In my bag this week No. 18: A beginning, an end, and a new project

Big pile of film
The big pile of film for the project and upcoming trip. I’m quite worried it will not be enough, even with all the 220 I’ve got in the fridge. (Daniel J. Schneider)

It’s been two weeks, but I’m back. It’s been a rough couple of weeks, actually, which is why I’ve been absent. Here’s what’s been up:

Two weeks ago, on her way to work June 9, 2015, Kate got rear-ended.

She was hit by a 17-year-old boy in a full-size Chevy pickup truck. Kate said the Colorado State Trooper who responded to the 911 call opined that it looked like the boy had made no attempt to stop, which leads me to wonder if he was distracted driving — a huge problem in America today.

Here’s my soap-box moment: we should probably pay more attention than we do when we’re driving. All of us. Even me, which Kate is rightly fond of pointing out.

AT&T in 2010 began a campaign asking drivers to pledge not to text and drive, as distracted driving — due in large part to the rapid spread of smart and feature phones — increased astronomically year-over-year. Their commercials and a YouTube documentary are actually very well done and worth watching. Since seeing them I made a mental pledge not to text and drive and I’ve done pretty well at it.

But as photographers, we are susceptible to another kind of driving distraction: looking for the shot. I’ve always been easy to distract, and when I’m in a new or interesting place that can lead me to look at what’s around the road instead of the road itself. Not just because I’m looking for photo opportunities, but because so many things just plain fascinate me.

So, please, resist that urge. Don’t text, don’t look around so much you miss something important on the road. Use your judgment and figure out exactly what you can and can’t handle, but be careful.

Back to the accident: The teen admitted immediately that he was at fault, and apparently that it was his third accident already. I’m glad he handled it like an adult, but wish he’d been paying attention.

Kate’s 2001 Honda Civic LX coupe was badly damaged — not safe to drive with the crunched trunk lid blocking the center high-mount taillight and the right taillight smashed and curled into the crumpled sheet metal. The unibody was badly crumpled down the passenger’s quarter panel and across the back of the trunk, breaking several welds. The trunk lid was basically destroyed; the latch halves both moved and are nowhere near each other, and the lid was pushed forward into the bottom of the rear window enough to chip the glass.

It was Kate’s first accident as a driver, and the experience has been somewhat traumatic what with dealing with the evils of insurance companies, urgent and subsequent ongoing medical care, replacing the car both in the short term and the long term, etc.

I borrowed Dad’s Jeep, which was going to happen this weekend anyway, and loaned Kate my Plymouth for the time being. We looked at a diesel VW that seemed promising (but turned out to be a lot less impressive in person than on Craigslist), but managed to snag her a very nice 2005 Honda Civic LX sedan for a really good price on Monday. Finally, a major milestone in getting to the end of this ordeal after a week and a half.

Of course, as is life’s wont, it threw us a curveball mere hours into our celebrating the triumph. Kate’s cat, Bonnie, got sick. Like really sick. After an urgent veterinary care visit, a day with the regular vet, a new diet and much poking and prodding, it turns out she has chronic kidney disease.

And so, several unplanned days away from work and a lot of stressful phone calls and visits to strangers’ homes and the offices of medical professionals, things are finally starting to level out, though the cat’s health is still questionable and further testing is imminent. Oh, and lots of physical therapy and more insurance calls, and hopefully checks, are still in Kate’s future.

So all that accounts for the beginning (new car) and the end (old car). What about the project?

All that business has really sapped my energy for testing cameras, so my little bag has been sitting by my desk with the Konica EE-Matic in it for several weeks now. Fortunately, I have gotten my groove back in the last week…

As Andrew announced last weekend, he, Craig and I are collaborating on a zine project. So in the midst of all that craziness, I spent Saturday on the plains of northeastern Colorado.

Signed photo from Brush museum
A small sample from a large panorama of Brush, Colo., in the early Twentieth Century signed by the photographer, “Graves, The Picture Man.” Has me wondering if I should start signing my work the same way… (Daniel J. Schneider)

Craig was called away on assignment suddenly and so missed our first outing, but Andrew (and his better half) and I met up in the morning in a small town called Brush to explore. After a couple hours and a tour of the local history museum, we parted ways and headed off to explore individually.

I meandered east from Brush through Akron, Platner and Otis before heading south to Arickaree, and back toward Denver by way of Anton, Lindon, Last Chance and Byers. I only had five rolls of Ilford Pan F+ with me, though I had some other miscellaneous films, too.

I was using the Pentax 6×7 and primarily using my recently-acquired 45mm f/4 SMC Pentax lens. I also found time to try out the 160mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax lens on a few frames, too.

I did fill all five rolls of Pan F+, plus a roll of expired Kodak Ektachrome Lumiere 100 and most of a roll of expired Fujifilm Reala 100, which I hope to finish soon.

Sunday I got to spend much of the day in the bathdarkroom developing everything and wishing I had a Jobo or an assistant…I don’t think I managed to dial in what I’m aiming for in the first day of dedicating work for this project, but I think I may have at least focused my vision a tiny bit more. I started my scanning in the evening, but didn’t make it through as much as I’d have liked.

Monday became another unplanned day off from work in order to do car things, but I found a little time to stock up on film (and spent more money on film in a single day than I ever have before) for the project and for next week.

Oh, that’s right, I haven’t mentioned: Assuming Bonnie continues to improve, we’re heading to western Colorado for a week. We’ll base camp in the town of Paonia and explore the Grand Mesa area and Western Slope. I have some project-related ideas for our time in the area, as well as a lot of vacation photos to take.

I sincerely hope Bonnie feels much better, but if she takes a turn and we have to curtail or postpone our vacation, I will live.

It may be another couple of quiet weeks as I don’t intend to take my computer along on the trip, and probably won’t post straight from my phone or anything. Until next time!

First shot from Brush trip
One of the first frames from the drive to brush. This is an iPhone photo of the negative when it was drying, but just inverting the color doesn’t look half bad. You’ll have to wait for the zine to see much more of the project. (Daniel J. Schneider)