Working Girls Hotel, Pendleton, Oregon. January 2018.

Working Girls Hotel, Pendleton, Oregon

This is from this month’s trip to Pendleton. The city has a very interesting, and occasionally scandalous, history, which is evident in the names of some of the establishments. In the early 1900’s, Pendleton was a hub for military, farm, and railroad work, and had a thriving Chinese underground, and a brothel culture a couple floors up. It must have been an intereting place to live if you liked opium and syphilis.

I drove to Pendleton to reshoot some photographs that I took in 2013.  Back then, I shot only film, and processed everything but the color negatives in my home darkroom.  Something went wrong when I processed the negatives from that trip, and they turned out splotchy, and most of them were not usable.  It was a huge disappointment.  If you read my blog, you will know that I have no darkroom at this time.

I traveled lighter this time, bringing one 4×5 camera, my Hasselblad, and two Nikon digitals.  These days, I bring out the digitals first.  I use them to get a quick version of the picture.  Then I use the display on the camera to decide if the scene warrants getting out the film cameras, which I reserve for the best pictures.

One of the things that hurt my photography on the previous trip was the wind.  Coming from the west at roughly a begillion miles per hour, the wind made tripod work mostly impossible, because I couldn’t let go of said tripod.  I mostly hand-held my Speed Graphic, and leaned into the wind (avoiding incoming tumbleweeds, cows, and small cars swept up in the gales), and shot everything with a high shutter speed while my fingers rapidly lost feeling.  This time, the wind was much calmer, and the weather was mild.  The sun was shining through high clouds for most of the day, and as evening approached, the shadows crept along the hotels, and storefronts in the downtown.  All in all, it was a good day.

Thank you for reading.

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Eagle Creek Fire, September 2017

There are once-in-a-lifetime events that define the way we see the world.  Some of these are world changing.  Some are regional. Some are good, and some are bad.   September 2017 will be a watershed for the remainder of the time I have left on this Earth.  A fire was started last week in the Columbia Gorge by a group of kids with fireworks.  Some of my favorite places are burning.  These are two of them.  

Bridal Veil Falls, 2000

Multnomah Falls, Summer 2004

The Eastern Columbia Gorge.  

Windmills, Maryhill Loop Road


I’ve been falling in love with the eastern Columbia Gorge for about a decade, so one would think that the falling would be done by now.  I grew up in the deciduous forests of central Pennsylvania, where summers were lush, and the thunderstorms rolled in at the end of the hottest days, and the grass there stayed green until the cold of December made the landscape white.  The great, arid expanses of the American west, specifically Oregon for me, are like an alien planet.  I’m fascinated by the undulating hills, devoid of trees, and teeming with grasses that turn golden in mid June.  There’s a stark beauty that dryness creates.  It’s alien to me because I’m an an east coast boy, but it’s familiar and evocative as a “Roadrunner and Coyote” cartoon (yes, it’s in my blood because of Looney Toons).  The old west beckons from the 19th century in the American Psyche via western movies, but the windmills are ushering in the 21st century.  I’ll take both centuries.  I’ll take the landscape.  I’ll take the dry grasses and White Oak trees.  Throw in Google, wind power, and a camera from 1946, and I’m in heaven.   

Shooting 8×10 again!

white-river-falls,-may-2017-2

White River Falls, Tight Valley, Oregon

I finally made it down to the viewpoint at White River Falls with an 8×10 camera in May.  My left knee was well enough to attempt the climb down with 70 pounds of camera gear.  There may be hope yet.

Infrared!

Grain Elevator, Biggs Junction, Oregon


Now that summer is around the corner, I’ve been shooting through the rolls of Infrared film I loaded last summer.  IR is useless in the winter, so if I don’t finish it by September, it will have to wait until spring.  

I have 4 rolls of Konica IR 750 remaining from a block of 10 I bought off of eBay a few years back. It expired in 1990, but it has been freezer kept, so fogging is at a minimum.  It’s my all-time favorite film, so naturally it’s been discontinued since 2005.   

I plan to shoot a bunch of IR this summer.  More to come…

Still Making Due

Starvation Creek Falls, October 2016

I’ve been without a darkroom for over a year and a half.  My attempt to carve one out of a spare bedroom was foiled by carpet.  Gaia and I don’t consider this to be our permeant house, so ripping up the wall-to-wall carpet upstairs is out of the question.  And, even if we could do that, imagine the damage that a few major fixer spills could do to the resale value.  
I have the room set up, sans sink.  The enlargers are ready to go, I have chems and paper.  I can get the room dark enough to load film, but the dust is impossible to control.  I can do contact prints, and develop them in a Jobo Processor in the bathroom, but the dust is… you get the point.  

I could muddle through.  The situation is not impossible.  But, after having a real darkroom for so long, the difficulty of doing the most basic processes, when compared to the ease I experienced before, makes it not worth doing when I can send my film out for developing, and scan the negatives.  My scanner won’t do 8×10 negatives, but I’m working on that. 

What does the future bring?  Someday a different house with space for a proper darkroom.  I’m also reconsidering carving a small darkroom out of the garage.  More on this later.

Digital:  I am looking to buy a pro digital camera like a Nikon D810.  I do not intend it to take over for film, but I can use it for the quick shots, and save the medium and large format film for the spectacular shots.  

Featured image: Camera: Hasselblad 500CM with a 40mm Carl Zeiss lens.