One Frame

Canyon of the Ancients Ranch, Colorado

Canyon of the Ancients Ranch 11x17 11x14 7x17 c1117 camera ulf

Taken during our all too brief stay at the ranch- this is the home of our hosts, which sits on a large property on the canyon. It's a working farm, cattle and sheep, and the owners very generously welcomed us to all of it.

The adobe buildings of New Mexico and Colorado were a delight, I hope I can go back there sometime. The variety of forms, the massing, the small openings in the fabric - as a response to the climate and available materials, the technology is very impressive, and has been for thousands of years.

The camera is only one part of the making of the picture- the choice of materials and process is another step. This one was taken on x-ray film, 11x17, cut down from 14x17.

One of the first pictures made with the camera, this was shot more as a test than anything else- I had never used film as big as this before, or processed it. X-ray film is very unforgiving, it scratches very easily and requires very careful handling and processing. I was loading these sheets in a Standard Harrison tent, which is really too small for this size film. Ideally, this film needs to be loaded and unloaded in the darkroom, and it needs to be processed on hangars, in deep tanks, and even then I doubt whether I could guarantee consistent scratch free results. Not without some more practice anyway.

However, it was really good for testing, particularly since I couldn't be sure that the camera would work at all, and it does have the advantage of being relatively inexpensive compared to more reliable materials. There were many things that could have gone wrong- light leaks and incorrect focus registration were two unknowns that could only be tested by using the camera, and if there were mistakes to be made, I thought that self-recrimination for wasting expensive materials should not be one of them.

It turns out I shouldn't have worried about the camera, but my concerns about the film were justified... Since I've scanned this film, I also took the opportunity to magic away some scratches. I've printed from some of the scans, digitally; at the moment I can't even consider wet printing from x-ray, at least not until I have my processing act cleaned up. Like I really need another project...