LARGE FILM, LARGE CACA

That’s actually a quote. During a photo workshop with Anne Kurutz I started to notice a lot of dust on my negatives after switching from a 35mm Olympus OM-1 to a Yashica Mat 124G twin lens reflex that uses 120 roll film. The more negative surface area you have, the stronger the likelihood that you’re going to end up with dust (caca) on your images. This photograph was made on 4×5 sheet film. I was asking for trouble.

The trouble was self-imposed. I purchased an old Speed Graphic (Graflex) press camera without the range finder for $75.00 and had a wonderful 150mm Rodenstock lens put on it. The camera offered just enough movements to keep me happy. I had already used an Omega View rail camera which had plenty of movement but was too big and cumbersome. Unfortunately, I didn’t clean my $75 wonder very thoroughly after purchasing it.

DerricksWhen I tilted the camera up to make this photograph, the dust I had neglected to clean on the inside of the camera bellows fell onto the sheet film. Dust spots on B&W film usually look white; however, because these specs had landed on top of the film prior to exposure, the dust spots came out black, which you can’t spot and have to etch with an exacto knife from the print. I don’t think so.

Enter digital photography. I was never able to print this negative using traditional wet darkroom techniques because of all the black AND white spots. I scanned the negative and edited in Lightroom. It’s time consuming, but I can remove all the spots with the spotting tool as the software doesn’t care what color they are. It prints beautifully and is one of my favorite landscapes.

I grew up in Barre, Vermont, which is next to Graniteville. Barre is called the “Granite Center of the World” because the granite quarried there is the most common rock used in tombstones. The derricks and cables in the photograph are used to lift the cut granite from the bottom of the quarry. The area had immigrants from all over, who came to look for work quarrying stone or carving designs into finished slabs. It’s in the middle of the Green Mountains and only a short drive from the Canadian border. A great place to grow up.

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