The Navajo Nation has imposed more restrictions on travel, so it might be another six months before anyone can visit here the way Covid cases are going. I’m glad I’ve had opportunities to see many places on the reservation, including some not available to most. This is one of those photos that I think most people would show in color (with the saturation boosted as well), but the details are perfectly suited to black and white.
Every once in a while, I’ve come across a place where the seasons didn’t seem to be in alignment with the rest of the world. Sycamore Canyon was one of those places for me. It was late in the year and I was expecting all the trees to be leafless and the general mood to be winterish. To my surprise, all the trees were still holding on to green leaves and the mood was very energetic. The original of this photo is on color film, but with a new “scan”, the details in black and white make it difficult to favor the original.
This year has provided an opportunity to edit my film collection with ample time that I would not have had otherwise. Once upon a time, I had a 36″ legal depth file cabinet which had the upper drawer fully devoted to film. In addition, I had a set of antique library index card cabinets with one section (15 drawers) containing nothing but mounted film. A few months ago, I wrote about going through the 35mm collection. Around August, I went through the rest of it. I shot a lot of 4×5 film, but the majority of it was 2 1/4 film. I learned early on that a lab duplicate could never match the quality of straight-out-of-camera, so when I had something good, I made sure I had at least one backup, often many more. Now that nothing goes out as film anymore, It was time to dispose of the shots that no longer serve a purpose. By the time I finished, I had eliminated about 80-100 pounds of film and mounts. My life’s work now takes up about two shoeboxes.
The only question remaining after the elimination process was what to do with the remaining film. I wasn’t really happy with the scanner I owned. It usually did well with the 4×5 film, sometimes did well with the 2 1/4, and never with the 35mm. Reviews into newer scanners didn’t provide a good feeling about upgrading, and everybody said the only way to scan 35mm was with a scanner dedicated to that format. 35mm was never my bread-and-butter. I only used it when time wouldn’t allow for a larger camera, or a telephoto lens was called for. Buying a new scanner for the sole purpose of digitizing these slides seemed like a waste. Devices for slide duplication which fit onto a lens are available, but I had already tried something along those lines. Now I had the time to perfect it.
I tried to modify the way the scanner worked, first by changing the height of the film trays off the bed of the scanner. No significant results. Then, I thought removing the glass between the optical sensor and the film might help. That pretty much destroyed the scanner. No loss there. Then I made a lightbox with completely dark surroundings and played with all kinds of variables until I got it right. I did save the film holders from the scanner, as they have become invaluable.
There were three major problems with the scanner that are no longer present by using a digital camera. Most notably was the presence of chromatic aberration that was in the scans, but not the original film. Often this was time consuming to eliminate, sometimes impossible without adverse effects. Secondly, areas of pure black always had noise. Thirdly, there were occasions when the scanned image had a band of red, green, and blue pixels running through it. None of these are issues anymore, and the sharpness can’t be matched.
As if that wasn’t enough to keep me busy, I now had a reason to get some images sent out, so the process of rescanning my library has begun. After all this time of being on the computer, I had no motivation to be on a computer any longer than I already was, so that is why I have been absent from this site. I had a different perspective for saving film for scanning purposes versus what I would have considered the best shot going out as film. Many shots in the new collection have never been out in 30+ years. Here are some of my ‘salvaged’ images.
Here is the first image I have taken outdoors in almost three months. This is from this morning using the same lens I use for ‘scanning’.
As with last week’s post, I’m sharing an image of some place cool and wet until summer goes away. The weather people have put some obscenely low numbers in the long-range forecast, but then they tried that a couple weeks ago. As the saying goes, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice…..not gonna happen.
Yes, we’re starting to feel like Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day. Mother Nature has succeeded in issuing a stay at home order more potent than any Governor’s. The only time to be comfortable outdoors is first thing in the morning, but the smoke throughout the west has reached unhealthful conditions in many places, defeating the purpose of going out.
In case you missed this week’s news, record setting heat in Death Valley reached 130 degrees, a mark not seen there in over 100 years, or over one pandemic ago. The photo below is from the National Park Service Instagram page. Think of it like a bank thermometer, but the official reading is the third highest ever recorded on Earth. Phoenix has had a record number of 110+ days, as well as a record number of 115+ days. It could snow there this week, and it would still be the hottest summer on record. Las Vegas tried to end rainless streak of 89 days, but could only squeeze out a trace of rain. The people who study these things say we have been in a long term drought which historically last 30 years, and we are about 25 years into it. I hope in 5 years from now Californians are back to complaining about all the rain. It beats the hell out of all these fires.
Perhaps the most important news of the week comes from Greenland. Scientists now say that the ice cap there has reached the point of no return. People weren’t paying attention to Al Gore twenty years ago, so perhaps news like this will get people listening to scientists now. If you want to see how we’ve destroyed the polar ice cap, you can click on the link below.
A few years back, I went to Colorado over Memorial Day Weekend. I awoke to fresh snowfall one morning near Wolf Creek Pass. I spent the entire morning wandering through the deep snow and taking lots of photos. I finished the day north of Durango with more of the same conditions, and it was a truly awesome day. I’m going to be thinking cool, wet thoughts to get me through the rest of this summer, as I’ve given up trying to go out in this heat.
On my last springtime hike into Red Rock Canyon, things had changed dramatically in just two to three weeks from the previous journey into the same canyon. The plants had taken over, making the trip more obstacle course-like than before, and water levels in the creek had dropped with even some pools completely gone. There was plenty of life around, including these butterflies feeling spring in the air. This shot was somewhat challenging, as I had to use my body and hat to shade sun hotspots that were dotting the frame otherwise, while autofocus was not seeing things as I did.
While driving through the desert a couple weeks ago, I departed under the same clear skies we’ve had for most of the summer. After a couple hours, I noticed a tiny cloud or two on the horizon. I was headed in that direction, but didn’t think the situation would be the same in two hours. When I arrived, there was an hour or more of daylight remaining, and to my surprise, the cloud cover appeared to be getting better. I stuck around until sunset before continuing on to my destination, glad I had my camera along.
All this hot weather has me reminiscing about a couple months ago. This photo was from behind one of the waterfalls in Red Rock Canyon. It was late into springtime, and the flow was diminished from earlier in the year, but refreshing nonetheless.
The Comet Neowise has been making its way through the nighttime skies recently, and last week I made several short trips away from city lights to view this rare sight. On my first night out, I didn’t know what to expect, so I only packed a couple fast lenses. I achieved some nice results, and went out the next night trying to get this shot with a very long and very slow lens. That was a disaster, and just reaffirmed that it’s not a nighttime lens. I went back the following night to the same spot with a much faster medium telephoto lens. I made the switch to a mirrorless camera not very long ago, and this was my first attempt at nighttime photography since. I didn’t find it easy to frame the image using the mirrorless, so I ended up taking handheld shots with my old camera and 50mm f/1.2 lens as a spotting device to find the part of the ridge I wanted as a foreground. Then I set the tripod in place for the telephoto shots.
The desert seems so magical in springtime because in most years, there is an abundance of water flowing through the creek beds. The normal lack of rain through late spring and the inevitable rise in temperatures deliver a one-two punch that just makes it tough to want to get back out there. I couldn’t choose one photo from this hike in April, so this week I have two.
With all this time to catch up on things, I finally went through my collection of 35mm slides and disposed of most of them. While the favorites have been scanned and/or printed many years ago, most were in slide boxes and pages. These were mainly duplicates and outtakes from assignments, being held onto just in case. There was a time when referrals would come up from someone who knew I had covered certain events or places, but those days of out-of-the-blue stock sales are long gone. There were a few hidden gems amongst the thousands which hadn’t seen the light of day for decades. Below are two of those from Yosemite and Bryce Canyon.