Friday, July 9, 2021

A Difficult Month in Monochrome

To take to Massachusetts in my back pack, I bought a new tripod that folds down to 14 inches. It arrived a few days before we left. To try it out before the trip, I set out with the Variable Cuboid.

I had seen some scenes of interest on my bicycle rides and knew exactly where to go. I was in an Armco Steel kind of mood. It was very hot and muggy, partly sunny weather when I set out with the 200mm front mounted on the Variable Cuboid. There was also about a 20 mph wind. This camera is kind of a big sail. These tank cars and the towering tubes are in the Northeast Industrial Park. They make medical packaging. What do you think they have in those silos?

Wanting to be closer to my next destination, I stopped in a new conservation area made up of part of the old landfill and changed to the 45mm front in the accessible public toilet, the only shade available. I had a short sleeved white t-shirt on and wasn’t sure that would seal the sleeves in the changing bag. It’s really hot in a changing bag that’s been in a black backpack in the sun, by the way.

Until last week I had never been down Stillman Drive. It’s a no-outlet street serving four or five factories. When I first saw this cement plant it had been in full sun. I liked the clouds behind it and tried to wait for the sun to shine on the foreground. A young man who looked just out of college came out inquiring what I was doing. I explained and gave him my card. He said “And you find this interesting?”

This massive manifold was a little further down the road at a plant where they make windmills and solar panels. About the time I opened the shutter, someone behind me asked if I needed help. I said he had a really interesting looking piece of machinery. He was much more cheerful and explained to me that it controlled all the dust in the plant. I told him my Dad used to design things to control dust in fertilizer mixing plants.

These weren’t distressing interactions, but I’d just as soon avoid them, so I went out next on a Sunday to the far south side. Just as hot and not windy at all, which is differently relevant whether you’re a pinhole photographer or an overheated bicyclist. This was the back of a building so no one might have seen me anyway. I thought the OSHA required exit next to the toxic-looking exhaust was interesting. I don’t know what to say about the curved film. My intention is always for it to be perfectly flat. It is totally random and a kind of interesting thing which you can’t do with a lens. Maybe a little distracting, though.

This attracted my eye because of the way it was at the bottom of a little berm which would hide the chaotic factory lots behind it. It’s done with the camera very low with the front all the way up. Then when I couldn’t completely hide the tree and the fence, took advantage of the famous infinite depth of field of pinhole. 

The next Sunday I went back down to the South industrial area. It was again very hot, and I got nothin’ because of over and double exposures and advancing past one frame because I couldn’t see the numbers inside the Variable Cuboid very well with sweat in my eyes.

I didn’t have the patience to wait until another Sunday and thought there might be some industrial compositions on North Main Street a little further from the front door and a lot nearer my house. These triangular protrusions probably have something to do with power management.

Another mysterious machine mounted outside a building.

After developing this roll, it was discouraging to discover how screwed up so many of the exposures were. I was also in the middle of scanning the pictures from the trip to Massachusetts, so put these negatives aside.

Sarah had to have cataract surgery in Appleton where they’re still adhering to COVID protocols. I couldn’t wait at the outpatient surgical center so I went downtown to take pictures. 

There is a photograph from my Hello Walls blog post in a juried show at the Trout Museum of Art. My picture is in the last gallery on the last floor of the exhibition. There was no one there on a hot, muggy and a bit rainy afternoon. Just after opening the shutter, a gentleman, whom even compared to me I would describe as old, came around the corner. I thought he had a lanyard around his neck and mistook him for a docent. When asked if it was okay to take a photograph, he said he didn’t know why it would matter if he cared. We had a nice conversation about pinhole photography and some other photographs in the show. It was kind of interesting to be able to show him the pinhole since it was in the middle of a 20 minute exposure.

Spenser’s response to the heat has been to grow more hair and shed it immediately, covering everything and trailing a cloud of it as he moves around the house.

Elwood is a metal, trumpet playing rabbit and has served as the fountain in our water feature for seventeen years. He was featured prominently in The Pinhole of Nature. Last fall the two bolts that held him to his armillary rusted through and he broke off in a storm. We were despondent for awhile until we realized the remaining stubs of the bolts would keep him in position so we could hold him to the armillary with a jubilee clip and some padding from an old inner tube.

We have been observing No Mow May in the garden well into June and the ferns have kind of taken over so that when walking back there I inevitably pick one between my toes.

Once again this camera sat idle while I exposed and processed the color film in the Tenth Anniversary iPhone Box Camera. Then I went out to continue the industrial theme with the Variable Cuboid. It's a little hard to tell with this film, but all this stuff was various shades of black and white. About the time I got the tripod extended, a large overhead door just out of the frame on the front of the building opened and a guy walked out to his truck, casually glanced my way and went back in and closed the door.


Shortly thereafter I accidentally shifted the 100mm front and exposed several frames and didn’t realize it wasn’t remounted correctly so it wasn’t really pointed at what I wanted for the rest of the roll. You’ll have to imagine the grimace I would be making if I were a vlogger.

With Ilford Delta 100 stand developed in Rodinal 1:100 in the 6x6cm Variable Cuboid with the 45mm, 100mm and 200mm fronts.

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