Whiskey tasting

My friend Cam had his 40th birthday party at our local Black Bear Distillery, in Green Mountain Falls, being about halfway between our town and Colorado Springs.  I’ve been keeping track of these guys since about the time that they had a website and Facebook page (before they started producing spirit), and though they’ve been open for business and open for tours for a while, the timing was never right to visit myself, until now.  As an aside, most of the people in these pictures go to my church; the owner of the distillery goes to a church just down the street from us.

The Black Bear Restaurant dates back to the late ’30s (was called Pike’s Pub & Grill for a long time) and the current owner was operating the restaurant until a few years back, I don’t know exactly why the restaurant closed but I’m happy to have a distillery now.  The manager took us through the history of the building (including ghost stories) as well as giving us the low-down on modern “moonshine,” and why theirs is better/more authentic.  And considering it’s owned by a 4th generation North Carolina moonshiner I’ll take their word for it.  I think the first bottle I ever bought from them was their Craft Shine Reserve (no longer offered) but the only one I would (and have) actively looked for is their Irish-style whiskey.  It has a quite salient corn flavor compared to Irish whiskey, though evidently it’s about 80% barley.  I asked about the possibility of a single malt, and evidently they’ve been trying but they haven’t found a way to age it properly in the Colorado climate.  A Straight Boubon is in the works though!  I’m pretty excited for that.  They get their grain from the Colorado Malting Co. in Alamosa, and do the rest of the process in-house, which is always great to hear.  I remember reading their original plans where they were going to soak the barley in the stream, grind it with two reclaimed millstones run by a pack of donkeys…sadly the residents of GMF weren’t too thrilled about that part of the operation.

I shot a roll of Tri-X pushing two stops but it was pretty dark in there, and I could have benefited from either more light or a faster film.  Not feeling quite confident to push Tri-X to 3200 or beyond I decided to shoot at 1/30 second throughout.  The Yellow 50 made it possible, though at f/1.4 its depth of field isn’t the largest.  I keep thinking about one of the Tomioka f/1.2 lenses except they cost about a grand…that’s a lot of money for an extra half-stop.  Since I’m retaking Advanced Photo I’m developing my own black & white film again, using the Sprint chemistry and I think this is the first time pushing film with Sprint (at 75F as I thought the fewer agitations would keep the grain under control).  I’m pretty happy with the results, though I intend to experiment with pushing Tri-X to 3200 and beyond, probably with Caffenol.

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Out with the old…

…and in with the reliable.  Just look at that old piece of crap: my mom bought me this officially-branded Chicago Blackhawks duffel bag when I was about ten years old, so I’ve had it more than two-thirds of my life.  It carried my clothes to sleepovers way back when, to film festivals in Colorado, and housesitting jobs as recently as last month; it got a lot of love along the way.  After 20+ years it’s finally getting retired in favor of a BAD Bags #3 duffel/backpack hybrid.

It’s a pretty important investment for me because I’m flying to Ohio towards the end of March and I’m sick of borrowing my mom’s luggage.  I certainly couldn’t take the Blackhawks bag with holes everywhere and no working zipper…

Who wants prints?

I’m taking Advanced Photography again.  I took it before, three years ago, all those pictures can be found here, as well as a few related projects that bled over into the following years.  I suppose I wanted to take the class again primarily because I wanted to get back into the darkroom.

What this will allow me to do is make a lot of fine art optical prints, something I’ve really missed doing, and I’d like to offer this to you, my loyal readers.  Traditional black & white optical prints get the best out of analog photochemical imaging and are the most archival process, I’ve read they can last for 1000 years if properly processed and stored.  I will be printing 8×10 on Oriental glossy fiber paper, one of the best available today.  As I only have access to the darkroom while I am taking the class, this will be a limited-time offer and all orders must be received by May 1, 2019.
Prices:
x1 print: $40
x5 prints: $150 ($30 each)
All prices in USD; prices include shipping in Continental USA, international shipping additional and will vary but contact me and we’ll work something out.
contact: joseph.irvin.photography@gmail.com

These will be black & white prints of course; most of what I’ve shot is Kodak Tri-X, T-Max 400, and Eastman Double-X and the links should make it easy to browse the majority of my black & white back catalog, just send me a link to the picture in the email.  If you absolutely have to have a color image I can make a digital print using an Epson large-format printer, email me and I’ll see what I can do; there is less of a time constraint on these.

A friend’s wedding

(Actually they’re both friends) It was Summer and dry and hot, definitely a memory I need in these cold months.  My friends wanted some pics taken for their wedding, I was happy to oblige.  There were all the standard pictures that are taken at weddings, though these are my personal favorites.

There were two other photographers so I didn’t have the pressure of getting all the needed shots, I could play around and have some fun.  It gave me an opportunity to test out the re-released T-Max P3200, plus play around with a new point-and-shoot, one of the Olympus Stylus Epic line.  I can’t complain about the camera (at least not too much), because it cost me $3 at the local Goodwill (the battery cost four times that), but I will anyway.

The Olympus Stylus Epic Zoom 80 has all the failings of its ilk: autofocus that can sometimes be inaccurate, a pretty salient and distinctive lens flare (or that might be a plus depending on one’s mentality), a flash that must be turned off every time one opens the camera, plus automation in film winding and shutter release that might make one lose a critical shot.  But if you know anything about these cameras you already know all the downsides.  For the price I paid I’d say the camera was worth it.  It’s small enough that I can carry it in a pocket or around my neck everywhere I go, and for that purpose it does what it needs to.  For off-the-cuff shots during a wedding it was a good compliment to an all-manual camera; the zoom lens–though slow–came in handy too.

As for T-Max P3200, the jury is still out for me, but this is only my first roll of the stuff and I’ll admit that I did the film no favors by shooting it in the Colorado sun.  I mostly wanted to look at the grain structure and can see that it will not handle high-contrast scenes as well as Tri-X, but then it’s designed for low-light shooting.  I actually pulled the two shots that show the film to its best advantage, and I don’t think they stand out too much from the Tri-X I also shot.  I fully intend to use this film for shooting inside where it’s dark, so until that I have nothing to say about the film yet.