colorado (I think).