“Did you just take a picture of me eating my breakfast?”

Yes I did.  Get over it.

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Blue Frame in Garden of the Gods

For all the idiots that needed to be told where the view was, the City of Colorado Springs installed a big blue frame in Garden of the Gods, and thank God it didn’t last long.  This happened December 2017, here are a few news stories from back then:

https://gazette.com/garden-of-the-gods-framed-sparking-controversy/article_be1a55a7-11d7-596f-b009-a3a43b3ed1af.html

https://www.fox21news.com/news/local/people-respond-to-garden-of-the-gods-picture-frame-with-online-petition-mock-sign/882508118

https://www.csindy.com/coloradosprings/all-you-need-to-frame-our-city-is-a-camera/Content?oid=9377689

This happened at High Point where I take people for pictures if there is time and space.  I remember for weeks before there being some construction going on, they had cones and the area roped off.  This particular rock and parking lot are popular for wedding ceremonies, though I saw a few that were forced to go other places because of the construction.  Then the hideous monstrosity appeared one day much to my and everyone else’s horror.  Tourists of course, don’t care about such things because they don’t have to live with it, but to the people of Colorado Springs it was a slap in the face and collectively they had one reaction:

I’m happy to say that it was only there for a week or two and I just had to deal with it a few times.  I always made sure to step as close to the frame as I could when taking pictures so the damn thing wasn’t in it.

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.

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…

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.