It’s been over three months… so here are some updates in film.

Hello likely non-existent readers! I am not dead, nor in cryogenic suspension, nor in a coma, nor anything un-conscious.

In the last three months, I cut my hair off, which turned my wavy long hair into a short, bouncy, loose bob with full curls, and I couldn’t be happier!

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In March I turned twenty-seven, and this year I want to give fewer fucks about things I cannot control. I want to control who I give my energy to more, and where I put it. My anxiety and fears often threaten to spill over to contaminate parts of my life I don’t want them to.

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I’ve been trying to shoot medium format film that my aunt gave me for Christmas, and so far it’s been more failures than anything else but it’s been so fun giving it a try!

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Sharing space with all the critters around here, and finding that several walk the same paths that I do.

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This spring I’ve been feeling a lot of things and have been trying to go to rallies, marches, talks, and forums to help cope with and change what is happening around me. Spending time with my family and loved ones helps as well.

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It’s April and winter is not giving up quite yet. I put away my snow boots, and as I type a snow storm is raging outside our kitchen windows. The back door blew open from the gusts! It’s been miserable being teased by the seasons like this. However, we do have some beautiful buds on our trees and the beginnings of our iris flowers are poking up through the beds of leaves that covered them all winter. I cannot wait to hear more birds (we already hear northern flickers, robins, chickadees, and meadowlarks!) and see more flowers bloom. Crocuses are popping up everywhere too!

Sorry for my absence. Time never seems to make enough space to let you do everything you want to. I’ve been writing, researching, working, trying to go on runs, eat healthier, and do the self-care things I need to. That being said, I’ve got lots of thoughts and blog ideas swirling around, so I hope you’ll see more of me!

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A happy accident- shooting with Kodak Portra

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My dearest aunt knew I wanted Kodak Portra film for Christmas.

However, when I opened up the box, out came two beautiful boxes of Portra, but in medium format!

I rarely shoot 120mm film, mostly because the camera I have that uses 120mm film is old and not the most high quality machine in the world. It’s a 70+ year old Argus Argoflex TLR, with a Bakelite body and a not-super-bright viewfinder. Nonetheless, if I am patient, it can give me lovely images that make me quite happy. I knew that I needed to just use the film and take advantage of the fact that this lovely camera I got at a garage sale would never again have such high-quality film inside of it ever again.

If you don’t know, Kodak Portra is considered one of the gold-standard films out there. It’s grain, skin tones, and color are generally accepted to be the best. As such, it’s not cheap. I’ve never myself splurged on Portra, except for a roll here or there, and I’ve always been so happy with how rich the blues are, how perfect the creams and yellows show, and how alive my film feels once I scan it in.

So, here are a few shots from my wee little old camera, armed with some of the nicest film I have ever been lucky enough to shoot. Some moments by the icy Clark Fork, a quiet sunny moment in my favorite bakery, a still-life on our large kitchen table, and waiting for the car to warm up. Unexciting but still real, felt points in time and space.

Montana in reality.

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39555871392_62f6eab42f_c24717623767_97060edd7d_c27808798589_058f140e58_cMontana is a myth. It’s a myth of fly-fishing paradise, quiet valleys all to yourself, the biggest, starriest sky, the friendliest folks, and the Last Best Place. It’s where people like Justin Timberlake and John Mayer come to “find themselves”- which really means, they’ll go to Big Sky or the Gallatin Valley to be around other ridiculously rich people, just in a more rural setting, to play pretend when they drop into a dive bar. A year or so after they come, they’ll produce albums with ridiculous titles, where they’re draped in blankets or something rugged and look like they’ve been busy doing things outdoorsy.

I prickle at all of that. It’s all fluff and disconnected from the reality of a lot of us who dig our cars out of the drifts made by the plows- if you’re lucky enough to live somewhere the plows actually come. It’s de-frosting your car with a hairdryer because freezing rain made it impossible to open your doors. It’s waking up on Christmas Eve to -25F and drinking hot tea like it’s your lifeblood because it’s so fucking cold out. Everybody looks uglier with 4-5 layers on, and hypothermia ain’t cute either. It’s breathing in the forest fire smoke in the summer and accidentally finding yourself hot-springing with people who will later have sex, actual sex, in the hot spring while you’re turned around (which is very rude, and also not sanitary). It’s waking up to the opening of rifle season and having it sound like World War I outside, but it’s really just the first day of hunting. It’s carrying bear spray when you hike because they’re real and out there, and you’re so glad they are. Montana is realizing the sleeping bag you brought is not nearly warm enough in May, because May in Montana is a camping crapshoot.

I say all of this knowing that I have fully fallen under the spell of Montana’s charms. I’m lucky enough to have been raised here. I’ve stared at the sky, come across fresh bear tracks, heard elk bugle, and I’ve seen otters play in the river. But those are precious moments, not normal at all. Something about seeing Montana so totally glossed over, made into something poetic and so #hashtag worthy, just fools you into thinking it’s all craft breweries, perfect campfires, tying flies, star gazing, and downhill skiing with a side of rugged, outdoorsy Hemingway-esque masculinity. In reality, the reason that there is so much literature about this place that inspires others is because you can do a lot of thinking when you’re stuck inside for months at a time. Having such a long, cold, dark winter makes us go crazy in the summer. We relish spring because Primavera is a flighty wench here, gracing us for only a few weeks. Autumn is even more fickle, coming only if she decides to, while Winter may stay into June or come as early as September.

As such, here are some recent photographs from my cheap new phone, of that long, dark Winter. Of us really having to blowdry our car doors open, with two extension cords to get the damn thing all the way out to the car.

I’m not dead! I’ve been in Hawai’i!

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…And no, this isn’t Hawai’i. This is cloudy, gloomy, beautiful early morning Missoula, taken on my way to and around work.

I’m scanning in film. Lots of it. We were on the big island of Hawai’i, spending time hiking, going to botanical gardens, eating good food, and exploring everything we could. We stopped at farmer’s markets and devoured fruit and nuts that we can’t get at home, and spent our evenings watching Star Wars and planning the next day’s adventures.

Before that though, I was still here, still plugging along, doing my thing. We’ve been watching good movies and making excellent pizzas and life has settled into the winter Montana rhythm, where you expect nothing of the weather because it could change in ten minutes. It’s not the worst sort of thing, but it does make me miss sipping a Mai Tai by the sea.

Smitten Kitten

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My sister adopted the most beautiful little hairball last fall and I didn’t get the chance to meet her until last week! Co likes to sleep next to your face and makes lots of chirps all the time. She doesn’t like to be picked up and she’s surprisingly small for being so hairy!

Having not been to Bozeman for some time, Em and I attempted to find a cozy nook to settle into and catch up. Unfortunately, every such place was quite crowded. Nonetheless, we eventually found ourselves deep in conversation, talking about anything and everything in the way only sisters can.

Sisters and cats can cure any amount of the blues, it seems.

The obligatory Christmas post

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The ice was especially loud that evening as we, with full stomachs, donned boots and mittens and went down the lake. The cameo that winter light makes is brief and I wanted to capture my famiglia on the ice.

Not a lot of words to be said, as this was mostly a quiet, fun interlude in the cold. Silent minds appreciating the rumble of the ice and the darkening of everything around us.

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.

Bits of Blue

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I arranged the film I scanned in two parts: White and Blue.

Montana in the winter tends to be shades of White and Blue and Grey, but luckily my pictures were a bit happier than just being Grey.

I don’t have much to say. My photographs here are mostly quiet morning moments on the weekends when I would put on my heavy boots and head outside with the camera in my gloved hands. More crystalline ice structures, beautiful evening light on the grass, the light streaming in through my filmy curtains, and time outside. Working 40 hours a week I do find it hard to commit to being outside, but lately I’ve been trying very hard to go on walks, sit outside when it’s sunny, and just have more time, no matter how short, with a less artificial world.

Snowscapes

I recently got some film developed and spent all of last Sunday curled up with my scanner, watching it slowly reveal what my negatives had gotten from my adventures outside. I watched A Streetcar Named Desire and swooned over Marlon Brando a bit while my negatives appeared, and remembered capturing these images.

A few months ago the lake would get the most incredible ice structures and snow patterns and I avidly tramped all over the frozen surface to capture the nuances. Depending on the light and the crystals I got to see many different kinds of frozen H20, and it was incredible.

I hope you enjoy admiring all the beauty nature gives us without a second thought. It’s beginning to be a Montana Spring, which is where Winter and Spring go into a fight to the death. For several weeks there will be intermittent lovely days and snowy days, windy and clear, cold and warm. Spring always wins, Primavera always comes with her flowery cape and brings greenery to the landscape, but she has to fight very hard indeed here.

Down by the river

 

This was January 1st.

And what a beautiful day it was.

Chelsea and I drove to Bozeman to stay the night and go out. We ate plates of olives and cheese, drank very good gin, saw Cody and hugged quite a bit. There were all the good people, and the best cat.

We drove back in the afternoon after seeing a movie. We passed Townsend and I asked Chelsea if she’d be down to pull over near a little campground that bridges the Missouri River.

I am in love with ice in a way I cannot explain and to capture some frames of the incredible formations the river created as the sun went down was too tempting. Chelsea and I walked to the edge of the river, where pink and blue hues tinged everything. I felt euphoric – I had meant to pull over dozens of times in this particular site, but had never made the time. And now, it was finally happening.

We stayed for only about 15 minutes, as it was cold and getting colder. Chelsea took pictures, I took pictures, and we meandered along the river’s edge. It was the perfect stop before we continued towards home.

First tries

First frames from my new camera.

I’m really excited to be able to get used to all the settings. I really enjoy how the 60D fits in my hand, and the controls are fairly intuitive. Definitely having to work a lot harder with it than with my SLRs, simply because with those you set the f/stop and the light meter inside the screen tells you how much light you’re letting in and then…boom! That’s it. I don’t know what’s going to come out of the camera until it’s all developed.

The f/1.4 50mm lens is really awesome! I’m learning about its quirks but so far have been really happy. The photos above aren’t edited in any way whatsoever, and I’m very happy with them.

I also got quite a bit of film scanned in, so I’ll be able to really put up some good content! Kristin and I made some amazing food, I traveled with Chelsea, and I found some old frames from Austin, Texas that never got developed, so it’ll be neat to show you all what I’ve been up to!

Have a great weekend everybody! I’m holed up with coffee and a decent internet connection and frankly couldn’t be happier. 🙂

Winter walk

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It was too nice out this morning at a nice 12 degrees to not go outside. I love the clouds in the morning; they make for really excellent light for taking pictures.

I did it. I dropped money for a DSLR. I’ll get it on Tuesday and I’m sure you guys will see an uptick in blog posts that are full of awesome content!

For now, here is a gorgeous morning, some duck footprints (you can see where they slid in to land!) and the gorgeous hoarfrost creations that have been everywhere for the last 3 days.

 

All the ice for the ice queen + some camera talk.

Cooper the black Labrador wandered away and my voice is almost gone due to being very sick, so in the midst of photographing our lake ice I had to go and literally run to get him. He’s almost deaf and I can’t yell and we are a mess in general.

I’m in a coffee shop because there is no internet at our rural home. Maybe it’s not appropriate to be sitting in a public place while I’ve got the plague but I need internet more than I have morals so…that’s a lost battle.

I sent 5 rolls of film for my sister to get developed so very very soon I will be sitting in front of my trusty scanner and scanning film again!

One of the worst parts of 2014 was not shooting as much film. I know that sounds odd but it really made the year seem less memorable. Some people have amazing memories and can pull the most minute aspects of an event out of their minds; I have no such ability. I think the reason I photograph so much is so that I can highlight events and illustrate them in my own slanted way and never forget them. I can remember the random creepy carny wearing devil horns in July at the county fair or remember that my freckles were very vivid that one summer. I can recall details about my loved ones that I couldn’t otherwise, like how their faces have changed in little ways or how they hold their hands, or how we made duct tape dresses for a fashion show and picked raspberries and drove around aimlessly.

CAMERA TALK TIME:

As I mentioned to one blogger, I’m making the big transition really soon to a DSLR! GAH! For the first time in my life I will have good digital gear. I’m not throwing down $3,000 for a Canon 5D iii, and I’m not splurging on any f/1.2 lenses, but I’m getting good, decent gear that will do what I need. I’m nervous to take the plunge- it’s a serious investment, because even if I am not purchasing professional grade photography gear I’m still paying good money that I worked really hard for! (And at a job that I’m really unhappy with…every dollar means that much more!)

WHY:

I’m finally throwing down the cash because of geography. I live in Montana, where getting film developed is getting harder and harder, and also more expensive. Now only specialty photo shops develop film, and for them to scan your images onto a disc or harddrive is over $10/roll. My parents gave me a beautiful Epson V700 scanner, which is truly a beautiful machine, so that I wouldn’t ever have to bother with that again. However, that comes with its own learning curve! (Professional software, patience, etc…) For me to get a single roll of film developed, I either have to drive 90 minutes or mail it there, wait for it to get mailed back, and then scan it after cutting the negatives on my own. It takes a very very long time.

After reading thousands of reviews (I’ve been researching for months now) and thinking about what I really want vs. what I really need, I think I’ve settled on a Canon 60D. I’d rather put a bit more cash into some good lenses than a good body. I’ll then purchase a 40mm f/2.8 pancake lens and probably the Canon or Sigma 50mm f/1.4 (after having an f/1.4 lens on my film cameras I can’t look back). Maybe a zoom lens? We’ll see how much money I can actually put forward (my laptop is also on its last legs and I need a good bright screen for editing and scanning my film, so when I enter grad school I’ll have to drop some cash for a decent Mac).

For a while I was really really tempted to go for the new Olympus Micro Four Thirds system. I’m mostly getting gear for travel photography and portraits. My sister and I are spending 3 weeks in Iceland, the Netherlands, and Belgium and I really want a camera that I can carry around all day alongside my Olympus OM-G. I’ll admit it: I love my Olympus SLR from the 80’s and the Zuiko lenses I have are simply fantastic pieces of glass. Zuiko and Olympus had some good shit going on back in the day and I would love to see what they’ve done with technology. Plus, the cameras are lighter and those little Zuiko lenses on the Four Thirds system are absolutely adorable. The OM-D E-M10 (phew Olympus, couldn’t you make that more of a mouthful!) is also weather sealed and seems pretty hardy, and if it’s anything like my OM-G, it’ll be a beast.

A lot of camera enthusiasts will ask me why I haven’t considered Nikon and I’ll be honest: figuring out which damn lenses go with which bodies confused me so much. I couldn’t do it! I’m sure if I was more focused and paid more attention I would get it, and I know Nikon puts out some awesome cameras and lenses, but Canon and Olympus both had very user friendly systems that didn’t require me to distinguish and really study which lenses go with which bodies. Sorry, Nikon, you got a bit too complex for me.

If anybody has any recommendations or experience with DSLRs and lenses, feel free to give me feedback or ideas! I haven’t made any purchases yet…

And I will always, always shoot film. My OM-G is too sturdy and awesome and those Zuiko lenses are too nice to gather dust.

Worth going outside for.

 

I’m currently sick with a throat that feels like somebody took a cheese grater to it.

This weekend I took Cooper, our aging handsome Labrador, down to the lake to play on the ice.

We run all over the lake, where the wind has whipped the snow into dunes and into interesting shapes. The ice shifts and piles up, groaning underneath our feet/paws. Cooper runs ahead of me, slipping occasionally on the ice, until he runs back to me. We both are breathless, and turn back to go back to the house. I love playing with Coop and being with him outside. He’s getting older and I want to make sure that he has fun and gets outside and gets to smell all the things. He’s such a good old boy, even if he still sneaks around and gets into trouble.