Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Published a photo book!

This past week I published a book! The one I planned to do through "Love Letter to the Railroad Yards." The 30 or so photographs featured in the book came from my 1976-77 images of the yards in Denver, done with B&W infrared film (no longer made by Kodak). As I noted before, I was very passionate about trains in those days and particularly the yards in Denver...the yards which don't exist anymore, at least behind Union Station. This is out of the scope of our rephotographic project, of course, but led to the project, which I undertook in 1978-79. I used to pass through LoDo on my way to the yards...with some trepidation, I might add. Streets largely deserted...some weird people hanging around...I usually hurried on to my subject of the time. Union Station was also deserted in those days and I often sat in there writing or just resting from a couple of hours photographing. It was a great time. I went out everyday and shot at least a roll of film; developed it in the evening and printed contact sheets (anyone remember those?!); and on Saturdays, would spend the whole day in the darkroom at Metro printing the best images. Then to class the next week with the finished product(s)...

I'm really proud of this work. did a great job. Used a premium paper--lustre--and was very very careful to prepare the photos in Picasa before uploading them to the Booksmart template. Yes, Picasa. I don't have Photoshop--at this point. And I used scanned prints instead of scanner has trouble with negs. Ah--post-production is beyond me. I can take great pictures...but I haven't made the darkroom to digital leap yet. I will soon enough.

It's Halloween 2012...we had 35 trick or treaters tonight...the most ever. I'm drinking hot carob milk and trying not to think about the upcoming election and what will happen if...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Progress and plans

Almost done with the Kickstarter script. Sam and I went over plans for the video and decided to use "Seeds" as a backdrop, for at least part of it. Wish that parking lot on 16th street wasn't there. Denver parking lots: the bane of my existence since 1974! I'll have to look at the older photos--not sure what was there before. Possibly a gas station.
Organized photos that we are going to repeat. Many of them were done during the summer months last year. Harsh shadows and totally washed-out streets. Streets are important parts of these photos, so they have to be right. Also, the view down Wynkoop street from 16th. We'll be meeting at 7:30 on Friday morning to cover that view. The EPA building should have some nice light; hope it's soft!
I'm also working on my book, "Love Letter to the Railroad Yards," to be published by blurb. The question is, should I have Photocraft make the JPEG's or should I do it at home on my own scanner?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

First look at the 37 exhibit prints (draft version)

Today I printed out the 2009-2012 prints that correspond to the 37 that were exhibited in 1981. For the most part they look really good. A couple of them could use a re-do because of Denver's harsh summer light. We may (gulp) finally go digital on at least a couple of them, as Chris recommended. Film has proven to be very expensive because we have to digitize the images anyway. Next time, there probably won't be any film anymore the way things are going with Kodak.
I pulled out my old photo gear and I feel like I'm surrounded by Kodak Yellow...sad memories of a wonderful place to work (three summers in college). I learned photography there in the company's darkrooms. Too bad the "Silver Halide Gang" didn't see the digital handwriting on the wall...
This project was done completely with Plus-X. Just as in 1978-79.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Visit to a Wazee building

Today Sam and I had lunch with a friend who owns a building on Wazee St. We  ate at McCormick's in the Oxford Hotel, then walked over to the building, which was designed by Frank Edbrooke about a hundred years ago. (Edbrooke was the architect of both the Brown Palace and the Oxford.) Soon we'll set up a time to go inside and photograph some of the more interesting attributes, like the huge wooden beams, very large windows (for the time) and even the freight elevator. (We like details like that).
Tomorrow I meet with Chris, who is printing the contemporary photographs. He will match those to the two older images, which I printed in 1981 on Portriga Rapid, using a variety of old developers (Amidol, for one--Walker Evans used it. His fingernails turned brown.) It will be interesting to see how Photoshop will handle the match. This time we will probably matte and frame horizontally rather than vertically.
Details, love letter to Denver. (Theme for the Kickstarter campaign.)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A little rain

Finally we're getting some rain in Denver, but mostly it's wind and thunder. One can only hope that the lightning doesn't spark another fire.
Got the negatives back from that smoky morning I photographed in Denver. The intersection of Wynkoop and 16th is highly frustrating. Once again, the Tattered Cover building is very dark and the EPA building is very light. Sam thinks I should try dawn! We need another cloudy day, but that doesn't seem to be in the cards quite yet. Cloudy, without lightning and rain, obviously.
Tomorrow is a tour of a building on the National Register and a discussion about its original purpose, renovation and great architectural features. Looking forward to it!
I'm making progress on the railroad yards book. I'm searching for a graphic artist now to come up with a good cover.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Too hot in Denver

Yesterday I got up at 5 am to photograph some sites that needed to be done again. I took the 6 am bus down to Denver, did the photographing in an hour, and then had a Bruegger's bagel (first time). The light was diffused by the smoke from our numerous fires, so the shadows weren't so deep. I re-did the one "corner" which is not a corner: looking straight down Wynkoop St. from 16th toward Cherry Creek. There was a viaduct there once, but it's been taken down, of course. Tattered Cover on the left side, and EPA on the right side. Also, re-did the spot where Constitution Hall once stood: the burned building of 1978. Now it's a parking lot. Poignant.

I have engaged a photographic printer in Boulder who will be matching the exhibition prints of '37 and '78. He is excellent, and I'll be excited to see how they turn out. 

Over 100 degrees yesterday, probably today as well. It was a good incentive to get up really early and do the work in Denver. The whole week is mid to high 90's. Eight fires currently burning in the state, and we're waiting for Boulder to erupt (and praying it won't happen again). At the very least the heat is really enervating and there's no way I would venture out to photograph in downtown during the harsh light and shadows of mid-day. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Oral history plans

I am putting the finishing touches on a deed of gift to use for the oral history interviews. The interviews will mostly be conducted in audio (that's the current plan), but some will be in video. I hope to talk with some 90-plus year-olds who live or lived downtown, a businessman, and a structural engineer. These will be the first interviews.

Blurb, and Berenice Abbott

On another note, I found all my old prints last night. There were many more views of the railroad yards that I've forgotten about. Most date to 1977, a few from 1976, and a very few from 1978. (By 1978, I was moving forward with the rephotographic project.) It will be a difficult decision to choose for the book. Many of these newly-discovered photos are rather illustrative of the yards, showing warehouses, trucks, the "Q," and other features of a diverse industrial area.

I also purchased "New York Changing," a play on the title of a book from the late 30's, "Changing New York," by Berenice Abbott, one of my favorite photographers. She photographed the city in about 1938, including the outer boroughs, and a contemporary photographer rephotographed many of her sites in the late 90's and early 2000's. He was fortunate enough to be able to use one of her 8x10 view cameras! Lovely, wonderful prints with great descriptions. Here's what stood out: building are tilted (!), he worked over a period of time, instead of just one year (as we are--2009-2012), and his affection for the city is obvious. That's the most important thing. I still feel great affection for Denver. Despite the parking lots of 1978.


I am going to look into some fundraising opportunities through Kickstarter. It's a grassroots opportunity to get support from people who believe in your project. I believe we will use it for printing costs, possibly usage costs, and other activities. As we approach the end of the photographic phase, it's time to look into bringing the project to the attention of the public. More details to come.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Solution to the zigzag structure

After consulting with three engineers, I can now safely assume that the zigzag structure on or behind Windsor Dairy in the 1937 photograph is a cooling unit of some kind. The 1929 Sanborn map for that part of Blake Street noted that there was an ice cream manufacturing unit in that part of the building and the word "condenser" is seen on the map as well for that site. Someone recently sold an image of the Windsor Dairy, c. 1947, on eBay. I missed the sale by a few days.

Sam and I are still conducting research at Denver Public Library, Western History Department. Librarian Bruce Hanson has provided us with incredible amounts of information, which we're still sifting through. Yesterday, I photocopied the pages of the 1937 Denver city directory that pertain to each of the streets we're working on. Now we know the names and addresses of all the businesses located on the streets, which will be extremely helpful in identification. I'm also entering a lot of that data into the spreadsheet that describes the project.

Sam and I dropped in to the new Historical Society/History Colorado library, and met one of the librarians there. I explained the project--its scope and progress--and received information about their use policies and how to obtain images of the old negatives. At this point, I'm not sure if we want scans of only some or all of the old images. For sure, Windsor Dairy will be one of them!!

On another front, I've decided to create a small personalized book of my railroad yard photographs, to be published by My photography teacher from Metro, Barbara Houghton, created a beautiful book using blurb, and I am inspired to do one of my own. The book will be entitled "Love Letter to the Railroad Yards," and will feature 23 images plus text. This is riffing on my "love letter to Denver" idea; that's how I think of the Rephotographic Project. More on that when things move along.

I'm not sure I'll be posting many more photographs on this blog site. Apparently Google bought blogspot and is sweeping up images and information for their search pages from that site, among many others. I have mixed feelings about it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Three viaducts

"Three viaducts." This is Wynkoop and 15th Street, 1978. We're looking at the 15th street viaduct (built after 1937), the 16th street viaduct (built before 1937), and in the very far distance, the 20th street viaduct. All three have been demolished. Of interest is the Barteldes Seeds building entrance onto the 16th street viaduct. You can see it from the Tattered Cover corner (2012). It's weird to see a door up there! I was up on the viaduct in 1978, photographing toward Cherry Creek, not Barteldes. I wish Cyril Norrred, the WPA photographer, had looked the other way, toward Union Station, from the viaduct.
How did people get off the streeetcar and enter the Seeds building? (This will always be the "Seeds" building to me.) Could they park on the viaduct? Is it true that the 2nd floor door was the main public door? Oh, to go back in a time machine...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Progress, progress, progress

I'm wrapping up the first round of documentation, which consists of filing all the xeroxes from 1937, the prints from 1978-79, and some (not all) prints from 2009-2012. The files are organized street by street. The documentation consists of entering information about landmarks in each photograph, noting the dates photographed in the 1970's, any atmospheric and other information (sunlight, clouds, time of day), CD numbers, and any other information pertinent to the images. Not surprisingly, this takes a lot of time. In three weeks, I have logged 76 hours of work. The plan for this week is to print out contemporary images on regular paper for the 38 that were exhibited in the 80's, research getting a printer (probably Epson), and try to make contact sheets on a scanner for all the film negatives--1970's and current. Oh, and do more quality control with current images to be sure that we covered the correct corners. I plan to visit DPL, show my work to a librarian in Western History, and do some research with Sanborn Insurance Maps. Must identify that weirdo zigzag structure behind the Windsor Dairy!! Also, this week or next I will visit CHS (History Colorado) to see if I can obtain copies of some old images that I'm missing. Tonight, at a family gathering, I will propose that we schedule a small exhibit for the family--probably at our house--and invite critiques. It's time to show off this project!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The documentation for the project...

For several weeks now I've been entering data on a spreadsheet about each streetcorner for the three time periods, 1937, 1978-79, 2010-2012. Hopefully this will not only make it easier to identify the images themselves, but provide information on what buildings or other features existed at the times. I am struck by the plethora of painted signs on the sides of buildings in the 1930's. LoDo has brought back and/or preserved many of these signs quite beautifully. One of our favorites, of course, is "SEEDS" (the Barteldes building across from Tattered Cover). The building appears in "Denver Then and Now," by Joshua Dinar. The old view (circa 1910-1920) is taken from the 16th street viaduct. I just found one of my images from 1978-79 that shows both the 15th street and 16th street viaducts going over Wynkoop street. Barteldes is barely visible. The image accession number is 881, South on Wynkoop, East on 15th. I'll scan the image for the blog.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The beauty of a foggy day

Yesterday came home from Denver around 11:00--still cold and it was drizzling in D. Dan and I decided to go back so I could finish up with Arapahoe and 18th/19th. Filtered sunlight. Realized that the footprints of the big buildings are so (OBVIOUSLY) big--duh--that the same buildings dominate many many photographs. Makes things a little bit boring, I think. We'll judge when everything is printed.
I keep having to point the camera upwards since I'm too short!!
Sites photographed today:
042, 080, 075, 050, 079, 095, and checked on location of 023 (N Curtis, E 16).
Must do 008 and redo 035 (too much street in that one).
Back to Denver on Wednesday...

Saturday, May 12, 2012

To Denver today. The weather is crummy, but cloudy, which means buildings can be seen from all sides without big shadows. Nonetheless, my hands were really cold and I think slowed things down. I had to go to Starbucks for coffee and to warm my hands. Wasn't it 85 degrees a few days ago?
I photographed or rephotographed 10 sites:
974, 052, 044, 040, 094, 929, 951, 909, 931, 045, and 910.
Feeling too short for my camera! Have to point it upwards all the time, inviting more distortion and leaning buildings. Tried to prevent getting too much foreground--i.e.,  intersection--in the pictures.
Sam's building--Blake Street Terrace--stands out. It's tall and visible from many intersections. Saw Sam yesterday for lunch. We noticed that Lower Downtown News is next door to the Terrace building. He may approach them with samples of our work.
The 1937 zigzag building/tower behind the Windsor Dairy Building on Blake Street is still a conundrum. I'm going to check the 1930's maps in DPL next week to see what I can find out.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Glad to see some folks are viewing the blog! One of these days the project will be complete and Sam's fine 2010-2012 photographs will all be available along with my 1978 photographs...all 215 of them!
I'm happy to report he's actually going to be working in Lower Downtown!!!! (Blake and 19th) Somehow fitting for the work he's done down there and an appreciation for the city.

Trying to say "Clocktower" instead of "D&F Tower." (from Daniels & Fisher--old time department store, eventually merged with the May Co. to become May D&F). Am I just an old Denverite? Not a native, but a semi-native. (If anyone remembers those bumper stickers from the 80's: [Colorado] native, semi-native, alien...semi-alien...all right getting a little punchy here.) The work I'm doing on the project now is the "back work"--the organization and checking, checking, checking of all the views. Still need to get negative contact sheets, make sure all the digital images from the CD's are loaded on Picasa web albums (for now) and identified. Must digitize all 1978 negatives and load those with identification. Lots of work, lots of curation. Since I used to make a living as a curator, I have to be extremely thorough. This past week: 24 hours of work. This week will probably be at least 30. I'm holding June 1st as a drop-dead date for...something.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Moving forward with this project full speed. There are lots of details to take care of. For example, we have 40 prints from the old series (1937) that were done at the Historical Society. We have all my negatives and prints from 1978. Plus contact sheets. Plus documentation, folders and folders. Now we have negatives, CD's, digital photographs. The process is to upload the photos to Picasa, give them captions after comparing the negatives to the digital views as well as the list of sites photographed, then upload to Picasa Web Albums. I also enlarge the thumbnails from the CD hardcopy "contact sheet." I'm searching for a way to create contact sheets from my negatives without setting up a darkroom again. I keep a master list of the rephotographed images, with information such as WPA number, whether there was a print or xerox from 1937, whether I photographed the image in 1978-79, the name of the contact sheet and negative number(s), identifying details such as addresses, buildings, signs--from both 1937 and 1978--then the dates when the image was rephotographed in 2010-12, the negative numbers, the CD numbers, new addresses, buildings, signs, whether the image has been uploaded to Picasa Web Albums with captions, other notes. Then each view is printed out on plain paper, identifying information is written on it, and the image compared to the two earlier views. Still to come: take every printed modern image and walk the streets, ensuring that the image shows the correct street corner. Also looking for a program that will allow us to print out every image on digital photo paper. Have Adobe Photo Elements...will try it.