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Terry E. Christian
13 March 2012 @ 06:34 pm
Terry E. Christian
24 December 2011 @ 11:53 am
Terry E. Christian
01 December 2011 @ 06:25 pm
Terry E. Christian
29 November 2011 @ 06:28 pm
Terry E. Christian
17 November 2011 @ 06:41 pm
Terry E. Christian
27 September 2011 @ 05:16 pm
I really don't know where to start.

Back in late August, we took our usual pilgrimage up to eastern Wisconsin for the Argonauts/Castaways joint run. Photographically, I had two primary goals: to shoot more film than I ever had, and to wean myself more off 35mm and onto medium and large formats. I succeeded on both counts. When we returned home, I discovered I had about fifteen rolls of film and about fifteen sheets of film to be processed, most of them in color! It took me about a week to do it all and then even longer to do the editing and retouching. You can see my Wisconsin set here. However, I did not get to do any private sessions with anyone like I'd hoped, just a few little mini-sessions out in the daylight here and there. The run is challenging to shoot because the outside is so bright and then the inside of the barn where everything is held is so dim: easily five or six stops' difference, with little transition.

I used mostly just one camera of each format, medium excepted:
Small: Nikon F4
Medium: Mamiya 645 Pro; Holga 120N
Large: Graflex Crown Graphic (4x5)

On the way back home, we stopped by the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc, simply the most uninteresting (to me) museum I've ever been to. The only partially redeeming aspect was the submarine tour, and I could have kicked myself for not bringing my digital camera on board to better capture the industrial textures within. (The film camera I had on my person then was loaded with an unsuitable ISO.)

After the trip and all the developing I had to do, I took a bit of a break from shooting. I was so burnt out it wasn't funny, and other pressures have been getting to me as well. Things are getting better now and I've tried to resume taking photographs, but I just haven't been anywhere interesting lately. I've got a roll of 120 pending in my Holga 120N and as soon as I finish it, I'll be trying out a new developer: Kodak XTOL, a fine-grain, vitamin C based developer which can be replenished instead of used one-shot. Shortly before the trip to Wisconsin I did get my darkroom finished and dipped my toe into doing printing, though at the time the summer heat and the lack of air conditioning in the crazy cat lady house made spending any time there intolerable. I need to get back in there and do some printing work.

My braces are still coming along well. Finally last week I heard back from my insurance company about my upcoming surgery. December 1 has been set as the date for my orthognathic surgery. Late next week I have an appointment with my oral-maxillofacial surgeon to discuss all the details with me. From what I've read online, I'll be away from work for roughly three weeks while my mouth is wired shut and I go on a liquid diet. Immediate recovery extends to about six weeks, at which time I'll gradually gain the ability to chew again. Less than a year later my braces should be off and I'll be good as new, with my face corrected at last. This will be the roughest thing I've ever been through in my life, but it'll also be the most transforming. I'm simultaneously scared and excited.
Terry E. Christian
I haven't posted here since the end of April? Oh my ears and whiskers!  I've meant to post more frequently, but life happens.  If you don't like it you can kiss my ass.

Anyway, my health has been great. I've been dutifully taking my supplements and lemonade to get my citrate level up for my follow-up appointment with my urologist later this month. I've also discovered that since I started taking high blood pressure meds a few months ago, I've not had a single migraine! Now that's an unexpected plus. I'm suffering no virility-related side effects either. Cutting my risk of heart attack and eliminating my migraines at the same time with no side effects; and being generic, it doesn't cost a fortune? That's definitely worth that one tiny white pill every night.

I'm also still doing well with my braces. One really doesn't notice much of a change from month to month, but those of you who've known me in person and seen how terrible my teeth were before are in for a surprise. I'm at the point now where my oral-maxillofacial surgeon is drawing up plans for my upcoming jaw surgery to fix my birth defect. I'm going to recommend that he not do anything really dramatic, since my jaw functions well as it is with no TMJ issues, and at my age there's no real need for drastic measures. We'll see.

I just sold off some stock from my company stock purchase plan that paid off the smaller medical bills related to this kidney stone episode, and I've paid off my braces, so I'm getting financially healthy again... until the jaw surgery, of course.

In my photography pursuits, I've been slow this year to be ambitious. Memphis' springs are nearly non-existent, and wet: by the time of the last frost date in mid-April, it has begun to rain, and the rain essentially doesn't stop for a month. By the time it does, the temperatures start to get into the mid-90s. None of that is good photography weather! We're going to Wisconsin next month on our annual trek up to the Argonauts-Castaways joint run, so I'll be shooting a lot more then, and I'm deliberately taking my Graflex Crown Graphic so I can do more 4x5" large-format landscape photography, in both black-and-white and color. One develops color film by a process called C-41 (just look on any roll of color negative film). The chemistry I'd previously been using comes in a ready-made dry powder kit that involves three chemicals, so you have to mix it all up at the same time. The problem is that once mixed, this chemistry only has a limited shelf life, and the kit uses three chemicals while the official C-41 spec calls for four - the powder kits blend the two middle chemicals into one, which may not give archival-quality results. So now I've switched to a liquid concentrate kit that does conform to the C-41 spec, so now I can simply mix up smaller batch if I don't need large quantities, use it until it gets old or exhausts from use, and the unmixed concentrate has an indefinite shelf life. Yay!

I'm also at the point now that I'm going to learn to print. In film photography, exposing and developing film makes a negative. To make a positive, one loads the negative into a photographic enlarger, and projects a focused beam of light down through it onto a sheet of light-sensitive silver-coated paper. Develop the paper just like film, and voilà: a photographic print! Enlargers are horrendously expensive if bought new, but people who are switching over to digital are dumping their enlargers for next to nothing. Recently I've acquired two of them (an Omega D2 and a Beseler 45MCRX), so all I need now is some lesser accessories for them (negative carriers, lensboards, lenses, safelights) and the means to block the light out of a room in the crazy cat lady house across the street that I'll be using for a darkroom. I'm getting excited. I've actually slowed down on my camera addiction!

I haven't completely abandoned digital; I just use it for when I need to land the shot, and I'm using film for all my personal creative pursuits. Last month a local photographer invited me to second-shoot a wedding, and I had a blast. It was like photographer boot camp: having to interact with subjects, arranging people, gauging the light, using the best lens for the task, judicious use of flash, getting the shot while trying to not detract from the ceremony... by the time it was over I was absolutely pooped, but satisfied with my work. You can see a slide show I put together from my wedding shots by clicking here.
Terry E. Christian
I got the results back from my first-ever full physical exam, and the results were good! The EKG was normal, my total cholesterol was 175, and my blood sugar was 80. The result of the study mandated by my urologist, however, showed two things wrong with my urinary system.
1. I don't drink enough, so I'm not producing enough urine in a day to keep the solids in the urine diluted and thus less likely to crystallize inside my kidneys. The total amount of urine I produced in the urine test was around 1.75 L over the course of 48 hours; the doc wants me to drink enough to produce 2 L of urine per day!
2. I'm lacking an important substance in healthy urine called citrate. It helps to inhibit the formation of stones in the kidney, and its main source in the diet is from citrus fruit. So, I've been told I need to start upping my intake of citrate mostly through drinking lots of lemonade made from real lemon juice, and I've been put on a a twice-daily regimen of Urocit-K, a potassium citrate supplement.

The class I co-taught on film developing went well. Shortly after that day I made my first serious blunder, accidentally pouring blix solution into my developer bottle, effectively ruining my color developer. Because these color developing kits are mixed from powder, you have to mix up the entire thing and any stupid mistake like the one I made renders the whole thing useless. So now, I'm switching to a liquid concentrate kit. I can mix up only as much volume as I think I can reuse until it exhausts, and if I make another big mistake it only costs me that small batch. Also, this kit adheres more closely to the color C-41 process standard, using both bleach and fix instead of a combined blix, so it's probably more archival-quality. Assuming I get all the reuses I want out of it, the kit should also be more cost-effective. Now I just have to go out and shoot more color film. I'm finding Fuji Superia to be a remarkable inexpensive film that gives great results, and I'll try pushing some of it soon.

I didn't buy any more cameras for an entire month, but a couple weeks ago I fell off the wagon for a beautiful late-1950s Ricoh 500 rangefinder, an ugly duckling that has a film advance lever tucked away on the underside of the camera. And soon I'll be receiving in the mail my first Russian-made camera, a Zenit ET: a M42-mount SLR, complete with the name on the front in Cyrillic lettering (ЗЕНИТ). Because of some bonus eBay credit, I ended up paying only about $7 for it, shipping included.
Terry E. Christian
11 April 2011 @ 05:48 am

Effective immediately, comments to my posts will be friends-only. I've received spam comments twice recently. If you want to be on my friends list, you'll find me quite liberal in approving new folks.


Current Location: From iPhone
Terry E. Christian
31 March 2011 @ 04:43 pm
It's been a rough month. Last time I posted, I had suffered so much pain from a kidney stone that I had to go to the hospital ER. I just got the bill back from that visit and my portion amounts to nearly $1200. Ugh. I'm going to have to make installment payments to pay that off. I saw a urologist, who says my stones have likely passed without my knowing it because they were small (<=2mm); a follow-up X-ray come out negative and he's ordered a more extensive urinalysis to ascertain whether my diet and other factors could make me have more in the future.

The first appointment with a regular doctor, Danny's doctor, went well. He's the one who referred me to the urologist; both of them are in the same medical network as the hospital, so everyone's information is getting passed around nicely. I've been concerned for about a decade now about my tendency toward high blood pressure, so he tentatively put me on a mild medication (benazepril, 20 mg daily). My next appointment will be a full physical, to rule out any other problems.

The braces are also going well. To say that my teeth are straighter now than when I started would be a gross understatement. Now, they're in better shape than many people I know, and most of my teeth are in their correct places and only need some finessing around. In a month or two, my orthodonist will refer me back to my oral-maxillofacial surgeon for consultation on how and when I'll have my jaw surgery. I'm hoping it'll be as soon as possible after I return from our annual trip to the Argonauts/Castaways leather run in Wisconsin in August.

A couple of weeks ago we attended the annual run in Nashville hosted by the Conductors. It's always been one of our favorites, as the Conductors are always friendly and they always put on one hell of a show. I was kinda bummed because I didn't have any luck hooking up with anyone, but who wants a guy in braces anyway? So I kept a few cameras always at hand and spent my time getting my mad skillz out of winter hock and trying some new techniques -- which moderate success. All told, I shot something like 500 digital shots, about 7 rolls of film, and about a dozen film sheets.

The major technique I tried for the first time there was pushing. To push film, you expose it at a higher ISO (sensitivity rating) than it actually is, then compensate for the discrepancy while developing. It reminds me of the concept of "body English" on a pinball machine. Most films will push one to two stops rather well, depending on where you start. Pushing the previous formulation Kodak Portra (a professional color film) from 800 to 3200 was a failure that resulted in unusable negatives with excessive grain and blocked shadows, but I was able to push it from 400 to 800 without it breaking a sweat. Kodak's just recently made some improvements to the Portra line, so I can't wait to see how much better that stuff works.

Here you can see the entire set. Images with my logo in the lower left-hand corner were shot digitally; images without it were shot on film. I used my Nikon F4s for 35mm, a Mamiya 645 Pro for medium format, and a Graflex Crown Graphic for 4x5 large format. I particularly enjoyed demonstrating large format photography to some guys who posed for me. A friend and a great photographer in his own right, Chris Skelley, took the first three photos here of me; my husband Danny took the fourth with my trusty little Argus C3. You can click to embiggen.

Yes, Virginia, that's a twisty J.M. Boswell Jumbo X pipe I've got in the first photo. The camera I'm holding in the second is the Mamiya 645 Pro.

Much to Danny's pleasure, I've had to stop my gear addiction. I'm hitting a twin critical mass: redundancy of cameras and tightness of finances. In the past month the only major things I've bought have been a Rolleiflex Automat Model 4 (ca. late 1940s), and a Soligor Spot Sensor spot meter that proved its usefulness during the Nashville trip.

In a couple of weeks, I'll be co-teaching an informal workshop on film developing. An acquaintance will be showing how to develop black-and-white film, and then I'll demonstrate developing color (C-41 process). It should be fun!