Black and white reflections

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Odds and ends of a strange month. I got my Canadian work visa from the kindest border agent and then had the most awful experience coming back to my home country. I stayed out late and saw people I rarely see, found a dead bird behind the auto repair shop on my way to work, ate at a diner outside Spokane in eastern Washington, spent some time by the sea with my mom in Bellingham the night before getting my visa, and photographed flowers sprouting everywhere here in Missoula. It’s 90 degrees outside and I miss those weird spring days where you still might see snow on the mountains and have frost on some bits of the yard.

RIP another Kodak film and other stories.

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Images from 2011. I used to make so many more photographs than I do now, and I want to rectify this wrong and begin making images with the recklessness I used to. There are benefits to being very cerebral about photography but often my favorite images were made at the moment- organic, spontaneous, serendipitous moments. I treasure those the most.

These were made using Kodak’s Profession BW400 Black and White Negative Film. It’s black and white film that can supposedly go through C-41 developer, which is for color. It’s not truly black and white, as you can tell. I’ve had sepia frames, some bordering on blue, others more purple, but it’s honestly so fun to see the hues and tones that this odd film gains in the developer. Guess what I found out this morning?! Apparently Kodak stopped making it in 2014! My heart gave a small twinge as I learned this. 5844433096_b56fa08112_b6066507859_effee73b87_b6066984108_77b034f8b8_b

So, rest in peace you delightful, fun film that I used 20 or 30 rolls of in my lifetime. You gave my photos delightful tones and added some drama to my small hometown summers. Kodak, stop killing my film options!

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First visitor

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The gorgeous creative force of nature that is my friend Chelsea flew into Victoria one afternoon. I took the bus to fetch her from the airport. Bedecked in red rainboots and her fantastic smile, I immediately was infected with the biggest grin and couldn’t wait to hug her and show her my tiny apartment and this little city I am calling temporarily home.

Chelsea was my first visitor, and we both had lots of work to do, so much of our time was spent in pubs sipping various brews and finishing papers or projects. I didn’t give a damn- just having a familiar soul that I care about deeply was plenty to lift my pre-final spirits. We had some really amazing chats and spent evenings in the glow of various pubs and I insisted on making the last shot which turned out exactly as I hoped- with soft lighting showing just how beautiful this soul is inside and out.

 

Every day is like Sunday.

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Currently:

Listening to Apres Moi by Regina Spektor and getting all the winter ominous feelings out in the open.

Lusting after the gorgeous veil creation by Gabrielle Djanogly, which makes me feel like a Renaissance Madonna painting and a goddess of the moon had a hybrid daughter.

Studying blood transfusion methods, which in the early 1900’s were grim, painful, and fascinating. The last 100 years of medical innovation have been beyond incredible.

Trying, for some reason, to recall the levels of Dante’s version of Hell and found a handy visual guide.

Thinking about goosebumps and sinking my boots into soft forest floors. When it’s cold I think much more about my body in a protective sense.

Admiring the creations and thoughts that make themselves apparent in the Instagram of Adele Mildred, a milliner, illustrator, mother, and general demi-goddess who creates magnificent things and does it while usually sporting perfect red lipstick.

Going to try to make this Hokkaido Milk Bread when I get back to Montana.

This morning my walk to the cafe was slick and tricky, but gorgeous- the frost has occupied every surface it can. I saw cars slide along the road and my icy breath swirl around me and am now clutching a cup of black coffee the barista filled to the brim.

I want to make lots of food when I get home. Take long baths and see snow and put on my enormous, -40F ready boots, go into the backyard and find animal tracks that weave around the grasses and bushes. I want to hug friends outside while we’re bundled up in our big coats and clap my hands together wearing enormous mittens.

I hope your Sunday is full of good whimsy and good moments.

Blood Moon + Tidal Pools

The blood moon + lunar eclipse happened on Sunday night, and I felt that I had to go and see the moon change. I had never been down the beach alone at night, but I put on my rubber rain boots, put my best lens on my camera, and put on the heavy wool lopapeysa sweater I bought in Reykjavik. It wasn’t truly cold, but it was  bone-seeping, saturating chilly, at 8 pm. The air felt heavy, overwhelming. The closer I got to the beach the more I saw car lights- my poor dark adjusted eyes burned each time a car drove down the curve by the beach.

My idea to watch the eclipse was not original- far from it. I heard people before I saw them. Burly, coat-rounded forms of humans perched on various blankets and pieces of driftwood all over the smooth-pebbled beach greeted me- some bright phone screens, some spindly-looking creatures that were tripods holding up cameras far nicer than mine. I realized I wasn’t going to be able to get any photographs- it was too damn dark to get anything of value without moving the camera one way or another.

Regardless, the moon was already beautiful, a rusty, eerie red sphere hanging out over the sound. I made far too much noise as I walked on the rocky beach, feeling horribly aware of my presence, but quickly found an enormous tree piled on rocks and other trees. It sat about 6-8 feet off the beach, but it was old and sturdy. I dangled my feet and buttoned up my sweater as the chill settled.

Watching the moon eclipse for the first time was a lonely experience, perhaps magnified by the cold, but the moon itself is a lonely thing, so it was fitting. The waves lapping at the beach and the light refracting on the water’s surface added to the beauty of it all. The symphony of the earth, unaffected by human presence, continued as it had for eons, and I was able to sit and reflect on a storm-tossed, smooth, enormous piece of driftwood and think about this.

Eventually the blood in my hands was gone and the persistent chill of the heavy night air drove me to head home. The moon was back out in beautiful, ivory and grey-flecked brilliance, and I walked home with some horrible pictures and a head full of wonder.

The photographs above are very near where I sat and watched the eclipse. I loved discovering that we have tidal pools here.

35mm nostalgic goodness

When I got my Epson V700 scanner I was finally able to digitize all the negatives from my photography class my junior year of college- and I found some wicked frames that I had never even tried to make prints of in the darkroom.

So, here they are. I don’t have much to say other than the general vibe here was lonely woods girl ish? I don’t know, this was 2 years ago and I don’t remember exactly what I was going for. But these resulted and I love them all.

I’m still waiting for my film to arrive (Emily if you read this please get it in the mail) but when it does I’ll have more recent escapades available to view.

Have a great long weekend all! Enjoy yourselves and make pictures!

 

El otoño está aquí! (Hola!)

I woke up this morning feeling restless. I feel restless a lot. This probably means I need to exercise more or be active, but I don’t see how. I walk or bike everywhere, and I’m not still a lot. I fidget constantly and my mind races at the same pace I would imagine a thoroughbred might.

I woke up at a reasonable hour and immediately put on my trusty Asics. This pair is still stubbornly white (I like my shoes to look like they’ve been well loved). After I filled my Nalgene, quickly ate some breakfast and brushed my teeth, I set off.

Chris and I had hiked a little bit in the area exactly a week ago. And yet, it felt almost alien. It was chilly and quiet and damp feeling. There was nobody around, and I had the whole trial to myself. I quietly walked, letting the sound of a stream and of leaves rustling with birds create the perfect acoustics for my adventure.

I held two cameras in my hands- the film will come later- and tried to navigate around mud puddles. My roommate went to church this morning at the same time I did and I realized that we were both in our own way worshiping. I felt leaves and touched tree bark and made the experience a thorough one. I went off trail back to a stream Chris and I had explored a bit earlier. The stream was a tiny bit lower, enough that my shoes didn’t get as wet last time. The sun was peeking in and rising and I wished I had packed breakfast to go so I could sit by the stream and just relax by the rushing water. A squirrel announced to the world I was there, and I moved on.

Climbing higher, I realized how heavily used the trail was, and how lucky I was that I hadn’t seen an alma yet. I like being alone or with people of my choosing in those quiet early morning hours- it feels almost destructive to disturb the perpetual quiet that the woods settles over the land like a blanket. Who likes having a blanket roughly pulled off them in the morning? Nadie, that’s who.

Eventually the earth started warming up. I saw more and more people. I turned around after maybe 2.5 in, and made my way back. I petted several dogs, passed multiple trail runners already drenched in sweat, and a school group of international study abroad students with mixed accents and experience.

I left at the perfect time. Getting to my car, I informed some men about the lack of wildlife and the wealth of people and told them that it was much better earlier in the day. They responded, “It always is.”

Hello, Autumn!

 

 

NorCal Deux

01540007 01540008 01540021 01560008 01600007 01600009 01700004 01700011We drove to various rocky beaches, picked living delicious things, blew bubbles, went into book shops and wandered around Emily’s new environment.

The coast blanketed itself in fog, shrouding intermittently the outcrops and cliffs that make up this area. Eureka proved to be an odd town- some parts magnificent, the Historic District gorgeous- while others were more ramshackle. At night the view from the hotel was gorgeous. I liked how cool the nights were- it was relaxing, calming.

I’d very much like to go back and camp in the Redwoods and explore the coast some more- someday!

 

Success in a small but significant form.

negativeToday I developed my first ever roll of black and white film by myself. Although I’ve photographed for years using SLRs, and have a keen grasp on the concept of developing (the science, the method of using developer then fixer then a stop bath, etc.) I had never done it with 35mm film before!

Seeing my crisp little negatives come off the spool, with a few bad spots aside, I felt quite proud, even elated.

(Not my negatives, click through for image source)

 

Wandering in den Wäldern

Black and white and some photography, finally. Julia and I found ourselves in the trees, around the autumnal woods. Perfect temperatures and a variety of shadows made me feel creative again. An image of myself that I dearly enjoy even came out! We sat on the ground, walked in streams, and waxed about anything and everything.

Photographing Julia is easy- she takes direction, comes up with her own awesome ideas, and we both know that every frame will not turn out.  I don’t pretend to be professional, and she doesn’t either. We improvise with what we have and see what turns out!

I have missed taking photographs I enjoy. I have quite a few more to post soon!

Where history meets chaos and the now: Istanbul

I remember how to order pastries in Turkish, how to say “I love you”, and how to thank people.

That’s it.

That doesn’t mean that Turkey didn’t leave a mark. I remember Istanbul as this sort of young rebellious teenager and simultaneously wise old crone- mostly because it is both of those things, and every other thing in between. It is incredibly difficult to sum up a megapolis that goes between 14 and 16 million people (the official census isn’t accurate).

Riding ferries with asbestos ceilings, taking the new public transportation system (trams mixed with trains), being treated like the visitors we were, trying and then promptly despising raki (the national drink in Turkey, it’s basically black liquorice in liquid, high alcohol form, which is sometimes but not always diluted with water) were all parts of Istanbul. So was looking at a Frida Kahlo exhibition and then shopping in TopShop and eating on the 5th floor of a building, and sitting on carpets. Rain, sunshine, pollution, health and sickness, wealth and poverty, adventure and boredom- they all take place in this city.

I know these things take place in all cities, but toss in a chaotic history (Byzantium, then Constantinople, then Istanbul), multiple countries claiming reign, and it’s geographical split between Europe and Asia, and the religions laced in, and you get the most energetic and exciting city I’ve ever been to.

My advice: Be ready for anything in Istanbul. I mean anything.

Ay, Barcelona!

Once upon a time, when plane tickets were cheap and travel was easy, Adrienne and I spent a little over 24 hours in Barcelona. With little time to spend in this glorious metropolis, my photographs feel sparse.

I only took two analog photographs, and the rest are digital.

Last night, while I was procrastinating studying for a ridiculously easy exam, I rediscovered some of the photographs I had taken. My aversion to digital is such that I abandoned a lot of my photographs, thinking them to be worthless. Luckily, I found some images from our trip that are full of memories, sunshine, Spanish, Parc Güell, and the lovely vistas that Barcelona has to offer.

So, here is the story of our trip to Barcelona, told from memory and saturated in nostalgia.

Adrienne and I arrived at the Barcelona airport at about 22:00, and quickly realized that we had little no idea to get to our hostel. I had to scramble together whatever I had left of my high school Spanish, jumbled with Italian, but we got on the bus from the airport and made our way to whatever stop we ended up getting off at. We were both exhausted- travel had just finished, and I had been in Turkey for 10+ days.

We eventually found our hostel, Backpackers BCN Casanova (good place, good price, good location) and entered our room. Immediately, we smelled cologne, and saw enormous white sneakers scattered. Adrienne and I both knew what that meant: HOMBRES.

As it would turn out, we were rooming with four large Slovakian boys who really liked to party. When I say large, I mean they were tall, one or two were very muscular, and they were LOUD. Adrienne and I crawled into bed, exhausted, and at around 3:30 or 4:00, the Slovakians enter, loud and intoxicated. I was on the top bunk, poor Adrienne right on their level. Much noise (including grunts?) and knocking about later, our room stayed silent.

I don’t remember what hour we rose, but we went out hunting for breakfast. We found some juice and some sort of sustinence, and then planned how to get to Parc Güell. Several metro stops and a bus later, we found our way to Parc Güell, and spent several hours wandering, talking, eating the snacks we bought earlier, and running our hands over the tiles Gaudi transformed the park with. Adrienne was looking snazzy in a new suede jacket, and I was wearing some flats I had purchased for my birthday. The sun was shining, and Barcelona looked AMAZING from the high-point that Parc Güell was perched on.

We got there early enough to have the park to ourselves for a time. Flowers were already blooming in mid-March, cacti flanked the paths, and wispy trees gave languid shade to parts of the park. It began to get rather hot, and we found a quiet area to sit. We planned out our next stop, and decided to make it to the Sagrada Familia.

A bus and a few more metro stops later, we arrived downtown, close to Las Ramblas, and with our handy tourist map got to La Sagrada Familia, only to find hundreds of like-minded people already there. By this time, the Spanish sun, already blazing in March, drove us to the conclusion that it would be more pertinent to find food, nap, and then reform our game plan.

After a lunch with terrible sangria, cubes of cheese, and some other foods I don’t remember (we both agreed the meal was less than satisfactory), Adrienne and I found our way to the Museu Picasso de Barcelona, where we spent the next few hours admiring this genius’s amazing pieces, and then cavorting in the museum cafe making up limericks and rhymes about historical figures.

After that, dinner! If you go to Barcelona, I know that there are thousands of restaurants, but Origens was excellent. It wasn’t super pricey, the location was awesome, and the service was amazing. Adrienne and I almost went to the beach at night, but realized that we didn’t really want to be out super late, as we had to wake up at 5:30 am to catch the bus back to the airport.

The Slovakians had other plans for us. In our pajamas, without contacts in, the Slovakians came in and began attempting to coerce Adrienne and I to come out clubbing with them. They promised to have us back in time for our shuttle. Adrienne and I declined many times, but ended up having a couple hours of conversation with our new international friends. They invited us to visit them in Bratislava (which I have always wanted to go to), and explained how American speak English.

“You Americans speak English like you have a hot po-tay-toe in your mouth”, and then went on to fake an American English accent, which was really quite accurate! Eventually they went out to explore the Barcelona night, and Adrienne and I slept to the terribly early hour, then got up to leave the beautiful city we spent only one full day in.

Hasta luego, Barcelona, pero no adios!