Wednesday, June 29, 2005

I'll get it... someday

Polaroid image transfers are like night and day. Sometimes I can make a really great one with little lift off and true-to-life colors. Other times, they absolutely look foul. Here is a collection of a few I've done recently, with this first one being the best transfer I've made thus far. The other three are just filler for this post. You be the judge.

My main issue with making transfers in the field is the inability to maintain optimum film temperature and subsequently, the right developing time. You see kids, in the summer in Utah, it's hot. Zion was hit and miss. The Pa'rus Trail transfer below was made on Polaroid 89 film five minutes out of the cooler. Some that I posted earlier were made on 88 film that I carried around in my backpack for four and five hours in 95 degrees. The film was a wet, stinky, dripping mess. Since then, I've acquired a small sandwich cooler that holds one package of film nicely, but when the blue ice melts, that's it. I see why so many books and articles I've read promote Daylabs rather than field transfers. Plus, all those same books and articles suggest mastering wet transfers before moving onto dry, and well, I skipped the wet part altogether. I guess the moral of this pointless story is that as long as I know the limitations of the film and my checking account, I can just have fun and hope for a winner. All the images below were made on Holgaroid/Polaroid 89.

Along the Pa'rus Trail in Zion

Brandon (and my obtrusive shadow)

Adirondack rocker

Dad's garden

Thursday, June 23, 2005

More Yellowstone through the Holga

Here are a some photos of what makes Yellowstone famous: thermal features! Yay! It's the geologist in me that absolutely loves these things. They are amazingly interesting and so very beautiful, in a lunar sort of way. All were taken with my Holga on very cold/rainy days in May on Fuji Acros 100. More to come.

A view of Lower Geyser Basin, home to Fountain Paint Pot, Great Fountain, White Dome, Clepsydra and Morning Geysers, and a bunch of springs and pools.

A view of Upper Geyser Basin, home to Old Faithful, Beehive, Grand and Giant Geysers, and many others.

Castle Geyser in Upper Geyser Basin is one of my favorites, with its 12x20 foot sinter cone and predictable eruptions with both water and steam phases. When I worked in the park, I'd pass Castle everyday on my way to work in the Inn. It always put a grin on my face.

Sawmill Geyser, Upper Geyser Basin

Angel Terrace, Mammoth Hot Springs

Excelsior Geyser was once the largest geyser in the world until the massive eruptions (during the 1880s, heights reached 300 feet) damaged the thermal feature's plumbing. Excelsior now is a huge spring that discharges about 4000 gallons of water per minute. This photo shows the crater's sinter rim, which is about 15 feet above the water level. The boardwalk for visitors appears in the upper right corner.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Living in Yellowstone for a season gave me a heightened awareness of tourists and their quirks, questions, and anything but quiet. They arrived in throngs with an incessant need for bear soap, huckleberry products and anything proclaiming a visit to the grand old park. They stepped off crowded cross-country busses, road-weary motor homes and overpacked sport utilities, looking for bathrooms, burgers and bars. Employees within the park call them (perhaps affectionately, because without them, none of us would be there) "tourons." I became one again last month.

Before hitting the road, I decided to try conquering my great fear of -- 1. talking to people and 2. shooting people -- and I decided that Yellowstone would be a good place to give it a whirl because if I made a fool of myself, I'd never have to see any of these people again. I loaded my Diana with NPH 400 and armed myself with a notepad and pen and then did the most respectable thing any shy photographer would do: I asked my husband to approach people, break the ice and then get out of the way so I could take a picture. After about the third photo-op, I got more comfortable and asked a few couples myself. Everyone I asked obliged, and some even shared their stories. It was amazing to me how people would just open up to a complete stranger. I think it had a little to do with the simple blue and black toy in my hand, rather than some fancy spectacle of a camera, and a lot to do with Yellowstone. I've said it before and I'll say it again, it's a magical place. Life is different there.

Two of these images are my favorites for the simple fact that they have accompanying narratives. This first photo of Mel and Marlene is very important to me and I'm pretty sure I'll remember this couple for a very long time. We met at the lower observation deck of Steamboat Geyser in the Back Basin at Norris. They said that they'd been on the road for a couple of months (all the way from Pennsylvania) and in another couple of months, their trip would be complete when they reached Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Mel said he'd just retired from a lifelong career as a commercial pilot, a job he absolutely adored and missed tremendously. He told us about the various companies he'd worked for, the people, the travel, and then told us a little about their trip. He finished his story with a heartfelt smile, a wink and a moral as he walked down the boardwalk: "You kids find jobs you love."

The second image I like is of Jon and Paul, who we met at Artist Point at Canyon. You can see the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River between them in the shot. These two said they'd gone to elementary school together in New York and had been buddies ever since. Like Mel and Marlene, Jon and Paul were on a cross-country road trip, seeing America. They were eager to talk and so friendly and interested in my work. I promised to send Jon a link when I posted the photos. I hope you guys had a great trip!

I think I'd like to continue this project someday, still in Yellowstone, because the park attracts so many different people. I thought about doing a little in Zion a couple weeks ago, but I never saw anyone who looked as approachable as these people. Maybe I'm just partial to Yellowstone, being the not-quite-"touron" that I am.

Mel and Marlene, PA

Sandy and Gary, CA

Ray and Judy, SC

Jon and Paul, NY

Jessi and Justin, MT

Ray and Joann, ME

Sharon and Don, IL

Friday, June 03, 2005

Zion, part 2

Zion is an amazing place. I think I've been there a dozen times now and each time I go, I'm overwhelmed by the immensity and beauty of the place. I can't tell you how many times I've either walked into a bush or tripped over a rock because I was too busy staring at the scenery to pay any attention to where I was going. Zion is endlessly bursting with colors -- reds, whites and blacks on the sheer canyon walls standing guard over the river and life below; greens, yellows and reds of the vivid vegetation tucked in here and there and everywhere that water flows; the deepest blue and hottest white of the desert sky. It's heart-stoppingly gorgeous. If you have a Life List, make sure Zion is on it.

Here are a few Holga/Fuji Superia 100 photos... many more to come. Enjoy!

The Watchman

Kolob Canyons

Angel's Landing and the Virgin River

Cactus with West Temple, Sundial and the Altar of Sacrifice in the background

Refrigerator Canyon sandstone detail

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Zion, part 1

Travis and I just returned from a fabulous stay in Zion National Park. We spent three days in the sun, in the sand and on the trails. I took my Holgaroid out for its first roadtrip and despite melting film troubles, I made some excellent image transfers (well, at least in my opinion!). Here are a couple of my favorites. More to come...

The Watchman

Looking toward Refrigerator Canyon from atop Scout's Lookout on the monolith known as Angel's Landing.