Thursday, February 25, 2010

Catching Up. Well at least trying to...

I'm still trying to catch up on my film developing and scanning. I'm beginning to think I'll always be behind. This is an image from a local orchard taken during the fall. I was with the local Flickr group, the first time out with the Mamiya. I'm still debating on whether I like this photo or not. I may have to print it and hang it on the wall for a while. Someplace where I see it every day.

Opinions, as usual, are more than welcome.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Florence Hotel

Saturday, I tagged along with the rest of the Midwest Large Format Asylum to the Florence Hotel in what once was Pullman Illinois. Pullman was built between 1880 and 1884 as a factory town by the "Pullman's Palace Car Company." A company town conceived by George Pullman, the factory and 1000 homes were built during those 4 years. Built 13 miles south of what was then Chicago, he planned a model community to attract skilled workers and avoid strikes.

The hotel opened in November of 1881 to hold visitors to his showcase town and was named for his daughter. Nearly torn down, it was saved in 1975 and is still undergoing renovation by the Historic Pullman Foundation and the state.

We had access to the whole building. The first floor is somewhat of a museum, while the second floor holds some offices. What was George Pullmans suite for when he came to town, is now an office also. I kind of hoped it would have been restored to period styling, but no chance. I spent most of my time on the third and fourth floors. These floors haven't been restored fully yet. The windows have been replaced and most of the trash cleaned up, but the hallways and rooms are still mostly in a state of disrepair. These floors were for the less luminous lights of society, since they were farther away from the lobby. The rooms tended to be smaller, and the light tricky and very contrasty. I also found a set of smaller rooms that appeared to be for the help. Low ceilings, only one window facing a brick wall along with a very narrow stairs to get to the rooms.

I went through a lot of film, and only pulled out the digital camera towards the end of the time we spent there. The photograph above was an afterthought as I was just getting into my car to leave. There is much more that I missed in the hotel, and the company administrative building is still standing as well as portions of a burned out factory. Hopefully I can make it back with the camera.

Friday, February 19, 2010


The annual Sweetheart Splash, put on by the Rotary Club of Rockford was held this past Saturday. While it was a relatively nice day for February in Michigan, it was still a mite chilly.

Luckily it wasn't cold enough to deter some brave souls from jumping into the river downtown at the dam, while plenty of others watched.

The Rotary Club uses this event every year to raise money for a local charity. They were also collecting donations of new and "gently used" blankets from the crowd.

The crowd looked a little bigger this year to me than last. As usual, there was a marriage proposal, and a fund raising event to get the celebrity MC to dive in. It was a fun event and the participants seemed to enjoy it, even though there were a couple of shocked looks on faces once they actually got in the water.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Gordon Wiltsie

Gordon Wiltsie, a mountaineer and photographer, whose work has been featured in National Geographic and Outside was in town Saturday. He gave a talk about his career at Aquinas College to raise funds for OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute).

Having been to hear other photographers speak, and not getting big crowds, I was surprised when I got there and was told it was sold out. I was put on a waiting list, and did manage to get in. The auditorium was full, probably over 500 people attending, if not more. While he stumbled a few times, his speech was mesmerizing, and his images even more so. He ran over the time allotted for him, and that cut into the question period. He did have signed books available, which he would personalize. I picked one up and mentioned to him that I appreciated his talk.

His web site is at

Saturday, February 13, 2010


After my post about wondering how someone could walk away from a house, my friend and fellow abandoned house photographer Mike, sent me this post from NPR's "This American Life". It's a story about someone else wondering the same thing and the years long quest he went on to find out. He had a lot more clues than I've seen in the places I've been in, and as I suspected, it's usually a pretty mundane reason. An interesting piece to listen too nonetheless.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Spam, Spam, Spam and more Spam

I've had to turn comment moderation back on. I got spammed last night on over 20 posts, in what looks like Chinese. The only English word in it was "sex". I'll be a while cleaning things up. Sorry for the trouble.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


Mike and I made it out with the cameras Saturday. The plan was to hit the Allegan area to photograph. I knew of an old power turbine by the river, right near the downtown dam and old steel framed bridge. We wandered near that area for a bit and then hit the fairgrounds. There were some old city buildings that had been moved onto the fairgrounds as well as all the animal pens and buildings for the annual fair. We got a few photos apiece, but I was mainly interested in what the grounds looked like. I'm planning my annual Solo Photo Book Month Project (sofobomo) around the fair grounds of West Michigan. Since the project doesn't actually start until June this year, I have plenty of time to plan.

We wandered through a few of the smaller towns on our way home, and came across this abandoned house. Broken windows, the doors open to the winds and snow. We stopped of course. While I was inside photographing, I started thinking of the people who used to live there. Whether they ever expected their house to look like this when they first moved in. The upstairs had an interesting wallpaper, and one of the bedrooms was painted a bright blue. I admit I like photographing urban decay, but I wonder what it takes for someone to walk away from a place like this.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Mamiya 645 and Winter

Yes, I'm still using the Mamiya 645 film camera, and I'm still behind on film processing. Some things never change. One issue I'm facing with using the camera in the cold is a problem with the film advancing. Once the film cools down below freezing, the camera doesn't want to advance the film. Luckily the frame counter doesn't advance as well, so if I pay attention, I can catch it. I thought at first it might have been a weak battery in the power winder, but alas, that was not the case. I've seen the problem using just the hand winder as well. I have missed some photos before I figured out what was going on. I'm going to have to figure out how to keep the film back warmer when I take it out in the cold.

I'm still in love with the camera, and the photos I get from it. The above photo was taken at a local park of some upside down picnic tables. I'm still developing my film at a local darkroom I rent time at, but that is coming to an end. I received an email last week with the museums weekly event listing. Stuck on one of the announcements at the end was a small notice that the darkroom would be closed in July. It gives me more of an incentive to start developing my film at home and to set up the enlarger I have in the basement and make actual silver prints. While my negative scanning has improved, and I'm relatively happy with my inkjet prints, I miss the darkroom and the look of an actual print.