Working in the Dark

It’s been eleven years since I last shot film with any regularity, and one of the reasons is that I have not had a darkroom. When I became interested in photography, darkroom work was always high on my list of things to try, and when I finally did, I found that the magic of light and chemistry was even more fascinating and rewarding than I’d imagined it would be.

My love for the back end of the analog photographic has never faded; I merely have not been able to engage in it. This year is bringing some change on that front. I’ve managed to find some of the hard-to-acquire equipment (hard for Alaska, anyway), and a darkroom lab conversion is underway.

I’ll be working in black and white for the time being, brushing up on old skills, practicing new ones. This is an exciting time.

2016 Year in Review Prints

I’ve picked out and made final adjustments to aaaalmost all of the prints I’ll be making for the 2016 Year-in-Review series for my wall.

Two white little lies in there. First, I’m not actually making the prints, I’m having the local shop make them for me, trusting my photographs to their expert processing. And second, the set actually includes photos from 2015, but my selection for 2016 is limited. In the future, I’ll pick from the year that I’m reviewing.

Some of these photos, too, are not from Alaska; the set includes several shots from the Columbus Zoo, which I visited earlier this year on a vacation-after-business-trip trip. Even so, seven of the eleven selected so far were at least shot in Alaska.

Yes, eleven. I’ll hunt for one more for December, but December isn’t over yet! Although, this year, these are my personal picks. For 2017, I might be pickier.

Heh heh. See what I did there?

Creamer’s Field, Fairbanks, Alaska

Creamer’s field is a former dairy located in Fairbanks, Alaska, now a migratory bird refuge managed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The 2200 acre preserve includes miles of trails through woods and wetlands, and in the summer, thousands of migratory birds flock to the area.

Even by Alaska standards, it’s not summertime, but there are a few species who winter over here, so I decided to hit the trails and see if I could capture a few images in the limited daylight available this time year. Silly me, I stopped to chat with a nice gentleman who was walking his dog, and I missed my opportunities; by the time our conversation was done and we parted ways, I heard no more chirping, and soon after, the light was fading.

Still, it was a nice walk in the park, and it was fun to watch the dog-walkers, cross-country skiers, skijorers, and a tour group making their way round and round, and I got a good reminder of what it takes to work outside in Alaska. It requires a set of skills that’s not necessarily obvious if you’ve never done it, and which I’ll have to polish up a bit before I do any more serious excursions next year.

New Gear

Arrived last night: Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD. I haven’t had much chance to use it yet, but initial impressions are very positive. With spring will come plenty of opportunity to get out into the field for wildlife, certainly something to look forward to.

Of course, I’ll need a new camera bag. It certainly doesn’t fit into my current one.