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San Francisco Cherry Blossom Festival parade

May 15th, 2003

Off Tomorrow
Wednesday. A long not dizzy day today in May, hey. Which is good. Another day's work tomorrow, then a three day weekend. Hey.

It was, however, a long day, one of those never a second to yourself days, but a nice break attending a last minute Ladies and Gents Who Lunch at PCB with a really good turn out of the usual suspects. I shot one or two pictures, ate a turkey plate with mashed potatoes and peas (it's very tasty without the gravy) and had a Guinness. Back to the office to juggle a half a dozen last minute things that were actually resolved before leaving, then home, pet Emmy (there's a whole ritual here, but it's icky kitty cat stuff, so we'll skip it), crawl into bed for a brief, well, not nap, but hour of quiet with the covers pulled up before reading the last chapter of the fifth book in Ron Goulart's Groucho Marx Detective series (they catch the bad guys, um, girls, by the way, and everyone lives happily ever after). Took a look at the color slides I shot for a friend over the weekend before sitting down to write this with but a modicum of enthusiasm, but that's the long day and not the moi talking.

I ordered an assortment of developing tanks, film clips, thermometers, stirring rods, graduated beakers and a GraLab timer exactly like the one I used as a kid in school from B & H Photo Monday. They should be here tomorrow. I have been fighting this, I even said I'd ordered them once in a futile attempt to drive the idea from my mind, but obviously to no avail. Notice I didn't order any actual chemicals. I figure I can put off ordering any actual chemicals.

Developing film is easy. Really. I did a ton of it forty years ago when the world and I wereGraLab darkroom timer young. It's the contact sheets that are a pain in the ass. Film, you pop the top of the canister in the changing bag, you load it on the reel - takes about a minute to learn and it's easy - you put the reel in the tank, you put the top on the tank, you take it out of the bag and put it on the counter. You make sure the developer is at the right temperature, you pour it into the tank, you agitate the tank once a minute or so (for about ten minutes) and then you pour it out and add the stop bath (for a minute) and then the fixer. Ten minutes, as I remember, in the fixer. The trick is consistency. Same time, same temperature, same amount of agitation. That way, when you make an adjustment for whatever reason out in the field (more light, less light), you know if it's screwed up it wasn't the guy in the camera shop doing the processing. You know exactly how the guy did the processing and where mistakes were made. That's your thumb print, my son, on the lady's face.

I seem to recall you could as easily pour out the developer and flush it with water before going to the fixer or go directly to fixer. I prefer using stop bath. Traditional. After fixing, you turn on the faucet and let the film wash for a half an hour. Or an hour. I'll have to read the instructions. I used something called Photoflow in the old days, not sure if they use it now, supposed to keep the strips from curling. Take them out of the tank, clip them to a shower rod or something similar in a room not too dusty, a small weight clipped to the bottom, and you're in business.

It's the contact sheets. I don't want to do the contact sheets. You lay the dry (trimmed into strips of six) negatives on top of a sheet of photo paper (all this in the dark or under a safe light), expose it for whatever time - you don't need an enlarger, a light bulb will do - and drop it into trays of developer, stop bath and fixer. Messy. Trays. Paper. Safe lights. Then you wash the prints. Less messy, but messy. Then you dry the prints. I consider this messy. I'll have my camera shop do the contact sheets, give the negatives to them in a 35mm protective plastic sheet that holds six strips of six negatives each. I buy them by the hundred. Mumble.

Thursday. I know, I know. A description of how to develop black and white film. Who in their right mind would write it? Read it? Not you. Not I.

Everything arrived today except the changing bag, and it's on its way. This weekend, well, this weekend I'll think about developer for the Kodak T-Max 400. Think about, mind you, no promises. (The head was clear today, no dizziness, although the ears are still ringing and the head is funky in all the same places. This is good. A day off tomorrow. Even better.)

The photograph was taken at the San Francisco Cherry Blossom Festival parade.