I shot some black and white last night in my bathroom, using the big wall length mirror above the wash basin to shoot my own portrait, the camera on a tripod focused on my image in the mirror so I could simply reach over and trip the shutter on the camera mounted on a tripod beside me. I used the normal metered readings, in that I allowed the camera to expose the film without any modification on my part. I got the film back late this afternoon. Overexposed about the same amount as the rest of my photographs. Not a whole lot, but enough to be upsetting. I just shot another roll, this time using the big 85mm f 1.4 lens to get in closer and better frame the portrait while writing down the settings. Some without adjustment to the metered reading, some a third stop less, some two thirds stop less, some a full stop less.
A real photographer, at least a black and white photographer, would develop his or her own film and adjust the development times and temperatures against the camera, rather than match the camera exposure setup against the times and temperatures used, in this case, by my photo lab. There is always the danger that the photo lab isn't consistent, but I don't think that's the case. They do a lot of commercial black and white for the city and the county. Time to buy some developing tanks. Maybe this weekend in San Francisco. Maybe mail order from B & H in New York City. (Echo alert! "This weekend I will, I will, I will...." Get real.)
One of the more distant journalers is planning to pass through San Francisco on vacation with her boyfriend in another month and she asked for advice on where to stay and what to see in the city. Got me to thinking. Where would I want to stay and what would I want to see if I didn't live here? When I first came to San Francisco, just out of the army, I went to North Beach and the City Lights book store, saw something of Fisherman's Wharf, then looked for the Family Dog headquarters when I learned that a cartoonist I knew through my college humor magazine days was hanging out there. If I were coming to San Francisco after a long time away (With a camera, of course. No camera on that first visit.), what would I do, where would I go? Probably the basics: Fisherman's Wharf, the Top of the Mark (Hopkins hotel) - a lot of people go take the Alcatraz tour, but the thought of that has never appealed - a look at the City Lights and North Beach and then Chinatown. Not much else. The Golden Gate Bridge. Sausalito. A run up the coast to the Russian River. Well, we're straying. I haven't been up to the Russian river in twenty years. Tells you something.
Note: When I move to a new place - which will actually happen, although this is another thing I've been threatening now for months - I'm going back to the old regular made out of clay kitty litter. Wuss has never really warmed to the new plastic stuff that absorbs water and odors and costs about the same, pound for pound, as cottage cheese. Too bad. I still have the old automatic box out on the balcony. I need to live in a place with a back porch or some other better place to arrange it. (This thought brought on by the fact that Wuss has just taken a dump on the towel on the bathroom floor. An old towel, now deceased.)