How We Roll

     Anyone who has been keeping up with this site may have noticed by now that we're fans of spur-of-the-moment travels.  I just simply can't resist the siren call of exploration and if I find even the slightest reason to hop in the car, you can bet I'm all over it.  I'm fortunate to have my kids and husband be just as willing to venture forth with me whenever possible.  It seems they've caught the travel bug as well and get just as excited as I do while discovering different parts of the country.

     A couple of weeks ago, an opportunity/excuse presented itself in the form of a gallery opening over in Johnson City, TN.  A shot I took in Seattle about a year ago had been selected for display and I felt compelled to be there and meet some of my fellow film photographers in the flesh that I had been chatting and sharing with for months in our online platform.  I quickly mapped out a route, my husband put in for leave, and the girls hadn't started their Montessori program for the year yet, so no hoops to jump through there.  We loaded up and set off for St. Louis.

     I've spent the past year reminiscing to my husband about the awesomeness of the City Museum in St. Louis.  If you've never visited this place, it's very difficult to describe and probably harder to grasp just what exactly it is, but I'll try.  It's essentially a construction site that's also a playground filled with hidden tunnels and slides that are made out of iron or trees, you can crawl through the walls and under the floors and up in the ceiling, there's a 10 story cave system in the center of the warehouse (most of this place is contained inside of an old converted shoe factory), there's a carnival-type thing on the roof, and there are no rules and a million ways to hurt yourself.  It's a kid's and young-at-heart adult's dream come true.

     Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures this time around...I learned my lesson from the first visit and knew that my camera could/would be damaged and/or hold me back from all the fun, so it stayed in the hotel room.  The girls were thrilled to return and my husband spent the first hour in shock by the glory that is this place (he was deployed last year and had missed out), but he came to his senses eventually to slide and shimmy his way through all the fun.  If you ever find yourself in St. Louis, do NOT miss out on this experience!  Anyways, I took very few pictures on this stop since we had been here before, but here's an obligatory Arch shot:

810400020002.jpg
Just after taking a picture of the Arch, my youngest announced that she had to go potty right away, so here we are hustling back to the restaurant we had picked out for dinner.

Just after taking a picture of the Arch, my youngest announced that she had to go potty right away, so here we are hustling back to the restaurant we had picked out for dinner.

     After St. Louis, we made our way to Columbus, OH for an overnight pit stop.  We were lucky our hotel had an indoor pool and the girls went for a quick dip before bed that night.  In the morning, we checked out and drove to the German Village for a coffee and a stroll around the neighborhood before our impending longest leg of the trip.  We chose a very authentic bakery that presented a German menu we could hardly interpret and were forced to point blindly at our choice (the employees did not speak much English either).  I was shocked to discover that I had managed to order a coffee with a chocolate cookie and heavy cream in it, but delighted in the sugar rush all the same.  We then walked around the cobblestone streets taking in the European architecture and smiling at the flower boxes gracing the windows.  It made me yearn for our next assignment and wish fervently that next year at this time, I'd be walking streets in Germany itself.

 

810400020005.jpg
When you're a photographer and find a gorgeous pocket of setting sunlight, you pluck your kid out of whatever they were doing and stick them in that spot.  Here's my youngest, gazing longingly back at the pool she had just been enjoying.

When you're a photographer and find a gorgeous pocket of setting sunlight, you pluck your kid out of whatever they were doing and stick them in that spot.  Here's my youngest, gazing longingly back at the pool she had just been enjoying.

810400020010.jpg
810400020012.jpg
810400020017.jpg
810400020013.jpg

     I had convinced my husband that it would be a good idea to tack on a couple of hours to our drive that day so we could explore the Amish countryside.  I had really hoped to find some covered bridges and go on a buggy ride, but I was thwarted on both accounts.  The buggy rides had been cancelled for the year due to construction and the covered bridges were about another hour out of the way.  We stopped for lunch at a bier garten and our pony-horse was fortunate that a dog's bakery was next door, so he got a special treat (and who are we kidding...he got some burger, too).

Excuse my husband's expression...for some reason, he didn't trust what the girls were up to behind me.

Excuse my husband's expression...for some reason, he didn't trust what the girls were up to behind me.

     We finally got back on track and flew through Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Maryland.  There is some absolutely gorgeous country in that region.  We drove through the Appalachians at sunset and it was simply breathtaking.  We were on a mission for D.C., however, so we couldn't stop to drink in the view.  Finally, after almost 12 hours on the road that day, we made it to our hotel in the dark and the rain, and sacked out.  The next day, we took on the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, the Air and Space Museum, and the National Mall.

810400020020.jpg
810400020021.jpg
I have no idea what they're doing here.

I have no idea what they're doing here.

810400020027.jpg

     After spending a day in D.C., we drove along the coast down to Virginia Beach.  We stopped at Assateague National Seashore to look at the wild ponies and play at the beach.  This had the added benefit of tuckering the girls out, so we were able to drive straight through to Virginia Beach.  After checking in there, we raced down to the boardwalk to catch the sunset and see the epic (sorry, it's just the right word) statue of Neptune.  We then ate an extremely overpriced so-so dinner.  In hindsight, we should've saved that money and rented one of the quad bikes to ride around the boardwalk and settled for fast food afterwards.  Oh well.  Live and learn from our mistakes!

810400020031.jpg
I find her posture hilarious in this...future blackmail.

I find her posture hilarious in this...future blackmail.

There were horseshoe crab shells littering the beach.

There were horseshoe crab shells littering the beach.

Wanted to make herself into a mermaid before we left.

Wanted to make herself into a mermaid before we left.

I told you he was epic.

I told you he was epic.

And huge.

And huge.

810400010001006.jpg
810400010001007.jpg
I also got to fulfill a childhood dream and visit Jamestown :-)

I also got to fulfill a childhood dream and visit Jamestown :-)

     That concluded our eastward trek and we started back west, driving through the Appalachians and into the Tri-City.  The morning before the gallery opening, we took the girls on a short hike to a waterfall and did some bouldering as well (the girls are surprisingly good at climbing).  We ate our packed picnic before heading into downtown Johnson City to meet and mingle with other film photographers.  It was so great to meet these people that up until this point I had only chatted with through a screen!  After that short visit, we started the slog back to Oklahoma.

810400010001018.jpg
810400010001019.jpg
810400010001026.jpg
810400010001029.jpg
P.S. This place is in Forrest City off of I-40 about an hour west of Memphis, and it's incredible.  We stop every time we visit my husband's family.

P.S. This place is in Forrest City off of I-40 about an hour west of Memphis, and it's incredible.  We stop every time we visit my husband's family.

     That concludes our most recent road trip.  I found myself a bit down after getting home because I realize it'll be a long time before we go anywhere again.  We may venture out for Christmas to New Mexico, however, and we're saving up for a big trip out to the West Coast in the late spring.  I also realized on this trip that I'm not shooting enough in general.  I saw so much that I wish I had taken a picture of, and I'm not sure why I didn't.  Maybe it's because we were a bit more rushed.  Anyways, I plan on shooting more this fall and updating again sooner rather than later!

Space City

     As I've mentioned before, my eldest daughter has decided she wants to be an astrophysicist or an astronaut when she grows up.  We had assumed this would just be a phase, but we're rounding 3 years of her proclaiming this (and she turns 5 next month...), so we're taking her seriously and encouraging her in any way we can.  Thus, we signed her up for the last space camp of the summer down in Houston and she was over the moon (hehe)!  She had an absolute blast and our youngest enjoyed the one-on-one time with her Mommy and Daddy.  I shot a wide combination of cameras and film, from HP5 in my new Holga, to Portra 400 and Color Implosion in my Leica, to expired Delta 400 in my Olympus XA.

This was some Color Implosion that I was forced to expose in order to get it out of my camera...the film strip wasn't taped to the inside of the canister, so it literally was just loose in my camera and I had to open the back to pull it out.  Oh well!  Made for some interesting color shifts and it was supposed to look retro anyway.

This was some Color Implosion that I was forced to expose in order to get it out of my camera...the film strip wasn't taped to the inside of the canister, so it literally was just loose in my camera and I had to open the back to pull it out.  Oh well!  Made for some interesting color shifts and it was supposed to look retro anyway.

06350020.jpg
06350027.jpg
It's a miracle no one got pooped on...

It's a miracle no one got pooped on...

06360002.jpg
06360006.jpg
Seabrook Waffle Company has THE best waffles in the world.

Seabrook Waffle Company has THE best waffles in the world.

It was National Roller Coaster Day while we were here, so we got to ride this wooden one for half price!

It was National Roller Coaster Day while we were here, so we got to ride this wooden one for half price!

I had never seen these bushes before, and they stole my heart.

I had never seen these bushes before, and they stole my heart.

YES.

YES.

She liked it, too!

She liked it, too!

She was as happy as a kid in a candy shoppe.

She was as happy as a kid in a candy shoppe.

A new friend.

A new friend.

Midair battle captured on a Holga.  You'll notice in these next few frames that there are some splotches.  That's due to the fact that I foolishly skipped Photoflo at the end and our hard water dried on the negatives.

Midair battle captured on a Holga.  You'll notice in these next few frames that there are some splotches.  That's due to the fact that I foolishly skipped Photoflo at the end and our hard water dried on the negatives.

Double exposures are easy peasy on the Holga!

Double exposures are easy peasy on the Holga!

img246.jpg
img247.jpg
Switching now to the Olympus XA with expired Delta 400.

Switching now to the Olympus XA with expired Delta 400.

img257.jpg
"I'm gonna win, I'm gonna win, I'm gonna win!"

"I'm gonna win, I'm gonna win, I'm gonna win!"

He's the greatest dog in the world.  No, I'm not biased.

He's the greatest dog in the world.  No, I'm not biased.

img267.jpg
img271.jpg

     Surprisingly, it took me almost 2 months to get through 15 shots on my medium format camera, so here a few images from Fourth of July in Florida and crystal digging in NW Oklahoma a few weeks ago!  It seems that I haven't given Ektar enough attention...these colors are so punchy and fun!

06380003.jpg
06380004.jpg
06380005.jpg
06380008.jpg
06380011.jpg

     I've got another roll of Ektar loaded in the Mamiya, and even took a couple of frames on it while in Texas, so I'm determined to shoot through it faster this time.  We were thinking of going to Colorado for Labor Day weekend, but then remembered that we have the Air Force Ball a couple of weekends after that, so I'm not sure expenses will allow it :-(  I'm sure I'll find some stuff to shoot though, especially since it's finally supposed to cool down a bit!

Flops and Flips

     We've been taking it relatively easy since coming back from that long road trip, but we'll be on the road again this weekend!  In the meantime, I've been pushing myself to shoot and develop more black and white film.  I put my first roll of actual FRESH Tri-X through my Leica, but then managed to botch the processing.  I diluted the stock solution too much, I believe, and also let it develop for too long, so the results were quite grainy and uneven.  I also screwed up the fixer somehow, but don't ask me how.  I shot through this roll last weekend when we went around northwestern Oklahoma exploring a cave and canyon and digging up selenite crystals.  Here are some shots from that adventure...

The girls have really taken to bike riding (yes!), but our youngest is still too tiny to pedal well on her own.  I asked my husband for his belt and came up with this fun little contraption.  He was not pleased, but she sure was and hey, it got us around the block before the sun completely set :-)

The girls have really taken to bike riding (yes!), but our youngest is still too tiny to pedal well on her own.  I asked my husband for his belt and came up with this fun little contraption.  He was not pleased, but she sure was and hey, it got us around the block before the sun completely set :-)

They make these little "nests" all over the house to read.

They make these little "nests" all over the house to read.

Last day of gymnastics.

Last day of gymnastics.

     After scanning in this roll and considering a resulting cry fest, I questioned why I even bother with developing black and white film.  Maybe I should just always shoot color and convert in post like my husband suggests.  It would save me a lot of heartache (and spare myself and family from the stench of chemicals).  Alas, I was forced to load up another roll in a last ditch attempt for a self portrait.  You see, one of my images has been selected for a gallery and the artist's picture is requested to accompany it.  I truly had no image that I felt would be adequate, so I loaded up my Olympus XA (since it's my only camera with a self-timer) with a roll of Delta 3200 that's been sitting in my fridge for months.  I haven't shot it because silly me let it go through the airport x-ray scanners THREE times (anything over ISO 800 shouldn't go through those things).  Therefore, I fully expected this to be a complete and utter disaster as well.

     The funny thing with the tiny Olympus is that you can't control the shutter speed.  All you can set is the ISO (which maxes out at 800) and the aperture.  For these shots, I set the camera up on a stool, clicked the aperture to f4 and maxed out the ISO, and saw that even then, I would only have a shutter speed of 1/8 of a second.  I decided to embrace the inevitable blur and let the girls have a dance party after we took a few serious shots.  Also to be noted, I tried a different style of photography for the ones with my girls; I wanted it to look serious, yet fun and caught on the fly by a stranger.  I think it worked and I want to try more like this.  First up though, was my self-portrait.

I was shocked at how well it came out.  This camera is so tiny and plastic and the film was questionable at best.  I also thanked myself once again for painting our bedroom half black and half white :-p

I was shocked at how well it came out.  This camera is so tiny and plastic and the film was questionable at best.  I also thanked myself once again for painting our bedroom half black and half white :-p

My yin and yang.

My yin and yang.

img234.jpg

     Naturally, after developing this roll (and successfully, woot woot!) and seeing the results after scanning in the negatives, I'm itching to shoot more black and white.  It felt good to just let go and burn through this roll in less than 10 minutes.  I wasn't expecting anything good to come out of it (and actually didn't even shoot the entire roll...), so these were a fun surprise.  My next batch of scans won't come in until the end of the month, so I'll be signing off until then!

2000+ Miles

     A few times each year, we make what we call the "grandparent circuit."  It usually consists of an 8 hour jaunt over to the Memphis area, then another 8 hours down to Pensacola.  This time, however, my in-laws were on a road trip of their own so we decided at the last minute to go down to Austin, TX and then over to Florida.  When I say "last minute," I mean that we didn't even know if we'd be able to leave Oklahoma for the 4th of July weekend until less than 24 hours before our departure.  My husband had a couple of highly critical flights to complete that neither of us thought would happen, yet lo and behold, they both came into fruition and he aced them (as usual ;-)).

     I therefore had to frantically pack, clean the house, book hotels, and plan out an itinerary for this impromptu excursion.  I had been looking for an excuse to visit Austin, and this seemed to fit the bill.  We left after my husband came home from work on a Friday and immediately drove right into grid lock traffic.  To top off getting stuck in rush hour, an emergency signal came on over the radio informing us that a tornado was forming due west of our position and we were directly in the path.  We got off onto some back country roads and raced through tiny towns, trying to outrun the wall of greenish clouds fast approaching.  Nothing like living in Oklahoma...

     We managed to successfully thwart death by twister and arrived at our hotel in Austin at midnight, which is way past our bedtime.  We all crashed and didn't wake up until after 8 the next morning.  I hadn't managed to come up with any rock solid plans for our day in Austin, so we ended up just driving to the main downtown area to park and explore.  The girls were actually quite difficult that day; complaining about walking, the heat, their imminent starvation, etc.  They're usually real troopers and far more determined than the average child to embark on questionable adventures with me, so it did kind of bother me.  I can't blame them though...it was stupid hot (even the locals were commenting on how bloody awful and unusual it was) and we were just kind of wandering with no clue as to where to go.  The biggest hits of the day were swimming in the hotel pool and eating ice cream for dinner :-)

First pit stop of our walking/shuffling/sweating journey.

First pit stop of our walking/shuffling/sweating journey.

This place served up the most amazing grilled cheese sandwiches.  The girls refused to eat them.  Like I said, they weren't themselves that day...

This place served up the most amazing grilled cheese sandwiches.  The girls refused to eat them.  Like I said, they weren't themselves that day...

They decided they couldn't survive without pizza.

They decided they couldn't survive without pizza.

So much graffiti in this town!

So much graffiti in this town!

They were over the day by this point.

They were over the day by this point.

I think he may have been every 80s kid's hero.

I think he may have been every 80s kid's hero.

I don't know what that light spot is...it's on a number of my images unfortunately.

I don't know what that light spot is...it's on a number of my images unfortunately.

I love the flora of the Midwest and Southwest.

I love the flora of the Midwest and Southwest.

And I love cities that have easily accessible bike rentals!

And I love cities that have easily accessible bike rentals!

Finally feeling like their usual silly selves.

Finally feeling like their usual silly selves.

     Our original plan after visiting Austin was to drive to New Orleans on Sunday, ride a trolley that afternoon, then snag some beignets on Monday morning before making the last short leg into Pensacola.  However, we were approaching New Orleans a bit after 3 on Sunday and my husband felt like he could make it the whole way.  Thus, I canceled our hotel reservation and we set a record for driving with the girls: 12 hours in one day.  Yeah, it was rough.  But we were determined to get to see my brother-in-law and his son before they left and let the cousins play on the beach and all go to dinner together.

     My husband got to spend the 4th of July with us for the first time in 4 years!  He's always been deployed or on some other kind of training/mission and considering this is his favorite holiday, it's been pretty rough on him.  I know he was relieved to finally eat some grilled out food, drink a couple of beers, and set things on fire.  We also went to a bigger downtown fireworks show, but the playground stole it for the girls.  It was a pretty awesome playground; tons of climbing stuff which is right up their alley.  

     There were a couple of blasts from my past on this particular visit.  The Blue Angels were having their annual beach show, so we went to their rehearsal.  The girls weren't that impressed...it was too loud for them, but they happily stayed and played in the sand while we all oohed and aahed at the jets.  I also got overly excited that my favorite goofy golf course had reopened the week before we got there.  So many happy childhood memories came from that place, so I was thrilled to be able to take the girls there.  They're pretty terrible at golf, but it runs in the family.

With her cousin and grandmother in the Gulf...she's become quite a little fish.

With her cousin and grandmother in the Gulf...she's become quite a little fish.

I love the Blues at least...

I love the Blues at least...

No one is allowed in the water while the show is going on.

No one is allowed in the water while the show is going on.

Making her point.

Making her point.

I <3 pelicans!

I <3 pelicans!

I even had the privilege of meeting up with my running coach from so long ago.  This man trained me so well that I broke multiple state records and earned an All American title.  He's still incredibly active and is such an inspiration to me!

I even had the privilege of meeting up with my running coach from so long ago.  This man trained me so well that I broke multiple state records and earned an All American title.  He's still incredibly active and is such an inspiration to me!

21 strokes in, but she finally made it!

21 strokes in, but she finally made it!

She missed...

She missed...

Sparkler anxiety...I mean, fun.

Sparkler anxiety...I mean, fun.

FIRE

FIRE

They had their faces painted (for free!) downtown prior to the big fireworks show.

They had their faces painted (for free!) downtown prior to the big fireworks show.

Pat the pony!

Pat the pony!

They're big fans of NASA and snocones :-)

They're big fans of NASA and snocones :-)

I love her.

I love her.

This picture means so much to me.  Here are my littlest loves, enjoying my favorite treat (petit fours) from my favorite childhood bakery, on the dock where we used to launch our boat when I was their age.

This picture means so much to me.  Here are my littlest loves, enjoying my favorite treat (petit fours) from my favorite childhood bakery, on the dock where we used to launch our boat when I was their age.

     Our stay was fairly brief and packed, but we got to see lots of family and friends, eat delicious grilled out foods, and enjoy some classic summer fun.  We topped off the vacation with 14.5 hours of driving straight home from Florida to Oklahoma.  Yeah, we're nuts.  Yet it was surprisingly easy.  Next up, down to Houston next month for a week so that my oldest can go to her first space camp!

A Few Shots I've Been Waiting For

     A couple of months ago, I put my first roll through an Olympus XA that my dad had given me earlier this year.  I wasn't too crazy over the results and was uninspired to pick it up again, but I woke up yesterday just itching to shoot AND develop.  I found one last roll of expired Tri-X pan 400 in the fridge and thought "oh, what the heck."  I popped it into the Olympus and decided to burn through the 24 exposures to see if I could come away with anything that would encourage me to pursue shooting more with this little clamshell camera.

     I remembered that I was out of fixer and also knew that I hadn't been completely pleased with how my Ilfotech HC developer was performing with the Tri-X films I had developed thus far, so I ran out to the camera store and picked up some Kodak D-76 developer and fixer powders.  I refused to spend $20 on two empty gallon containers they sold there, so I went home and dumpster dove in our own bin, only to discover that my husband apparently has a secret passion for crushing milk cartons with Hulk-like intensity.  I was therefore forced to finally utilize my heavy glass moonshine jug for something other than collecting dust and memories of the South and I dumped out hummingbird nectar to free up another bottle for my fixer (guess we'll be skipped on this year's migration...).

     Now that all the materials were acquired, I just had to shoot.  The girls had dressed themselves that day and they had actually done pretty well, so there was no need to change them.  I made it my mission to capture some frames that show who they are individually and as sisters.  I can't believe how much they've grown in these short 3-4 years; they're both officially out of the babyish looking stage and are really starting to resemble actual kids/mini-adults (there's a chance this happened earlier and my mommy goggles just refused to let me see it though).  I love these three shots because they embody their personalities so well: my sweet rose with her kind eyes and warmth, and my little bird with her quirks and intensity.  I'm sure these don't look like much to a stranger, but to me, these are images I'll cherish forever because they represent my children in the way that I'll always remember them at this stage in their life.

A Trek Through Quebec

     A month ago, I flew to Quebec to take some time for myself.  I do this about once a year so that I can focus on photography, writing, and generally outlining my future.  I always leave my husband and kids at home and spend every day thinking it's selfish, but I really do come back refreshed and with a better grasp of who I am.  This time was the hardest though; as your kids get older, they actually become far more interesting and fun to be around.  Between my oldest daughter now aspiring to be an astronaut or astrophysicist and my youngest beginning to express an interest, and talent, in constructing complex buildings out of pretty much anything you give her, I genuinely enjoy helping them grow and having actual conversations with them about their thoughts.

     So it was with a somewhat heavy heart, and tired eyes, that I left for Dallas at 5 in the morning and arrived at the airport almost 4 hours later.  My first flight did not go well.  I knew that I would be on a small commuter jet and was aware that those aircrafts are often short on carry-on luggage space, so I was listening the entire time prior to boarding whether they needed some people to check their bags (and was prepared to do so).  No such announcement was made, even though all the flights around us were asking for volunteers.

     As they started boarding, I chose to wait until the end of my zone's line slowly lurched forward before presenting my ticket.  It wasn't a full flight, so I thought everything would be fine.  Nevertheless, by the time I got on and found my seat, there were no more overhead bins available and while my luggage fit under the seat in front of me, my neighbor complained that it encroached upon his foot space by *literally* two inches.  The flight attendant gave me a nasty look and offered no aid or advice, so I had to go to the front of the plane and request that they reopen the hatch to check my bag.  No one was happy, and I learned that it is worth it to stand in line with all of your luggage prior to boarding.

     After landing in Montreal, I went through customs and was interrogated by a border patrol agent.  He was not impressed that I was traveling by myself with no purpose other than to write and take pictures, and he let me know that he thought I was foolish.  I pointed out that my final destination is considered one of the safest cities in the world, but he just glared at me for so long I was starting to get concerned that he may be able to prevent me from going further in my journey.  Finally, with a swish of his hand and a shake of his head, he sent me on my way.  By this point, I was starting to doubt my preconceived notion that Canadians were a friendly lot.

     However, I was then ushered to another counter behind which was a jovial man eager to help me in whatever way he could.  I explained the carry-on-turned-checked-baggage situation and his face fell; he was convinced it was lost.  "I am so very sorry, Amanda Jean, but I don't see a record of your bag on this list."  All I could think was, "well at least I have my camera gear, journal, books, and a jacket."  Thankfully, one of his coworkers came to the rescue and pulled up a different roster...lo and behold, my bag had been transferred as expected!  By this point, I was so ready to get to my apartment and sleep that I hardly remember the last flight.

    Once I was in the unexpectedly small Quebec airport, I grabbed my bags and was funneled into a taxi line to drive me downtown.  It was at this point that I realized English is not particularly prevalent in the Quebec province.  Now, I studied French for 8 years and minored in it.  I pursued translation studies, was the top in my class in classical French pronunciation, and even passed the hardest class of my college years: Analyzing Medieval Tales in Middle French (it's essentially like trying to read Shakespeare in Olde English, but in your second language), in which no English was permitted throughout the semester.  But that "Quebecois" dialect is a whole other beast...the driver turned to me and spoke, and I caught not a word of it.

     Thankfully, my reading comprehension is intact and I inadvertently managed to fool a number of shopkeepers into believing that I was Parisienne.  It's always shocking to foreigners that an American can speak another language without sounding like a hick.  On my second full day there though, it took me awhile to figure out why the locals would immediately respond to me in English even when I had addressed them in French.  I finally caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror and realized that I was wearing my NASA shirt.  Whoops.  The next day went back to normal and I could self-consciously converse in halting classical French again.

     The sun would rise very early there, and my biology has always woken me up with those first rays, regardless of where I am in the world.  So that first day, I was up before 5 AM and in desperate need of coffee.  I stumbled down to a Starbucks on the corner (very millennial American, I know...) to get my bearings and plan out my stay.  My loft did not have WIFI, so this became a morning ritual, although I switched up the coffee shops.  The first day was a bit drizzly and quite chilly, so I hung around the area where I was staying, St. Roch.  It was moreso a business district, but they still had some gems of architecture and delicious food.

     My place was also conveniently located right next door to the province's largest toy store, Benjo.  During one of the heavier drizzles of that first day, I ducked in to peruse the store.  It was filled with every childhood delight imaginable: building toys, candy, clothes, science kits, dolls, books, etc.  I spent close to an hour looking around trying to pick something out for the girls.  When the rain finally  let up and I was ready to head back out, I went to the back exit and promptly walked right into one of my most embarrassing moments in years...

     You see, I was walking towards an entrance/exit I hadn't used before, so I thought nothing of a ramp with guardrails that I found myself descending.  I remembered that our local Toys R Us store employed the same method, so I tried to inconspicuously duck out.  However, I noticed with growing concern that the door in front of me was far smaller than it had looked at the top of the ramp.  I knew by this point that this door was not intended for full-grown adults, but pride and mortification prevented me from backtracking to the snickers I could hear behind me.  So, I crawled out of the double, pint-sized doors, on all fours.  I thought the shame was over, but unfortunately for me, this lovely Benjo store has a frog as a mascot with a giant statue of him sitting out front of these doors, facing the street.  He happily croaked the news of my departure to a very busy sidewalk crowd, who then all turned to stare at this bumbling tourist still in cow position on the pavement.  Oh, and yes, there were two full-size doors, intended for adults, on either side of the children's entrance.

     The next morning found me in Vieux Quebec, and the architecture was just stunning.  I've always been enamored with Europe, so this city was the perfect choice for me to bathe in its influence while avoiding jet lag (and much greater expense).  I was not prepared for just how many stairs are in the city.  I know that sounds silly, but I truly was caught off guard.  I even took a number of wrong turns which led to innumerable unnecessary steps to climb.  Luckily I'm in decent shape, but I was averaging 8-10 miles per day with about half of that being uphill.  I was wiped out by the end of each day.  It was worth it though; I just took some breaks and strolled along.

     The pictures will hopefully do justice to the beauty of the town.  It was so fun to explore those hidden secrets that are found in all cities.  From tiny kittens peaking out of windows to old steeples jutting up into the sky, Quebec was gorgeous.  I was pleased to find that the locals are indeed quite friendly, and I tasted my first true macaron...I can sadly never go back to the ones found in the States.  I also sampled the famous local cuisine called "poutine" and I cannot recommend it.  It consisted of french fries smothered in gravy and cheese curds.  It was disgusting to me and I couldn't finish it, but I know that many people love it.

     So without further yammering, here's a sample of images that I love.  You can see that it was spring while I was there and I must've caught the blooms perfectly.  Everywhere I looked were these magnificent explosions of pinks and purples.  I took a total of only 138 frames, and 100 of them were "keepers."  By comparison, I took over 1,000 in Iceland with my digital camera and came away with about 100 good images; film just makes you slow down and nail a scene the first time.  These were all shot on Portra 400 with my Leica M6 or Fuji 400H with my Mamiya 645.  

A Day In The Life

     Last weekend, I decided to keep my camera on me and document our day.  I wanted to play with some expired Tri-X 400 from the 70s, so wasn't expecting much from the results.  It didn't help that while developing the film in the darkroom/bathroom, I realized that I could see far too well even though I had blocked the bottom of the door.  Turns out, the laundry room light had been left on and was coming through the connecting vent.  Thus, the film was exposed as can be seen in the images, and I lost about half of the roll.  I also didn't use my usual development method since I was in a hurry; I typically use a 1:31 solution and double the development time, but since I was pressed for time I had to do 1:15 and 5 minutes in accordance with the massive deviation chart for my film, and I did not like the amount of grain that resulted.  Oh well, next time.

    It was a Sunday when I decided to lug my camera around all day (it's actually tiny, so it's not a burden at all).  I made my favorite breakfast, Monkey Bread, and we ate out on our new deck before heading out to church.  While we are atheists, I insist that we be members of a Unitarian Universalist congregation so that the girls can get a religious education.  It is my firm belief that one can only truly accept and love another person of a different background if you understand them.  After church, we went to brunch where the girls behaved very poorly and therefore lost out on eating at the cupcake store next door, much to their chagrin.  We then visited their school garden, came home to play in the backyard and take pictures of each other, and then sacked out. It was a fairly typical weekend for us, full of relaxation and family time.

Air Show Fun

     We found ourselves, sans hearing protection, at an air show this past weekend.  I popped in some new-to-me Lomo F2 in my Leica and expired TMAX 400 in my Mamiya.  As usual, I had a number of people come up to me to admire/inquire about my gear...I do look like a youngish person toting around relics, I suppose.  I happily explained that film most certainly is not dead and that yes, there are in fact a number of local places that you can still turn in a roll of good old Kodak.  I developed and scanned the TMAX over the weekend (and discovered a light leak in the process), and then picked up the Lomo today from my local lab.  I was generally happy with the results overall.

     I absolutely love the way the blues were rendered on the Lomo film.  It had a slightly magenta cast in most lighting situations, but I do prefer magenta over green.  The sun was brutal and directly overhead so that did no favors for the images, but I still like the vast majority of the images I captured.  I have one more roll of Lomo and I think I'll save it either for golden hour, overcast conditions, or some indoor shots.

     I completely forgot to post a link to a featured artist interview I had last year with the founder of The Film Shooters Collective.  It addresses how I got into photography initially, my journey back to film, and what I look for when I'm out shooting.   So without further ado, here it is:

https://www.filmshooterscollective.com/analog-film-photography-blog/featured-photographer-march-mandy-thomascarey?rq=Mandy

A Study in Light, Form, and Films

     I've been on a roll (...get it?) recently with experimentation.  Sometimes I get bored with my regular work, and so I force myself into something new: new film, new camera, new lens, new subject, etc.  Last weekend, I loaded up an Olympus XA, a gift from my dad, for the first time.  As if shooting with a new camera wasn't a challenge enough, I also decided to use some Retrochrome (government surplus of Ektachrome that was discontinued years ago) that was graciously given to me by a fellow film enthusiast.  

     The intriguing thing about this film is that it can be C-41 or E-6 processed.  Supposedly the results are best with E-6, but that would've required a lot of waiting and I was feeling impatient, so I dropped it off with my local lab for C-41 instead.  The results were interesting and I feel confident in saying that I should put a roll of Portra 400 through the Olympus next, and a roll of Retrochrome through my Leica instead; combine new-with-familiar systems rather than new-with-new systems.  I put the film through every kind of lighting I could find and found that it performed best in open shade.  I also discovered that the Olympus viewfinder is pointless and I should just study the rangefinder to determine focus.  Here are a few from this combination.

Most images came out extremely green/yellow.  Here's some dappled lighting/end of the roll :-)

Most images came out extremely green/yellow.  Here's some dappled lighting/end of the roll :-)

Indoor, artificial lighting.

Indoor, artificial lighting.

Indoor natural, directional light.

Indoor natural, directional light.

Full, almost direct sun.

Full, almost direct sun.

Open shade.

Open shade.

More open shade.

More open shade.

Backlighting :-p

Backlighting :-p

Side lighting.

Side lighting.

     So that was take 1 of really investigating obscure film.  I've got 15 more rolls of off-name emulsions to shoot through, so definitely more fun on the way.  Surprisingly, this wasn't enough to scratch my creative itch and I was excited to find an expired roll of T-Max 400 in the fridge that came from my dad years ago.  I've really only shot with HP5 for B&W work, so I was curious how this would perform.  

     I've long wanted to get into fine art nudes but could never find any willing friends, for some strange reason...so I took matters into my own hands.  Now, when someone thinks of film photography, they tend to think of light and airy outdoor shots, oozing with glowing happiness and lush reds, peaches, and greens.  I, however, consider myself the melancholic philosopher type (albeit with a healthy dose of optimism!) that is more drawn to dark and moody images, even better if they're shot indoors.  The trick?  It's HARD to pull this look off on film, but I was determined to try.

     Even though the film was long expired, I still rated it at its box speed, 400.  I figured since it's medium format, I'd be able to deal with any grain that may result regardless, so I chose not to overexpose in camera (I was right...I'm still shocked at how little grain was present).  I then set up my Mamiya on top of my scanner since my tripod couldn't get low enough of an angle.  Half of our bedroom walls are painted black, so that was the perfect backdrop, and then I opened up the curtains only about 10 inches to let in a small stream of overcast light.  I meticulously metered off of my leg to get my settings just right, 1/30 and f4, and was finally ready to shoot.  Here is a handful of results:

     I had to set up a mirror behind the camera to study the light and shadows on myself before setting the self-timer, but I was unable to see that the top of my hair would be cut off in the frames.  Oh well, still pleased with the results and honestly absolutely shocked at the detail T-Max provides.  The fogging in some of the shots was due to a processing error on my part, but it doesn't kill the images for me.  I screwed up the amount of fixer I needed since I've only developed 35mm film up until this point (120 film on the reel in the tank is wider, so the chemicals didn't reach all of the emulsion unfortunately).  I'll do better next time, and hopefully track down some fresher T-Max!

     

Read the Instructions...

     A few days ago, I processed my third roll of film at home and gave myself a second attempt at scanning it as well.  I'm getting more proficient with the developing part and I actually look forward to it.  There's something immensely satisfying about donning gloves, mixing chemicals, taking temperature readings, and then operating in total darkness to produce images that will be seen by you before anyone else on the planet.  It's like holding a secret in your hand.  

     I typically dread scanning (and I still do), but I decided some research was in order before I threw in the towel, swearing under my breath.  As it turns out, reading some instructions and helpful tips totally changed my approach and attitude!  Who would've thought?  Here are some of my favorite images from this roll of HP5:

We're big supporters of science in this family, so here's my daughter patiently waiting to have an atom painted on her face.

We're big supporters of science in this family, so here's my daughter patiently waiting to have an atom painted on her face.

Approximately 5,000 showed up to support science at our local march in Oklahoma City.  It was all but ignored by the local media, naturally.

Approximately 5,000 showed up to support science at our local march in Oklahoma City.  It was all but ignored by the local media, naturally.

Oklahoma has such beautiful land, but so much of it is inaccessible.  This shot sums up my feelings of being so close, yet so far from being one with nature.  Can you tell I'm a quasi-hippie?

Oklahoma has such beautiful land, but so much of it is inaccessible.  This shot sums up my feelings of being so close, yet so far from being one with nature.  Can you tell I'm a quasi-hippie?

I've driven Route 66 and its offshoots dozens of times in order to get my girls to sleep.  They gave up naps at home when they were 18 months old and the only way to get them some shut eye is on the road.

I've driven Route 66 and its offshoots dozens of times in order to get my girls to sleep.  They gave up naps at home when they were 18 months old and the only way to get them some shut eye is on the road.

My mom visited for a couple of weeks and we went to our wonderful zoo on one of those days.  My youngest is OBSESSED with carousels.

My mom visited for a couple of weeks and we went to our wonderful zoo on one of those days.  My youngest is OBSESSED with carousels.

My eldest happily tags along with her for the ride.

My eldest happily tags along with her for the ride.

For Cinco de Mayo, I dragged my husband downtown for some free salsa dancing lessons.  It seems I wasn't the only wife with this idea...there were many, many men just thrilled to find themselves there on a Friday night.  Here's my husband in mid sentence telling me I better not be taking a picture :-p

For Cinco de Mayo, I dragged my husband downtown for some free salsa dancing lessons.  It seems I wasn't the only wife with this idea...there were many, many men just thrilled to find themselves there on a Friday night.  Here's my husband in mid sentence telling me I better not be taking a picture :-p

To add insult to injury, I then begged him to play pool with me.  It's one of my favorite past times that I just don't get to do enough of now that we have kids.  See all those white specks and lines? That would be dust and fibers that I forgot to take out when scanning.

To add insult to injury, I then begged him to play pool with me.  It's one of my favorite past times that I just don't get to do enough of now that we have kids.  See all those white specks and lines? That would be dust and fibers that I forgot to take out when scanning.

     I also managed to put another roll of film through my Mamiya, and it did not go well.  I literally burned through the grain due to massive overexposure.  I'm perplexed as to how it got SO blown out because I synced the settings to my Leica's in-camera meter and the Leica's exposures were spot on.  The lab guy suggested a possible shutter lag...hope that's not the case because I'll be going to Quebec at the end of the month and I want to bring the medium format system with me.  Here's a combination of images from Clickin' Walk 2017 shot on my Mamiya, Leica, and Polaroid SX-70...

See all those weird amoeba looking things?  Yeah, that's where I burned through the silver halides in the film emulsion...whoops.

See all those weird amoeba looking things?  Yeah, that's where I burned through the silver halides in the film emulsion...whoops.

Polaroid goodness.  Figures that the shot I had the least control over is the one I like the most.

Polaroid goodness.  Figures that the shot I had the least control over is the one I like the most.

     I realized during this walk that I have definitively become an analog photographer at heart because I simply took very few shots.  Film gives you the ability to look at a scene and decide whether or not you truly care to press the shutter.  As a result, I had to run through the rest of the film when I got home/the next morning.  I decided to capture some quotidian of course.

We're in the process of building a deck out back, so we've had 2x4s stacked out front for the past week that the girls love to play on.

We're in the process of building a deck out back, so we've had 2x4s stacked out front for the past week that the girls love to play on.

Ready to move on from Oklahoma, but this will always be their first home.

Ready to move on from Oklahoma, but this will always be their first home.

Oldest: "I have a stinkbug friend." Youngest: "I have to go potty!!!"

Oldest: "I have a stinkbug friend."

Youngest: "I have to go potty!!!"

     I've accomplished pretty much both goals for May within a week, so I guess now I definitely have to put another roll through the Mamiya and hope there are no functionality issues there.  I'm also on a mission to find someone I know who has been to Quebec City and can recommend places to go.  It's my annual "Mommy Vacation" and I desperately need a European/French fix, so Canada it was!  Can't wait :-)

Learning Curves

     I've slowed down shooting a bit since returning from Costa Rica, but have shot a couple of rolls on my new Mamiya 645 1000s.  My first roll was almost a total loss...I didn't realize that the waist level finder had a magnifier, so most of my shots came out blurry.  After a bit of research and consultation though, I found the magnifier and my "keeper rate" raised dramatically (well, as much as it can for a roll with only 15 frames available).  Here's a sampling from those test rolls:

     I did give the girls a disposable camera, so that was fun to see what they came up with!  Here are some of those images...

     And I also received a Polaroid SX-70 that is both a treat and a trick to use.  This camera only comes out for very selective shots.

     My goals for the month of May are to self-develop the roll of HP5 that's currently in my Leica and put 2 more rolls of medium format through my Mamiya system.  Wish me luck, especially with the development process!

Costa Rica Adventures

     About a month ago, my family and I went on a wonderful vacation to Costa Rica.  We actually ended up driving three days from Oklahoma to Orlando, FL.  Why would we do such a crazy thing, you ask?  Well, my oldest daughter wants to be an astronaut when she grows up, but a few months ago she was convinced she'd have to be a boy in order to fulfill her dreams.  This obviously shook me up, so I researched astronaut meet and greets and lo and behold, the Kennedy Space Center would be hosting Wendy Lawrence for the week prior to our planned vacation.  It was settled, so I booked our tickets out of Orlando.  Here are some shots from our day there.  Beware, Orlando has this uncanny ability to steal all of your money and sanity...

Here she is meeting "a real girl astronaut!"  Poor thing was so excited she could hardly speak...

Here she is meeting "a real girl astronaut!"  Poor thing was so excited she could hardly speak...

    We then realized we had made a very unfortunate decision months prior to our departure in that we thought a 6 AM takeoff was a wonderful idea.  That means we had to wake the girls up at 2:45 in the morning to make it to the airport in time.  Mind you, this was only a couple of days after the time change and we had crossed time zones as well, so we just kind of bumbled around through airports and airplanes in a sleep deprived stupor and somehow found ourselves in San Jose less than 12 hours later.

     San Jose roads and traffic quickly tested every last mental faculty in our possession combined and we managed to drive around in grid-like circles for three hours, alternating between tears and screaming.  It would've helped if the capital city felt like naming their roads, but apparently that doesn't go along with the "pura vida" mindset.  Finally, we passed a tourist bus and I said, "you know, I bet they have Wi-Fi on that bus.  Maybe we can get our GPS to work finally."  Bingo!  We were finally in business and made it to our first AirBnB stay only 5 hours late.

That's a guy walking his goats on a leash across a busy interstate in San Jose.

That's a guy walking his goats on a leash across a busy interstate in San Jose.

     Our first and last nights in Costa Rica were spent at "el Barco" in Esterillos on the Pacific coast, just a few minutes south of bustling, tourist-ridden Jaco.  I've stayed in Esterillos twice before on previous visits to Costa Rica and it still remains one of my favorite places in the country.  It's just a tiny town on the coast with beautiful black sand beaches, tidal pools, and a delicious restaurant.  It was so fun to see the girls play in the same sand and water that I used to run across and surf in.

     After our first Esterillos stay, we continued down the coast to the Osa Peninsula.  As I mentioned before, I've visited Costa Rica a number of times before this trip and always frequented the Jaco and Tamarindo areas.  This was before Costa Rica became a big tourist destination, so the cities weren't built up and I hold fond memories of their raw beauty in my heart.  I couldn't stand the thought of returning to these towns and seeing them overrun by gawking tourists and innumerable "tourist trap tees" stores.  So I took my family down south.  Way down.  Down to where the country is still wild and relatively untouched.  I'm glad I did.

     Our first stop was Finca Kobo, a chocolate farm close to the Golfo Dulce coast.  I can't say enough about how sweet all of the staff, and chocolate, were at this farm!  They treated our children as if they were some of their own, greeted us with freshly picked star fruit upon our arrival, and had some amazing grounds to explore.  We saw tons of pineapple, scarlet macaws, and what most certainly must've been a tree of death (see picture below).  Our beds were in a bunk-style house that was screened in, so you could hear the sounds of the jungle at all times.

     We stayed only one night at Finca Kobo and after checking out the next morning, we ventured all the way around the southern tip of the peninsula and up to the edge of Corcovado National Park, dubbed as the most biologically intense place on the planet.  We stopped in Puerto Jimenez to pick up some lunch stuff before journeying deep into the rainforest, but did not pick up enough to last us long.  There are no restaurants where we went (with the exception of one that only serves at very specific times of the day and primarily to their own cabina guests).  Alas, hunger and thirst forced us to leave a bit earlier than we would have liked.  Don't be like us.  Buy enough food and water.

I never saw anyone with this horse and his cart full of palm nuts...

I never saw anyone with this horse and his cart full of palm nuts...

Sea turtles had recently hatched on Carate Beach.

Sea turtles had recently hatched on Carate Beach.

We had to ford a number of rivers.  My husband underestimated one and let's just say we ended up with some water in the car.  Don't tell the rental agency ;-)

We had to ford a number of rivers.  My husband underestimated one and let's just say we ended up with some water in the car.  Don't tell the rental agency ;-)

Yet another self-disciplined horse.

Yet another self-disciplined horse.

This restaurant must make a killing considering it's the only one around.

This restaurant must make a killing considering it's the only one around.

It came complete with friendly local dog.

It came complete with friendly local dog.

     After this day of adventure and starvation, we went to our next stop nestled in the crook of the peninsula.  This was to be our most authentic Costa Rican stay of our vacation.  We arrived at our brightly colored cabin, Finca de Nada, for a two night stay.  The grounds were just beautiful, tucked away on the edge of the gulf with a beautiful view.  We had plenty of coconuts at our disposal, and little did we know at the time that this would be our main source of food over the next 18 hours, along with half cooked black beans.  

     You see, when we arrived at our cabin, there was a mix-up with the booking so the place was locked.  After some broken Spanglish with the neighbors, we got someone over who was able to let us in.  Let's just say that I was a bit shocked by the place.  It was moreso a shack, complete with open rafters and cracks between each and every board and a tin roof.  Within minutes of checking in, a torrential downpour started and continued until almost midnight.  The girls were delighted and ran out to play in the rain, while my husband and I huddled together and tried to figure out what we would eat.

     After taking stock of all food options, we came up with a crushed granola bar, a sole coconut, half a bag of dried black beans, and a half cup of mosh (Costa Rican oatmeal).  We decided to save the mosh and coconut for a meager breakfast and then promptly threw the beans into water and placed it hopefully over the tiny flame of the tin stove.  We each got a quarter of the granola bar crumbs.  After three hours of boiling, the beans were still crunchy.  The storm had let up some and it was 8:30, and we remembered passing a single restaurant about a half mile up the road that served dinner supposedly.  We gathered up all the spare change we had (that amounted to only $12 because we hadn't found a bank yet...) and I sent my husband out into the dark, cold rain to search for food.  Our plans were that if he wasn't back in half an hour, I was to carry on without him.  Thankfully, he returned in 20 minutes but unfortunately, he was empty handed.  The restaurant had closed early due to the rain.  We all went to bed hungry that night.  Oh, and we were accompanied by bats that came in through the open rafters.

At least we had mosquito nets to keep the bats out.

At least we had mosquito nets to keep the bats out.

A serving of mosh served up in a coconut.

A serving of mosh served up in a coconut.

     Honestly, those two nights were the most memorable of the trip and I'm sure we'll laugh about them for years to come!  We had to move on eventually though and so found ourselves driving up an extremely steep and bumpy road into the dense rainforest of the southern half of the country.  I thought the girls would get a kick out of staying in a tree house for three nights, and they certainly seemed to have a wonderful time.  I selected one of the tree houses that was situated on a river, so the girls spent most of their days splashing in the refreshing water under the jungle canopy.  It was a relaxing three days filled with delicious food, fun explorations, and relaxing to the sounds of the rainforest.  My husband and oldest daughter even got to go zip lining, see a Fer de Lance snake, and red poison dart frogs!

We all had to wear these giant boots because of snakes...

We all had to wear these giant boots because of snakes...

So there you have it!  We had quite a wonderful time and within 3 days of being home, my girls were asking to go on another road trip.  It seems that I have successfully imparted my wanderlust upon them...

Baby Chase and Co.

     One of my friends had a brand spankin' new baby boy at the beginning of this year, so I was VERY happy to get my squishy, adorable newborn fix recently!  There's nothing quite like holding a new life, especially when they're so peaceful and calm, oblivious to the chaos of the world surrounding them.  While I was super excited to shoot this session, I was also very nervous because I had sold my 24mm 1.4 Nikon lens along with my Nikon D750 a few months ago.  All I had to work with was my Leica M6 with a 35mm f2 to work with for the indoor shots, but I was pleasantly surprised when I got the scans back.  Here are a few of my favorite images from the time spent with my friend and her loves :-)

 

To The Sea

     The girls and I have been fortunate enough to spend the past four weeks staying in a townhouse on Pensacola beach, enjoying the sun, sand, and surf.  My husband has been attending a training school up in Alabama and spends the weekends down here with us to soak in life.  We've had wonderful weather almost the entire time we've been here and have created so many fun and lasting memories.  We got my oldest daughter her first big girl bike and she rides it around the beach roads every day.  My youngest daughter has discovered a passion for feathers and will spend upwards of an hour creating feathery forts in the sand.  I've enjoyed walking on the shore at sunrise, either drinking in the first rays of of the day or letting my thoughts drift into the shrouds of fog over the waves.  We'll be returning to Oklahoma this weekend, but the ocean never leaves my blood.

Winter Thus Far

Here are a few snapshots of our month of December from a couple rolls of film I got back last week.  The girls especially loved ice skating, drinking hot cocoa, and riding around in their Jeep.  Oh, and we FINALLY got some snow!! We've been staying in Florida for the past 2 weeks and have another 2 weeks to look forward to before returning to Oklahoma.  Call me weird, but I actually enjoy the cold and hope that some winter will be left for us to enjoy after going home!

16 Film Favorites of 2016

     I've culled through my film images from this past year to dig up my 16 favorites.  I'm so happy with where I am now in my film (and photography) journey and cannot wait to see what 2017 has in store for me!  We've got a trip to Costa Rica booked, a *potential* wedding in Australia over the summer, and I'm toying with the idea of taking a workshop in wet plate collodion photography in upstate New York and teaching at a conference for the first time.  I'm also hoping to delve into boudoir on film and book a few in-home family and engagement sessions.  If only half of those things happen, it'll be a good year :-)

48245JCcar923011-R1-015.jpg
31260028-2.jpg

Self-Development

     As I plunge further into the world of film, I've also decided to begin re-teaching myself how to develop B&W film.  While my preferred stock, HP5, is cheap compared to color stock, getting it developed is far more costly and time consuming.  I used to do this myself in my tween years, so I know that I'm capable.  After finishing my first roll of B&W in my Leica, I stood there with the roll in my hand for some time, debating whether I should send it off to my professional lab (which would be about $25 and a 2 week wait), or drop it off at my local lab for $10 and wait a month for results (they send theirs to a local guy in the state who does the developing at his home).  I knew that I had some old chemicals and the bare essentials for self-developing that my dad had given me the last time I was home in Florida, so I took a deep breath, put on a movie for my girls, and locked myself in the bathroom.

     I was just tickled pink to see the images appear on my negatives.  I did, unfortunately, butcher the negatives in my desperate attempt to prevent our hard water from drying on them (curse this Midwest water!).  Lightroom to the rescue though...I managed to remove the scratches/tears and dust (because I also managed to drop the wet negatives on the new chenille bath mat).  They did come out very grainy and I'm still trying to figure that out; could it be that I rated it at 800?  Are my inversions too harsh?  Was the water temperature off?  I guess I'll keep experimenting because my dad got me a bulk film loader and 100 ft of HP5 for Christmas...score!  

    So about $5 and 3 days later (I still have to get the negatives scanned by my local lab since I don't have a scanner yet), here are some of my results!

My First Family Film Session

     I was a bit surprised when Vania reached out to me a couple of months ago and asked me to capture her family of 7.  I had stopped advertising for clients and had begun focusing on film and my personal work, but she had seen a session I did for one of her acquaintances earlier in the year and she readily admitted to stalking my work online, noting that she loved my style and the feel of my images.  Of course I was flattered, so I agreed to shoot a session in their home.  

     Did I mention that they have 5 kids, all ages 6 and under?  Yep, I'm not gonna lie...I was a bit terrified, but only if I stopped to think about it for too long.  In all honesty, this was the first session that I was genuinely *excited* to get started.  She was basically asking me to capture her kids the same way that I capture mine; unscripted, unposed, wild, and messy.  She's my perfect client!  I had so much fun creating these pictures and really focused on making some of the images blurry, chaotic, and disorienting.  I know that's how life feels with little ones, after all.  

     I could not have asked for a more perfect family to work with for my first all-film session.  The kids were the perfect mix of sweet and goofy, and the couple were so in love and at ease with each other.  I even got a few bonding ideas to incorporate into my own family time!  Below is just a sampling of some of my favorite captures.

November Adventures

     In the first half of November, my husband got thrown on a tail swap (plane exchange) to the Middle East.  I had planned on taking the opportunity to go visit my brother up in Iowa and an old friend in Chicago.  However, my husband was just sure that he would be back on time and didn't feel too certain about me going to Chicago without him, so I scrapped that plan to give him peace of mind.  Lo and behold, the day of his supposed return came and went and he was stranded in Crete for a week.  After hearing his plans of taking a sailing tour around the island and sending me pictures of his adventures up to an old monastery, I packed up the girls and met my mom in St. Louis.  While it may not have been as picturesque of a visit as a free vacation in the Mediterranean, we still had lots of fun exploring a new city.

     What was supposed to be a 4 day mission turned into a 14 day one (same as the last tail swap he found himself on).  My husband finally got home at 2 AM the morning we were to hit the road to make the grandparent circuit for Thanksgiving.  We first visited his parents in Tennessee, then made our way down to Florida to see my family, then meandered over to New Orleans to traipse around there for a day before heading back home.  It was a rushed and very full few days, but still worth it to see everyone!  Oh, and all of these were shot on my brand spankin' new to me Leica M6 :-D