White Center Redux: O Film!

I spent about five hours this weekend cutting and sleeving and filing medium format film negatives and some 35mm stuff too.

The occasion for this was that I had just brought back 40 sheets of 4×5 film back from LightWaves lab* in Berkeley, and looking at it reminded me how much dust effects the viewing experience. Which in turn reminded me of the 30 or so rolls of film gathering dust on the table behind my desk.

That’s about a year’s accumulation, I guess, from dinking around and friend portraits and commissioned portraits, all Rolleiflex, except for a few from a Mamiya 7 I rented for a while and several from a Mamiya 6 I briefly owned.

Fiddling with the film is so satisfying, and such a pain at the same time. And I mean literally a pain–when I’m editing or sleeving film at the light table, I always get the same hitch in my back.

Here is a circumloquacious conversation I have with myself once a month or so…

O film, o how I love film. I miss film. I gotta buy some film. Mmm, shooting film, feels like… photography. Uh?Oh, I gotta go to the lab. Uh? Oh, I gotta go to the lab again. Oh, yeah, I remember now: film costs you Money. Oh, but look at the p i c t u r e s. I wish the colors were rightside out**. But look at it. LOOK at it! It’s so beautiful. What does that even mean, anyway, Beautiful? Okay, set up the scanner. Damn, the software needs to be reloaded? Man I wish that ‘white balance’ was easier to fix. Spotting! Too much dust. Crap, that’s not even all that sharp! I wish I coulda shot a second one of those. It’s WHAT TIME? I’ve been here like four hours. Working on one roll of film… 12 frames… 4 scans! Man, why did I shoot that on film anyway? Ah, well… I do love the way it looks. Something special about film.

* (there is no lab in Seattle which processes sheet film!)

** (I’m embarrassed to admit, but it’s still hard for me to read facial expressions definitively on negatives.)

So was saying before about how I was shooting some 4×5 film in White Center. Well, it came back, and I was right, I really am just feeling my way into the place. No story yet, to speak of. But maybe… just maybe the hint of a vibe? Amy killed a ton of them, but put together an edit of about 12 pictures that hang nicely together: “a tiny book” she called it.




Jesus Works.

Hot tub.

And Amy didn’t select the next one, but I liked it. It’s the only titled picture in the series: The Book of Luke. On account of some dude (I mean, I’m guessing a dude) sat there on the side of the road, just down from the church above, where Jesus Works, and shredded the book of Luke on the grass.

Book of Luke

Forgive the funky proof color/quality–these were transparencies, laid on the light table and shot with the Canon 40D. Actually, though, the images themselves show some okay color, when you average the greens and the magentas from the fluorescent tube illuminating them; it’s just the ‘white’ background, the surface of my lightbox, that’s all over the map.



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