Old images from an earlier time.

In 1991 Belinda and I took a trip to Italy to explore the country and celebrate the end of a long recession that had gripped Austin since 1986 or 1987.  That recession was also caused by the real estate market and inept or criminal banking practices.  Some, in the savings and loan industry were actually prosecuted.  I took along one camera and two lenses.  And a bucket full of Kodak Tri-X.  The camera was a Hasselblad 500CM and my favorite two lenses at the time were the ancient 50mm and the amazing 100mm 3.5 Planar.  Kind of a 28 and 60 point of view in 35mm terms.  We were on a train heading to or from Parma and Belinda was making a note about something or another and paused to look out the window.  I made it a habit, back then, to always notice the ambient exposure when I entered a room or a train compartment so my camera was already set at an approximately correct exposure.  I looked down into the finder and focused and then I clicked the shutter button.  Looking at the image and how quickly the pencil and the headrest go out of focus I am almost certain that the lens was set either wide open or, at the most, f4.

Weeks later, when we came home I had at least 100 rolls of film to develop and process.  In those days I  processed and contact printed any film I shot for myself.  I did it to save money.  After all, we'd just survived a big downturn and one that changed the advertising market locally for some time to come.  And at my core I'm pretty frugal.

When you are developing 120mm roll film in a cannister that holds four rolls you don't do all 100 rolls in a day, or even a week.  You have to leave time and space for hanging the film up to dry and harvesting it from the clothesline in the darkroom and then cutting it into strips and putting it in archival pages.

Once I'd made the contact sheets I'd go thru with a china marker and mark in red the frames I was interested in printing.  A quick square around an image meant that it was "of interest" while an extra line over the top meant "keeper" and two extra lines over the top of the frame meant "print now."

Today, twenty years later, I've probably printed fewer than 10% of the 1200 images I took over the course of that month.  Every once in a while I look through the three ring binder that holds this trip and I find another one.  They appeal to me differently now.  I'm watching my past with nostalgic glasses.


Ed Z said...

Kirk I know what you mean about the slow pace. I just got back from france with (only) 20 rolls of 35mm. My tank will do 5 at a time, but that involves developing in the evening, leaving to dry overnight, then the next morning cutting and scanning while I work on other stuff... by the time they are all scanned and sleeved it's time to start the next batch in the developer. It's a slow process but an enjoyable one :-)

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing these personal accounts. I find them fascinating and they kind of inform my sense of what it is that I like about doing photography.

mbka said...

I hear you. Just doing weeks and weeks of (bulk) scanning of film I shot as a teenager and as a student. Much of it is unremarkable. But some discoveries are just amazing.

Anonymous said...

I'm in love with this picture. I traveled around Europe in the 1960's and 1970's mostly by train and this seems so romantic and timeless to me. Ahhh. The pleasure of traveling at leisure with a beautiful woman. Almost unknown today.

fotoplek@yahoo.ca said...

so much information.TY. i am thinking about adding a scanner to see some of my negatives..i used to contact print each sheet. Somehow digital arrived and the darkroom was forgotten.i am now retired so time is not a problem.Laziness is!i have grown to love big square negatives. Also when i use that sort of camera,no digital with, i shoot more carefully. Not better, simply with more care.Last 220 roll took me more than 1 year to expose. My pal who gave me the roll said "18 months!" 23 out of 24 were perfect and easily could make 16 x16 prints.Maybe i should.jason gold.Using a Rollei TLR.