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.


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).