Visiting Some Old Friends

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Decomposing Raptor, Mono Lake. From scanned 4X5 Polaroid transparency

I spent most of the afternoon today visiting some old friends.

After rummaging through several boxes out in my new way-cool studio in the garage, I found what I was looking for:  Polaroid transparencies I made in the early 1980’s.

Back then, I had established a good working relationship with one of the local camera stores (The Camera Center on 9th Street in Modesto, CA – sadly no longer there).  Jack Broome staked me to about 100 sheets (four 25-sheet boxes) of 4X5 Polaroid Transparency film.  In return I had to provide several finished prints to the Polaroid Corporation, via their regional rep.

After calibrating my spot meter to the paper exposure, it allowed me to use the same exposure for the transparency film.  No sheet film holders needed, as each piece of film came with it’s own enveloped/holder.  (But you did need to lug around a not-so-light Polaroid back.)  The transparency stock had to be processed via Kodak chemistry.  The advantage of all this relative complexity was that you had a pretty good idea of your exposure with the paper print.  (all of which I still have today, albeit they are somewhat the worse for wear – but surprisingly not as much as one might think – after 30+ years of storage.)

I am still boggled that these images were made over 30 years ago.  After scanning them, and then bringing them into Lightroom CC 5 for importing and general retouching, and then re-working them over again in Photoshop CC 5, I was both depressed and amazed.

Depressed because I recall the hours spent in the darkroom – processing, proofing, contrast masking (a given with ‘Chromes) and finally the pains-taking exposure and Cibachrome printing process.

Amazed because today I was able to post-process these very same images, from the raw transparencies, in a fraction of the time…and with notably better results!

Skunk Cabbage,  Lyell Fork of the Merced River, Yosemite. From scanned 4X5 Polaroid transparency

Skunk Cabbage, Lyell Fork of the Merced River, Yosemite. From scanned 4X5 Polaroid transparency

I still have a lot to learn about optimizing the scanning process to suck the most quality out of the film stock, and more-than-I-can-imagine about post-processing in Lightroom 5 CC and Photoshop 5 CC, but it’s one of those journeys that I am delighted to travel.

Reflection, Lyell Fork of the Merced River, Yosemite National Park;  From scanned 4X5 Polaroid transparency

Reflection, Lyell Fork of the Merced River, Yosemite National Park; From scanned 4X5 Polaroid transparency

(For a more comprehensive look at what I have done so far, please visit the ‘Images‘ area of this blog.)

2 Comments on “Visiting Some Old Friends

  1. Wow. It’s like you’re . . . you know, a pro!

    S. =============================================================================

    Like

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