Monday, January 21, 2008

I decided to spend some time in the darkroom yesterday. I haven't worked there since early December and felt I needed to keep my hand in. The advantage to having a dedicated space to work in is that with just a little preparation you can be ready to turn out the lights and start developing whenever the mood strikes you or as in this case you need to practice the craft to keep your skill level up. The darkroom was cold, 50 degrees so I turned on my little space heater went through my negative files looking for something to work with, selected some music and settled in for a few hours of work. I selected some negatives from a roll of film I found a few months ago developed but uncut and rolled up inside an old film box taped shut where it had probably been undisturbed for the last 40 years. The pictures were taken with one of my Mom's first cameras, a 1/2 frame 35mm camera called a Mercury. The camera was known for having a very fast shutter speed up to 1/1000th of a second which was rare for cameras of that time. After finding the film I cut it into strips and put them in glassine envelopes and then tried flattening them out in my plant/print press but I never could get them to lose the curl. I might have considered soaking them in distilled water for awhile and then hanging them to dry. I used a negative carrier I have for 35mm which has two small sheets of glass to flatten the negative. The 1/2 frame 35 mm format yields a negative that is 19mm x 25 mm with the long dimension being on the vertical when the camera is held horizontal (if that makes any sense). Despite the ability to shoot something like 65 pictures on a standard 36 exposure roll of film the image quality is nothing to brag about. I have thought about purchasing a 1/2 frame 35mm camera and using it to shoot ready made diptychs that I would print whole using a 35mm negative carrier but other then that I can't see much of an advantage to the smaller negative size. I think these pictures were taken during the legendary winter of 1950/51 where in January of 1951 the Northern Willamette Valley had a record breaking snow fall combined with a cold spell that lasted almost a full month allowing for accumulation of a couple feet of snow. This was the house my Grandmother lived in for almost 60 years along Oatfield Road just south of Roethe Rd. This is the house where my Mother grew up and where I spent a lot of my childhood. The one acre lot still exists intact and a larger and nicer house was built using the existing foundation and framing.


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