Last month, we made our second trip this year down to the Florida panhandle—fall school break this time. Zooming south on I-65 between Elizabethtown and Bowling Green, you pass this fiberglass T. Rex in all his kitschy majesty. He is the bone-crunching, meat-eating, vestigial-handed doorman and carnival barker for Dinosaur World, and if the light is right, he just needs to be photographed. Recall that, on our last trip in June, I tried to do him justice, but was tripped up by a processor accident. (Little did I know that it was a harbinger of troubles to come, but that’s another story.)
Again this trip, the morning light was perfect, with the sun rising to my back as I got out of the car. I braced my legs against the eighteen-wheeler slipstreams that threatened to suck me onto the highway, jumped the ditch, and clambered up the bank of the roadside to photograph this beast. (My family is patient with my frequent roadside excursions.) Of the two frames I shot (I thought it was more, but some of them were shot, er, after the ten 6×7 frames were already used up!) I like this one better. I think it’s the juxtaposition of the menacing billboard with the proud and determined tilt of this fellow’s head (assuming he’s a he and not a she; how would one tell?)
Now that I’m finally getting the hang of the RZ67, I am absolutely blown away by what I’m able to capture on a 6×7 cm frame. On a tripod, with mirror pre-release, I can’t see much difference image-wise between this camera and my 4×5, and setup and handling are far easier. Even handheld, as long as I shoot at 1/125 or better, I’ll get something sharp. And Ektar is a perfect film for such scenes, with their vibrant, almost Day-Glo colors. You like nuclear greens, reds, and oranges? Ektar’s your film. Grain? What’s that? It’s invisible.
I managed not to ruin the film in the processor this time. Probably because I let Technical Photo in Fairfield, New Jersey, do the processing for me. That, in turn, is because, five weeks after I shipped the processor off to be repaired, I’m still waiting for it. It was a week in transit getting to the west coast, and a further two weeks have been expended awaiting word from Germany about parts—by email. You know, via electrons moving at light-speed. I think even Deutsche Post and the US Postal Service could have delivered snail mail by now. And I’ve been waiting for more than a week to hear from the technician about what my repair options are, and what it’s going to cost. Patience is not my strong suit, especially when waiting is accompanied by a communications near-blackout.
John C. and his crew at Tech Photo have been good to me, but I’d really like to return to doing my own C-41. My chemistry cost is about $2.50-3.00 per roll doing it myself. Including shipping both ways, it’s more like $7-8 having it done, and it takes a week to turn it around. (Tech Photo does the processing the same day; the rest of the week is USPS time.) That’s a good price for medium-format C-41 processing, but at around 170-200 rolls per year, that $4-5 differential adds up quickly. Plus, I can shoot in the morning and have the images ready to go that day. Having been thus spoiled by the Jobo, waiting a week seems like torture.