Fourth of July in Webster Groves

One week before the Fourth of July came around, I heard a little feature story in the local news that someone had already placed their chairs out for the annual Fourth of July parade in Webster Groves. Although it’s just a small suburb in Saint Louis, I had never been, despite being a native of the city, and even both going to undergrad and being a current professor of photo at Webster University.

I went to the parade with my Bronica Gs-1, not knowing what to expect, but here are some images I finally was able to process and digitize. All images are 6×7 format, and on 400 ISO Ultrafine Film, pushed processed to 800 speed.

Missouri State Parks: HAWN STATE PARK edition

State Park is touted as the “prettiest” and one of the “most beautiful of all the beautiful Missouri State Parks.” With this as a recommendation from both the centennial passport, and a few friends as well, I decided to make this my first park, in my quest to document trails of the Missouri State Parks system. Although I was photographing with my Bronica GS-1 for this hike, and will continue to document them on black and white film, I did some color photos using my phone camera, and will place some images here and there on each blog post, to help cover some helpful trail info. (I know I’m cheating with my featured image being digital, but I couldn’t find a good landscape orientation!)

From Saint Louis, Hawn takes about an hour and so, but don’t worry when you get off the highway. It’s a bit more of a drive, and signs for the park will be scattered throughout the road, steering you in the right direction. When I first turned into the park, I knew immediately I had made the right decision to hike it. My first stop was the park office, where I was able to get my Missouri State Park centennial passport stamped, and additionally talk to a park ranger about how much time I would need to hike the big trail in the park. I recommend you always check with park rangers if you have questions about big hikes! They know the parks like the back of their hand, and will be more than happy to help you out.

The ranger gave me this awesome color coded typographical map, and told me I would be able to hike the “North Loop” plus the “South Loop” with no issue, and also said I could add the “Pickle Spring” trail if I wanted some extra challenge. I ended up hiking about 13 miles in the park altogether that day.

 

I’ll start off by saying that all the trails range in difficulty from easy-hard sections. If you don’t want to climb over water areas, or work your legs going up steep grades this isn’t the park for you, or you might just want to stick with the Pickle Creek Trail. If you don’t mind sweating profusely, and getting to see awesome vistas as a payoff though, this is the park for you. There were sections of both the North and South loop that I thought were super easy, but Whispering Pines North Loop in particular has some pretty crazy inclines.

If you are interested in camping, there are a few options. There are several camp zones on the trails themselves, but there is also a wonderful campground for RVS and tents, which has showers, and modern bathrooms. I HIGHLY recommend popping in and checking for ticks before you take off for the day. I found two ticks on myself, despite being careful, and it will most likely only get worse as the summer season kicks into play. There are signs all over the park on how to remove ticks, but always make sure you know how to do this before you head out! How to Remove Ticks can be found via this LINK also. I also just picked up a tick remover key from REI the other day. One of those might work for you, if you aren’t interested in using the tweezer method.

So, without further ado..

Important note! Even though it says 9.75 miles is the total trail length, I ended up going almost 13 miles, because I added some of Pickle Creek trail, and went slightly off course due to some fallen trees. My total hike time was around 7-7.5 hours or so.

Before hiking, make sure you sign in. There is a box for rangers to check, and on the trail there are zones will you will get no cell phone reception, so this is a very good precautionary measure. If you are hiking alone, like I did, make sure you tell someone where you are going (I made sure to tell a park ranger too), and they will check to make sure you aren’t stuck if you don’t arrive back on time.

 

 

 

It’s going to be hard not to fall on love after you cross that water section.

I have no idea where I started, but I remember seeing this sign, and being like “What the heck? Where did I start? (this was a tip off that my hike was going to be longer than i planned, but I’m me, and I was still very optimistic).
This is still part of the North Route, but it was around this path that I stopped for a bite to eat, and simply looked up. It was wonderful to just be surrounded by trees.

There are a lot of nice flat spots to stop throughout the trail, but Whispering Pines will do a good job keeping you on your toes, and will throw in some rocky terrain here and there.

 

The views up each climb are well worth it though.

Ok…so this is where I got lost on the South Loop. There was a storm recently, and this tree got knocked down, blocking the blue marker for the South Loop. If you look closely, you can see the blue, but I totally missed it, and saw a path that hikers had made before, so I hiked 10 minutes in the wrong direction. If this happens to you, on this, or any other trail, please turn around. Go back to where you saw a marker last, and then start again. It will prevent you getting stuck! 

Thankfully, I managed to find the trail again! That path was wonderful to see.

Trails might get you confused in sections, when you get back on the North Loop, but look for the red in the trees, and you will do great!

 

Put your feet up after the South Loop, and after you make your way up the intense north loop climb.

This final image is from a slight detour I took, after seeing the camping area. I knew I was firstly out of water, and second, I knew I wanted to take an image in this area. It’s cheesy, but it felt like a small little gift from Hawn.

 

I definitely learned a lot this first hike trip, and have already improved on the next hikes that I took, but the bottom line is that I really cannot recommend this park enough. It’s really beautiful beyond belief!

Fall Photo Shoot

Back when there was a crisp chill in the air and winter coats were needed, I took three very dear folks to Forest Park to update their family photos. I have known Lyndsie and Stefan for ages, and even photographed their wedding way back when I was still an undergrad in college, and had just started dipping my toes into photography. When they asked if I would be interested in taking some photos, I was happy to say yes!

Bet you wouldn’t guess everyone was freezing, huh? (Winter coats were just outside of all these shots)

Although I probably should have shared these with the internet sooner, I hope you enjoy! I had a blast, and loved being able to shoot to capture some colors of fall as it transitioned into winter. I’m also super ecstatic anytime I get to incorporate the dinosaurs of Forest Park into my shoots!

Sturgill Simpson-Grammy Winner of Best Country Album

Sunday night Sturgill Simpson won the grammy for best country album of 2017. I was pleased to hear the news, and thought way back to when I had a chance to meet Simpson at the KDHX studios on June 29, of 2013.

I knew when I met him, and got to hear the studio session that he was definitely on his way to do great things. That was just a few weeks after his debut release “High Top Mountain.” Since then he’s released two more, with the most recent one winning the 2017 Grammy.

I decided to dig through my archive, and share some photos I took on that day. Can’t believe it’s been almost four years! Congrats Sturgill!

 

 

 

 

STL Protest against the Muslim and Immigration Ban

On February 5th, 2017, approximately eight hundred-one thousand Saint Louis residents joined together to show their support of the immigrants of Saint Louis, and the United States, after the recent push for a travel ban of many Muslim countries into the United States. I documented the march with my Bronica GS-1, on about 10 rolls of film, while additionally marching to show support for the immigrant community here in the city. I’m sharing a small selection of scans, but will additionally be printing these as silver gelatin prints.

Despite the cold temps, there was lots of joy seeing so many of us come together.

 

 

“Neither Here Nor There”

For the past month or so, I’ve been carrying around my Nikon F3 film camera, and making my way through rolls of Hp5 film, which I got on sale, and felt compelled to buy a lot of. I got an amazing deal on a 50mm lens (I call them thrifty 50’s), and wanted to test it out in a bunch of different conditions. So, what started off as possible throwaway shots to many, has turned into a side project documenting my everyday. Sometimes I won’t photograph anything, but sometimes I photograph a lot through the course of the day. I’m going to be placing a rotating gallery on my website as well, and hope to continue to document through black and white film, this project I stumbled upon.

I’m titling this project “Neither Here Nor There” based off the definition of “no importance or relevance.”

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Return to Perryville: Seminary picnic

Long Term Personal Project: Perryville, MO. 

In 2013, I had my first glimpse at a parish picnic in Perryville, Mo. I didn’t photograph much, but I had my Nikon F3, and some Ilford HP5+ film in my camera, and opted to take a few photos in between having some amazingly inexpensive food and beer. I only took about a half of roll of film at the event specifically, but I was hooked by the community after seeing this image.

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The following year (2014) I returned, and this time I photographed with my Fuji x100s in color, and got to see a tight-nit community come together once again. Still, as an outsider, I was able to utilize the quiet shutter of the camera, and it’s super small portability to my advantage. At the time, I was intensively working in digital color, and I think that is fairly easy to see in the work as well.

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Additional photos from that excursion can be found via this LINK.

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As I wasn’t able to attend in 2015, this year I made a concise effort to bring my camera with me. I’ve been shooting for the most part on my Bronica Gs-1, and have been trying out the Ultrafine Film. I pushed processed a few rolls to 800, from their 400 rating, but I was pretty happy overall with the way the rolls came out.

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This is just a personal project for me, and I still am an outsider to the community, which I believe is reflected in the images; however I really find a special love seeing these people every year. They welcome me on each return visit, complete with kettle corn, hamburgers, and stag beer at the stands. One of the neat things about pursuing long term photography projects is that each time It’s just a little bit different. You might have a different camera, or a different kind of film, but the core of the grounds in my case have stayed relatively the same, and I look forward to seeing what the project brings in the upcoming years.

Light Box for Alternative Processes.

For some time I’ve been looking to find a good, inexpensive way to make my own light box for alternative process use. After some cloudy days while trying to do salted paper printing and cyanotypes, and wanting more definite control over results, I decided to do some digging.

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First, the realization came that photo exposure boxes are expensive. Cheapest one I found was well over $500 for the size I was looking for. I was talking to a friend at one of the colleges I work at as a professor of photo, and he helped me get a supply list together in regards to what needed to happen in regards to electrical, and general parts.

I’m calling this version 1.0, and already am making some adjustments, and doing a new mock-up, but here is what I went through…

  • I live in the second floor of an apartment, so I don’t have a workspace to do any of this, however my mom graciously let me use her backyard and saw horses for my little project. If you know you don’t have space to do these kinds of cuts, I recommend the free cutting service at hardware stores. Lowes and Home Depot usually have the option set up, in addition to small local shops. There is a person there more than happy to cut down the wood for you to fit the size you want.

  • I started with two 1/2 x 24 x 48 birch plywood. For those curious, this is a pretty heavy wood when all is said and done, and I really recommend going with something lighter if you are wanting a portable box. Although manageable to carry somewhat, the weight of the final box has to be around 30 or 40 lbs, so keep that in mind. For the second addition of the this, I’ll be trying to find a lighter wood to use for field workshops.
After some split wood, I switched to another saw I had on hand. I had picked that one up years ago during undergrad, and while I was enrolled in a 3-D design class. Although not ideal, it worked in a pinch. Not the straightest lines ever, but pretty good considering.
  • I made initial measurements based off the lights I got (T8 blue black lights), and allotted for room to fit the ballast and sockets.

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Double check to make sure the box would align like I wanted.

 

Back Home in my apartment I took an initial look to see where I wanted to set everything up.The screws served to hold everything in place with the boards, as the lights sit on top of the box.
  • This is a better look at the sockets coming into position, and the ballast. If you pick up the t8 sockets, make sure they have a flat edge, rather than a rounded one, and then you can attach them to your board via screws.
Used my wire cutters and picked up some wire strippers to do the electrical portion.
  • Closer look that the sockets in place (and the crappy drawing layout I did initially). I used wire cutters I had on hand from my framing supplies, and picked up a wire stripper for about $4 at the hardware store. Although you don’t have to have it, it made stripping the wires much easier.
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  • This is a look at how everything comes into place. the wires are daisy chained together, and the t8 florescent lights are connected together that way.
Just to make sure all my electrical was working!
  • Another view of the set-up. This time everything is basically in place, and evened out in terms of spacing. The green caps you see on the left side are connected to a 3-prong grounded extension cord, that had the wires unclosed. I found mine by the other electrical cords in the hardware store. Sometimes it’s listed as a replacement dryer plug. (Cost about $8).
Test to make sure the weight wasn’t too much.
  • View of the box with three sides attached. I used large clamps, some screws, and wood glue overnight to make sure these were set. I additionally let this sit overnight upside down, with the lights attached to the top to make sure that the weight wasn’t too much. (thankfully everything was fine, and it’s still doing ok weeks/months later!).

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  • The next day I began by attaching the front opening door to the box with hinges, and also attached a pull to make it easier on myself. Can’t remember where/when I picked those up, but it’s a helpful addition. If you want to make sure they are strong enough, generally there is a weight suggestion/limit on the packaging materials. After that, I attached the bottom full sheet of plywood with screws and wood glue. That sat overnight as well.
  • After all this, I remembered I want to add a place where the electrical could come out easily. I used a desk cord cover plate to make the opening look a little prettier. Only cost about a buck and a half.

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  • I used my darkroom timer from my film processing area in my kitchen to keep the times going, and avoid having to keep looking at my watch, or setting other types of timers not connected to the unit itself.

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  • After some tests, the exposure times are pretty long, at 15 minutes for cyanotypes, but I’m on my way. For the workshop I gave at the science center I had it set up initially, and we were able to make successful prints off of it. The kids who dropped in had fun (Ages 6+), and so did the parents. Some things to keep in mind is that these will most likely will have a little less contrast on them than using the sun, but if you put the prints in a water bath, with a drop or two of peroxide, you’ll get that classic blue tint that is generally thought of.

 

  • Version 2.0 is already in the works though. I’m going to be adding another four florescent lights to this, and I think that will cut down on times. The height is good so far for even exposure, so I’m going to keep that as it is. I’m sure other people on the internet have some great advice on using other materials, but this is what worked for me. So good luck if you decide to make your own light exposure box!

Quick Project: Print Drying Racks

I have been in search for some inexpensive drying racks for my home processing set-up, and had a sort of lightbulb moment after seeing some mesh door screen on sale at the hardware store. I also had some stretcher bars from painting I wanted to re-purpose, so for today’s “How to” project, I’m showing you all how simple this is to do.

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Supplies needed: Stretcher Bars, Screen Door Mesh Screen, Staple Gun, Staples.

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Stretcher Bars Assembled. I had 18x24s, but you can use whatever size you have!

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This is super simple. I just cut the mesh screen to be about 1″ bigger than the stretcher bars, and then used the staple gun to secure. (I borrowed a staple gun from my art department’s painting department)You can tighten the mesh as needed.

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Finished mesh screens

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Mesh Screens in their new home. These just reach where I want them to in my bathroom tub. If I get some more, I’d probably size up to 25″ or higher on my long side, just to make sure they won’t fall at any point.

Hope you all have fun with this easy project!

Blog Update: Photographing using Old Color Film Stock

After an embarrassingly long hiatus, I am updating this Blog! I seemed to have been going back and forth with my old Tumblr blog, but this week, and in future, you can expect updates galore on some projects I’ve been working on.

To begin with, I’m starting first with a few images from an experiment in Color Slide Film home processing. Although e-6 processing at home can be a bit intimidating at first glance, as long as you wear gloves, and keep the chemistry at a high even temperature you should be good to go. In my case I used glass containers, and a tray with piping hot water to keep everything around 95 degrees during development.

I had been giving some old Kodak Lumiere 120 film, and Kodak Ektachrome, and decided that I wanted to not only shoot these, but process at home as well. As a photography instructor, it’s important to me to know every facet of chemical photography, so I got to work.

These initial tests were done on a somewhat wet/rainy day at the Missouri Botanical Garden. I actually find these conditions wonderful to shoot in, as there are no ‘hot spots’ that form, and the colors seem to get more of a deep saturation to them. Gives the colors a good moody feel to them.

After getting excited by the results, I’ve been slowly pecking away at the film stock, and processing at home as I go. Below are some images I shot at a summer carnival held by a local parish. In the midst of all this, I was additionally trying out a new lens as well. Holy Bokeh!

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