Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Is it bad that any time it so much as thinks about raining out here I start scheming ways of getting going out to take photos? It's a bit tricky, of course, trying to get as much gear as I can outside without ruining any of it.

So far my tips and tricks are these: plan ahead, pack only cameras that can be replaced, have a waterproof or water-resistant camera bag AND a coat (So you can dig around in your bag with the coat over the opening to avoid letting the rain in), and don't stray too far from your car. Also, have a couple of towels waiting for you your car, just in case.

Most of my rainy day photography has been done in spittle type rain, but I have taken a few shots in certifiable rainstorms--mostly under the cover of something. By "cover" I mean things like my car, a bridge, a porch, or my coat pulled up and over my camera as best as I can.

Then there are a few cameras that I might make an exception for, ones where I just pull them out and quickly get my shot and then stuff the camera back in the bag. My Polaroid Spectra and Polaroid One cameras get that kind of treatment because I can frame the shot, take the picture, and hide the camera away really quickly. And those cameras didn't cost me an arm and a leg, so I am a little more brutal with them.

I've said it before and I'll probably say it again-- I love the way that everything around here changes when storms roll in. Not that I don't love basking in sunshine, but I really do like the occasional thunderstorm.


Sunny days in Zion National Park:

Stormy/rainy days in Zion:

As you may have guessed, the weather has been stormy around here for the last couple of days. I'm planning on going out to enjoy it tomorrow.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A new place to walk

My hubby and I took a walk/hike in a National Conservation Area near our home on Saturday. We took our dog along with us and I dare say, we all had a good time. We stretched our legs and enjoyed a windy, partially cloudy afternoon in our beloved desert. If that doesn't sound particularly appealing, consider the alternative-- an unrelentingly hot and sunburn-inducing, blindingly bright hike. So, like I was saying, the conditions were perfect.

I find cloudy days the ones that are the most interesting to photograph. As much as I love our sunny to rainy day ratio here, I appreciate the occasional storm front.

So, what did we find on our hike? Well, first off, there were incredible views of a variety of hills and mountains in a rainbow of colors. Proof:

Look at the greens, oranges, magenta, purples, blues, and yellow. I love our redrock out here, even if it means we have to amend our soil to grow a vegetable garden and there is an endless amount of red sand and dust tracked into the house. The inspiration I get out it is worth it.

Further on, we found Palmer's penstemon in bloom all over the place, as well as this flower:

Neither of us had seen this plant in bloom before, but after getting home I looked it up online. I did various searches using descriptive word combinations until I found it-- it being a Giant four o’clock (Mirabilis multiflora).

After walking along for a while and taking loads of photos on my other film cameras, I was rewarded with this golden field, fluffy clouds, and disappearing mountains:

Luckily, you can't look too closely at the "golden" in this picture, as it is mostly dried out weeds and cheatgrass. Luckily, there are a lot of happy native plants like sage and cacti and the aforementioned flowering species out there as well.

I really like this little slice of desert. My first visit was super short, and this one only made me want to come back for more. There are a quite a few more trails with interesting names to travel.

*All of the above photos were taken using my Polaroid SX70 Alpha camera, using PX 680 Beta film from The Impossible Project.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Valley of Fire

I lugged a bunch of cameras through the Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada. It was really warm and dry and boy was I ever thankful for the water we'd packed.

The landscapes out there are surreal. The rock changes colors in so many places, and erosion leaves behind some crazy formations. Not only that, but there are petroglyph panels all over the place. My favorite was the "mystical bat woman." 

These first three photos were taken on my SX70 Alpha camera using PX70 PUSH! film (from The Impossible Project). I had a turquoise filter over the lens to cut down on the pink tones that normally come out in bright sunlight. (Not that I don't love that, I was just looking for something a little different.) 

The photo above was my favorite of the SX70 ones of the day. It was super bright in this spot so it helped more of the colors come through. Plus I was really fascinated by this section of rock. (Mouse's Tank trail.)

The next shot was taken on my Spectra System camera, using PZ 600 Silver Shade film (also by The Impossible Project). In the winter I get more black and white shades out of it, but in the heat of Nevada, it develops sepia, with what looks like flames in the sky. 

This last shot was taken just after exiting a small slot canyon. I love how the rock has vertical and horizontal waves carved into it, and how there are these large river stones surrounding it. I would love to see that place with water running through it. I doubt that'll ever happen, but that's what my imagination is for, right? Anyway, the below loveliness is brought to you by my Keystone 60 Second Everflash camera, using Polaroid 100 Chocolate film. (And thanks to my hubby who carried that beast around--it is neither little nor light.)

I realized while looking through these photos that none of them are true color representations of what the Valley of Fire looks like. However, I took a few shots on my other film cameras, and I'll be sharing those when I get them developed. Or if you're impatient, you can check it out yourself. It is for sure a place worth visiting if you are ever in the area. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Taylor Creek

I hike the Taylor Creek Trail with a couple of friends yesterday. It is found in the Kolob section of Zion National Park. The trail is an easy hike with a bunch of creek crossings, two historic cabins, and at the end of it, there's a double arch alcove. The first photo is from the alcove looking back towards the trail home. I took it on my SX70 Alpha camera using The Impossible Project's PX70 PUSH! film. For this photo I used a turquoise filter and had the lighten/darken wheel in the middle. I like that some blue came out, but that the photo retained some hazy pink tones.

This next photo is of a grove of Juniper trees growing along side the trail right by one of the historic cabins. It was taken in the same conditions as the shot above, except the wheel was set all the way to lighten. A lot more green tones came out in this photograph, which I thought was really pretty great.

I adore the new film that The Impossible Project came out with, but I have really learned to love playing with the PUSH! film. I'll admit it--initially it wasn't my favorite. I'd gotten used to First Flush (how it worked, its color palette) and it took me a while to really take advantage of what PUSH! had to offer, but I think the challenge of PUSH! is what endeared it to me. While the day will soon come when I'll finish my stash of PUSH!, I'll be grateful for the things I've learned from it. It really did help me push myself to try new things (like development temperatures, filters, lighting  settings, etc).

Sunday, May 1, 2011

More from the beach

A few more photos from my trip to Galveston Beach. These were taken on my white Diana Mini (which behaves much better than my blue one). I used DIY redscale made from Lucky 200 iso film.
I think it turned out pretty great for my first attempt at redscale. With redscale film you want to slightly overexpose your images since light is going through the film the wrong way. But since the Diana Mini only has aperture settings of "cloudy" and "sunny" I didn't have a lot of control in trying to overexpose my images by one or two stops. So I set my camera to "cloudy" and called it good. Here are some of the things I shot that day:

If you click on the images, you can see them bigger. And if you do that, you might notice that there are faint electric blue lines goes across the top of most of the images. This is a result of the the film getting scratched somewhere mid-roll to the end.
Some people might say that it looks a bit post-apocalyptic, but I like the look of redscale, especially at the beach. I like how this roll turned out-- instead of all the shots being simply bright red or orange, there are a lot of colors going on, they're just muted.
If you are interested in making your own redscale film, you can easily find a lot of tutorials online, but THIS is one I like because the pictures are easy to follow. One note on making your own redscale film-- almost all the tutorials I came across online say that you need to sacrifice one roll of film to do it, but I'd say that's only true if you have no patience whatsoever. Instead, if you stop by somewhere that develops film, just ask them for some of their old film canisters. You'll likely end up with a handful. The easiest ones to use for this kind of thing are the ones with a bit of film still sticking out.