Blue, 1982-2017

This is a tribute to Blue, one of my six favorite jeeps (we have six CJs, all 1982-1983, I would have rated Blue in the top three).  She was a good jeep, but sadly she’s no more.  It’s hard to see a beauty like this go out.

 

Actually I was the last one to drive Blue, and something in the engine compartment caught fire as I was taking a group down Rampart Range Rd. just above Balanced Rock, exactly a year ago today.  You can see in some of the pictures where the fire fed off the paint on the top of the hood.  I wish we had spent the money to put her back in commission but sadly it’s not to be, it seems.  She’s just sitting at the lot now, there for whenever we need a part to keep the other five CJs running and so far has donated a windshield and a gas tank to other jeeps.

Personally I’d rather drive one of the old carbureted jeeps any day but I’m in the minority.  I had many drivers (tired old guys) congratulate me on killing Blue off and asking if I could do the same for Bulldog and the others.  Ugh…

I didn’t have my camera with me that day (it’s become a bit of a superstition for me since), but evidently one of my passengers took a pic with her iphone, and one of my fellow jeep drivers got a hold of it.  I post it below, but do not own the image:

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Bulldog

The legend of Bulldog is that right before it was purchased by our company some 20+ years ago, it was involved in a head-on collision with a Mack truck.  The Mack truck was totaled, the only thing they could salvage was the hood ornament, so we took it…and the Jeep came through without a scratch.

Probably not quite a true story, but still an entertaining one.  Bulldog is the flagship jeep, and usually driven by Denim who besides driving tours is the resident mechanic.  It’s considered an honor to drive the Dog, and this Summer I’ve gotten the honor quite a lot.  Most of these pictures are from 2016, with some from 2017.  I haven’t even developed anything from this year, which means there are probably a lot more Bulldog pics waiting to be shared…

Our company has I think 20 jeeps at last count, 6 of which are early-’80s Jeep CJ-8 Scramblers, of course the most fun to drive: no nonsense, no frills.  That is to say, no automatic transmission, no cloth interiors, no doors or windows, no working gauges, just metal with vinyl seats, easy to hose off when it gets dirty.  Bulldog also features a high-torque first gear/reverse and isn’t used in regular driving, just for pulling other vehicles out of ditches.  As well, it doesn’t have power steering, which makes it akin to wrestling a bulldog, especially when driving up those all-dirt mountain roads…

Cowboys and Jeeps

(If you’re looking at the header group pic, from L to R that’s Buffalo Phil, Twister, Dutch, Scorpion Cowboy, P-Dog, Denim, Rowdy II, Sidewinder, and Dusty)

One thing that my instructor in Intermediate and Advanced Photo taught me was to make projects out of what you happening to be doing.  Since Summer 2016 I have been dressing up like a cowboy and driving jeep tours around Colorado Springs.  Here are some of the shots I’ve gotten when have a free hand (none while driving, I promise).

Besides being an ongoing photo project, I’ve also started making a documentary about life as a tour guide, the growing Colorado Springs tourism industry, and how Colorado and the western states differentiate themselves from the rest of America.  We’re living in the age where cowboys traded in their horses for jeeps.

There have been sprinklings of pics in the past here and there, but not one post dedicated to them.  Some of these pictures date to last summer, and a lot of different rolls of film here, too.  In order: Fujicolor 200, Cinestill 50, Fuji Neopan Acros 100, Kentmere 100/AGFAPhoto APX, Kodak Gold 200, Kodak Tri-X.  I plan to do a lot more shooting and interviewing this summer if I can, but this was conceived as more of a long-term project and probably won’t be finished until I finally graduate, and who knows when that will be…

Love those trains

Well actually, my brother was the train buff when we were growing up, but my fascination with old technology has worked its way to these wonderful contraptions.  Especially steam locomotives: properly maintained, they can work for centuries and besides that they look wonderful.  Engine 169 from the Denver & Rio Grande railroad is a good candidate for restoration, and had been saved and preserved in Alamosa, CO.

William Jackson Palmer was a Quaker from Pennsylvania, went into the railroad business at 15, but felt so strongly about the cause of Abolition that he joined the Union Army during the Civil War, and suffered consequences of that from his family and church.  He served with distinction, became second-youngest General in U.S. history, and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by President Lincoln himself.  After the war, he went back into railroads, came out West, and founded his own railroad running North-South.  The D&RG intersected most other railroads there at the time, and connected many mining towns along the Front Range that had sprung up supplying miners going into the Rockies looking for gold.  General Palmer founded the town of Colorado Springs and lived there the rest of his life.  I was happy to see a Springs connection in Alamosa when I went there for the Southern Colorado Film Festival.

There was a railroad that I considered riding after the festival, but ended up not having time for unfortunately.  I did go into their yard and take a few pics of some of their engines and cars; some are in better condition than others.  What I didn’t see and wish I had was a mid-century diesel engine, though there were later electric engines, though perhaps they were in a different spot.  Alamosa seems to be a repository of old train cars and I hope these will end up being preserved as well.

It’s growing on me…

I’ve always been more a fan of Fuji when it comes to color, even with Ektar, which really, I’ve yet to get the hang of.  However, I’ve seen so many good results for Kodak Gold 200, thanks to its popularity on the Pakon F135 users’ group on Facebook, and I decided to give it a go myself.

I have to say, I’m quite happy with what it can do so far.  As a plus, it’s readily available at the grocery store near my mom’s house, at a price of $9.00 per 3-pack no less.  I’ll definitely shoot more.

Poolside fun with the Weathermatic

The ice and snow finally came last Thursday.  Then it left again, but now it’s back in full force, having somewhere around 6in on the ground up in Divide.  And since I don’t have easy access to a fireplace and glass of scotch at this precise moment, I can at least look back on a warmer time, 2 1/2 months ago.

Ah, the Minolta Weathermatic Dual 35.  I was glad to dig this camera out of the garage and put it back to work!  Staying at my friend’s house while on vacation, most of what we did during the day was hanging out in his pool.  Most everything else we did is captured here.  Again, there aren’t too many outstanding pictures here (and I wasn’t even wearing my glasses when I took any of these).

Those 223 batteries are getting expensive!  I picked a Duracell-made one at Batteries Plus just before I left, cost me $18…should have bought one online a few weeks before, I guess.  At the cost of a new battery every two years, this camera is costing a lot more than I thought it would.  I guess I need to use the camera a bit more here and there (and it does well outside of the pool as well) before the battery runs out by itself.

Knowing that the Weathermatic handles slide film well, I took along a roll of AGFAPhoto Precisa CT 100 (AKA Fuji Provia 100F), as well as a roll of Kodak Gold 200.  The C-41 was scanned at my local shop using the Pakon F235, the Provia was shipped to Mike’s in Boulder and scanned using their Noritsu.  I still have it in my head to gather up all my slide film and do a comparison between the Noritsu, Fuji Frontier used at Mike’s in Colorado Springs, and my own Pakon F335.  Maybe someday…

The Kodak Gold looks pretty good to me, especially when overexposed one stop, looks like lots of detail in the shadows, but I didn’t bother with dodging and burning.  I’ve shot other rolls of Kodak Gold, but they’re still waiting to be developed.  What I’ve seen of Kodak Gold so far made me want to try it out, and I’m glad I did.  I’m still in love with Fuji’s colors though!  At least I remembered to make sure that the lens didn’t have water droplets on it when taking pictures.  I wonder if being in a private pool helped (chemicals, I assume), as last time we were in a lake.  In any event, the water seemed to pour off of its own volition and wasn’t a problem.

If one looks close enough, a little motion blur can be occasionally seen, something I noticed last time I used it as well, and knowing that the camera only shoots at ASA100 and 400, I should have loaded up some 400 speed film in it, but forgot.  Even in bright sunlight, there can be motion blur from me holding the camera, and other times the motion is quite frozen.  I can’t quite say I understand it.  One thing else I found out is that occasionally, the Weathermatic’s exposure isn’t quite spot on, like below.  Of course it had to happen when shooting the Provia:

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The Lights of Seven Falls

Video

Last summer, some friends gave me their old camera. It was a Minolta X-700 with a 50mm f/1.4 lens. With that camera and a few rolls of film I had in my fridge, I made this.

I feel truly blessed that people bring me things I can use. I’ve been given six cameras, and bought several more over the last few years, none of them costing more than a couple good SD cards.

While it frustrates me to no end that it seems like no one cares about shooting film anymore, I’m happy that I can provide a recycling service for people looking to offload (what to them is) junk. If you are thinking of getting rid of something like an old camera, please don’t just toss it – if nothing else you could donate it to your local thrift store, but ask around first, because someone you know might appreciate and use it.